Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time for Lee Kuan Yew to learn from Deng Xiaoping's Legacy

Singapore has been touted around the world as an economic miracle. Lee Kuan Yew, the CEO and Chief Marketing Officer of the country, has been held up high as a model statesman of the island state and Asian Economic Tiger. The PAP government likes to boast about how Chinese officials come to Singapore to learn from the ruling party about how to run a nation. Lee Kuan Yew was not afraid to boast about Chinese officials wanting to run their country the way Singapore does [link].

Yet, Lee knew that China would soon rise to the world stage and surpass what little Singapore could ever accomplish. Instead of China learning from Singapore, Singapore would be learning from China. The elder Lee once said to Deng Xiaoping [link],
‘Whatever we can do, you will do better. We are the descendants of the landless peasants of South China, you have the literati, you have the top brains, you have the poets, the artists.’
Indeed, the time has come for Singapore's political elite to take a page out of China's economic leadership.

The Chinese Communist party has released its latest five year economic blueprint for the country. The latest five year plan marks a significant shift in the emphasis of objectives, away from the rate of gdp growth, to the quality of growth, as well as the welfare of the people. Social objectives are now to displace economic objectives as a priority in policy.

The mandarin article appended to this blog post describes how one of the top priorities of the new five year plan is to improve the living standards of its people and their quality of life. Priority is shifting away from pure gdp growth numbers to lifting personal incomes and delivering 'all-rounded' peace and prosperity for the country's citizens.

The PAP needs to listen well and listen hard, and emulate the Chinese change in policy objectives. For too long, the PAP has had a single-minded focus on growing raw gdp, without focusing on the quality of life for its people. Despite the sharp jump in gdp this year, a large swath of Singapore society is not benefiting from this growth. Instead, many Singaporeans' incomes remain stagnant. Meanwhile, the cost of living has grown, due to skyrocketing housing prices and general inflation across the board. The net impact of this is that the quality of life for many Singaporeans has fallen.

Meanwhile, the country continues to lure the uber rich to its shores, exacerbating an income inequality that already is the highest in the developed world. [see Lucky Tan]. The influx of cheap foreign labour into the country depresses wages for many and is causing anger and social unrest amongst the people. Singapore's social fabric is beginning to slowly unravel, and if measures are not taken to address these issues soon, the country is headed for some serious problems.

Lee Kuan Yew once declared that the "Chinese want better lives". He should heed his own advice to the Chinese and deliver this to his own people. Singaporeans want better lives - and the current generation of the PAP's 'scholar elite' has not delivered this. Indeed, many Singaporeans are now effectively worse off compared to their situation ten years ago.

Although Deng Xiaoping passed away more than a decade ago, the legacy he has left will change the world in the 21st century. Lee Kuan Yew would do well to take a page out of the quiet Chinese wisdom, before he breathes his final breath.


中国未来5年发展基调 保经济平稳增长与保民生并重


值得注意的是,此前的多次会议主要提出 「经济增长方式」的转变,而是次会议提出要加快「经济发展方式转变」。专家表示,从「增长方式的转变」到「发展方式的转变」,不仅仅是字面的改变。


中国社会科学院宏观经济研究室主任张晓晶表示,从全会公报来看,经济目标确实被淡化,而社会目标被提到重要位置。改革开放三十年来,中国经济发展势头良好,年均国内生产总值(GDP)增长率接近10%,但过分强调效率、过分重视 GDP 增长也带来许多负面问题,主要表现为增长和分享的不平衡。张晓晶表示「十二五」规划作为对过去传统发展方式的一种反思,就是要用更多的社会性目标来约束和考核各级政府。






Anonymous said...

The Chinese have objectives to make China a better place for its people via a step by step but holistic blueprint. Singapore has only one chapter -all on economics, period. That's where the difference is. Deng had a whole plan, LKY only ONE plan. That's where the problem is.

spirit of GohKS said...

Not just Deng but also the current team of Chinese leaders can teach LKY one simple lesson.
Never put an incompetent son or daughter-in-law to run affairs of the State.

Essentially, a leader must be bold but not this bold.

Anonymous said...

Deng XP was a man of vision. He had it all figured out from A to Z.

Lee KY is a man with a half that vision. The only part he is has figured out is how to make us fit into a battery compartment and bleed us dry.

So how can you compare a WV with a Bugatti?

Anonymous said...

Lee Kuan Yew has a vision all for himself, as far as his eyes can see. That vision will be gone once he closese his eyes.


Anonymous said...

The ability to let go and knowing when to make an exit, is sadly something LKY will never be able to learn from Deng Xiaoping.

Having said that, I have this gut feeling Mao and Deng were not aware LKY served the Japs during occupation of Singapore in WW2 and
it would be interesting to hear the views of the Chinese.

goldfish said...

I think this is a very bizarre blog. Lee Kuan Yew is light years ahead of Deng Xiaoping!

For example, Lee Kuan Yew understood the importance of State Owned Enterprise long before Deng Xiaoping. Whilst China explodes in a housing bubble, Singapore is safe. China is still debating the merits of Western Liberal Democracy and Christain Human Rights, but Singapore is fully embracing Eastern philosophy such as: http://www.theoligarch.com/scientific_development_concept_china_political_philosphy.htm

Anonymous said...

LOL...you are right about LKY understanding the importance of State Owned Enterprise, so much so LKY personally takes charge of GIC, puts his daughter-in-law to helm Temasek and of course his son the PM, oversees everything...they discuss it over familee dinner, supper, etc. LOL
Now why did'nt Deng Xiaoping learn to do this from LKY ? LOL

Perhaps it's true there is a housing bubble in China, but one thing for sure, if it bursts, there is still plenty of land for peasants to pitch their tents, while a similar scenario in Singapore would mean dire straits for many, because pitching a tent along the beach or sleeping in HDB void decks is not viable under LKY's govt. LOL