Veteran diplomat Bilahari Kausikan has reminded us that Singapore is a small state, and staying relevant must be the overarching strategic objective of small states ("Small? Become extraordinary"; Wednesday).
He adds that Singaporeans do not sufficiently appreciate that Singapore is a small state in a vulnerable part of the world.
This may be so because many Singaporeans think it is the Government's job to keep the country relevant to the world. And since it is doing such a good job, there is no need for individuals to care too much.
This attitude is reflected in domestic politics, as the electorate begins to voice demands for greater preferential treatment from the Government. This is worrisome for the future of our country.
To maintain our economic success, our Government has always been open to foreign talent in order to attract multinational corporations (MNCs). But MNCs can take us only to a certain point on the economic ladder.
Singaporeans and Singapore companies need to think about providing goods and services that are relevant to the world, to extend our economic influence.
A good example is Nestle. Founded in Switzerland in 1866, it is the largest food company in the world by revenue, with operations in 194 countries. However, as a group, it remains firmly Swiss.
With a strategic imperative in mind, hopefully more Singaporeans will think about the impact on our nation before they decide to cash out on iconic local brands like Tiger Beer or Crystal Jade.
Like the foreign owners, Singaporeans need to recognise the potential of these brands to grow global and extend the relevance of the little red dot.
Liu Fook Thim
This article was first published on January 31, 2015.
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