Future planning: It helps to list our pluses and minuses

SINGAPORE - I support Professor Kishore Mahbubani's suggestion to conduct a collective SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of Singapore ("48=Lucky"; last Saturday), as the final list will be a good reference for future planners.

Here are a few additional elements to the list for consideration:

Strengths: A highly educated workforce, strong public service infrastructure, and relative ease in implementing public policies due to the compactness of the State.

While our small size is a weakness in general, it has proven to be an advantage in executing innovative solutions and controversial projects that would not have seen the light of day in many other bigger countries.

Weaknesses: Lack of soft skills by a large section of the population.

It is painful to admit but we, as a people, have to improve in such areas as social etiquette, creativity, communication skills, critical thinking, appreciation of the arts and so on. These are First World ideals that we have to achieve before we can claim the right of place in that league.

Opportunities: To grow management expertise for global enterprises, and to eventually be a supplier of management expertise.

These are inter-related. As a regional hub for many global enterprises and given our highly educated workforce, we are uniquely poised to develop and produce top managers. Eventually, we should aim to be a supply source for the finer skills of management for the region and the rest of the world.

Threats: Brain drain and perception of arrogance by others.

While we continue to be able to attract foreign talent to our shores, we have to guard against losing local talent to other countries to avoid a "leaky bucket" situation.

A real threat to our growth is being perceived by others as an arrogant state with arrogant people.

Being a little red dot, we are constantly required to punch above our weight. However, this does not mean that we cannot project humility in our dealings with others.

We risk losing the moral high ground and the admiration and cooperation of others if we are perceived to be arrogant.

The risk will magnify where it concerns matters of the State, and the consequences could be dire for our nation.

At the people level, we would like to see Singaporeans being welcomed as visitors and investors wherever we go, and not viewed unfavourably in any situation.

Yeoh Teng Kwong

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