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Thread: Uniquely Singapore

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    Published May 14, 2007


    Uniquely Singapore

    What should be done, in the business arena and society in general, to keep Singapore special and unique?

    IT AND economic globalisation are paving the way for greater connectivity within and across businesses, governments and societies. We are now part of a global, virtual and flat world, where the paradigm of competition is changing. Sustainable competitiveness depends on the ability to tap and optimise increasingly virtual resources which include skills, expertise, infrastructure and productivity.

    As a result, over more than two centuries, IBM has steadily evolved from an international company into a multinational corporation and into the globally integrated enterprise we are today. Value creation at IBM is about aggregating the best intellectual capital, and realising the greatest economies of expertise and resources across more than 170 locations which IBM operates in.

    Collaboration, innovation, openness and trust are the tenets which drive global competitiveness - for individuals, organisations and countries. For these attributes to prosper in an increasingly virtual world, the courage to take measured risks, learn from failures, and exploration and discovery will become increasingly important.

    What can Singapore do?

    Singapore continues to find its niche and competitive advantages in an increasingly inter-connected and globalised world. It is on the right track with efforts to constantly re-invent itself to remain competitive.

    Its ability to innovate constantly is a critical factor in maintaining its competitiveness. For instance, Singapore is using its R&D capabilities as a critical lever to innovate and stay ahead, which is a good move.

    Singapore's commitment to help the world go green with its R&D focus on water and environmental technologies will build another set of good capabilities for the country. This will not only help to build Singapore's resilience in water and environmental resources locally, but build expertise which can be exported to the rest of the world.

    For Singapore to continue to have differentiated value and maintain its competitive edge, these factors are of critical importance: Keep its economy open, promote open standards, continue investing in human capital, and export its unique capabilities.

    I have every confidence that Singapore will achieve its vision of seamless inter-connectedness within the country and with the rest of the world. This vision is already shaping an environment of dynamic interaction and open collaboration, which will enable Singapore to further benefit from a free-flowing exchange of innovative ideas, best practices and global innovation.

    - Teresa Lim
    Managing Director
    IBM Singapore

    WHILE every country can be considered special and unique in its own right, Singapore stands out for its clean, safe and cosmopolitan environment, good governance and transparency, as well as its receptivity to global talent. These are the factors that contribute to Singapore's success, and should be acknowledged and upheld by the business community.

    They can do this by staying committed to their operations here, while adhering to good corporate governance and non-discriminatory hiring practices. As a society, we can help Singapore remain one of the best places to live, where Singaporeans are able to live the life they wish, pursue their choice of career or business, combining work and play. The focus would be on what matters most in life.

    This may be as easy as making the effort to make someone smile, treasuring precious moments with loved ones and spending time with family. Indulging in these simple pleasures of life - instead of chasing after the materialistic aspects - is the premise of Nets' new 'Make Life Great' tagline. This speaks not only for our company, but also for what we would like everyday Singaporeans to embrace, as we strive to keep Singapore a special and unique place to be proud of.

    - Poh Mui Hoon

    WHEN travelling in Europe and America, I often get asked by friends and business associates: 'So what's Singapore like these days?'

    My response is a simple one: 'No crime, no pollution, great infrastructure, great leisure facilities, food and entertainment, best airport, best airline, wonderful schools and hospitals, low tax, and pro-business government. Oh, and by the way, within two hours' flight you have got some of the best resorts in the world if ever you feel like a holiday.'

    The ensuing stunned silence is often followed by the question: 'Are you serious? Maybe we should all come and live there.'

    For those of us lucky enough to live here, we know it is not a joke! Singapore just needs to stay focused on the basic necessities for a good life and an integrated society and the world will follow.

    - Seamus O'Brien
    President & CEO
    World Sport Group

    I WOULD like to see a society with a truly Singaporean identity and one that develops a bond with its fellow citizens. Japan and European countries with longer histories have been able to develop a special bond among their citizens, who are prepared to help each other when they venture out of the country. They do not consider their fellow citizens as competitors but as comrades with similar goals.

    I would also like to see the government be more open to constructive criticism and opinions and not feel that any criticism is intended to bring it down.

    - Tan Ser Giam
    Eastern Navigation

    THE single most important ingredient that will make Singapore a dream place to live and work in, and a nation which all Singaporeans will be proud of, is a strong national identity that is socially inclusive, promotes service excellence, and emphasises work-life balance.

    Businesses can help to achieve this by actively practising corporate social responsibility and engaging the community. For instance, Cherie Hearts makes an effort to involve parents in the day-to-day running of our childcare operations by actively seeking their feedback and inviting them to our functions. We see parents as partners. We are also an avid supporter of environmental efforts.

    Furthermore, businesses should make good service the hallmark of the 'Singapore experience'. This will go a long way towards making Singapore a unique place for both Singaporeans and tourists alike.

    Finally, businesses should be proactive in enabling employees to have a good work-life balance. For example, companies could provide employees with free childcare services or even childcare facilities at their workplace. Cherie Hearts is active in this respect.

    - Sam Yap SG
    Executive Chairman
    Cherie Hearts Group

    SINGAPORE is special in the way we weave multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious harmony into society and business. These are the roots that anchor the country and we must work together to ensure they remain strong, especially as we adopt an open-door policy on foreign talent. We can truly become a global city by ensuring that all cultures, religions, and freedom of thought and expression are respected and celebrated.

    We should also strive to cultivate pro-family practices at work and society at large; to make the country the best place to live and work in. Finally, we must also bear in mind our responsibility towards the environment and the less fortunate, to make Singapore a special and unique place.

    - Tan Mui Huat
    Regional Managing Director
    International SOS

    SINGAPORE is already special and unique in many ways. The challenge is to progressively improve on what the city state possesses, and give people more opportunities to perform to the best of their potential. A sufficiently liberal and equitable living environment allows residents to pursue quality of life; a competitive and transparent marketplace encourages more investors to park their capital here. All these factors will provide further impetus for economic growth.

    On a social level, Singapore should allow local cultures to flourish, at the same time encouraging exchanges and assimilation with new migrants. All societies are breathing and living; an excellent living and working environment must not only maintain what it has, but also provide opportunities for what it can become.

    - Susan Soh
    Managing Director
    Schroders Singapore

    FEW Singaporeans will like to live elsewhere, thanks to the government managing the country well. Our educational level is probably the highest in the region, hence many Singaporeans are able to do business. I believe the government should privatise many business activities to Singaporeans soon to keep Singapore special and unique. Taking care of Singaporeans who need care is perhaps the most important factor in making the country unique and special.

    - Ng Kong Yeam
    Group Executive Chairman
    Sino-America Tours Corporation

    IF THERE'S one thing Singapore should be proud of, it's the diversity and racial harmony of the population. With the China and India markets growing rapidly and the Middle East expanding as well, it's certainly to Singapore's advantage to be known as an open and friendly place to do business. Aided by an intimate appreciation of diversity, the city-state can easily be a springboard for launching regional careers for its aspiring next generation of business leaders.

    Singapore can also work towards becoming a more culturally rich society. We are already garnering interest with headline attractions like the Formula One races and the upcoming integrated resorts. Locals and visitors are increasingly excited by Singapore's arts scene and ability to attract regional and international events. Pushing the arts and cultural events further will do more to make Singapore an attractive place to live and visit.

    - Steve Russell
    President and CEO, Asia Pacific

    SINGAPORE is unique. No doubt about it. On the surface, it may look like any other modern city. But we have lived up to our National Pledge as 'one united people, regardless of race, language or religion'. No country, to me, has come close to the kind of harmony and integration that Singapore has been able to achieve.

    Singapore has got to be one of the easiest places to set up a business. A key reason is that we are so used to operating in a multinational, multi-cultural environment - there is hardly a need to make major adjustments. This mix of different cultures is what gives Singapore its flavoursome, unique character that is so attractive.

    We need to keep this flavour bubbling by being even more open-minded to different cultures. To be the best, we need to learn from the best. We should also ensure that when laws or guidelines are laid down, they are always fair and without prejudice.

    - Fong Loo Fern
    Managing Director
    CYC The Custom Shop

    SINGAPORE is moving into another exciting era of development - building a distinctive global city. Moving beyond the efficient society, we need aspirations that require creativity. We need to dare to dream and work towards turning the dream into reality.

    Singapore has a lot of potential and we chose to expand our operations here as it offers the best of both worlds when it comes to work and pleasure. I'm confident that if we envision a vibrant global city and continue to work towards being a busy metropolis, Singapore will be the sparkling jewel it aims to be.

    - Lars Ronning
    President, North & South East Asia, Australia & New Zealand

    I WAS a science fiction fan as a student and I particularly liked the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. It relates the trials of a small planet constantly under threat from enemies bent on destroying the planet. To survive, the people of this planet had to constantly re-invent themselves to stay ahead of their enemies. Sounds familiar?

    As a small city state without any resources, Singapore has to constantly re-invent itself to stay relevant in this globalised world. Like the Foundation, it has to stay a few steps ahead of the competition. In the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore was an entrepot hub for South-east Asia. Then it became a manufacturing hub in the 1980s and 1990s. Now it aspires to be a magnet for the rich and famous.

    I think it is a wise strategy to keep weighing your competitive advantages vis-a-vis other regional countries. Technology and global trends are always changing. Your competitive advantage in the past may not be yours again next year. In the years ahead, Singapore should continue to reinforce its position as a financial hub for the region and make itself a place where the rich would want to reside.

    - Wee Piew
    HG Metal Ltd

    THERE is no doubt that Singapore has a great deal to contribute to the evolving economic story of China, India, and indeed, Asia in general. The migration from trade entrepot to regional knowledge centre is well underway and this is being ably directed by government policies.

    What is now needed is for Singaporeans to take a more robust international view and move outside the comfort zone of a safe, clean and efficient Singapore. The growing number of resident foreign professionals will go some way towards fostering this change, but Singaporeans need to firmly embrace a changing future. With risk will come reward and Singapore will be stronger for securing a more competitive standing in our globalising world.

    - Don Birch
    President and CEO
    Abacus International

    IS IT sufficient to just keep Singapore special and unique? We must go beyond that to build a home for our future generations. We must ensure that our people are equipped to meet global demands, stay competitive, hunger for knowledge, and explore opportunities beyond our boundaries. I visualise Singapore as a dynamic hub for world trade, with international business acumen and capabilities, and with our people having multi-cultural sensitivities.

    We must keep the values of Asian culture, have our roots to maintain humility, and live in harmony regardless of race and religion.

    - Angeline Teo
    Principal Consultant
    d'Oz International

    THE Singapore of the 21st century has to be unique and special in many ways. As we approach 2015 when Singapore celebrates its Golden Jubilee, ie, 50th anniversary of its independence, we need to prepare to be a global city for all Singaporeans with a better educated workforce and higher skills for overseas assignments.

    Singapore will have its external wings stretched across the globe with investments, businesses and diplomatic missions promoting Singapore Inc. By then, the fourth-generation leaders will be in place leading the nation up the global ladder of excellence!

    Employment must be conducive for any skilled personnel to set down their roots here. Permanent residency should be seamless with employment status.

    Education will be world-class with 150,000 foreign students and 50,000 foreign teaching staff. This will enrich the learning environment and stimulate an intellectual buzz in Singapore.

    Entertainment will be round the clock to cater to shift workers and tourists. Work-life balance will be the key focus of family life.

    Entrepreneurship will be commonplace in workplaces, institutions of learning, community and government. Most Singaporeans will have a secondary enterprise beside their core profession or business.

    This is the scenario we would like to see by 2015.

    - Derek Goh
    Executive Chairman / Group CEO
    Serial System Ltd

    WE CANNOT become special and unique by aiming to be special and unique!

    As long as we look at our challenges and opportunities with a fresh eye and come up with strategies and solutions that make sense, we shall do well. Do not blindly follow other people's success formula or our own past success formula. Have an open culture that promotes questioning and alternative ideas. The leaders must not assume they always have the right answers. Learn from seemingly unrelated industries. Always stay humble.

    This motherhood-sounding approach could keep us special and unique!

    - Lee Kwok Cheong

    I MAY not be Singaporean, but I dream of a Singapore where every citizen can freely and easily connect to the Internet regardless of their economic or social background. After all, in the Information Age, unimpeded access to the wealth of resources on the Web for work, study and play is absolutely crucial for raising living standards.

    Round-the-clock Internet connectivity is an example of what Fujitsu Asia terms 'ubiquitous computing', which is becoming more prevalent nowadays. Ubiquitous computing describes how people are increasingly able to communicate anytime and anywhere, via large inter-connected networks and a wide variety of devices including computers and hand-held gadgets.

    To realise ubiquitous computing for Singapore, immense computing resources are needed to turn the nation into a giant network. Yet, the end-user experience should not be compromised under any circumstances. Therefore, computer networks must be robust and highly scalable, to ensure minimal system downtime and sufficient headroom for future growth in network traffic.

    As a leading IT and communications solutions provider, Fujitsu Asia can contribute effectively to Singapore's efforts at keeping itself special and unique, by building digital media networks and deploying mobile workplace solutions for ubiquitous computing.

    - Noboru Oi
    Group CEO
    Fujitsu Asia

    SINGAPORE'S success didn't come easy. It is the result of tremendous effort by each individual that has made it the world-class nation it is today. What sets us apart from other competing countries is our fighting spirit. That said, it is crucial that we keep this high level of tenacity. We should also continue to nurture the next generation through better education and training to raise their skill levels to new heights.

    - Michael Lam
    Managing Director, Asia South
    Compuware Corporation

    WHAT underpins the thriving Singapore business eco-system is a community which is pragmatic and forward-thinking - by building and leveraging on a tripartite relationship between businesses, employees and the government to respond to intense global competition and developing 'unique selling points' for specific industries.

    Examples include the establishment of the oil refining and chemical industries in the 1970s and 1980s, the semiconductor industry in the 1990s, followed by the biotech and information and communications technology (ICT) industries.

    But Singapore's uniqueness really lies in its highly educated population, the diversity of its society, and its ability to attract a variety of human capital globally, for instance, in the high-tech and banking sectors. More can be done to increase the quality of life, specifically, the need to continually reform and adapt Singapore's education programmes in line with expectations also from an international audience. After all, education is a key criterion for many parents in deciding the future.

    Together with the drive for a more exciting environment, this will create a virtuous cycle, attracting more people to Singapore. Its ability to integrate locals and immigrants will ultimately provide the impetus for Singapore to be a hotspot for innovations and thus success.

    - Thomas Jakob
    T-Systems Asia South

    I THINK we lack the feel-good factor - things or events that will galvanise the country. Once a year, the National Day Parade would inspire a few lucky ones who attend it. Christmas time along Orchard Road is not bad either.

    We have seen how World Cup fever hits most countries, even Singapore. And we have seen how certain sporting individuals are hailed as heroes and send their countrymen into a frenzy.

    I would like to see the big corporate players - government-linked and MNCs - take on a more supportive role in making Singaporeans with potential into contenders.

    Last year, I tried to help a promising sportsman raise funds to realise his dream of competing in the Beijing Olympics. Being an SME, we could only provide a portion of it. In trying to secure the balance, we encountered reluctance from the large companies. I put this down to the fact that most of them just don't have the culture to do this.

    It's not only about sports. Performing arts and cultural activities are just as exciting. So, the root of the problem in creating something unique in Singapore is the inability to look beyond the bottom line.

    - Joey Chang
    AXS Infocomm

    PHILIPS has been in Singapore for more than 55 years and has transformed into an innovation-driven company in the healthcare, lifestyle and technology market space. Singapore has been a key partner on this journey. Over the last five decades, Singapore and Philips have grown in tandem, moving up the value chain into innovation-driven activities, product development and high-tech manufacturing.

    Singapore's open door policy has enabled the growth of a strong pool of foreign and local talent that Philips taps for our global activities. The country's ability to take a long-term view, the pro-business environment and policies, and the strong talent pool are factors unique to Singapore, making it attractive for international companies to do business here.

    As other countries catch up, Singapore needs to stay ahead by growing its intellectual and creative human capital through further strengthening education and creating opportunities for more innovation.

    - Paul P Peeters
    Philips Electronics Singapore

    THE global environment is constantly changing with new challenges appearing at a fast and furious pace. Singapore has been able to maintain its edge by constantly re-inventing itself and keeping up with this pace of change.

    By adopting this strategy, Singapore has developed a unique economic model - one characterised by a highly effective government, pro-business mindset and a strong commitment to liberalisation.

    Looking ahead, the continued commitment to liberalisation and swift enactment of changes, especially in sectors like energy, would spur economic growth. Such a strategy will continue to lend faith to global players looking to invest in Singapore's economic progress.

    - Michael Reading
    Managing Director
    Island Power Company

    SINGAPORE'S uniqueness comes from its people. Strong and visionary leadership, combined with its industrious people, in the 1970s and 1980s have brought Singapore to where it is today.

    Singaporeans must now be better trained with soft and hard skills to meet the challenges of the future.

    As a nation, we must move away from bureaucratic mindsets to flexible policies. We should become a dynamic and fun-loving nation with vibrant people, embracing change and welcoming challenges. Countries such as Dubai are en route to such dynamism.

    With our nimble workforce and infrastructure, such mindset changes will put us ahead of the competition. If we are flexible, creative and friendly as a nation, this unique nature will keep our society relevant and competitive.

    - Theyvendran, PBM
    Chairman/Managing Director
    Stamford Media International Group

    TO KEEP Singapore on the winning track amid intense global competition, all must play a part to help create a business-friendly environment that is transparent and open, so we will attract new businesses and ensure that companies and industries here will prosper.

    Investing in the young is imperative to this success. While Singapore's education system is internationally recognised, youth will also benefit tremendously from an education that is thought-provoking rather than learning by rote.

    It is vital that we create an environment that encourages the young to take on new challenges and risks, in order for Singapore to cultivate its next generation of business leaders who are creative not only on the societal level, but in the business arena as well.

    One good sign is that more young people are developing their talents on the arts and cultural scene. The government can encourage this by recognising the contribution of individuals who are developing Singapore into a vibrant and creative hub not only through their personal creative output, but also through nurturing a new generation of artistes.

    On a fundamental level, parents need to be educated to bring up their children to be self-reliant individuals. A sensible upbringing complemented by good education will ensure that young people develop into competent and independent adults who will contribute to the success of Singapore.

    - Charles Reed

    SINGAPORE'S East-meets-West melting pot of cultures has been and always will be an advantage for us. This is a key factor that has propelled Singapore to the status of a global city. This, combined with our transparency in business regulations and policies, makes Singapore an ideal destination for investors and visitors worldwide.

    To maintain this unique and vibrant atmosphere, Singapore has to continue to strive for excellence in innovation and technology. By leading the race for tomorrow's innovations, Singapore is poised to carve a niche in the Asia Pacific as the channel for the region's future technological advances.

    - Oliver Foo
    Managing Director
    Alcatel-Lucent Singapore

    I THINK we have to move away from the 'safe and kiasu' mentality. Society needs to loosen up and break away from old conventions. We need to be more adventurous and take more risks.

    Take motor sport, for example. At one time, motor racing was a no-go. But today, things are different. The world is changing and Singapore realises it must move with the times. Last year, Subaru started assembling Group N rally cars in Singapore. For businesses to survive they have to constantly think out of the box and dare to push the boundaries.

    - Glenn Tan
    Motor Image Enterprises (Subaru)

    IN MY view, the only way to do that is to constantly innovate. In the business arena, this means encouraging entrepreneurs to dare to venture into the market with new ideas, and to promote a culture in which risk-taking is seen as necessary for development and growth.

    Maintaining a robust and dynamic business environment is key to keeping Singapore attractive as an economy - one in which global businesses will continue to want to participate, as well as one in which local businesses have opportunities to grow. And this will have a wider impact on society, since innovation contributes to vibrancy and is empowering.

    In terms of lifestyle, I am tempted to say that the key to remaining unique is through the cuisine, which is unparalleled. On a serious note though, keeping Singapore special and unique means continuing to promote an inclusive society and one in which voices from all sectors of this diverse society are heard.

    - David Miller
    President, Asia Pacific/Japan

    TO BE special and unique doesn't just mean being different from others but should also imply an embedded value system. The Japanese have the keiretsu system and the Koreans have the chaebol style of doing business. Both have a long history dating back to the post-World War Two era.

    That was the period when the economy was in tatters. Enterprises had to be built from scratch and national pride was at stake. This was emphasised by the homogeneity of language and culture that was so immense that the interlocked business system built was deemed impenetrable by foreigners.

    For Singapore to carve out a unique business landscape, the leaders will probably need to take some cues from these countries. Unlike both economies, Singapore has a short history of industrialisation. Nevertheless, it has a strong government that is striving to re-invent itself.

    In the social sphere, Singaporeans should never feel inferior speaking its unique English slang, or even Mandarin, though Singlish should not be used in business. However, language is a good differenting tool that can bind Singaporeans abroad. It can be unique as Singaporeans who grew up here would pick up nuances that foreigners may not be able to emulate easily.

    From the business angle, our government has done its part to create an environment conducive for local SMEs to flourish and a haven for foreign investments. There are also schemes to incentivise SMEs to venture abroad and incubate new business ideas. These are efforts to promote successful enterprises. Not many governments worldwide are doing as well.

    The downside may be that Singaporeans will be too sheltered and constantly expect more from the government. The culture will evolve into a passive and risk-averse one where stigma is attached to failure. Unlike risk-taking pioneers building the keiretsu and chaebol empires, in Singapore, it is normally the government at the forefront.

    To make Singapore different, stirring national pride may be a common thread but it is more important to encourage a culture of risk-taking. A task force can be formed in one of the ministries to take on such a mission. This will probably carve a unique business silhouette for Singapore in generations to come.

    - Leslie Wa
    CEO & Executive Director
    HLN Technologies Ltd

    THE key to setting Singapore apart from the competition is by refining and re-defining the Singapore brand, whom others associate with proficiency, competency and efficiency. Recently, greater emphasis has been placed on creative and innovative thinking rather than just textbook knowhow.

    We should also recognise that adopting a winning lifestyle can shape our people too. Work-life balance embodies the equal pursuit of excellence in performing one's duties and passion for life's other aspects. Government leaders and employers should recognise that they can help improve the quality of life and foster a greater sense of fulfilment for Singaporeans. They should be encouraged to work as hard as they play, and vice versa.

    The benefit is obvious. A happy workforce will perform at its optimum. Over time, others will come to see Singaporeans as performance-oriented and well-rounded, with mindsets open enough to adapt to any change that the tide brings in.

    - Annie Yap
    The GMP Group

    SINGAPORE has stayed on the winning track since its independence. This is no small achievement, but it will be easily tripped up if we do not stay vigilant.

    With a reputation of being a key business centre in the region and the world, Singapore should continue to pursue more innovative endeavours to stay ahead of the competition, regardless of the nature of the business. For example, if there is a lack of skilled spa professionals in the local workforce, the industry may need to hire foreign talent to stay relevant.

    I doubt this rule would be any different for other industries, whether it is technology or hospitality. Sometimes, staying ahead may also mean having to spearhead key projects that will create value for businesses around the world as well.

    However, even as we move with the times, we as a society should not compromise our moral values. Singapore can be special and unique by staying focused on its deep-rooted value system of integrity and moral excellence. We need to maintain peaceful relationships with one another to keep Singapore both as a competitive country and also one of the most hospitable in the world.

    - Theresa Chew
    Expressions International (S)

    SINGAPORE has undergone tremendous changes in past four decades as the economy is transformed from entrepot trade to manufacturing, and now to a knowledge based economy.

    Its role is increasingly important in Asia and the world because of its wealth, network and cultural superiority - to be able to communicate and network with people in both East and West with ease.

    To build on its strengths, Singapore probably could strive to be a top forum for world business issues, and a resort for world businesses and their leaders.

    - Tan Kok Leong
    TKL Consulting

    A DREAM which Singapore must pursue is to nurture a soul of its own and a Singaporean spirit.

    It represents the final and all-important piece of the 3Ps - public, private and people sectors - to create a holistic vision for a special and unique Singapore.

    An endearing yet robust Singapore soul perpetuates a more caring, graceful and inclusive society, where kindness, compassion and giving are a way of life. We do not have to be the most sophisticated, but we certainly can be renowned for being gracious and kind.

    A resilient Singaporean spirit encapsulates a thriving and harmonious work-life environment, where the leadership across the 3Ps places great value on the family. By being relentlessly pro-family, Singapore becomes a great place for families to live, work and play.

    In our next lap, Singapore needs to move beyond efficient solutions, to keep our country together by building up our soft assets that will accrue from a Singapore soul and a Singaporean spirit. That will keep Singapore special and unique.

    - Lim Soon Hock
    Managing Director
    Plan-B Icag

    AS A small city competing with growing giants India and China, Singapore should retain its reputation as the most conducive place to do business in Asia. For that, we need to ensure that political stability, leading-edge infrastructure and business competitiveness are maintained. Only last week, Singapore edged out Hong Kong to become the second most competitive economy in the world after the United States in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2007.

    Education should also be top priority for Singapore, as an efficient workforce is a key factor that has led economic growth in the past decades. As an education hub, Singapore will also have the added advantage of attracting top students from the region. Nurturing these foreign talents and encouraging them to make Singapore their home will ensure a highly skilled workforce.

    - George Wong
    Managing Director, Asean
    BEA Systems

    WHAT makes Singapore special and unique is its culture. In a bid to promote the Singapore culture, the government recently held a Singaporean day in Central Park in New York City where 5,000 overseas Singaporeans gathered to hear the familiar voice of singer Kit Chan and partake in festivities and food.

    In the past few years, Singapore has also opened up and continues to redefine itself. New developments such as the integrated resorts, the creation and cultivation of a cyber-nation with the introduction of Wireless@SG truly make Singapore even more attractive as a regional hub.

    For its next phase of growth, the government is also taking the lead to encourage and prepare its citizens to be more competitive. On our part, businesses and society need to continue to be vibrant and entrepreneurial in nature to compete globally.

    - Eric Hoh
    Symantec, Asia South

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