Sunday Times today.
The writer, Leong Weng Kam lamented that we no longer remember Mr. Tan Kah Kee.
I don't see it as a problem. Anyone who wants to emulate him will discover him. Those who extol his example because it is politically correct to do so, would just be hypocritical. A little exposure in the papers today for this great man is good enough to pique the interest of anyone who wants to find out more.
If we have more rich guys like Tan Kah Kee, we would have a much less serious problem with the current widening income gap. We can wish all we want for such guys, but they are born and not made. Granted if I am wrong, we do not know how to make them. As it is, the rich are more worried about losing their relative position than the poor in meeting daily necessities isn't it? The current global financial turmoil has exacerbated their fears further. Meanwhile the middle class as long as they have cashflow, they often do not even have too much savings to worry about inflation eating away their mediocre wealth.
Tan Kah Kee's solution to preserving his wealth was to give it away.
Not enough Tan Kah Kee types, government is increasingly under pressure to redistribute wealth. But the solution lies outside Singapore. It comes when our competitors and markets begin to tax their rich more. They are trying to resist that but I believe they can only hold out for so long. Can we hold out long enough so that we will copy them? Forget about wealth trickling down. Forget about having a few new Tan Kah Kees here. Perversely if they appear, their good works might frighten the government as those social workers had in 1987 and were detained under the ISA. The government only wants your money to fund their plans. You are not suppose to plan. In our modern society, we have made it even harder for a Tan Kah Kee to emerge.
When I was a kid, my late father told me the tycoons here were racing each other to build the tallest office tower in Singapore. The government put a cap to that and in the end they built three towers, all as tall as each other. This brings me to the article Dr. Lee Wei Ling wrote today in the same paper.
At this moment the Me Generation holds the reins of power. As the millennials discover the futility of this generation, hopefully they will make better choices. An early sign of that happening is when they turn their backs to the path of success of their parents.
I can't imagine my kids would like to have the sort of occupations their parents were engaged in.