Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dearth of local top talent? update to post on LHL's choices

JG left a comment longer than my blog post yesterday Time Interview: Perplexed by LHL's choice I decided if he misunderstood me then my children would also. Hence this blog post, but specifically against the PAP's thesis Singapore does not have enough top talent.

Well just nice ST has this story today and made my job so much easier. Why did we have Magnus Bockers here and not Phupinder Gill? We are so short of talent we filled the top rung of SMRT with former military officers? It is really hard to find anyone impressed with their performance. We are being taken for granted by this government.

Read the article, there is nothing to suggest that Phupinder Gill and many others who have done spectacularly well later would have been caught by the government talent radar.

Today our problem is not that we do not have the talent but that we do not know how to find them. I am convinced in a crisis they will offer themselves to be counted. Whether it would be too late by then is anyone's guess. If we have the right folks, they will surface themselves in a timely fashion. If we don't even if they are exceptional, by definition they never met the cut.

Our future is not chiseled in stone. It is always being sculptured. Whoever thought we can be secure about tomorrow is a foolish believer of fairy tales. On average I find too many of the supporters of alternative parties citizens of Disneyland. May your dreams not come true, i.e., if in the next GE the PAP is out.

What we must do to make things better is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Talent is not the problem in Singapore, but leaders with character and honesty are. People we can trust given that electioneering is a horrible way to assess such people. Even now I am sure there are crooks among the ranks of PAP MPs and perhaps ministers. We haven't manage to catch them that's all but as a team they are honest enough despite an overworked CPIB.

People talk about alternative parties but conveniently forget that as important is the party that can produce a good PM. LHL is not the best PM but to be practical he is the best we have. I am more worried about who would take over from him. People need to get real but even if they don't it is alright. They are not enough naive idealists to keep me awake at night. It is always good to have some such types but it is also sad to realize that only years from now will they realize they have wasted their time.


  1. its not that there is no talent in the sense that really dont have people. its more a situation whereby many of these talents dont wish to enter politics or public service. Shanugam has talked abt this isse b4.

    From my own opinion and observations, reason are simple. Firstly, because of money. A normal singapore minister earns slightly over 1m a year ( and thats taking into account that he or she is given all the variables and bonuses for the year). But still nothing compared to what corporate chiefs earn. Based on my own knowledge, even those small listed companies can pay their CEO more. My own boss who heads a marine offshore company not known to many singaporeans earns as much as a minister. i was reading through the ST article you shared about Phupinder Gill. Im sure Phupinder Gill earns much more than LHL based on his job profile.

    Secondly, not only the pay not high, but the shit is alot more. As a corporate chief, you just have to be responsible to the board and the shareholders by earning money for them. but you are not subjected to public scrutiny. But a public servant is different. You get whack left right centre from everyone regardless of whether your fault or not your fault. People will curse you, and even your family. Instead, I feel Desmond keuk is very stupid because he purposely jump into a very big SMRT trap, even though the trap has been made known to everyone.

    thats why i feel ppl who enter politics have a weird sense of passion. why should ppl like Phupinder Gill take a huge pay cut and take on more shit, just to serve the people (who can be ungrateful and vile). it really goes against their common sense.

    1. If common sense trumps community sense, we go down. There is no point staying here.

      The reasons you offer are similar to those of LKY and they are valid because that is just being realistic. However such realism is only a longer route to ignominy. To me LKY was buying time for a day long after him when we have matured to become a more patriotic people or else we have no right to exist as an independent state and we must accept being taken over.

      What does it mean to buy time? It was just like my parents telling me I wouldn't know what it is like to be in their shoes until I am a parent myself. There are just some lessons and key facts of life that will not sink in until at a later time. That time is after LKY is gone. Perhaps that time is close at hand. I don't know but we will recognize it when it is time.

      So I hope your common sense makes sense only for a time, and that time will pass. Isn't it becoming clear that paying top salaries do not buy the commitment and courage of earlier leaders? You can't put a price on that and there will be moments in our future we need those qualities again.

    2. hi peng you. sorry for the late reply. Yah, you are absolutely right. i have been thinking about this for some time as well. Serving your nation gives you a sense of satisfaction that you wont get elsewhere. Right now i am working as a marine industry as a stepping stone. To be honest, i was originally aiming to land a high-paying consultancy job by my 30s. Furthermore I saw my colleague from SMU just sold 30 million worth of vessels for my company last month ( so i can imagine her bonus will be a lot ). Developing towards these money-making careers is definitely tempting for any human being, so it may be ephemeral to me eventually.

      Hence i decided to apply to join the civil service soon. I hope to play my small part towards nation-building. Furthermore, this govt has done sufficient these 4 years to convince me to work for them. i have also informed my boss my decision to resign in the coming month.

      yah, you are right. the early leaders did marvelous and it is up to my generation to continue it. it is neither practical nor realistic to expect the majority of young adults to commit to public service. But i feel there should still be a segment of teenagers who are willing to do that.

      Anyway, that is all i want to rant, and thanks for your reply.