Singaporeans express largely positive reactions towards Grand Prix renewal online

(PHOTO: Singapore Grand Prix's Facebook)

By Phyllis Lee

Amidst doubts on whether it is beneficial for Singapore to continue on as a Formula 1 (F1) venue, it was announced last Friday (Sept 15) that the Grand Prix will be here to stay until 2021 – and majority of Singaporeans are in favour of this decision.

A global media intelligence company Meltwater tracked online reactions in the lead-up to and during the F1 weekend between Sept 13 to 18.

While 76% of reactions to the last-minute deal were positive, 22.5% remained neutral. Only 1% reacted negatively to the news.

“In general, the Singapore F1 Race generates a huge amount of interest across social media, but the renegotiated deal by organisers and the Singapore Government further bolstered buzz, reaching record levels this year,” said Neil Brennan, Area Director, Meltwater Japan and South East Asia.

This interest was seen not only in the renewal, but also in the event itself.

Despite an early exit in the race after a crash, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel scored higher mentions than any other racer, making up 37% of social media chatter. Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton came in second with a social media score of 36%.

Apart from the races, another highlight from the F1 weekend was the performances from notable artists.

Ariana Grande clinched the top spot for celebrity mentions with 74% of the total mentions, followed by One Republic at 15% and Chainsmokers at 6%.


    • The main benefit of F1 is not from the receipts of three racing days but the tourist revenue that is accrued over the whole year from the publicity the race generates that reaches out to foreign TV viewers. I remember Singapore’s tourists number used be hovering around the 6 to 7 million level for many years. No matter what we did to the usual tourist attractions – Bird Park, Zoo, Night Safari, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay etc, there was not much change until the investments into the two IRs, F1 and Marina Bay Gardens. The tourists have now doubled and with a longer stay per visitor. What is the loss of business over the three days for some retailers around the circuit, compared to the business generated over the whole year from the doubling of the tourists and a longer stay as well? Also hotels do very well during these race days and the government collects extra tax revenue, also throughout the year for the tourists increase.

      Singapore’s economic environment has not changed much with oil and gas, manufacturing and financial and legal services still very in the about the same proportion as before. As a country develops, it moves first from one exporting primary products like agricultural products and commodities off the ground, then to light industry, then to heavy industry and ending in services e.g. financial services.

      Look at Hong Kong. There is much manufacturing left. Singapore had prolonged our stay with manufacturing. We try moving into pharmaceutical and bio genetics, thanks to Phillip Yeo. Also traditionally our petrochemical industry, being large investments are quite rugged. But ultimately many of our manufacturers will face competition from third world countries narrowing the gap, what with our most expensive city in the world title not helping a bit. And we cannot keep importing cheap foreign talents to fill these jobs to maintain our competitiveness.

      I feel the right way to stick with manufacturing is not to stick with existing processes and keep bringing in cheaper and cheaper labour but to move more and more into automation. Even for a country like China, with a large supply of labour, they are moving into automation e.g. the BMW engine factory. This means that we need people who are highly skilled and more highly paid (but in smaller number) who can programme the robots and keep these robots working at the optimum condition. Instead of improving our stock by training more highly qualified workers, we are actually moving in the opposite direction, by discouraging people to get a better education, just because we have a problem finding jobs for them. No country can progress by moving down. No wonder we can only project a long term growth of 2%.

      With the smaller numbers of workers required in manufacturing, we need new jobs to take care of the rest of the population. Tourism is one business area which nobody can snatch away from us. Unlike MNCs which can relocate to a cheaper place, no one can take away a tourist who wants to see Singapore for one reason or another. Macau’s economy largely survives on only one attraction: gambling. Its GDP per capita is probably higher than Hong Kong now.

      The other opportunity is to work overseas to manage our investments overseas, possibly on the One Belt One Road. Such investments should be publicly listed companies on our Singapore stock exchange so that they provide jobs to financial people here. These will also open up the possibility for our people to earn passive income by owning shares in these companies. Of course, the whole act must be done well. The people we sent overseas running these operations, they must be good people, properly trained so that these investments make money, not like those passive investments where we have no management and operational control that we have lost heavily. Again these people need to be properly trained and we should pay them well and not be stingy.

      Many people are afraid of robots displacing human workers but if we plan this into our overall strategy, we can benefit from robots. But having highly skilled workers is essential. Service industry is one area where robots may not be able to replace human beings. Many service companies are small and medium size enterprises and much help is needed to support them, not only in the start up phase but also in the growing phase because we want these companies to grow to large companies, isn’t it?