By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

Fifteen years ago in 2001, then PM Goh announced that an Economic Review Committee would be formed and headed by then DPM Lee Hsien Loong. This committee was tasked to address the restructuring of Singapore’s economy as well as to develop measures to enable the economic revamp.

PM Goh explained that the challenges Singapore was facing at the time were the most severe since 1965 and cited three threats to Singapore:
1. security
2. social cohesion
3. livelihoods and jobs

Then DPM Lee headed a 20-member committee consisting of high profile people in Singapore. The committee spent the next 9 months reviewing the long-term restructuring of the economy and proposing short-term strategies to address the immediate challenges faced by the economy.

One of the key areas in addressing the shortcomings of Singapore’s economy was to promote entrepreneurship and the growth and internationalisation of our SMEs.

Finally a 199-page report was released detailing how Singapore could achieve further economic growth and development. It identified the following five key priorities:
• encourage entrepreneurship in a knowledge economy
• expand external ties
• stay competitive and flexible as an economy
• promote both manufacturing and services
• develop its people.

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National Day Rally 2016

Fifteen years later, DPM Lee Hsien Loong (who is now the PM) is still talking about promoting entrepreneurship.

During the National Day Rally last month, PM Lee said, “Beyond building up capabilities, we should also promote entrepreneurship.”

“Because engineering is one thing but entrepreneurship, that dare to try something new, to venture. That is a different mindset and entrepreneurs have that mindset, need that mindset and we need people like that in our society,” he said.

“They play an important role, not just because they are doing business for themselves and doing well and creating jobs and prosperity and making it big. But also because they are resourceful, they are optimistic. They give the society a confidence. Anything is possible, anything you can do, and I will try and do better. And we need that mindset in Singapore.”

In his rally speech, he gave the example of a company creating the world’s first automatic Chapati and Roti maker.

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“You put in the flour, you put in the oil, you put in the water, and you press a button and after a minute, out comes fresh hot Chapati and Roti, one per minute. And if you have made Chapati you will know what hard work it is,” he explained.

“These are the ways our economy and our workers can thrive amidst disruption. This is how we can progress together and thrive in a competitive and dangerous world.”

It appears that the promotion of entrepreneurship which started 15 years ago by PM Lee has yet to take root in Singapore. Perhaps instead of keep promoting it, it may be a better idea to find out why entrepreneurship didn’t take root despite its promotion 15 years ago? What has happened to Singapore in the last 15 years?