Friday, September 30, 2005

Knowledge Economy vs Thinking Economy

PAP has been harping on "Knowledge Economy" for so long but the world has moved on to "Thinking Economy" or what most people are familiar with, "Innovative Economy".

It is a sad fact that Singaporeans are asked to "re-design" their jobs and "re-trian" themselves to take up menial jobs while PAP's FT policy keep the floodgate open for CHEAP SUBSTITUES that displace our local workforce, in the name of "maintaining competitiveness". No wonder there are disgruntled individuals out there who are asking why we wouldn't replace expensive PAP ministers with CHEAPER "Foreign Talents"!

I have spoken about the new concept of "Thinking Economy" back in May 2004. Initially I have no idea that economists and gurus all over the world were already talking about this transformation from "Knowledge Economy" to Thinking Economy or what commonly known as "Innovative Economy" until a forummer made a search over the net. Thinking Economy is very different from Knowledge Economy. The recent Business Week feature on Innovative Companies has given us a glance on what other countries are depending on in their economic restructuring.

The more easy illustration given is the comparison between an "Engineering based" driven company vs a "Design and Innovation based" driven company. Innovation here does not merely talk about R&D but more on the understanding of WHAT CUSTOMERS want. The insight of what customers want even when the customers themselves could not deliberate on it is what Innovation all about.

Thinking Economy needs a big revamp on the education system, social culure as well as political culture. The whole environment (be it social, cultural, political or otherwise) must tolerate and cultivate diversity as well as creativity and innovative thinking.

I will spend time writing on what I think is necessary to nurture a Thinking Economy as well as WHY it is necessary for us to move forward to Thinking Economy. The next few posting on this blog will concentrate on this topic.

For the time being, the following is past posting and links to the discussion made on Thinking Economy.

Goh Meng Seng
(Part of the content)
The Challenge of the Thinking Economy

As Seth Godin of Fast Company magazine writes, ??The first 100 yearsof our country??shistory were about who could build the biggest, mostefficient farm. The second 100 years were about the race to buildefficient factories. The third 100 years are about ideas.??

To succeed in the long run, Arizona must participate in the processof generating ideasand finding better ways of doing things, ratherthan simply executing economic tasks that are dreamed up by knowledgeworkers elsewhere. In the words of Columbia University??s MichaelCrow, Arizona must become a ??knowledge producer?? rather than aknowledge importer."
Knowledge production is important notonly in dreaming up new productsand processes but also in upgrading products that already exist. It??s true that a growing chunk of production in the modern economy comesin the form of intangibles based on the exploitation of ideas ratherthan material things. But at the same time, manufactured goods, fromMercedes to Nike, have ??knowledge?? embedded in them.

Thus, the twenty-first century economy willfavor areas that are??knowledge producers,??places flush with research and developmentactivities, the creation of new intellectual products and servicesand the most recenttechnologies. Those areas strong in knowl-edgeproduction will be the white-collar,front-office parts of the neweconomy. Areas dependent on knowledge imports ?C manu-facturing andprocessing centers, like Arizonais today ?C will be stuck with theblue-collar, back-office parts of the new economy.

From Discuss Singapore :

--- In, Dr Goh<dogsnpuppieslover@y...> wrote:> Sorry for taking such a long time to reply.
It is ok. Doctors are busy people, I can understand that.

> 1. Why I'm so irritated (of what CSJ did) because it took a lot oftime and effort to establish what the OP (opposition party) is today.Just like a football team, just 1 player's fault could cause thedownfall of the whole football team!
That is why the need to do strong branding inorder to differentiate.

> 2. over the past few days, I was thinking of "freedom of speech",democracy, effect of Taiwan election... And I would like to asksomething, what is the price for freedom of speech and democracy? Tobe pessimistic, will SGP end up like Taiwan's politicians? Esp withbehaviour like CSJ? I wouldn't be surprise he end up in a fight inparliment.

First, you must seriously think about at what price do we pay for notopening to develop democracy? Many may not realize it but we arepaying a heavy price for not developing democracy. Govt, due to thelack of effective checks and balance, spends $600 million to buildtwo durians which need another $50m per year to maintain it? How muchhave we spent on our citizens in terms of welfare for those reallyneedy? We could have lowered medical costs, by using this $600m forinvestment and get a decent 3% returns for medical subsidies.Furthermore, the savings from the $50m per year in maintenance mightbe put into better use somewhere! And this is only one incident, atip of the the iceberg.

And you ask, what is the price for freedom of speech and democracy?To me, the price is on PAP for it will be loosing monopoly power overSingapore. Will freedom of speech inflict any price on us? Well, onlyon racial and religion issues, I guess. But if we could not manageracial and religious issues effectively for the past four decades,then we surely fail as a nation that has strong social cohesions.This racial/religious "harmonious" relationship that we always talkabout is just fake representations, shoving the real tensions behindthe fear of speaking up. If these tensions are not released orresolved instead of supressed down, then it is a matter of time itwill be blown out of proportions.

As for democracy, it is a progressive process that we desire.Besides, could we possibly shy away from developing a more democraticsystem? Some may think we could, but the fact is that we cannotafford not to develop into a democratic system. The reason is simple,due to globalization and a change in economic structure, we cannotafford to put our people in a "cage" anymore.

For countries that are still at the infant stage of economicdevelopment, the only focus of economic-social development is toenhance the effective and efficient use of factors of productions(ie. human resources, natural resources with basic machineries...etc)And to achieve such efficient arrangement of factors of productionsupplied into the industrialization or agricultural reform, a strong,dedicated, efficient govt is required.

This is the model we, Taiwan, Korean and to a certain extend, HK,have adopted for the past 40 years which resulted in the Asianmiracles of the 4 Tigers. A strong, monopoly govt is needed for suchsuccess. This is also why China is booming while Russian, beingintroduced a crush course of democracy, failed or being dragged. Andit is also why, to a certain extend, democracy in India seems to bethe hinderance for its economic development.

However, when your economy matured, litracy rate raises and cost offactors of production raises, the structure of your economy will haveto change. The efficiency of factors of production is at its primerate, thus another "engine" of development must be cultivated. Thisis whay PAP termed as "knowledge based economy", while I disagree; itshould be "Thinking economy" instead. Our workforce are all welltrained and educated, armed with various knowledge, but our economyis still down....what is lacking is the "thinking" process which addsvalue to the knowledge.

A "thinking" work force or people, could only be cultivated in aconducive environment. Democracy is the vital pillar of thisnecessary environment. As I have mentioned in some other posts, thereare four areas which we must open fast, social, cultural, politicaland economy. We tried to open up our economy but our GLCs and civilservice is still controlling more than 60% of the economy, yet,continue to expand. They tried to open up on the social aspect, butthat will add little value to cultivate a thinking people. Culturaland political process are the two most important areas that couldprovide the necessary platform for a thinking people to evolve.

Thus, if we observe carefully, that is why Korea, Taiwan and HongKong have to reform their political and cultural structures.Singapore, however, is still stuck due to the lack of will on PAP'spart. PAP has been talking about opening up for ONE WHOLE DECADE, butin terms of political substance, we are regressing instead ofprogressing. This is a sad development which will bring us down as aNation...look, why do you think there are so many people migratingout?

Thus, to me, for PAP to resist the call for political reform toencourage more active citizenry in political engagement, is totallyan irresponsible act. We do not have a choice at all.

> 3. As to "prominent figure", it's my own dedeuction of his intent
.> 4. Dpennz pointed out something like GCT has never react well. Cometo think of it, quite true as I recalled some incidences when he wasprovoked, or ask to answer "unprepared" qns, he "normally" doesn'tgive very rational and clear answers. Does this implies his speech isprepared? May even be from someone else! If GCT react calmly, SGPwill not be so embarassed!
> 5. The qn pointed out by CSJ, if handled properly, is an advantagefor OP! He wasted a golden opportunity (possibily for his owninterest) and even when similar qn is ask later, eg weeks or monthslater, the effect is not the same. He takes this like a child's play!

Yes, I would agree with you totally here.

> 6. As what you have said, if not CSJ but someone else, GCT mayreact different. But it boils down to how CSJ handles this issue.Knowing GCT doesn't like himself, he shouldn't jeopardize SGP, inmany aspects - reputation, quality of OP, when overseas theyrepresent SGP, power and authority of OP in SGP, ... !

This is merely karma. Look at it this way, who has more stake athand? Obviously GCT who is representing Singapore as its leader.Thus, CSJ may act in a way, irresponsibly, but GCT, as a leader andrepresentative of Singapore, should react in a more rational, ratherthan emotional, personal way.

> 7. I agree with you that in any countries, should encouragedifferent political stands, and ppl express their views and opinionswithout fear, openly. Ultimately the ppl are the one benefitting fromthis.> 8. Need to take into consideration how S'poreans are brought up! Ido not doubt the intelligence of S'poreans but circumstances andfactors influencing their political rights and thoughts. Will NKFscam be of any similarities? So much adverse report is reportedbefore the tv coverage and fund-raising but the "blind faith" (can'tremember who said this) demostrated. When artistes ask them to call,only then can you see they are using their hp. I find thisunbelievable and a miracle!

You see, you ask me if our politicians would ever turn into thoselike Taiwanese politicians or already have an answerhere, nope. Singaporeans are just too rational to vote some crazy,hair pulling thugs to represent them in parliament.

> 9. Good points you raised which I have highlighted in blue. As Iwas about to ask how will ppl not have the impression CSJ representsOPs! Ask 50 people you met at Orchard Road tomorrow and ask themwhich party CSJ is from, or how many OPs are there in SGP, let alonethe differences of OPs, WP, SDP etc. I dare to say less than half cananswer it correctly
.> Not only SGP, but in many other countries, different OPs are lumpas 1 OP! Conveniently.
> I felt this strongly - democracy is still relatively new to me whenI'm in a situation in SGP. However I accept it well when I'm oversea.I was reflecting why I can accept this easily oversea but not in SGP?
> Also, is not that I personally lack or can't tolerate diversity butI lack the foresight to look beyond this!

Reflect on what I have said earlier. US and European countries arethe "thinking" economies now; if you caged them up in dictatorships,do you think their economies will flourish or sustained?

> Lastly, to me, politics are something serious, not diversity,creativity, innovations and vibrancy will boom in a nation. I seethis as "experimental factors". Pardon my ignorance, using this tobuilt platform???

Diversity, creativity, innovations and vibrancy are only the resultsof democratic development. Politics are not mere something serious,but something close to you, your neighbours and everyone else in thiscountry. It could be personal, it could be social
conscience. Itcould be fun too. ;)

The reason why you could not connect these as important targets thatpolitics should aim for because we have been brain washed all thewhile that only "economic well being" is THE single goal of nationbuilding and political aim.
It is due to this singular pursuit that we are suffering a big exodusof citizens emigrating to some other places.

We should ask PAP reflect on this one.



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Bala Pillai said...

Check out "Steps Towards a Singaporean Knowledge Economy at Singapore.Net,

Anonymous said...

nice blog but the comments made about India that its democracy is hinderance towards its growth ? wwell in that case gdp growth of 7 % could not have been achived singapore is a very fake democracy come on no country has post called as minister mentor it is dictatorship like a slap with a smiling face, money is the motivator and public dont have guts to revolt , In India we can change a govt if we want to over there its just ministers get shuffled boss is still the same .