Posts Tagged ‘MM Lee’

S’pore Inc: 21 years and still in transition?

In Corporate governance, Political economy on 18/02/2011 at 6:34 am

All my old colleagues have left. I am alone of the old team. I am staying on for a while to help the transition. According to “Confucius Confounded: Analects of Lee Kuan Yew” by Francis Seow, Forward by Dr M, this was said by LKY at Davos in February 1990.

As it’s 21 years since MM said this, we can only conclude that for MM, time passes very slowly: the US is on its fourth president (two of them serving two terms), China has had several leadership changes, M’sia is on its third PM, and Indonesia has had five presidents.

And little us are still transiting leaders?

But maybe the on-going transition is the fault of GCT and LHL? They are slow learners, GCT not mustering his ABCs by the time he stepped down as PM?

BTW, in 1990, the Internet had yet to spin its web, the US was the unchallenged Hegemon and China wasn’t yet an economic superpower.

How time flies, outside S’pore’s political system.


Better and funnier than Hard Truths

In Political economy, Wit on 15/02/2011 at 3:15 pm

Get hold of this: “Confucius Confounded: Analects of Lee Kuan Yew” by Francis Seow, Forward by Dr M.

Like Hard Truths, it quotes MM. But unlike HT, it keeps its quotes pithy and concise. MM should have consulted Francis Seow, and not ST, on how to produce a book that the young will want to read.

Sumehow I doubt any bookseller will bring this in.

“Hard Truths”: an exercise in futility? II

In Uncategorized on 05/02/2011 at 8:45 am

ST’s editor, Han Fook Kwang, has a lot to answer for if the young do not read “Hard Truths”. He has said that it was he who advised MM to use the Q&A format.

But would the young want to plough thru the book or watch the interviews? My informal, unscientific surveys would indicate not.

Waz done is done, MM should hunt for a graphic artist to turn his book into a series of graphic novels. “Hard Truths from the Grave” anyone?

How PAP burdens future generations

In Uncategorized on 02/08/2010 at 8:16 am

“[DPM Teo] pointed out that Singapore has built up its reserves which has enabled it to draw on them during the economic crisis, without burdening future generations.”

True but they are burdened with big mortgages from almost the start of their working lives, and it’s not as though their futures are secure with wages always going up. Remember the FTs brought in to keep wages “competive”. And if 30 yrs down the road, S’pore is in economic decline, what then? Remember we may not have MightyMind to keep prices rising even in a recession.

[Update ^ August — Here’s why mkt forces don’t operate in the work in the public housing market

Meanwhile past and present generations are burdened by having to put up with less than optimal govmin spending because of the need to have budget surpluses to build up the reserves.

Truly uniquely S’porean: everyone gets screwed.

Ya foul mood.

The fragility of everything

In Uncategorized on 14/02/2010 at 5:21 am

Here’s a  sobering story to chase away the hols revelries of the Lunar New Year, and temper the natural optimism for a better new year.

“But the thing that most impresses me is how quickly a life can go utterly off the rails, spiralling from stability to disaster in only a few years. A bit of bad luck, a couple of bad decisions, and a person such as Mr Shaikh can suddenly lose everything, including his life.” The writer was describing what happened to a British man who was executed by the Chinese authorities for drug trafficking.

Reading this one, can understand how the likes of MM perceive the world: one wrong step (say Opposition wins one more vote) and it’s downhill on the steepest of  a slippery slope.

Sigemund Warburg, another control freak and visionary genius, was described thus: “He walks through life like a character in a Greek tragedy, forever expecting the worst to happen, the last man in the dead centre of a hurricane, continually amazed that he is still alive. The frightful sound of the Erinyes [ancient Greek personifications of Fate] is always in his inner ear — especially when all goes well. That, he feels is the moment when one must watch out for the danger signs. ”

And who are we to say that congenial pessimists like MM and Sigemund Warburg are wrong?

Thirteen years after his death, SG Warburg, the UK merchant bank Sigemund Warburg founded was sold to Swiss Bank for a pittance.  When he was running it, it was the top UK investment bank. It was not as though he had dumb successors, the place was a meritocracy.

The world of finance had changed, and his successors had a run of bad luck when carrying out their chosen strategy. This is not to say that the strategy was right: in hindsight they should have become a boutique, not a full service, investment bank.

The ironical thing is that the rich-kid cousin he looked down on as a dilettante and bum did better than he. Two investment banks connected to the cousin (one he co-founded, one he returned to) are independent, thriving and still retain the Warburg name.

Luck is all.