Political change needed for innovation? Ya, right…

Reading news about Singapore’s economy these days can get quite depressing. Exports are down. Growth is anaemic. Jobs are being cut left, right and centre. Our political leaders still tell us that we aren’t in a recession. But I’m not sure how many people actually buy that. Many have also been asking what’s being done to jolt our economy back into health.

It seems that there aren’t any quick or easy solutions. The changes in the economy are a result of structural restructuring brought about by various factors. These factors include rapid technological advancements, changes in geopolitical climate, sluggish global economy. These affect the whole world, not just Singapore. And they have had led to people in other countries doing some rather… stupid things. Things like Brexit and Trump.

We definitely need to come up with innovative strategies to meet the challenges brought about by such disruptive changes. It’s not business as usual. We cannot just keep using the same old strategies expecting for a different outcome. But that doesn’t mean we should just try any harebrained ideas that pop up. Ideas such as this:

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

Yes. We do need change. But why do we need political change? What’s the causal link? In the history of humanity, what pieces of evidence are there to show that political change consistently leads to innovation which then result in greater economic growth?

If you look at the history of the Western world, it is usually the other way round. The Scientific Enlightenment preceded the Age of Enlightenment, where the authority of the Monarchy and the Church were undermined. Similarly, the industrial revolution led to political upheavals.

I went to read the article that is linked in that Facebook page post. It was full of assertions and skinny on substantiation. In exactly what ways does political freedom help galvanise innovation? Nothing said. Just an assertion. Newton’s Principia, his magnum opus, wasn’t written in a democratic society. How politically free was Germany in 1905, the year Einstein wrote numerous papers that revolutionised many areas of Physics? Not very. Remember, no universal suffrage then.

In fact, the most innovative times in human history was probably during times of war. Wars put a premium on advancements in technology. Whoever has the more advanced technology gets an advantage. Many of the modern technologies we have today when military technology get adapted for peace-time civilian use. Dr Chee would have been more correct if he had said that for us to be innovative, we need to go to war (hot or cold) with some foreign power.

Oh and he said something about Trump’s election and Brexit:

“It is a tragedy that Singaporeans are unable to see that Americans, Hong Kongers, or Britons are unafraid to take political chances, stand up to injustice – perceived or otherwise, and be their nation’s boss. So what if Brexit fails or China cracks down on Hong Kong or Donald Trump’s tenure turns out to be a disaster? They’ll learn, course-correct and improve their political systems in the long run.”

Is he trying to say that Singaporeans should take a chance with SDP. Never mind if it ends up like a Trump or Brexit level type of stupid political mistake for us. We can “course-correct” and improve our political systems in the long run. So he’s trying to say that voting for SDP is a Trump/Brexit level of stupid? Ok. Noted.

If that’s all that Dr Chee can come up with to encourage innovation and boost our economy, then he’s terribly naive. Or he thinks that Singaporeans are stupid and will simply believe anything he says. Or both.

[Featured from Huffingtonpost]


One thought on “Political change needed for innovation? Ya, right…

  1. A tad disappointed with our opposition. It seems they have spent too long as local phenomenons, campaigning on political rights and social welfare issues, that they’ve lost side of the the fact that actually, the opposition we need is one that can provide competing strategies to the PAP in terms of worldview as well.

    How do we deal with Trump? Should PM Lee still advocate the TPP? What’s our stance to PM Najib and 1MDB? How do we approach the South China Sea issue? We’ve heard nary a squeak from most notably the Worker’s Party. And now Chee Soon Juan is simply regurtitating some well worn platitudes. He who has visited so many foreign countries, I would have expected he will be able to throw a few well supported barbs at PAP’s policies, in comparison with those in the West, to highlight how we might end up walking down a similar path.

    Of course, there will be the usual lame duck excuses like, if talk too much will get sued, or will get talked down to in Parliament. But here’s the thing: there are actually already independent thinkers, netizens and political analysts doing it. So why not the opposition parties?


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