The excessive competitions from government-linked companies (GLCs) are affecting the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore, said the Workers’ Party (WP) politician Yee Jenn Jong, adding that private enterprises could be “better deregulated”.
Mr Yee was among the panellists in the webinar titled, “The Future and Challenges to the Singapore Economy”, organised by the Future of Singapore (FOSG) via Zoom on 17 Apr.
The webinar touched on the fractured global economy with Singapore caught between the US and China blocs, disruptive technological revolutions to jobs and global supply chains in artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things, 3D printing as well as future pandemics.
Mr Yee, who is also an entrepreneur, supports the idea of deregulation, saying that the “excessive competitions” from GLCs and cooperatives had made it difficult for private enterprises to grow.
“In my perspective, there’s also sometimes a balance. In fact, in a large number of the industry is probably better deregulated. It’s better to, say a thousand flowers bloom and see which one grows up, which one can become a winner like Sea or Grab, to become a big unicorn,” he said.
Mr Yee pointed out that the GLCs have enough finances, the ability to raise funds and are provided with the government’s support, compared to the SMEs.
“If we could look at, for example going to a regional country with a G2G [government-to-government] negotiation coming to the whole ecosystem, but always bear in mind how to bring out the next level of Singapore companies so that they can become our next growth in future,” he added.
Citing Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) NCMP Leong Mun Wai’s points in the webinar, who noted that the small companies in Japan survived while the big companies have fallen out, Mr Yee emphasised growth linkages between the GLCs and SMEs.
“Mun Wai talked about the Japanese companies. The big ones have died, but then the smaller ones that were suppliers to them have actually grown up and that’s an interesting point.
“Our GLCs, they’re big now, but if they can bring up our local companies to go with them, say in a green economy, into the region… we could actually create some future winners that we do not even know of today.
“But the important thing is when they go they must have this mindset of the stakeholder of Singapore. Not just the shareholders, but the stakeholders bringing the whole Singapore ecosystem, our best talents, our companies in so that we can grow this together,” he said.
Mr Yee also cited former People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Inderjit Singh’s points, who shared about a research professor in NTU who took an Intellectual Property (IP) license in Singapore to start a prototyping facility to productize his technology.
Instead of starting his prototyping in Singapore, the professor moved to Shangai due to the financial and infrastructure support available in Shanghai.
Mr Yee went on to share his own experience in the research and development (R&D) sector, saying that he used to be a university’s researcher.
“We spent a lot on R&D [research and development], we have very good raw R&D, but how much of it actually goes into commercialization?
“That’s where I feel that Singapore has been lacking behind Taiwan, South Korea, Germany and Switzerland, where they have such a strong manufacturing culture,” he noted.
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