Do our scholars and flawed KPI system have the DNA to bring Singapore forward?

While there are many things I agree with here in Heng Swee Keat’s statement there are two fundamental flaws and those are competency and core KPI’s

I have no doubt that when Ng Yat Chung ran NOL he worked very hard and to the best of his ability he tried to make what used to be our national shipping line a success. His fundamental problem was that he was a government scholar and former chief of army and not a businessman or entrepreneur and he new nothing about the highly competitive international shipping business and so we saw the result.

The other issue is clear when we look at SMRT. We had Saw Phaik Hwa, who was a businesswoman, but with a background in retail so the system became a network of shopping malls that happened to have trains running between them. She was successful at the retail part and making money (the seeming core KPI) but failed at the fundamental reason for being which was running a public transport system because that was not in her wheelhouse.

Now we have Neo Kian Hong, preceded by Desmond Quek, 2 scholars with military backgrounds. In the case of Desmond Quek we could say okay they needed discipline to fix what was wrong so ignored the fact that he had no transport experience and again was not a businessman or entrepreneur but why did we end up with Neo Kian Hong when Desmond inevitably failed, not for want of trying I might add? In Neo’s case we even had a “global search” for talent but we ended up with another scholar with no transport or business background.

The CEO of SMRT gets over $2 million dollars, more than double the head of any MRT system in the world so we should have had the pick of the talent, but we were told we got Neo as he had other talents?

Other talents like Ng and Quek had?

Not the fundamental talents needed to do the job but ones the system has defined override the appropriate experience to be competent at the task like protecting the status quo, driving profit for shareholders above all else while keeping the problems out of the public eye maybe?

Robert Kiyosaki coined a saying when he said A students work for C students and B students work for the government. By that he meant that the best creators, entrepreneurs, businessmen and leaders are not necessarily the best scholars, but they recognize a need for them and hire them to support their organisations and those left over join public service. A generalisation but a truism around the world, except here in Singapore.

Here in Singapore our scholars, our A students, are trying to be what they don’t have the DNA for. They may be good, diligent and hardworking in their areas of expertise, but they are not natural leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives and business people and their fundamental KPI’s driven by stability, profit and safety in a sheltered environment don’t lend themselves to the results that the citizens of Singapore need.

They say to a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Well to a scholar every problem looks like a school report and faithfully repeating what they are taught so we have committee after committee writing reports and at most tweaking the past and never really changing anything until absolutely forced to.

Not for want of working hard and trying but because at the fundamental level their expertise should be a supporting role for the real leaders. Sadly, real leaders we have yet to see as the PAP hardcore also spend a lot of time stopping or “fixing” those leaders from emerging in their efforts to sustain a flawed status quo whose mistakes are starting to compound on each other, and the effects are being felt more and more by us all every day.

If they could learn this most basic lesson maybe we could all work together to fix Singapore instead of standing on opposing sides and fixing each other?


Brad Bowyer



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13 Responses to “Do our scholars and flawed KPI system have the DNA to bring Singapore forward?”

  • opposition dude:

    The main problem is that PAP never learn their lesson. Ng Yat Chung and Desmond are excellent examples of guys in the wrong jobs but still went ahead anyway. PAP is far too proud and arrogant to admit they have done wrong publicly so they admit their mistakes by replacing Kwek.

    Of course PAP will still stick by their scholar is best model, it’s the only thing they are good at. All failures are brushed aside as if they never happened and all that needs to be done is change the top guy to another without the relevant experience.

    And as for the so called “global search” for talent to replace Kwek you know it’s bullshit of the highest degree. Why don’t they even dare to reveal which recruitment comapnies were engaged in this search? Why didn’t they dare mention where they looked, who was interviewed and so on?

    Because it never happened that’s why.

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  • Bapak:

    Again, I want to tell you all their selection process is very simple. This global search is just TKSS to ownself masturbates ownself shiok. If you missed it here is the rerun.

    Their selection process is very simple. Tea Ceremony with Pink Panty.

    PP – Do you like mee siam.
    General1 – Yes sir.
    General2 – Yes sir.

    PP – Do you eat with hum.
    General1 – Yes sir.
    General2 – But mee siam don’t have hum, sir.

    PP – Ok General1, you report to work at Ministry of Hum tomorrow.
    – General2, you are out of touch. Did you read my speeches? Sorry,
    you are not selected. Go back to your camp.

    After they left the office:-
    General2 (left the Tea Ceremony scratching his head), asked General1 – what did I do wrong?

    General1 – Cannot be too honest lah. Must always say YES!
    General2 – Don’t that make me a yesman?
    General1 – Who care? The pay is so good!

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  • Asd:

    Thats why wear sq hat

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  • Square holes, round plugs!:

    When you put round plugs into square holes, they will never fit! You don’t need to be a genius to understand this.

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  • The Other Hard Truths:

    There have to be sinister reasons why they keep parachuting Army generals into chief executive positions.

    Could it be that a measure to keep the Army from participating in an armed revolution ?

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  • NotMyProblem:

    Square holes, round plugs!:
    When you put round plugs into square holes, they will never fit! You don’t need to be a genius to understand this.

    Of course everyone understand this but $$$$ blurs everything. Further, all this Million$$ is so easy to earn, no accountability and responsibility can be pushed to others. The job comes with power, wealth, fame and impressive resume. Competency, responsibility and accountability are not included.

    After all as long as there is this 70% voters, why worry? What wrong with the wrong plug to the right hole? We have voters who have no idea of which is the right hole or the right plug! “Idiots politician is not the problem, the problem is having idiot voters keeping voting them in”

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  • HarderTruths:

    The only problem is integrity

    If you are not qualified as an entrepreneur (with a solid resume) to run a company or a portfolio (and in real life only a book scholar) don’t take up the post.

    The result will always be failure. This means you don;t care about the people only your own advancement and status.

    The pappies were chosen by the electorate for selfish reasons. Noe who is going to fix the problem?

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  • Oldtimer:

    army chiefs: isn’t this part of the process of having
    the army in place in case of a freak election?
    in aljunied, they took away the computer system when
    an opposition party won the GRC. if the PAP loses
    a GE, it is merely making sure life will be hell
    for an opposition winner cos that party will be
    fought tooth and nail by the ex-army fella.

    as for doing global searches for pple to head these
    organisations: the big question is why? why is it we
    dun have people rising up from the ranks and being
    good enough to be boss? why are the employees being
    kept out of the top post? in the past, foreigners
    were brought in to train potential CEOs. now they’re
    simply given the top post. or that top post is given
    to people who have not worked for it. what is there
    then for potential leaders to work towards? and if you’re
    penalised for suggesting different routes, why bother
    to think? just say “yes” and life is easier.

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  • Bapak:

    Just look at Thailand & Myanmar. Your answers are all there. The Old Hack already warned his defeated PAP regime will not hesitate to send in the army. When has PAP ever played it clean? They are the most dirty.

    The Other Hard Truths:
    There have to be sinister reasons why they keep parachuting Army generals into chief executive positions.

    Could it be that a measure to keep the Army from participating in an armed revolution ?

    GD Star Rating
  • Bapak:

    Well said, bro.

    NotMyProblem: “Idiots politician is not the problem, the problem is having idiot voters keeping voting them in”

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  • Towards natural aristocracy:

    Who is a scholar? the first reply that must be given is: He is a scholar whose whole inward intellectual and moral being has been symmetrically unfolded, disciplined and strengthened under the influence of truth. The different mental activities will always be exercised rightly when the proper equilibrium is preserved. No one faculty should be drawn out to the neglect of others. The whole inner man should be unfolded harmoniously.

    To be a scholar involves more than mere learning. He may know much about very many things and yet know little or nothing right. Knowledge without system or order is of no more service than useless lumber. A Genuine scholar possesses something more: he penetrates and understands the principle and laws of the particular department of human knowledge with which he professes acquaintance. He imbibes the life of Science. To know only one thing as it ought to be known makes a man more of a scholar than to know many things simply by rote. The man of one idea may be an object of ridicule, yet if his one idea is apprehended in its proper life and power, he is of far more account than if he had collected a number of notions, all jumbled together in his mind confusedly. The knowledge of a scholar becomes a part of himself; and does not hang around his soul like a broad-cloth coat about his shoulders. Yielding himself to the power of Truth, as such, his mind is transfused and moulded by its energy and spirit.
    - Emanuel Vogel Gerhart, “The Proper Vocation of a Scholar.” (July 2, 1847).

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  • Partial truth?:

    Desmond kuek has been hired by UBS wealth management group as divisonal vice chairman.

    Nobody bother to do homework ?

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  • Spore PSP = Msia PH:

    heng is not 1st class honours = less talent in pap play book.

    heng knows by pap play book he is out. so heng plays yes man ship and plays caution by avoiding doing anything with initiative.

    heng is where he is only because he behaves exactly like the pap jiak liao bee tony tan who does not do anything to avoid any mistakes and always pretends to smile in order not to utter a single word to avoid being caught.

    such Ljs no good at all for any country.

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