It seems like we’ve missed this, but better late than never—earlier this week, Singapore held its parliamentary debate on the recently announced budget. Most of the ministers chimed in on Budget 2016, but one in particular caught our attention here at Vulcan Post.
Which one you ask? A paragraph from Ms Kuik Shiao Yin’s parliament speech.
But before we delve into that, here’s some background information about Ms Kuik. Ms Kuik is a two-term Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) who was appointed by the President. She is not affiliated to any political party and does not represent any constituency. The 39-year-old entrepreneur is also the founder of School of Thought, a civic education and umbrella venture of a group of social enterprises called The Thought Collective; and Food for Thought, a socially ethical restaurant.
Food For Thought has been up and running for almost 9 years now, so if there’s anything you need to know about running a business, you can bet that Ms Kuik would know a thing or two (or maybe three) about that.
In the recent parliamentary budget debate, Ms Kuik shared that Singapore’s ‘Kiasu’ culture is stifling originality in business. In her Facebook note, Ms Kuik noted, “It really disturbs me that year after year on these funny National Day surveys, we still rank kia su, kia si (the fear of losing, the fear of failing) as among the top few defining traits of what makes us Singaporeans.”
Ms Kuik argued that “a kiasu person will even pursue things of questionable worth he himself doesn’t believe in as long as he sees everyone else is doing so”, and as a result of that, it leads to more trade offs and becomes a major road block towards a truly innovative society.
Grantrepreneurs And Uncreative Founders
Ms Kuik added, “Kiasu culture is also what creates a subculture of grantrepreneurs—people who call themselves entrepreneurs but are really just grant-chasers—who seize upon any kind of public monies, like the PIC grant, to use on everything but what the grant was meant to accomplish.
Yes, there are genuine kiasu entrepreneurs. But the kiasu entrepreneur is driven by the anxiety to make short gains rather than a mindful desire to win the long game, so he will only take the risks that everyone is already taking and innovate what everyone else is already innovating. That’s why entrepreneurship here tends to lack originality and is just copy and paste work of little worth.”
We found this to also hit the nail on the head:
“Yesterday’s bubble tea shop is today’s hipster coffee joint. We have a ridiculous number of entrepreneurs in F&B and way too little in industries like marine and construction which have far more opportunity, profit and the need for new blood willing to go where nobody else wants or dares to go.”
Do you agree with Ms Kuik?