Razer co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan is one known to not mince his words.
He’s also one known to not to let any misconceptions go unaddressed.
Recently, he was quoted by The Business Times for his comment on how “While it might seem like common wisdom to first test (an idea) in Singapore, and then take it regionally and to the world”, he felt that, “with all due respect to the government, […] it doesn’t make sense in today’s world”.
He then added, “Furthermore, by the time you’re done with test-bedding in Singapore, somebody’s already tested the same (idea) in China, or in California, reaching out to North America and so forth. You’re better off starting in the US and China from the get-go.”
Instead, he suggested, Singapore should “focus less on bringing in foreign talent and companies, and more on investing in Singaporeans who are prepared to go global, but who will bring employment, innovation and profit back to the country”.
Perhaps he was also referring to those like himself, given that Razer is based in San Francisco, and product launches are mostly targeted at the US and international market. Razer’s Asia-Pacific office, and much of the R&D for the company, though, is done in Singapore.
Back in 2009, Razer had also worked with the Interactive Digital Media R&D Programme Office (IDMPO) of the (the) Media Development Authority (MDA) to launch the Razer IDM Lab, which was positioned to support R&D for games and game developers in Singapore.
His recent comments have drawn positive responses, many saying that he made good points, but they seem to go against the grain of how the Government is typically perceived by Singaporeans to be very (too, some feel) encouraging of foreign companies and workers coming here.
This is in opposition to the generally protectionist stance that many other nations have adopted, which Minister of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon says thus “presents us with the opportunity to position Singapore as an attractive startup location for talent”, and that these “foreign entrepreneurs have the capacity to add to the vibrancy of our start-up scene”.
Also, Tan stating that Singapore isn’t the ideal test-bed, and that companies are better off starting in the US and China, can also be seen as not adhering to the Government constant push for more innovation from local startups and companies, or striving to be pioneers in new fields.
It’s thus no surprise that there have been some who have seen his comments as being rather ‘controversial’.
Tan Speaks Out About His ‘Controversial’ Comment
This morning, Tan took to his personal Facebook page to address some of comments he had gotten about his bold remarks:
Offering a different perspective of how many tend to think that the Government is extremely unwilling to receive feedback (especially ones that aren’t the most flattering), Tan reiterates that the Government is actually “more open to feedback than most people think”.
However, he states that the feedback should have “intentions/motives [that] are good and in the best interest of the country/company”.
This is coming from someone who had boldly called out the Government for its “schizophrenic attitude […] to gaming” back when the news of how they were planning to monitor the impact of Pokemon GO on society.
It’s hard to say whether or not his comment will change the way that many Singaporeans view the Government, but as someone who has a pretty strong influence (enough to be name-dropped as an example to follow, and invited as a panelist on a discussion on the Future Economy alongside Grab CEO Anthony Tan and Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat), Tan has definitely been pushing the right, albeit not always flattering buttons of the Government.
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