Build a nation, not just an economy

The world has indeed become increasingly borderless and complex, due to global connectivity, mobility and competition ("PM: No easy choices on foreign worker, immigrant policies"; Aug 3).

This puts the Government between a rock and a hard place when making policies and decisions in almost every sphere, especially in the crucial areas of economy and national identity.

Building an economy and building a nation require different fundamentals.

•To build an economy, you need talents. To build a nation, you need patriots.

Globalisation has made national economies borderless, but physical borders must remain sacred and static.

A vibrant economy requires high dynamism and competitiveness; a proud nation needs good stability and a deep soul.

Being profitable is the ultimate objective in an economy; being fruitful is a much more attractive proposition for a nation.

Granted, a nation cannot be considered successful without a successful economy, but a failing nation surely cannot sustain any substantial economy.

Going for maximum growth that bursts the digestive capacity of the population would naturally bring about a toxic reflux detrimental to all stakeholders.

A better approach is to go for optimum growth, where the population is stretched to its maximum potential but still feels at home, secure and optimistic.

Ho Chee Khuen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Build a nation, not just an economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe