Ensure gatekeepers don't keep out new ideas

It is ironic that on the same day that an article appeared about wooing bright young minds back from Silicon Valley, there was news about a man being taxed for trying to introduce a piece of future technology into Singapore ("Wooing Silicon Valley techies home" and "Tesla slapped with $15k tax surcharge"; both published last Saturday).

It is not uncommon to hear entrepreneurs bemoan our bureaucracy.

While conformist thinking and toeing the line helped make Singapore very successful in the past, they are now hampering our potential.

I have been trying to persuade the authorities to rezone old and abandoned factories in Sungei Kadut and bring in entertainment concepts from successful franchises overseas.

But it seems that the authorities are still waiting for the old trades that have long left Singapore to return and use these factories again.

It is not uncommon to hear entrepreneurs bemoan our bureaucracy. While conformist thinking and toeing the line helped make Singapore very successful in the past, they are now hampering our potential.

Has our Government forgotten its own gatekeepers in its efforts to develop our future economy? Are our policy enforcers in tune with efforts to be innovative, non-conformist and to work with new ideas?

Let us not try to mould new technology to fit past experiences and outdated rule books.

Talents from Silicon Valley would love to work in Singapore.

But we must ensure that the bureaucracy - overwhelming and powerful in a small market like Singapore - does not kill any fledgling ideas before they can take root and blossom.

Wong Sin Hin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure gatekeepers don't keep out new ideas'. Print Edition | Subscribe