Treating citizens well also helps in improving competitiveness

Perpetual anxiety might have served Singapore well in the past, but can this state continue to drive us forward ("Hard decisions needed for Singapore to stay competitive" by Dr Anne Chong Su Yan; Jan 8)?

Could this actually be hindering our progress and leading us into stasis?

What worked in the past may not necessarily work for the future.

Instead of advocating more of the same in larger doses, this is an opportunity for us to ask "hard questions" to encourage new ways of seeing and doing things as a nation.

Dr Chong suggests that by creating an economic environment that is business friendly but hostile for Singaporeans, our motivation to succeed will be enhanced.

These are not natural bedfellows, and governments can be business friendly and look after the welfare of their people.

Unfortunately, this is still a "hard truth" for some.

Is this perennial tune of punishing our own people to appeal to investors the only way to success? If we want to speak in terms of Singapore being run like a corporate entity, then treating employees well is surely a sound strategy to nurture thinking, productive and happy workers.

Yes productivity is important. But to make us future-proof, qualities like openness, cooperation, mindfulness and risk-taking are also essential.

If our policies were to focus solely on raising productivity, we risk becoming drones.

I would rather have a Singapore that delivers high-quality, innovative products and services, than a race to the bottom to be the cheapest and the fastest.

Liu Meng Chuan (Dr)