Learn from the Swiss to top global competitiveness list

It is certainly no mean feat for Singapore to be placed second in the latest World Economic Forum global competitiveness rankings ("S'pore retains No. 2 competitiveness spot"; Sept 29).

We can be proud that despite the lack of natural resources, we have ranked higher than the more developed countries in the world. We have transcended our limitations to great effect by trying hard.

But Switzerland has tried harder. It has topped the charts for eight years in a row. It, too, is a small country with limited natural resources.

What sets it apart?

Switzerland is wholehearted in embracing the future and making all parts work like clockwork, much like its famous timepieces.

It creates ecosystems through policies and infrastructure where innovation could first be sited, and it has a well-educated workforce that supports it, and gives it the lead.

It also creates the right conditions to attract the best talent and multinational firms that perhaps keep its well-trained workforce ahead of the learning curve and bring forth its own innovative small and medium-sized enterprises.

While it might be easy to replicate the hardware, it is the software that sustains the Swiss' lead. Human resource is the most valuable among factors of production. Talent is in demand and many countries pay top dollar to attract it to their shores.

Therefore, Singapore should create policies and conditions to attract the best talent from near and far to keep it ahead of the game. These individuals should find Singapore an attractive place for work, play and for their children to grow up in.

As a workforce, we must be motivated and eager to learn. We should take pride in our work so that talented people and investors find Singapore worthy of their patronage.

As a people, we should be warm, considerate and display civil behaviour so that foreigners will sing high praises of us as a society.

The supporting "soul food" of arts and leisure should also be of a world-class standard.

Lee Teck Chuan