Create culture for innovation to bloom

Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin.
Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The debate of Budget 2016 continued yesterday as 25 MPs discussed the economic goals for the financial year. They talked about the right culture for entrepreneurship to thrive, support for working mothers, and help for workers of different income levels. Chong Zi Liang reports.

Several MPs called for a change of mindset in society so that creative businesses can flourish.

Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin took aim at the "kiasu culture" that she said drives entrepreneurs here to enter saturated markets instead of coming up with original business concepts.

That is why coffee joints are sprouting up today just like bubble tea shops had in the past, she said.

She also said a kiasu person would pursue things of questionable worth as long as he sees everyone doing so, adding: "Kill kiasu culture already."

Nominated MP Azmoon Ahmad said a culture of innovation has to be fostered from a young age. He suggested that schools should teach subjects that encourage transformative thinking.

Others said firms would have to change their habits so that true reforms can take place.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) said a business owner had told her that cheap foreign labour was like a drug that his company was having difficulty weaning itself off. She also said some companies have become over-reliant on government grants to stay afloat.

She said firms should look to the example of pioneer Cabinet minister Lim Kim San, who came up with a machine to produce sago pearls shortly after World War II.

"He didn't wait around for the Government to give any research grants or Productivity and Innovation Credit for machinery purchase," Ms Lee said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Create culture for innovation to bloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe