Competing with Singapore not a solution for Malaysia

The Malaysian Finance Minister's call to compete with Singapore surprised me (Let's give S'pore some competition, KL Finance Minister tells bosses; June 20).

The two countries may compete fiercely over a game of football for national pride or argue whether Singaporeans or Malaysians can fry a better plate of char kway teow.

But when it comes to economics, competition may not always be the best route to pursue.

No doubt, Malaysia is facing serious economic and financial challenges and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng could have done it to drum up support and motivate Malaysians.

However, his actions could have undesired consequences.

Competition can cause over-production as well as drive down market share and prices.

It can become a no-win situation.

Singapore has done well not because we compete head-on with our neighbours.

Even though we love our cars and durians, we do not build cars or grow durians because these are not our core competencies.

Singapore has done well because of good governance, a hard-working populace and a firm belief in equality for all regardless of race, language of religion. Those are our ingredients for success.

I am grateful that our government leaders are honest and hard-working, and working tirelessly for the best interests of Singapore.

Singapore and Malaysia are intrinsically connected and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

It is far better for us to find ways to complement and support each other in our growth than to compete head-on.

I wish Malaysia all the best.

Patrick Tan Siong Kuan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2018, with the headline Competing with Singapore not a solution for Malaysia. Subscribe