Grants

Government must let business owners learn to stand on their own feet

I agree with Straits Times editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang that many of Singapore's pioneer leaders in politics, business and other fields grew up in an era when struggle and deprivation were common (A S'porean story on the road less travelled, Oct 3).

The experiences shaped their values and outlook, culminating in Singapore's remarkable success.

Sad to say, complacency seems to have built up since then and society now expects the Government to come to the rescue whenever problems arise.

Chinese businessman Guo Hui was owed 20 million yuan (S$4.2 million) by embattled real estate giant China Evergrande. He sold off his apartment and car to pay debts and wages. He did not wait for any government handout.

In contrast, Singapore businesses have been given grants and subsidies at the first sign of trouble soon after the pandemic struck. No means testing or conditions were applied.

No one would argue with this as the reason was compelling - to save jobs and livelihoods.

But I believe that some companies may not have needed any assistance at all. Instead of using the money to pay employees their basic wages, some companies used the money to pay incentives and bonuses.

The Government must let business owners learn to stand on their own feet. It may not be wise to rush and dole out assistance at the first sign of trouble.

The ability and fortification of the present political leaders and business owners to cope with crises will determine Singapore's continued success.

Foo Sing Kheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2021, with the headline 'Government must let business owners learn to stand on their own feet'. Subscribe