The world will not provide us forever

We in Brunei celebrated our 24th Birthday yesterday. Everything looks rosy yet the undercurrents can be troubling if we do not prepare for the future. Today I just want to reflect on what Lee Kuan Yew, the man who transformed Singapore from a country which has no natural resources to speak of and yet is now richer than us.

Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who is also the founding father of the prosperous city-state made his views known on subjects which are very close to all Bruneians, during a dialogue with Allen Lai, chief executive officer of AsiaInc Forum at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies' 40th anniversary gala dinner. The article translated into English and reproduced here first appeared on January 9 in Lianhe Ziabao, a Chinese daily in Singapore.

"I CANNOT give any advice on how Brunei can reposition itself because your next stage depends on your present stage, which is decided by the society structure, education levels and administration capabilities."

"I have spoken to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam many times on these subjects."

"I think the biggest problem of oil-producing states is that their citizens feel that the world will provide for them whatever they do or don't do, and that is a very demotivating problem."

"How do you get rid of it? I don't know, it is very difficult to say. Let me put it simply, it is not meant to criticise you, but I would say straightaway that if Singapore has Brunei's per barrel per capita, we wouldn't have today's Singapore."

"It is because Singaporeans know and we keep on reminding them that this is all they have, and if they don't make use of it and train themselves and learn how to play those instruments and work the computers, they are going to go very hungry."

"So they exert themselves, and that is why we are here. But once we are here, we keep on building the capabilities, we build the infrastructure so that your brain, your fingers and your organisations can lift your people up to a higher level."

"Which is what happens with developed countries. We have seen it. It is not a news analysis. It is what has happened with the Americans, Europeans, the Japanese, and what the Chinese and Indians would be doing."


Anonymous said…
aik? its still 23rd February..
early post for tomorrow? hehe
Yes. Rentier mentalism, I believe is what he's referring where people do not seem to have the incentive to do any hard work - as the reward/income is readily available. This leads to the theory of 'resource curse thesis' where, the notion that countries with abundant natural resources such as oil & gas - are 'cursed' rather than blessed.
In Brunei, there is a misconception of the economy having a Dutch Disease syndrome, but this is not the case as Dutch Disease works thro' the exchange rates. Our exchange rate is determined by the Spore.
How to remove the rentier mentality? To me, it's time to start a proper work-reward relationship, which we are so lacking in our working environment (public sector). It's tough, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

Interesting piece. Would love to meet Lee Kuan Yiew! I'm his fan hehe.

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