Big countries can be run by mediocre leadership and still thrive, especially when they are blessed with natural resources.
Singapore needs to strive for excellence in order to punch above its weight. Singapore needs to be extraordinary in order to sit as equal at the table with big countries.
Think about this: why would a small country like Singapore who is not a member of G20 be invited to their summit and related meetings if Singapore is a mediocre country?
Big countries can go autopilot and still survive. Singapore needs many technocrats with talents and integrity to steer the boat and keep it afloat.
Diversity is good in so far as it helps us to check our blind spots. But diversity for diversity’s sake is not key to better lives.
Of what good is a diversity when it voted out able technocrats and talents for politicians whose answers in Parliament on topics he is an expert on are: ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I haven’t thought about it’.
When diversity is of the sort where politicians make suggestions without any grasp of reality, Singapore is weakened by it.
Our Hub Status
As Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung pointed out in Parliament yesterday (6 Oct), our aviation hub status is essential, even existential, to the health of the Singapore economy, to our jobs and our future.
Our airport is one of two lungs of Singapore. It connects Singapore to the world and energises every sector of our economy.
Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Dr Faizal Yahya said: “SIA and Changi Airport are symbiotic to each other because they maintain and grow air connectivity crucial for Singapore … which is important for Singapore as a trade-dependent nation.”
The pandemic has decimated air travel in the world. SIA is harder hit than other airlines because it does not have domestic capacity to rely on. In March, it grounded 138 of its 147 planes, or 96 per cent of its flights. This is the difference between being a big country and a small country. A small country always has to strive harder just to survive.
No grasp of reality at all
So Jamus Lim came to Parliament to ask if the Government would consider imposing an environment tax on SIA. He seeks to endear himself to climate activists while ignoring the impact of the pandemic on the lives of Singaporeans.
Here’s the reality. We are in a crisis even if Jamus Lim doesn’t realize it.
Compared to pre-COVID-19, Changi Airport is serving just 1.5% of their usual passenger volume and 6% of usual passenger flight volume, Mr Ong revealed in Parliament.
“We were the 7th busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic. Today, we have dropped to 58th place,” Mr Ong said.
“We now have fewer passengers than when we first opened Changi Airport Terminal 1 in 1981,” he added.
In seeking clarification from Mr Ong, Jamus said the tax will not have an immediate concern on SIA’s economic viability if it is able to pass on the cost to consumers!
Mr Ong replied: “The simple answer is this, we are in a crisis.”
“SIA, as I mentioned, is ferrying 1.5 per cent of its passenger volume so it’s not about passing the cost to passengers – there are no passengers to pass (the tax) to now,” he added.
Had it not been for the recent recapitalisation exercise, SIA would have gone under.
“So, this is really not the time now to talk about an environmental tax on SIA. If I were to do that … I would have made the situation much worse for SIA,” said Mr Ong,
Mr Ong cited a Chinese idiom: 落井下石. Someone fell into the well and you throw stones to make it worse.