WP Jamus Lim thinks today’s needs are bigger than tomorrow’s challenges

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In Parliament, the Workers’ Party (WP) had argued for more of the NIRC to be used as government revenue for spending. They had called for 60% to 70% of NIRC to be used.

In an exchange with a netizen named Richard Weng, WP Jamus Lim said that it was about striking an appropriate balance between the needs of today and tomorrow. 

sgmatters.com striking a balance striking a balance

By calling for more to be spent for today, and less to be saved for tomorrow, the WP is clearly saying that today’s needs are bigger than tomorrow’s needs and challenges. 

Are today's needs bigger than tomorrow's challenges?

If Jamus’ comment is a glimpse of the grasp of reality by the WP leadership, and their depth of thinking and understanding of the real world we live in, then it is a demonstration of the party’s lack of touch with reality, and certainly, a lack of depth in thinking as well.

Being a small country, and an open economy by necessity, Singapore is especially vulnerable to the winds of change in the world. Unless we have a deep and strong anchor, we will be tossed and turned with the winds. This has been repeated often but it does not make it any less true.

The size of Singapore’s economy today is at least $500 billion. Singapore will need the firepower that can defend an economy of this size in a financial crisis, and be able to shore up its defences so that investors will not flee, leaving us with no jobs and no economy in the aftermath of a crisis. 

Theory versus reality

Does Jamus fully comprehend the need to defend the Singapore economy?

This is the same economist who, in Feb 2021, had called for the full size of the Singapore reserves to be make known to encourage speculation of the Singapore dollar. He said at that time that currency speculation is stabilising for the economy. You can read it here, here, and here.

“The Singapore dollar is one of the most actively traded currencies in the world relative to our GDP with daily turnover estimated at US$37 billion globally, or annual turnover of US$9.5 trillion. Our nominal GDP is just about US$350 billion. So you are comparing trillions and billions,” then Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said to Jamus Lim. 

If currency speculation once destroyed the UK monetary system, what makes this academic economist think that Singapore will triumph with the full size of our reserves revealed for more efficient attacks on the Singapore dollar? 

What are tomorrow's challenges?

Diseases and pandemics.

COVID-19 was bad. It took us more than 2 years to get back on our feet. More than 6 million people died worldwide from it. If not for vaccination developed at speed, many more would have died.

We kid ourselves if we think that COVID-19 is the worst of pandemics. 

Global warming and climate change is increasing the threat of diseases. Before COVID-19, you probably would have responded with scepticism when told that a pandemic was expected. 

Financial crisis can happen. If COVID-19 is not the last pandemic humanity has to face, the 2007-2008 Gobal Financial Crisis of 2009 was not the last of financial crises. 

New global order. The peaceful global order that allowed us to prosper for the last 50 years has been replaced by a new, uncertain global structure. We have to take the world as it comes. We cannot chart our future based on the past. 

War can happen. We live in a world of heightened geopolitical tensions. No one wants to start a war but war can also happen by accidents, and it can drag on for a long time. 

Expect the unknowns.

There are the known unknowns, and there are the unknown unknowns

Don’t sleepwalk through life. There are challenges we try to understand and expect. There are also the unexpected challenges. These are the unknown unknowns

Underestimating tomorrow's needs and challenges

For the Workers’ Party to think that today’s needs are greater than all of tomorrow’s needs and challenges is a clear demonstration of just how out of touch they are with reality. Perhaps they have a single focus on domestic needs without an eye on the external world and the future

This cannot be good leadership at all. This is, in fact, bad leadership

The WP has shown that they lack depth in thinking, and are either unable to look beyond the present. ‘Worst case scenarios’ are clearly not part of their thought process

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