Speech By Mr Raymond Lim, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister For Finance And Foreign Affairs At The National Economics And Fund Management Quiz 2005 On 30 July 200501 Aug 2005
Members of the NUS Economics Society
I am delighted to be here this afternoon to join you at the National Economics and Fund Management Quiz 2005. This is one of the most prestigious competitions organised annually by the NUS Economics Society. I am indeed happy to see so many young people with a keen interest in Economics gathered here today.
2. Before I took up political office, I was working at ABN AMRO as its Group Chief Economist. Economics has always been a subject close to my heart. I enjoy it because it is a dynamic discipline. Some people say the principles of economics and the scientific models accompanying the subject are very difficult to grasp. I think that's not true. The real challenge lies in the application of these principles and observations to problem-solving the issues of the day.
3. The story is told of an economist who returned to his alma mater. He asked to see some current examination questions. To his surprise, they were exactly the same as those he had to answer 10 years before! When he asked why, the professor answered: "The questions are the same - only the answers change!"
4. What the professor said is so true. There is no standard answer. The answer has to change with time. The world changes, driven by politics and economics. Countries change, driven by demographics and government.
5. Take Singapore for example. With globalisation and the rising economies of China and India, we can no longer simply rely on strategies which have served us well in the past. We must move from an investment-driven economy to an innovation-driven one; from providing value added to value creation. We need to make Singapore a regional, if not global, hub of talent, enterprise and innovation. Today, the challenge is globalisation. In 10 years' time, it could be something else. The question that will not change is "How can Singapore assure economic progress and continue to be a land of opportunity for Singaporeans?". The answer to this question has to change with time and circumstance.
6. So my challenge to you, as young economists of today and budding leaders for tomorrow, is to get your fundamentals right, know Singapore, know the world, rise up to the challenges, face reality, refuse to be disheartened, seize the opportunities, indeed, create the opportunities. Yesterday's answers will not do; the country that moves fast and keeps inventing new answers wins.
7. I hereby declare the start of the National Economics and Fund Management Quiz 2005, and wish all competing teams a fruitful day of fun and learning. Thank you.