Speaking at a Semi-Centennial Leadership Conference organized yesterday, prominent businessman Ho Kwong Ping says that Singapore will need to do away with its “us-versus-them” mentality towards foreigners if it wants to stay relevant to the world.
Mr Ho is the executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings.
“One of the major reasons that I think we can decline is what I would call social schizophrenia – the tension between the demands of a global city which in many ways we are and remaining a parochial kampong which we still are… This tension between the Singapore core and foreign talent, this us versus them, it can become, if we’re not careful, a schizo-city.”
“Companies themselves… should create diversity and inclusion committee and really try to engender diversification. If we look at statistics on gender representation on the political level, the corporate level, the boardroom level, the management level, Singapore actually has not done well compared to other countries,” he said.
He recommended that the government expand the views of it citizens to include more diversity – rather than just stick to the current 4 major ethnic groups here – Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others.
He pointed out that there are 3 types of cities in the world: Homogenous cities, those that are diverse but cohesive and those that are diverse and divided. He says that Singapore is in a position to be an example of a place that can showcase “cohesive diversity”. He also encouraged business owners to run their businesses with this goal of “diversity” in mind.
“My point is we can have a choice to create a shiny exemplary paradigm of Singapore as a society. If we are aware of all these things that we need to do, then essentially all of us with our own businesses in our economy can aspire towards a common goal. If we do not have a common goal, we’re just running our own individual businesses.”