Just after making a post disageeing with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's recommendations for a healthier living for all Singaporeans, former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng has hit out again at another of PM Lee's key National Day Rally themes.
According to Calvin Cheng, the government should not always be the one leading the charge into Smart Nation initiatives like cashless payments because it makes Singapore citizens and businesses reliant on the government for instructions.
This in turn results in a vicious cycle, where Singaporeans wait for the government to tell them what to do, then businesses cannot innovate and the cycle repeats itself again.
Cheng wrote on his Facebook: "PM Lee remarked that visitors from China find us backward in terms of using e-payments. This is true, and in fact I would go further to say that we are even more backward than what PM Lee suggests. Why? In China, e-payments and a ‘cashless society’ largely grew from private enterprise. Xi Jinping or his predecessors did not have to go on national TV to urge China to go cashless. He did not have to get the Government to intervene to consolidate e-payment systems, or even contemplate ‘banning cash’ from their subways.
"These e-payment systems developed from the ingenuity and innovation of entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma (Alipay) and Pony Ma (Wechat Pay). Consumers did not start using e-payment systems because the Government told them to do so; they did it because it was more convenient and more efficient. Businesses did not adopt e-payment systems because the Government told them they must be part of a smart nation – they did so because it was more profitable (WePay and Alipay charged them less than credit card companies) and their customers found it better."
Although Cheng agreed that the Smart Nation initiatives were necessary, he lamented that Singaporeans relying on the government to always lead first in innovation makes Singapore a "stupid" nation that is only "smart" because the government tells us to be so.