mengwong (mengwong) wrote,

Lee Kuan Yew on Foreign Talent

from One Man's View of the World:

The key to innovation and technology is people.

There is now a global marketplace as goods, services, capital, and knowledge become even more mobile. These developments have accelerated the integration of regional markets. However, in order to benefit from globalization, countries must ensure that their laws and institutions facilitate the global flow.

Businesses now source for talent and opportunities globally. They invent, collaborate, or acquire technologies and capabilities globally to ensure their competitive edge. As the Internet makes more markets contestable, businesses in Asia must compete on this platform or be swept aside. The national counterpart to businesses that source globally is a society that welcomes foreign talent. Societies that will succeed are those which easily assimilate foreigners. Silicon Valley is such a place. Not only is it "color blind" and uniquely meritocratic, it has a culture that draws newcomers in. Asia's businesspeople must acquire these attributes and be globally literate.

We must continue to attract as many able and talented people from China, India, the region, and from developed countries, to add to our team. Without this input of foreign talent, even the U.S. could not have been so successful. Their atomic bomb owed much to European talent fleeing from Hitler in the 1930s and 40s .... Even the American space program owed its start to the German rocket scientist [Wernher] von Braun, who invented the V bomb in WWII and was captured by the U.S. army as the war ended. He was taken to America. Since then, every year, thousands of talented professionals, academics, researchers, and writers are drawn from the UK and EU [European Union] to the U.S. because they are made welcome in America and given the facilities for their research or become successful in their professions or business. This has enhanced America's high performance. If America, with 280 million people, needs to top up with talent, Singapore, with 3 million, must do so, or we will be relegated to the second or third division.

We draw our talent from only 3 million people. A short mountain range is unlikely to have peaks that can equal Mount Everest. You need a long mountain range like the Himalayas unless you are a special people like the Jews in Israel. With a population of four million Jews, they have the talents of a population of more than 40 million. Everyone knows that Shanghainese are the brightest and sharpest of people. But few know why. It is because, for over 150 years, ever since it became a treaty port for the foreign powers, it has drawn the ambitious, energetic, and talented from the Yangtze Delta, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and other provinces along the river, a catchment of some 200--300 million. Even though Shanghai regularly loses leaders to Beijing, it still has an abundance of talent, because it does not depend only on the 12 million in the city itself.
Tags: immigration, lky, singapore

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