Monday, September 18, 2006

Re-inventing life in Singapore

Reinventing life in Singapore - economy couldn't be better today, so we are told. The oracle suggests that Singaporeans will have an average pay increase of 4%. The painful Singapore recession of 2004/05 is now fading into distant memory for many although I believe that those who were affected most by it - those aged 40 and above, will forever see that recession as an inflection point in their lives, to borrow a Maths concept. Nothing they have ever done for the last 10, 20 or even 30 years are going to return any time soon, the booming economy notwithstanding. Many lost their high-paying and high-flying jobs as companies downsized and some moved out of Singapore, perhaps never to return in any big way, if at all. Many are now on vastly reduced pay while others, not willing or not used to being told what to do in the office, have struck out on their own. Some may have succeeded, others may still be in limbo.

While the old has moved out, the new have arrived - in the form of biotechnology. Where Physics once ruled amongs the army of engineers in the factories in Singapore, Biology and Chemistry has taken over as the kings of the Sciences in the labs. Go to One-North, Singapore's newest mecca to high technology and feel the rarified atmosphere on top of the hill. Even if you are not into high technology, I hear that the food there is good.

All of this goes to show that not only must businesses re-invent themselves to stay relevant, survive and thrive in the long run, so must humans skills be upgraded or adapted to new environments. Staying in a lifelong trade is no longer possible nor desirable unless that trade is constantly being reinvented by the person to make it relevant and meaningful to the times.

Such is the bind that many Property Agents find themselves in, when in order to feed the family and stay in the trade, they resort not only to getting paid by Paul but robbing Peter also after sealing a property transaction over which they may have little contribution or value-add. This is my frank opinion over the recent debate over commissions paid to property agents. I say to them that nobody owes them a living, just like the rest of us who have, at one time or another, lost our jobs. Robbing via fiat is not only unethical, it is criminal. Some re-evaluation and reform is in order, though I suspect that it will not happen anytime soon, given the current booming economy and probable escalation of property prices because the Singapore government has openly invited foreigners to set up home on this tiny island. If anything, property agents are in for a booming time.

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