The Straits Times forum is a popular place for people to address their woes or to present bouquets. Occasionally, there are letters which many will read and wondered why they got published in the first place. Some of these letters are complaints while others are there just to make a statement. This had always been an issue of contention simply because the Straits Times literally get hundreds of letters each day but only a handful are published. We are looking at 10 or slightly more than that.

A minor furore started when the following letter got published. You can see more stuffs here. It’s quite funny if you take it in the right note. =)

Thanks to our leaders’ great foresight, our Sovereign Wealth Funds have financial clout to shock and awe the world

FOR the past two months, ‘shock and awe’ swept through the entire global financial market by our small country’s two Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF).

The financial world was ‘shocked’ when a small country less than 1,000 sq km in size injected US$10 billion into Union Bank of Switzerland. ‘Awe’ came when similar injections were made for Merrill Lynch and Citigroup; no less than US$20 billion were committed in less than two months. It seems that there is no limit to the strength of our SWFs. The Strait Times subsequently published many articles relating to these funds and their activities.

It was a coincidence that ‘National Treasure’, a film about a group of treasure hunters looking for the mythical Lost City of Gold, was screened in cinemas at the same time when our SWFs made their investment. Wikipedia showed that Singapore’s GIC and Temasek Holdings hold two positions among the top seven global SWFs (worth more than US$100 billion each).

If Wikipedia’s estimates of more than US$400 billion combined assets are correct, it means each kilometre square of Singapore land is worth at least US$0.5 billion, making us the richest country in the world by SWF standards. There is nothing mythical about Singapore and we are definitely not lost, so is Singapore the modern day City of Gold?

Most will be too shocked to look beyond these figures, but many world leaders know Singapore is the only non-oil producing country on that list. Our pioneer leaders have fiercely guarded these foreign reserves since our independence. Opposition parties have many times called for the use of these funds and, for the past 40 years, there were many times that these funds had come in handy; the oil crisis in the 70s, the recession in the mid-80s, the financial crisis and economic slump after 1997. Every time when there was a crisis, Singapore’s leaders did not succumb to temptation of using the fund – they bit the bullet and pushed for internal changes. Every time Singapore became stronger, these funds grew.

Fortunately for us, we voted for the correct party to govern our country all these years and after many painful transformations, Singapore now has one of the most robust economies in the world and also is one of the richest nations in the world. Is National Treasure all about money? No, it is our pioneer leaders who had the foresight and determination to build wealth for the nation and make it stronger.

Syu Ying Kwok

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 24th January 2008



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