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There's hope for Phua Chu Kang

Singapore's Minister of State Lim Swee Say says there is is hope for the Phua Chu Kangs of Singapore in the new economy. (PCK, a renovation contractor, is a character in a popular sitcom.) Here are extracts of his interview with Sunday Plus.


HOW PCK MUST CHANGE

"In the old economy, PCK just supplies individual items. In the new economy, he must ask himself what it is that the customer really wants. He must understand that different customers have different needs.

Customers expect him to bao kar liau (provide everything). But PCK alone cannot bao kar liau. If he has to source for bedroom furniture, renovate the bathroom and search for that special Italian tile all by himself, he will lose the job.

In the new economy, speed is everything."

HOW ROBINSONS CAN ADAPT

"I was standing in the men's department. I didn't know where to start. I didn't even know what brands to look out for as I seldom buy trousers."

So a salesgirl came up to me and said: "Mister, may I help you?"

But I said: "No, it's okay."

She was very persistent. Her job was to get me out of the store quickly. She said: "Mister, what cut do you want?"

When I said I didn't know, she explained to me the differences between baggy, comfy and straight-cut. Then, she showed me different fabrics and asked me to choose the colours. She also measured my waist. It was 33 inches.

She asked me to wait for a minute, went somewhere and -- boom, boom, boom -- came back with three pairs of trousers. I went into the changing room. They fitted exactly. So, I paid and went.

I was really impressed. We think of the new economy as dot.com. Not true. Even a salesgirl in a traditional business like Robinsons can be new economy."

WHAT'S CREATIVE DESTRUCTION

"You look at what you are doing now, take it apart, be creative and improve it.

But before you do that, you must have a sense of what tomorrow will be like. If you don't, you are just changing for the sake of changing. You don't know what you are gunning for.

That is not creative destruction. That can be destructive destruction."

TAKE TIME OUT

"Every week, I'll play nine holes of golf. Like this morning. At 6.20 am, I was at the Orchid Country Club. I played nine holes, finished at 8.30 am, had breakfast, showered and was back here by 9.30 am.

By doing that, I have less time to sleep. But that's okay. Why? Because I do it for myself, to keep myself happy.

Always remember that life is not a rat race. If it is and even if you come in first, you are just a No. 1 rat and nothing more."

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