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Some things won't change


By KELVIN TONG

LIKE a boiling kettle, the new economy is one hot spot.

Ideas are cooking and excitement is bubbling. Soon, there will be a celebratory whistle and scorching stuff to make a strong cuppa economic growth.

But like a kettle, the new economy is also nine parts brew and one part steam. Like it or not, there will be some hot air.

Recently, the manager of the now-defunct Tiger Fund, which managed US$22 billion (S$37.4 billion) of investments at its peak, warned of the froth that comes with the new economy as well as the overpricing of technology stocks.

The collapse of the American hedge fund underscores the volatility of the digital age.

To keep one's feet firmly on the ground while creative destruction sweeps the world, it helps to know that, come what may, some things here will and should never change.

THRIFT

THE new economy is not cheap. There are lots of snazzy toys (blazing laptops, Pokemon, Play Station 2) and costly technological upgrades. Looking hip will be dear.

While the impulse is to invest in the future, our frugal nature will rein us back from splurging on the frills.

Going for the bare essentials and squirreling away will keep us dry when it rains in the digital age.

STAMINA

WITH a long road ahead, Singaporeans can count on their capacity for hard work to take them to the end point.

Technological advances will help us to work smarter. But that does not mean that we have more time for the golfing green.

In a virtual, hardware-crazed age, we have to be more hands-on than ever if we want to cut through the bits and bytes to present our customers with a human face.

FAMILY

NO ONE can dot.com the good, old tradition of sitting down for a family dinner. Jokes, experiences and stories are best shared face to face. A pat on the back cannot be couched in an e-mail. And no computer whizz can ever recreate digitally a hearty laugh over steamboat.

When the going gets tough in the new economy, there is always grandpa to run back to for episode 456 of his rickshaw saga.

KIASU

CONTENTMENT leads to stagnation. To pause in the new economy is to be steamrollered by constant change.

Singaporeans' kiasu (scared to lose) mentality will ensure that they are first in line when it comes to queuing for innovation (not Hello Kitty dolls).

But while kiasu is in, kiasi (scared to die) is out. The new economy is an arena of risk-takers and anyone who balks at scaling great heights will stay at the bottom of the heap.

ICE KACANG

AN ICE-COLD dessert that will never go out of fashion.

Singapore is already hot enough.

The friction from the churning wheels of change will up the temperature further. Now served with "IQ balls" and even durian, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's choice of new economy food will cool you down.

While ice kacang is a traditional dish, it constantly re-invents itself to thrill tastebuds. Shiok to the last slurp.

CABLE CAR

IT IS slower than the ferry. It even creaks.

But nothing in the new economy is more romantic than a high cable-car ride from Mount Faber to Sentosa.

From up high, Singapore twinkles. The containers at the port look like toys. Even the jam outside the World Trade Centre looks pretty.

New economy gurus may interpret it as viewing the world from a new perspective. We prefer to shut up, take in the scenery and just enjoy the ride.

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Copyright 2000 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.



All Right reserved to Singapore Strait Times Newspaper published on 5/4/2000.
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