The girl who laughed too much, too loud

November 1, 2006

From: Two Singapores

Filed under: thoughts — elyseeteo @ 3:11 am

Warning:Today’s post could be boring..
Was reading my friend’s essay. Let me quote him here.

Recently, two unrelated events happen at the same time. The first was about a man named Mr Tan in his forties commiting suicide by jumping off onto the mass rapid transit tracks. The man in forties was a working class man. He was jobless and had a family to feed. He left behind nothing now except his wife and his kids. The second was about a young and bright student named Wee Shu Min who wrote an emotive, insensitive and snobbish response to Derek Wee who was lamenting about the state of affairs in Singapore. For her remarks, she was criticised by various bloggers (Aaron, Ben, Elia, Kitana, Wee Kiat and of course, everyone from Sammyboy Forums). Her background as the daughter of a member of parliament and a student from the top junior college (RJC) have further ignited the flames. In any case, if everyone take a step back, the whole fiasco is just about the misadventures of a young spolit brat.

So, why are these two events related? My answer to the question is what I called the two Singapores. There are two Singapores: The first speaks of a land of opportunity and meritocracy where local and foreign talent can compete in a free market and meritocratic system to move up the corporate ladder of Singapore Inc; and the second depicts a divide that splits between an educated and self-proclaimed enlightened oligarchy and the average day Joe. In short, it is the divide between the working class and the elite, and the wealth gap that is tearing apart the society.

In the first Singapore, you are promised that if you are willing to pursue your dreams and make your dreams come true subject to the social compact, you will succeed with the blessings of the state. However, the rule is that your dream is defined by the social contract. In this contract, you exchange your personal political and social freedom with security, material wealth and protection from the state. By the time you have successfully won the scholarship trophies, your future is secured no matter what you do in the future unless you commit a hideous crime. Not everyone might succeed using the scholarship route. Ms Wee belongs to the first Singapore, blessed with a well-endowed background and talent. That success is fermented into arrogance and a lack of sensitivity towards the working class.

That comes to the definition of the second Singapore. In this Singapore, if you don’t succeed by the age of 18 by slogging through memorizing and mugging in your high school education, you become part of the working class. Since you do not make the first cut, you enter into the social engineering programme, taking the hypes of that era, from IT to life sciences. Suddenly, you are transformed into a statistic within a Bell curve that have to find ways to make ends meet, struggle between the high and low economic cycles due to external circumstances and live with the hope that your children will live a better life than you. The constant cycle of retraining and retrenchment will squeeze you dry till you find that life is not worth living. That poor Mr Tan is part of that Singapore which Ms Wee did not empathise. She did not feel that there is a need to help that part of the society.

Our society needs to change, not just in how we deal with each other, but how we can help each other. Somehow, the win-win culture seems so far away from us, because that is eroded away by the ratrace that begins from the first day of school till you step into work in society. There are other social problems which we need to be made aware of. One friend of mine, who works in the grassroots, are trying hard to champion ways to help the old and helpless in their financial management in his constituency. For those who do not know, we have an aging population with no enough wealth to last them till their deaths. These old and aged were promised a peaceful retirement with enough wealth from their central provident fund (CPF). However, once they retire, they realized that it was not enough to tide them till death. Inevitably, they have to return to work again. If the problem of a poor and desperate working class man is not enough to make society wake up, it might be better if we take a microscope and really examine parts of the society that are suffering from problems masked off.

Perhaps, we should cultivate our young to understand the social problems, not by providing them textbooks but real examples through the discourse of social work. If there is one other thing that we can ever persuade our efficient and productive civil service, we need to re-examine our scholarship system, because the system is easily beaten by people who are endowed with better resources. I would not even go to the extent by saying that the examinations for these students are far too easier than those in the past. Meritocracy is a double aged sword that can be helpful or be detrimental to our civil service. In order to maximize the returns from a student’s point of view, there are times where an individual will exploit the meritocratic system that will contradict morality, credibility and hard work. Our brilliant elite students have now reached the level where it is easy to beat the system with their resources, and there remains no means and ways to test their moral fibre in contributing back to our society as civil servants.

The solution is not one silver bullet but a whole array of approaches that stretch from the areas of education to healthcare (and the CPF). Ultimately, we have learnt that too much of everything is bad. Finding a middle way between our capitalist and democratic socialist approaches will be key to repair the rift between the two Singapores.

Quote of the Day:

“Today, under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America – middle-class America – whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America – narrow-interest America – whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a president.”
– John Edwards, Vice-Presidential candidate 2004

Many thoughts were running through my head.

Anyway, yesterday, I was supposed to go exercise with Chenwei (+nini+ash), but I decided I was to study. SO I was supposed to study. and sadly I failed miserably, ending up gawking at the gorgeous babes of D.O.A. (I LOVE DOA by the way!)

So blah! I was supposed to study on Monday too, but I ended playing again. Spotting differences between pictures in an arcade. =P

boo to my zhu peng gou you!=P hahhahaa.. I still love you all anyway!!!!!!!

This article touched me. Lets start by taking a look around you. Seriously, all these while, I have been thinking. We seriously need foreign talents, simply because we do not have enough people in the first place (the baby production machines have fallen short of its expected productivity by 30,000 babies this year, if I am not wrong). AND out of the people produced, how many of them can make the mark, to be considered as talents?

Not many I fear… Even in university. *gulps* I think I should just reserve my comments.

When I was talking about changing my line. Mummy dearest reminded me that I should be happy as I have a stable job. I replied her haughtily that there are aplenty of jobs out there for me. I have offers and opportunities. And I whine about my bond. Oh, woe on me. I forgot about others who are having so much difficulties finding a job.

Then, when I volunteered with XXXX. I came face to face with real living people. People whose jobs and lives are dangerously threatening by ‘foreign talents’. Or people who do not even have the means to cope with the current high cost of living. I couldn’t sleep for the next few days.

So, yesterday. While walking back home after DOA, I asked my companion (the author of this article). What is the solution?

He shrugged. There is no solution as yet.

From my very limited life experience, I see…

One Singaporean who does the work, one Singaporean who reaps the rewards. One Singapore who is embracing the foreign talents, one Singaporean who is worrying about his rice bowl. One Singaporean planning for early retirement, and another working in fastfood chains after retirement. One Singaporean who drinks canned drinks, and another who digs the rubbish bins for used cans…

Tell me, it doesn’t affect you…

Two Singapores, I fear.

En adaptant son modèle, Carrefour s’impose en Chine

Carrefour a ouvert, samedi 28 octobre, son millième hypermarché dans le monde. Le magasin, situé à Tonghzou, une ville satellite de Pékin, a été inauguré par la ministre du commerce extérieur, Christine Lagarde, et José-Luis Duran, président de Carrefour, avant que la quinzaine de milliers de clients attendus dans la journée ne s’y engouffrent.



Les ventes mondiales de la branche hypermarchés de Carrefour représentent 49,5 milliards d’euros. En Chine, les ventes s’élèvent à 2,06 milliards d’euros (2005).


Carrefour emploie 40 000 personnes en Chine.


Le groupe devrait ouvrir 100 nouveaux magasins en 2006 dans le monde, dont 25 en Chine, où il dispose de 85 hypermarchés Carrefour et de 253 magasins Dia (enseigne maxidiscompte). Il y compte 188 millions de clients.


En Chine, les principaux rivaux de Carrefour sont l’américain Wal-Mart, le britannique Tesco et Auchan.

La Chine est le pays où Carrefour, implanté depuis 1995, connaît sa croissance la plus rapide. Le groupe, qui est le premier distributeur international en Chine, devrait y réaliser cette année un chiffre d’affaires de 2,5 milliards d’euros, en progression de 20 %.

La croissance des activités chinoises du numéro deux mondial de la distribution est à l’image de celle du pays : forte et régulière. S’appuyant sur un pouvoir d’achat en augmentation et un produit intérieur brut (PIB) en hausse de 10 %, Carrefour a doublé en trois ans son parc de magasins.

Le groupe cherche maintenant à passer à la vitesse supérieure. Cette année 25 hypermarchés auront été ouverts, l’objectif étant d’atteindre 120 grandes surfaces en 2007.

“La croissance n’est pas un problème : les emplacements ne manquent pas, le pouvoir d’achat ne cesse d’augmenter, explique M. Duran. Notre préoccupation est de savoir gérer au mieux cette croissance.”

Or, être distributeur en Chine n’est pas un long fleuve tranquille. Les groupes occidentaux doivent composer avec le bon vouloir des autorités locales et en bonne intelligence avec des partenaires locaux (grossistes gouvernementaux, sociétés foncières parapubliques…).

Carrefour doit donc adapter constamment sa stratégie à la politique menée par les autorités chinoises. Celles-ci cherchent actuellement à rééquilibrer le développement économique du pays en faveur des régions du Centre et de l’Ouest, moins développées que la côte.


En acceptant d’investir dans ces zones, Carrefour s’assure le soutien de l’administration, qui permet au groupe d’obtenir de nouvelles autorisations d’implantations dans les grandes villes comme Pékin ou Shanghaï.

“Il a fallu trouver un modèle économique capable de rendre rentables des projets de magasins dans ces régions où les dépenses des clients sont de 40 % inférieures aux grandes villes de la côte, souligne M. Duran. Il y a encore trois ans, nous ne savions pas faire : c’est ce qui pénalisait jusqu’à présent notre développement. Le potentiel était là, mais nous ne pouvions pas nous y attaquer.”

Aujourd’hui, Carrefour maîtrise mieux ses coûts, ce qui lui permet d’ouvrir des hypermarchés à l’intérieur du pays, où le panier moyen par client ne dépasse pas 7 euros, moitié moins qu’à Pékin.

Carrefour est présent dans 31 villes. Un maillage jugé satisfaisant : la priorité va au renforcement des zones où le groupe est déjà implanté, afin de profiter de meilleures économies d’échelle.

Le distributeur ne veut pas tomber dans le piège d’une course à la taille avec son grand concurrent Wal-Mart, qui vient d’annoncer le rachat du chinois Trust-Mart pour 1 milliard de dollars (785 millions d’euros). Cette opération pourrait permettre à l’américain de détrôner Carrefour en nombre de magasins.

“Il est très séduisant de vouloir croître à tout prix, mais les opérations d’intégration d’un concurrent se révèlent toujours extrêmement compliquées. Notre priorité consiste à veiller à la profitabilité de nos magasins historiques, car ce sont eux qui nourrissent la croissance. Quand on remet en cause ces bases, on se met en danger”, rappelle M. Duran.

Carrefour a payé pour apprendre au Brésil et en Argentine où, à force de vouloir croître trop vite, le groupe avait fini pas perdre de vue ses fondamentaux.

Malgré une compétition croissante, le groupe gagne de l’argent en Chine depuis 2001 et sa filiale s’autofinance, c’est-à-dire que les 150 millions d’euros investis chaque année (sur un total de 3 milliards pour le groupe) sont supportés par Carrefour Chine.

Au-delà de la profitabilité, la croissance pose des contraintes en matière de ressources humaines. Le groupe recrute actuellement 10 000 personnes en Chine – il y augmente ses effectifs de 20 % par an. Outre les problèmes de formation, il est confronté à un turn-over important qui atteint 40 %.

“C’est pourquoi nous ne devons pas griller les étapes. Nous voulons stabiliser notre rythme de croissance actuel”, relève M. Duran.

Même contenue, cette croissance devrait permettre à Carrefour, dans les toutes prochaines années, de hisser la Chine parmi ses trois plus gros pays par le chiffre d’affaires.

There is so much that NTUC can learn from Carrefour. Anyone has seen the pathetic state that NTUC is in (especially in the Xihou area)?


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