Scientific Research in Singapore
Singapore’s primary focus is less on doing basic research and more on generating jobs. Nothing wrong with this approach at all. In fact, I think it has served Singapore well. I am glad that this view has now been made crystal clear (by none other than the controversial chairman of an important public sector company). He said....
'In Singapore, we have a small population, we have no such luxury to do basic science. The key is to be practical. We cannot have everything. By nature, I want to see some outcome...I want something I can feel and touch, and knock.'
'My job is to create jobs. It's not just to create great science and great things. Don't forget Nobel Prizes don't create jobs. Research, to me, is a means to an end. The end, to me, is to attract and encourage local companies and MNCs and create jobs for all Singaporeans, from the CEO down to the cleaning lady.'
(The Straits Times, 3 October 2005)
So if you plan to do research on questions like....
- Is there a positively charged matter smaller than a proton (not the car lah)?
- Are there places in the universe where Einstein’s and Newton’s laws do not apply? (no, its not the dengue mosquito breeding area)
- With what frequency do prime numbers occur? (no, its not every month)
- Any other question that whose main objective is to advance knowledge
.... then you can go fly kite. Despite the many news reports you read about the number of patents filed in the various fields, it matters only when it translates into jobs. An invention that can employ fellow Singaporeans is what we are looking for.
So the real goal we are striving towards is not scientific research, but to be the job hub of the region. And I am not exactly sure where this toilet innovation fits into the bigger picture :)