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In Singapore, does having ‘connections’ help one get ahead in life?

This question and 19 more were the gist of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech during the hour-long ministerial forum with Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) students on Wednesday evening, Sept 4.

In his response, PM Lee said connections help open doors, but substance is more important.

“I think if you join the government it doesn’t matter whom you are connected to. You are going to evaluated on your merits. I think in many Singaporean companies, that is also the case. If you think you got connections and you want to use ‘guan xi’ to get places, it may open you the first door to, but in Singapore it is a small place, people will straight away know, behind the ‘guan xi’ there is any substance or not.”

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“I think what we want to make in Singapore is a society where your ability and your contributions count much more than your connections,” PM Lee further said.

Then he added, “Connections do matter. If you grow up in Singapore, you have friends, you serve NS together with your buddies, you come to university, you have your university cohorts……These are your networks growing up with you and entering the workforce and then rising into society with you, that’s important…..You know them, they know you. You get the measure of them. They also have a sense what you can contribute…..Each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” -/TISG

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