Tag Archives: singapore

Lessons Learned While Traveling

In Up in the Air, George Clooney’s character gives a monologue about the ins-and-outs of air travel. Here is my, much shorter and more idiosyncratic,  version:

Beijing Airport is pretty good

So is Singapore Airport

Xiamen Airport is the most chaotic place in the world

the Kindle app for iPad makes time go by much quicker when you are standing (or sitting besides, as the case may be) the line

Learning that Thomas Ligotti is from Detroit makes everything make sense

Be Resilient, Part I: How to Measure Resilience

Factors of Production,” Wikipedia, 14 August 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factors_of_production.

Resilience,” Wikipedia, 29 August 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resilience.

With Steve’s original post on Singaporean resilience continuing to gain traction (SG Entrepreneurs and China Law Blog have written things not mentioned in my first update), I thought it was time to take a stab at determining what, measurably, is resilience.

First, some definitions, from Wikipedia

resilience, n:
the capacity of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered
the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before the system changes its structure by changing the variables and processes that control behavior

Resilience thus measures system-perturbation energy. To measure resilience, then, we need to determine what factors into the production of energy in system-perturbations. More generally, this means determining what are the factors of production, and here the answer is easy:

Factors of Production:

    includes Land, which means
  • Physical Territory
  • Natural Resources
  • includes Labor, which means

  • Human Effort
  • includes Capital, which means

  • Machinery
  • Tools
  • Buildings
  • Cash

These can be trivially operationalized — subjected to measurement — and we can answer the question of whether Singapore is resilient by measuring its resiliency in these factors. Working from what seems reasonable, we can say that Singapore is

  • not resilience in Physical Territory, as a small loss of Physical Territory would greatly impact the state
  • resilient in Natural Resources, as Singapore could use other factors (especially cash) to acquire more
  • resilient in human effort, as Singapore has a record of attracting more labor when the State is dissatisfied with her own
  • resilient in Machinery, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Tools, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Buildings, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Cash, as Singapore has enough to cushion most shocks.

Of course, one can have resilience but not resiliency, though that is a post for another time…


Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

Singapore is a Single Point of Failure Because Singapore is a Single Point

Singapore Revisited,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 29 August 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/08/singapore_revis.html.

Steve’s recent post on Singaporean resilience was picked up by Fred, Sean, and myself, and Steve kindly responded to a criticism that Singapore isn’t resilient because it is a signal point of failure

Unfortunately for Singapore, it is a classic example of a single point of failure. I respect Steve D. & Enterra, but in the proliferated 21st Century, resilient assets must be distributed assets. Singapore, by definition, isn’t.

I must admit that Zimmerman’s logic escapes me. My entire point was that Singapore is trying to expand into more economic sectors (beyond electronics and finance) in order to avoid setting itself up for “single point” failure.

Singapore is a single point of failure because Singapore is a city-state, a significant fraction of which could be obliterated by a terrorist nuclear bomb. This may be best understood visually:


100 kilotons over Singapore

Singapore is not unique in this — all high-density cities are so vulnerable — but there is a physical dimension to resiliency which needs to be considered, too.

Is Singapore Resilient?

Singapore’s Resilient Strategy,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 25 August 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/08/singapores_resi.html.

Singapore Is Not Resilient,” by W.F. Zimmerman, Nimble Books LLC, 25 August 2006, http://www.nimblebooks.com/wordpress/2006/08/25/singapore-is-not-resilient/.

In a recent blog post, Enterra CEO Stephen F. DeAngelis all but said that Singapore is resilient

In other words, Singapore isn’t lamenting that the world is changing and it might be losing jobs that might be going elsewhere; rather, it is actively trying to change its position in the future it sees emerging. That is what a resilient enterprise does. A few years ago, Francis Fukuyama wrote, “Just as the twentieth century was the century of physics … the twenty-first promises to be the century of biology.” ["Second Thoughts: The Last Man in the Bottle," The National Interest, Summer 1999, p. 17] Apparently Singaporean officials see the future in much the same way. The article relates a number of proactive steps that Singapore has made to ensure its place in the emerging world.

No one can doubt that Singapore’s economic miracle has become permanent. Its resilient strategy is positioning Singapore for an emerging future rather than trying to get the country to cling only to those sectors that made it successful in the past, like electronics and finance. It jump started its strategy by importing world-class scientists, building world-class facilities, and ensuring that its standards are as high as any around the globe. It’s a great lesson in resiliency.

Yet Nimble Books Publisher W. Frederick Zimmerman (the same man who sent me Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus to review) notes a flaw in the logic

Unfortunately for Singapore, it is a classic example of a single point of failure. I respect Steve D. & Enterra, but in the proliferated 21st Century, resilient assets must be distributed assets. Singapore, by definition, isn’t.

Clearly, DeAngelis and Zimmerman are thinking of “resilience” in different ways, and both of them may be right. Just as Thomas Barnett “New Map” was operationalized (defined in terms of numbers and variables), Stephen DeAngelis should operationalize rationality.

Operationalization allows discussions to move forward in ways they otherwise couldn’t. For instance, in a recent thread on Barnett’s website, I was able to show why Tom’s model describes Mexico as “Core” and not “Gap.’ Yet, as far as I know, Steve hasn’t blogged a model that allows one to do the same things with countries that are “Resilient” or “Fragile.”

Enterra should at least create a framework for measuring resilience, like Thomas Barnett did in his book The Pentagon’s New Map. Then we can move this debate forward, and not forever trip over ourselves.

No Human Rights for Bloggers in Singapore

Two bloggers charged under Sedition Act over racist remarks,” by Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia, 12 September 2005, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/167812/1/.html (from Slashdot).

Quoted in full, emphasis mine

Two bloggers have been charged with sedition for posting racist [sic -- tdaxp] comments online.

This is the first time bloggers are being charged in Singapore and it is sending shockwaves through the local blogging community.

Lawyers say the last time the sedition act was invoked in Singapore was at least 10 years ago.

Twenty-five-year-old Nicholas Lim Yew and 27-year-old Benjamin Koh Song Huat are being accused of posting racist comments on an online forum and on their blog site.

They are both being charged with committing a seditious act, by promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between races in Singapore.

They were not represented by defence lawyers and were granted bail of S$10,000 each.

This charge came as a shock to many in the blogging community.

Said Singaporean blogger Benjamin Lee (Mr Miyagi):” A lot of them will be looking at their blogs and wondering if they made any legally seditious remarks. I think because of the way this will be played up, it’s negative publicity for the Singapore blogging community.”

“Currently if you surf the net you will come across a lot of bloggers making such comments. You will probably see a drop in such cases henceforth. At the moment I am not aware of any cases except of a case in Iran where bloggers are charged. But Iran has a different legal system from Singapore,” said Leonard Loo, managing partner of Leonard Loo & Co Advocates & Solicitors.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the Media Development Authority had asked host servers to remove a racist [sic -- tdaxp] blog from the web.

Police are now investigating this matter.

While many racist blogs by Singaporeans can be found online, the blogging community is also quick to criticize any racist comments.

Channel NewsAsia has received many emails from viewers informing us about a few racist sites.

Viewers said they were “appalled as well as disappointed that a Singaporean could condemn” other fellow Singaporeans of a different race.

Lawyers warn that anybody who forwards seditious remarks to others via email can also be charged with abetment.

The case is expected to be heard in court again on September 21.

A person is deemed to have committed an offence under the Sedition Act if he performs any act which has a seditious tendency, or conspires with any person to do so.

It is also an offence to utter any seditious words or to print, publish, sell, distribute, reproduce or import any seditious publication.

First time offenders can be fined up to S$5,000, or jailed up to three years, or both.

For subsequent offences, they can be jailed up to five years and have their seditious publications forfeited and destroyed

And so much good has been given by the Singapore blogosphere!