Tuesday, 4 May 2010
The Pious, The Rich and The Ugly.
The Singapore Straits Times on 15 November 2008 ran an article which described an incredibly revealing facet of Made-in-Singapore Enterprise - to marry Mammon with the Angel of Charity.
How do you couple charity and profit? Well, here's the reasoning, straight from the horse's mouth.
A study by John Hopkins University revealed that "the non-profit sector of eight developed countries contributed an average of 5% of their GDP..... The non-profit sector grew at an average of 8.1%, twice the rate of their average GDP growth."
According to Dr Lester Salamon, the Director of John Hopkins University's Centre for Civil Society Studies, "the non-profit sector of 40 countries ...generated up to US$2 trillion worth of expenditure." In Singapore, "this sector generated at least $30 million in business spending and added about $60million of value to Singapore's output per year over the past three years." This is why Mr. Jonathan Kua, director of the Economic Development Board's New Business Group is happy to announce, "It would be good for us as a country .. to be a base for some of this good work that yields us economic spin-offs and allow us to get involved in reaching out to the region." I must say I'm a little concerned about Team Singapore's outreach to 'the region'. Remember the adage "Beware of the Greek bearing gifts".
Singapore's pecuniary foray reminds me of the Parable of the Talents from the New Testament, Matthew 25:14-30. Here, a talent refers to a monetary unit worth about 20 years' wages for a labourer.
It is about a master who gave 5 talents to one servant, two to the next servant and one talent to the third. The first two doubled their money and made the master happy. But the third was punished because he did not invest or speculate with the talent and buried it in the ground. He told his master ......'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,  .... and I went and hid your talent in the ground.'
The angry master then gave away this servant's one talent to the first servant saying  For to everyone who has will more will be given, .....But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.'
Read the full text of The Parable of The Talents here this
It's easy to locate the inspiration behind Tony Blair, Mr Richard Tan of SRI, the other proponents of that Gospel of Money-Spinners and the hopeful wannabe-wealthy who happily parted with some of their talents to learn from the likes of the Master, the first and the second servants.
But Team Singapore does not need the guidance of the above for they are overflowing with both secular and Biblical Talent. It's the others who ....will be weeping and gnashing ...teeth.
I feel compelled to post this image of this Charity, one of the hopeful ones who indicated a desire to 'invest' in Singapore in the future. PETA animal rights' activists with banderillas (decorated darts used in bullfighting) on their bodies, in Brussels last month to demonstrate against bullfights.
'All creatures great and small. The Lord God made them all.' The creatures in this picture are neither 'great' nor 'small'.