Sunday, 12 April 2015

Creating The Right and Best Organisation

 Right-Sizing Your Organisation
The Best Organisation for the Marketplace

A strategic business review and planning will clarify the future direction and nature of the business.   Only then will it be possible to design, develop and build the most effective organisation.  "Business" and "Organisation" are not the same thing.  A Business applies resources to create superior products and services to meet the market needs; whereas Organisation is the way in which those resources are administered ie. the systems, structure, jobs and corporate culture.

Companies who are commanding sustainable competitive positions in their respective marketplace are also those who  continually renew their organisations.  They do this by changing the organisational "shape" and "size", as well as updating/modifying aspects of their corporate culture, to suit new business and marketplace environments.

The values, beliefs and norms that constitute corporate culture also provide the cohesiveness for corporate activities and affect the implementation of the corporate strategy by the language and manner that strategy is communicated from one organisational level to another, vertically as well as horizontally.  Shared values and beliefs define the fundamental character of an organisation, providing that unique organisational personality that distinguish it from all others.

The Human Talent Oracle empowers your organisation and people with a greater awareness of your corporate values as well as develop an ongoing organisational response, driven by these values, to the ever-changing and competitive business operating environment and marketplace.

Continuous professional assistance is also available for the following areas:

[1] Corporate Culture Development
[2] Corporate Strategic Planning and Review
[3] Strategic Human Talent Management
[4] Organisational Strategy - A Blue Ocean Method
[5] Corporate Values Reinforcement

Paying for Impact Performance

Paying Well to Do Better

The empowering organisation continually reinforces its corporate culture through the momentum of an objective performance evaluation system and a rewards structure which emphasises innovation, participation and marketplace-oriented behaviors.  Performance expectations are focussed on aggressive and dynamic objectives, rather than the mere attainment of minimum work standards.  Within such a positive performance management culture, employees are empowered to take on more responsibilities in participative work systems and are adequately compensated for creativity and innovation.
The Human Talent Oracle  will empower organisations and people through a positive performance management system, and which is reinforced by a performance-oriented rewards system which compensate your people within a band of perceived fairness financially, and get them to think about other things - their jobs, their customers, product/service quality, their colleagues and their sense of organisational pride.Continuous professional consulting is also available for the following areas:

[1] Remuneration Strategy and System
[2] Performance Evaluation and Appraisal
[3] Understanding Compa-Ratio and Salary Equity

Empowering People and Teams

Building High-Commitment People Teams

The empowered business corporation is the most effective organisation for the future.  And the future begins now.

No business success is based solely on technology.  The truth is people make products/services distinctive through superior quality and total customer satisfaction.  And it is their commitment, determination and initiative which drive the organisation to achieve excellence and advances in technology and systems.  The new management leadership imperative is to focus on corporate values such as openness, honesty, self-direction and the promotion of individual dignity in the workplace.  The fundamental management task is to motivate ingenious, creative and responsible marketplace-oriented contributions from its people.  THIS IS EMPOWERMENT.

Empowered people in a company have a profound sense of control and ownership over their jobs.  A high-commitment human resource strategy will encourage empowered employees to take on more responsibilities, emphasising mutuality or team synergy and produces a stronger commitment to excellence.  Within such a corporate culture, and guided by leadership providing clear mission and strategic directions, your people will focus on getting the job done, and having more responsibility further makes their work more challenging and rewarding.

My Mission as The Human Talent Oracle is to empower organisations and people to achieve greater effectiveness and success through understanding and discovering the value of leadership in human resource management.

The STRATEGIC FOCUS is the building  and development of High-Commitment People Teams on the corporate pillars of Leadership, Culture and Strategy.
Professional assistance is provided through management consultancy and training services in the following key target areas:

[A] Strategic Staffing Planning and Selection
[B] Training and Development for Job/Career Growth
[C] Organisational Sizing and Development
[D] Corporate Employee Communication Strategy

[E] Performance Oriented Rewards System


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dr M and MM LKY: The Continuing Saga

Dr M and MM LKY: Alimama vs Sinaman
The Last Dance of a Racist Racialist Coward

A couple of weeks ago, it must have taken some daringness for Dr M to travel to Singapore to see and confirm for himself that MM Lee Kuan Yew has actually passed away and is really, really dead. Being a medical doctor, trained no less by Singapore’s best Medical School, he was quite convinced himself that LKY has indeed passed away. Sadly, Dr M sighed with great relief before his narcissistic personality overwhelmed him and he decided to insult the better man by calling LKY “kiasu” during their years of dealings and negotiations.  

It was just amazing! Finally, Alimama could muster the courage to insult Sinaman in his face as the latter was laid to peaceful rest by his beloved Singaporeans.  Alimama had to be certain that Sinaman would not suddenly jump up to sue him, Dr M, for defamation or slander.  But just to be on the safe side, the coward Alimama only uttered his insults after Sinaman had been cremated.  And then, he only did so in the safe Malaysian town of Cyberjaya, nearly 300km from Sinaman’s Singapore.  Serious outstanding courage indeed, Dr M.

As Alimama boarded his plane to return home, he secretly hoped that his Malaysian people, whom he ruled as their 4th Prime Minister from 1981-2003, would shower him with the same love and fame as Sinaman had received from Singaporeans in his life as in death.  It’s really a shame, Dr M, that the people you had so despised, deceived and divided by political and social racism over the years have left you so useless, empty and lonely. Dr M had repeatedly scolded, coaxed and prodded Malaysian Malays. They saw the truth in your eyes after you left office and sniped at all your successors from Tun Abdullah Badawi to the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from the lofty Petronas Twin-Towers.

MM LKY said: “Dr M undermines his successors”.  MM Lee sees his role after stepping down as Prime Minister to be an advisor to the next generation of leaders. Taking up his new role seriously, he deferred to his successors, PM Goh CT and PM Lee HL, in all protocols, matters and manners.

It was already 1981 when Dr M became Malaysia’s Prime Minister, and where he remained the longest serving for 22 years.  It is therefore disingenuous when he said that MM LKY was still "coloured with bitterness" over Singapore's expulsion from Malaysia in 1965, some 17 years earlier. By 1975, Singapore had transformed into a thriving global metropolis when compared with still struggling 3rd world Malaysia, who was then obsessed with implementing her racist pro-bumiputra social and economic policies.  MM LKY and Singapore have absolutely no regrets, let alone lingering bitterness, over separation from Malaysia, who continues to languish in the errors of her policies and drowning in the cesspits of prevalent corruptions that they spawned. 

To Dr M, the Malay race is inherently “backward” genetically.  In his controversial 1970 book “The Malay Dilemma”, he attributed the Malay’s “natural racial inferiority” to poor eugenics from their traditional habit of marrying first cousins which, according to him as a trained medical doctor, resulted in gene regression and resulted in the relatively greater social progress by the better intelligent Chinese.  Of course, Mahathir himself is not pure Malay racially but hailed from an Indian-Muslim (ie Ali-mama) ancestry that thereby enable him to claim and prosper from the privileged bumiputra status.  He therefore sees himself, a non-Malay, as the “Champion for the Malays”, and their political support of him for over 20 years further reinforced his belief in his “inferior” race supporters.

Dr M further added in characteristic hypocrisy, that "they (Singapore) don't have to build many roads. They don't have racial problems. We have racial problems. And they can forget about the minorities and do what they like, We can't do that here, we have to think about minorities, think about the rights of people...".  Are you seriously, Dr M? Do you really believe you own B**s**t?   

Malaysia today can only be understood in term of a class structure of social inequality created by her mostly Malay power elites who were nurtured and overseered by Dr M. Political racism in Malaysia nurtures a large number of politically connected Bumiputra (Native and Muslim) rent seekers promoting a business system riddled with kickbacks and corruption. Economic and commercial policies favour largely the already rich with lucrative government contracts awarded according to cronyism and nepotism facilitated by widespread systematic corrupt practices. Government and local authority contracts, permits and licenses are given to people who are linked to the major ruling political parties and other powerful Bumiputra politicians who in turn rent out their licenses and permits for a fee or a percentage of profit, thus depriving others of these lucrative contracts.  They take a huge cut of any privileged contracts before re-awarding the crumbs to the mostly Malay contractors since 80% of registered contractors are Bumiputra. The mostly Malay sub-contractors therefore earned little compared with the power elites.

Malaysia’s problems are therefore mostly self-created and based on the flawed “inferior race theory”, and which was further expounded in the discredited thesis of Alimama himself.  The achievements of Singapore Malays confirm the lies and baselessness of the “inferior race theory” and affirm Singapore’s multiracial multicultural policies “regardless of race, language or religion” as the cornerstone of our development success.    

In fact, Dr M’s duplicity was clearly exposed to MM LKY and Singapore civil servants in the 2001-2002 Water Talks regarding the prices of raw water supply from Malaysia in the Water Agreements scheduled to expire in 2011 and 2061 respectively.  The raw water price was 3 M’sian sen per 1,000 gallon under the Agreements.

It was actually agreed between Dr M and MM LKY that the indicative raw water price would be 45 sen in return for agreement of water supply beyond the 2011 and 2061 expiry dates of the Agreements. The price was however shifted by Dr M repeatedly; first to 60 sen, to be backdated to 1986 and 1987 respectively, and also RM3 (3 Ringgits!) from 2007 to 2011; and from 2011 to adjust by inflation.  In September 2002, Dr M’s staff returned to ask for RM6.25 per 1000 gallon, a jump of 200-fold from RM3!  

By that time, Singapore has already spent more than S$1 billion on various water projects in the Johor State of Malaysia; and has been paying for the infrastructure such as dams, pipelines, plants and equipment, in addition to operational and maintenance costs.  These added up to millions of dollars annually. Johor benefits too as the waterworks also supply water to Johor residents.

In July 2002, Singapore announced the success of our Newater Project, and informed Malaysia that the Water Agreement expiring 2011 would not be renewed.  In December 2002, both country suspended discussions on the other Water Agreement expiring 2061. We are now self-sufficient in portable water supply.

Singaporeans can now understand why MM LKY had almost no direct dealings with Dr M from 2003 onwards.  We already know only too well that MM LKY does not suffer fools and idiots easily.  However, what MM LKY cannot tolerate is a blatantly dishonest, perfidious and untrustworthy person who cannot, will not and choose not to negotiate in good faith and not to adhere to his word.    

Singaporeans, especially the younger ones, can now better understand why Dr M was cautiously nervous, even apprehensive, when he arrived in Singapore 2 weeks ago. Understandably, Alimama clearly dread facing the live Sinaman in any straight and honest shootouts! 

As his plane was taking off from Singapore Changi Airport, Alimama looked back as if just to ascertain that neither Sinaman nor his pervasive indomitable air force was trailing behind. Quite fortunately, no. Running won't get you far, Dr M. You just cannot shake off the unmistakable and indisputable legacies of MM LKY in Singapore and the world. The spectre of Sinaman as the better and more honourable man will continue to haunt you, Alimama, forever.  Run, if you must; know that hiding is impossible, and escape is not an option, man.  Soon, everyone will die naturally.  With Sinaman now in the heavens; where do you think you could hide in eternity from him forever, Dr M?  Actually, there is that other place …..
Note: Dr Mahathir did not come to MM LKY's wake or funeral.  This is partly fictitious satire.

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Monday, 6 April 2015

Future of Democracy in Singapore

Singapore and Democracy: A Love-Hate Partnership?  
Perspectives on Donald Low’s Rebuttal of Calvin Cheng

Democracy is a slippery political concept. Many definitions abound, none particularly helpful in furthering our understanding. Many advocates of democracy attempt to define democracy in real life; dressing it up with civil liberties, popular elections, free press, free speech, right to bear arms … etc.  It seems natural that Donald and Calvin, together with many others, have difficulty grasping the nature of democracy in Singapore.       

First, Calvin is right: for Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), there is no “trade-offs” between freedom, development and democracy. Donald’s rebuttal misunderstood his own 1986 quote of LKY: “What are our priorities? First, the welfare, the survival of the people. Then, democratic norms and processes which from time to time we have to suspend.” LKY was not referring to trade-offs between democracy and development; for him, it is about prioritization or program sequencing of his government action agenda. For LKY, Democracy and democratic processes must and should facilitate development or face irrelevance, even oblivion.  Governments should promote the welfare and well-being of its people, and not the development of political concepts.  

Always mindful of the electorate as his primary and only political accountability, LKY chose to “trade-up” the survival and welfare of the people who elected him and his PAP government repeatedly in every general election. He did not “trade-away” democratic norms and procedures; otherwise the PAP would not have held regular general elections as often and whenever constitutionally mandated to do so, unless LKY is also a strong believer in the value of democratic accountability.

Second, Donald’s argument that the reason “… many countries aren’t able to provide (these) public goods is not because they are democracies, but because they lack strong, competent and effective states” is a corporatist argument, not a democratic one.  Many have argued with some merits that corporatism – advocating a strong central state - is incompatible with democracy.

Donald failed in fact to recognize the implications of his own argument; that the co-existence of democracy and a strong state could very well be mutually exclusive and fundamentally impossible.

In a pluralistic democracy, the state is merely one of several interest groups, rather than one enjoying pre-eminence in the exercise of its democratically-earned political powers obtained at the ballot box.  In most of the democratic Western pluralist societies, the state functions as a moderator of diverse and often conflicting interests as represented by political parties, community groups and political action organisations.  The President or the Prime Minister of the ruling political party acts to distribute favours and benefits to these usually well-funded and politically connected groups, often at the tremendous expense of the less powerful, weak, disadvantaged and vulnerable who form the core of their respective electorate.

Rather, Donald preferred to explain that “democratically elected governments may not be able to deliver high quality public goods for a variety of reasons” which he attributed again to the absence of strong state control and regulatory mechanisms, instead of the obvious limitation of democracy in the social production of the greatest good for the largest number. 

The truth is that democracy does not and has never promise the delivery of development and high quality public goods.  There is no basis to assume or presume that democratically-elected government and high-quality public goods are in fact synonymous.  History is on the side of the benevolent dictator, the paternalistic autocrat, the corporatist, but not the democrat.

Third, in using the Francis Fukuyama’s model describing the problem of having all three institutions - a strong state, rule of law, and democratic accountability - that comprise Francis’ political development, Donald inadvertently also subscribed into its flawed logic and argument.

Fukuyama is wrong to consider the 3 institutions capable of independent existence. They are not. A strong state is not sustainable without popular voluntary consent (meaning democratic accountability through general elections) and the rule of law.  The rule of law is a necessary organ to the effective function of government who enact the laws to do so.  Repressive and unjust laws will fuel civil disobedience to bring about their changes, and the downfall of despotic and intolerable governments.  To the corporatist, a strong state enjoys primacy and pre-eminance (eg. Singapore); and a democrat objects ideologically to a strong state (eg. in USA).  For both, the rule of law is just a flexible political tool to regulate and produce the desirable level of popular voluntary consent.  

Fourth, quite contrary to Donald’s thesis, no evidence from history supports “a natural link between economic development and the rise of democratic demands”.  From the British Magna Carta of 1217 to the French Revolution of 1789-1799, the 1775-1783 American War for Independence and the American Civil War of 1861-1865, popular demands for democracy and civil liberties often precede economic development.  Even Donald admitted that democracy and economic development are not pre-requisite of one another, as attested by history even today from China, Russia and Vietnam, among other countries.

Fifth, Donald’s prescription of “greater democratic accountability” for Singapore from here forward in the post-LKY era is inconsistent with his emphasis on state-building and on enhancing state capacity since a strong state is incompatible with stronger democracy.

He claimed that “Singaporeans today also raise more questions about government accountability; they care as much about procedural accountability and fairness as they do about governmental performance.” There is in fact no evidence for this.  Not even in the manifesto of opposition parties; not because that they do not care about procedural accountability and fairness, but because to the vast number of the informed and educated electorate, only governmental performance matters. To the electorate who consistently returned the PAP to legitimate power, “procedural accountability and fairness” are non issues in the presence of tremendous public trust in a government known for its transparency and anti-corruption values.

Furthermore, unrestricted public access to open parliamentary proceedings, verbatim Hansard records of Parliament debates, mandated regular elections, open governmental contracting practices, detailed reports of oversight committees as well as frequent regular conversations with political leaders and elected officials all point beyond conclusive evidence of accountability, transparency and fairness. 

Donald went on to advocate the development of “new capabilities to manage a more complex and demanding polity rather than rely on traditional top-down, government-knows-best approaches.” This perspective is however dated. 

The political climate has changed and evolved in the last 25 years during PM Goh Chok Tong’s takeover from LKY.  PM Lee Hsien Loong continues to enlarge public engagement of government thinking and policies. Given the tremendous amount of official and unofficial public feedback mechanisms as well on a few Blogs, the government actually have many people reading and summarizing the public feedback and combined them with that of the grassroots activists to provide a continuous pulse reading of its conduct, policy and performance. 

Six, Donald had a fatally wrong understanding of democracy and democratic elections when he advocated “a more diverse and representative government” instead of one returned by repeated fair and clean general elections in accordance with standard democratic procedures.  There is no one best form or style of democracy.

He questioned the results of hitherto free and fair democratic election in Singapore, and objected to Westminster-style Democracy Rules, when he wrongly concluded that “40% of the electorate today (in Singapore) is represented by only 10% of Parliamentarians”.

Democratic Parliamentarians, even in the UK and the United States Congress, represent 100% of their respective electorate. The PAP government represents 100% of the people of Singapore, not just the 60% who voted for the PAP to form the government. And PAP Members of Parliament (MP) represent 100% of their constituents, including the 30%-40% who did not vote for them. Likewise, Opposition Members of Parliament also represent 100% of their respective constituents, including the less than 40%-49% who voted for the PAP. That the government represents all Singaporeans is clearly understood by the electorate, and protected by the anonymity of the ballots cast.

A democratically-elected government is expected to deliver its public political agenda, platform and ideology as articulated in its election Manifesto, and on which the electorate voted on. The political Manifesto is supposed to represent the responsiveness of the party to the “common-good” interests of the whole society.  The electorate responds to its Manifesto through voting and the governing party is expected to seal and deliver the social contract agreed therein.

Perhaps, Donald’s call for more Opposition MPs, also echoed by some others, points in fact to the lackluster performance and failure of these MPs to articulate their constituents’ interests which are “opposite” from the vast majority of the Singapore electorate.  Again, what are these precisely? 

The effectiveness of Opposition MPs does not lie in their numbers but in the logic, presentation and vigorousness of their alternative solutions proffered as “better” than the government. Given as they do adequate air-time like other MPs, as well as management control over a few Town Councils, they have failed to convince people like Donald and others of their ability to articulate such other “diverse” interests which have not been already considered by PAP MPs or the government.  This is not a failure of democracy in Singapore, just the failure of leadership and imagination on the part of the Opposition.  By the way, democracy is alive and well in Singapore given the fact that we have more than 32 registered political parties, of which 10 are active. 

Donald further called for a freer media environment and checks on state powers through laws he regarded as “repressive” such as the Sedition Act and Internal Security Act, even after conceding that “there might be circumstances in which we suspend (some of) our freedoms and liberties to preserve security”. Donald is probably unaware that these laws were first introduced by a democratic United Kingdom into its colony Singapore (and also later in Northern Ireland); or that the Patriot Act in the United States, that great “bastion” of democracy, enacted after 11 September 2001, also contained similar legal provisions and other even more repressive ones, in order to strengthen rather than weaken already strong democratic states.

Incidentally, the word “US PATRIOT” in the full title of the US Patriot Act is the acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”.  Democracy and every nation who subscribe to its ideals, has the inherent right to defend themselves.

Finally, unless he had already confronted the limits of democracy, Donald’s call for “greater transparency and disclosure, and various other expressions of a substantive (as opposed to an electoral) democracy” as a check against the emergence of a “bad emperor” (or “bad leader”) in a “strong state” like Singapore is both baffling and strange.

The problem in their understanding of democracy and government in people like Calvin and Donald lies in their belief in an over-rated conception of democracy.  Democracy exists in so many forms and styles to suit its respective contextual domains.

At its root, democracy does not promise the election of a “good” leader.  There are far too many supporting examples to this and needs no elaboration here.

Democracy provides a decision-making frame for making choices among who shall govern.  Democracy is not a quality management standard with a checklist of best practices and good conduct procedures.

Donald concluded: “Unless human beings find a way of eliminating the risks of bad leaders ever coming to power, we may be better off accepting some of the inefficiency and slack of a democracy in return for greater political resilience (which comes ultimately from diversity)”.

Is a bad democracy (which is inefficient and slacken) therefore better than a benevolent dictatorship? Indeed, isn’t democracy, described as the “worst form of government except for all the others” by Winston Churchill, designed to provide the political resilience for a political diversity to thrive? No, it would again be expecting too much from democracy.  Ultimately, the test of the pudding lies in the palate and stomach of the electorate.

Singapore is better off managing democracy as a governance tool in the manner that we did in the past, with regular free and fair elections and in a political climate characterized by freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of religious beliefs and the freedom of choice.  If these were what democracy could facilitate, it would be great!  If not, democracy should get out of our way as we journey toward a better, more prosperous, fairer and equal society of one Singapore and one nation.

Rebutting Calvin Cheng’s article @ TREmeritus, 5 April 2015.

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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Singapore: The Great Train and Bus Robbery

The Great Singapore Train & Bus Robbery 2015
And it’s perfectly Legal!

Commuters today hardly notice that they have been “robbed”. Each bus and MRT train trip will merely add 2 - 5 cents depending on distance.  Overall, public transport fares increase by about 2.8% from today, in accordance with the Public Transport Council (PTC) decision made on January.   

It has been argued and evident by facts and statistics that the public transport fare hikes for 2015 have no compelling rationale and basis. The PTO did not produce any justifications as to current or impending profits reduction; they could not because they actually enjoy windfall profits due to unprecedented oil price drop last year.   

About $48 million will be taken from commuters over the next 12 months to feed highly profitable public transport operators (PTO) in 2015 and part of 2016. Serious public trust issues are raised but never fully addressed.

The generosity of commuters in acquiescing to the fare hikes, though few in fact have any alternative transport choices, will deliver the whooping additional $48.5m in revenue to the two public transport operators - SBS Transit and SMRT.  Never mind that they will have to contribute $5.5 million and $8 million respectively to the Public Transport Fund (PTF), from which $7.5 million from the Fund would provide 250,000 vouchers of $30 each to low-income households (one-time), which act merely to postpone but did not eliminating its impact on the lowest of the low-income earners. These vouchers basically returned their PTF contributions to the PTO to retain net-neutral revenue impact

For SBS Transit, this $5.5 million represents about 25 per cent of the additional fare revenue, while for SMRT, the $8 million they are setting aside accounts for about 30 per cent.

As predicted, commuters hardly feel the mosquito-bite pinch of the transport fare hikes today.  My son reminds me that it amounts to about $2-$4 per month for regular commuters, or nearly $25-$50 per year, for no assurance of improvements in the prevalent poor customer services.  The only clear purpose of the public transport fare hikes is profiteering by the PTO.  

Singaporeans must be protected from the unequal powers of monopolistic – in the case of public transport, duopolistic – companies in the marketplace.  Every economic student knows that monopolistic and duopolistic companies are the most inefficient with respect to resource use in their operations. They furthermore generate huge profits from the captive marketplace in such disproportion to the privilege of providing a needed social service.

Both PTO have announced dividends for their private share-holders from their windfall profits. Their shares are expected to out-perform the stock market.  Currently, the shares of both PTO are the darlings of the Singapore Stock Exchange, even before the fare hikes!

Public transport commuters, mostly for middle and lower income households, have few affordable transport alternatives.   Where is the social justice when private companies are allowed to derive huge windfall profits from operating with assets largely invested by the Government ie people of Singapore? 

Granted, when considered in the totality of its entire assets, which include the transport infrastructure invested by past generations of Singaporeans, no strictly private and profit-oriented company could be profitable under the normal circumstances.  So, why are the PTO  profit-driven instead of guardians of social investments and public assets?  Why are they allowed to skim from the commuters a few cents here and there even though they are already highly profitable? It is because they can do so with impunity, to “rob” commuters in broad daylight and night, and to get away with it because it is NOT a crime.  It is in fact criminal to simply take from the less and lower income, basically the weak and vulnerable people, in order to enrich oneself.  In this instance, and every day for the next 12 months, day or night, when you board a public bus or MRT train, you will be “legally” robbed. 

Public transports should be managed by more socially responsible National PTOs beyond the current obsessive profit-seeker types of companies. We need Public Transport Social Enterprises, like NTUC Income and Fairprice, that have embedded social responsibility values into its leadership and management. 

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