Singapore’s proactive industrial policy started in 1970s, years after it gained political independence in 1965, with the government seeking to diversify from its traditional role as an entrepot. Temasek was incorporated early in 1974.The city state’s vibrant development in manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries, for example, was the result of explicit, long-term policy planning, Yeung said. The pharmaceutical industry remains an increasingly important component of Singapore’s manufacturing sector, which now contributes to more than 20 per cent of its GDP.“It could take decades for Hong Kong to yield results,” he said. “Setting up investment vehicles is one thing, but all these must be complemented with proper, parallel industrial policies.”Temasek owns and manages a net portfolio of S$403 billion (HK$2.2 trillion) this year, having doubled its value in the past decade. The portfolio comprises shares in companies, start-ups and joint ventures previously held by the Singapore government such as a bird park, a start-up airline, and an iron and steel mill.
Singaporean scholar Yeung said from his interviews with the many Temasek-linked firms, the state-owned fund did not intervene in the direct operation of the management of the firms it invested in.
He said as Hong Kong embarked on this venture, the immediate questions to ask were what the city had to offer, apart from financial incentives, to such foreign enterprises, and how the government could address their needs on labour skills and business industrial linkages.
“Any industrial policy needs to be complemented with long-term planning and public-private partnership…” he said.