'We can chart our course for the benefit of four million Singaporeans, unlike Hong Kong where [the] way to the future is decided by China to advance the overall interests of not only seven million Hong Kongers but also 1,300 million mainlanders.' Lee Kuan Yew Singapore Minister Mentor HOW THE STORY changes. When I travelled to Paradise in my days as an investment analyst and met with government bureaucrats, which means practically everyone in charge of anything in Singapore, there was routinely a quite different spin on the comparison with Hong Kong. This one held that poor lonely Singapore stood exposed with greedy Malaysia and Indonesia ready to impoverish it by stealing all its industries while Hong Kong benefited from Beijing's maternal loving care and could comfort itself that those 1.3 billion mainlanders would not be allowed to undermine its economy. It was the reasoning normally offered for the Singapore government's insistence on devoting a good deal of its effort and money to maintaining a large manufacturing element in its economy. 'We can't put all our eggs in one basket like you people in Hong Kong can do,' these bureaucrats would say. 'What if we concentrated on services for neighbouring countries like you do and then found Malaysia taking it all back from us? Where would we be then? We have to keep manufacturing too.' You could say to them, as I routinely did, that the mix of a wealthy city state with only a tiny domestic market, a tiny manufacturing labour pool, high wages, little land area and a strong currency was hardly ideal for a manufacturing centre, but in Paradise they know better. The first chart shows you the relative dependence on manufacturing in Singapore and Hong Kong. Now look at the second chart. It shows you that over the past 10 years, Singaporeans themselves contributed only about a quarter of the total investment capital required for this big manufacturing drive. Take note also that a sizeable proportion of this quarter was the Singapore government itself. I cannot make a direct comparison with Hong Kong on the same basis here. The two are very different, in fact almost complete opposites. Hong Kong is not a taker of manufacturing investment. It is a big provider of it with a huge success in its manufacturing investment in the mainland, almost all of it through the private sector. The results of this different way of doing things are apparent in what is called the net international investment position, in other words the balance of what we have invested in others over what others have invested in us. For Hong Kong, this is a plus figure equivalent to about 250 per cent of our gross domestic product. The closest approximation that can be determined from the figures that Singapore publishes is a negative 56 per cent of its own GDP. This is one result of telling your economy what it ought to be rather than it telling you. Mr Lee is a lawyer by training and I do not know if you have ever observed it but, much as lawyers are keen dabblers in politics, economics is invariably a closed book to them. Here is your golden rule in these matters, Mr Lee: 'Him what has the gold makes the rules.' I grant you, Beijing could produce a fine mess of things in Hong Kong if it tried to squeeze us dry for the benefit of those 1.3 billion mainlanders but it knows this too and everything it has done here tells you that it is happy to let this golden goose lay its golden eggs in its own way. So chart what course you will for Singaporeans, sir, but I think I have a better idea of who has the greater scope for deciding what their way to the future will be when Singapore must rely on foreigners for the money to do it while Hong Kong can do it with its own money.