Once upon a time, cabinet ministers made a point of driving (and being seen in) cheaper Japanese makes. Slowly, they have moved on to more expensive and swankier European marques. Goh Keng Swee would be rolling in his grave. His favorite story was about his son asking to be dropped off a distance from his Alma Mater - the kid didn't want to be embarrassed by his dad's humble set of wheels.
Delivered as a Babara Weinstock lecture in January 1979 at the University of California in Berkely, Goh Keng Swee's perspective about good business ethics and sustained economic growth comes across in this excerpt:
"When businessmen earn money the hard way, i.e. the honest way, they do not engage in meaningless extravagance. Profits are not spent in conspicuous consumption but are ploughed back into the business.
Where, however, business profits are the results of favours granted through bribery, the effects are different. The businessman himself may or may not re-invest profits earned. This depends on whether he can secure more favours to start new monopolies. In that event, he would be imprudent not to stash a good portion of his profits in an unnumbered Swiss Bank Account.
Patrons behave differently. Since they have acquired vast fortunes by virtue of the positions they hold and not because of work put in, the temptation to spend freely becomes irresistible. Almost invariably, there is competition among patrons to impress one another and the general populace. This is why we so often witness gross extravagance among the wealthy in third world countries."
(page 193, "In Lieu of Ideology, An intellectual biography of Goh Keng Swee", Ooi Kee Beng)
It makes you wonder if present day Singapore is still lingering at Third World status.