Creative founder Sim Wong Hoo famously said S’pore suffered from ‘NUTS’. What did he imply? – Mothership.SG & More Trending News


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In the early 2000s, Sim Wong Hoo was considerably of a neighborhood legend.

His well-known rags-to-riches story (or Bukit Panjang-to-Bukit Timah story, to be extra exact) held Singapore spellbound. In 1992, he led Creative Technology to grow to be the primary Singapore firm listed on Nasdaq; in 2000, at age 45, he turned Singapore’s youngest billionaire.

His passing on Jan. 5 spurred a collection of tributes and feedback waxing nostalgia about his legacy.

From his iconic Sound Blaster audio processing card, to his legendary David-meets-Goliath authorized spat with Apple over Creative’s music participant patent (from which he emerged with a S$100 million settlement) — Sim’s affect as certainly one of Singapore’s pioneer technopreneurs is simple.

The different 2000s epidemic

His affect was not restricted to the tech sphere, nonetheless. Sim additionally famously coined the time period, “No U-Turn Syndrome” (NUTS), which finally made its mark as an indelible a part of the Singaporean vocabulary.

It’s a time period you’d most likely have heard of, in case you had been plugged into the native media panorama of the early 2000s.

But if not, this is a brief rationalization, as specified by an excerpt from Sim’s 1999 e-book, Chaotic Thoughts from the Old Millennium:

 “NUTS is when you want to do something and you seek approval of a higher authority. When there is no rule saying that you can do such a thing, then the standard answer is NO…

In the US, when there is no sign on the road, it means that you can make a U-turn. When the authority do not want people to make U-turns, they will put up signs to tell you not to make U-turns.

In Singapore, it is the reverse. When there is no sign on the road, you are not allowed to make U-turns. When the authority allow you to make U-turns, then they will put up signs to give you that right.”

This no U-flip tradition, Sim argued, has permeated each degree of the Singaporean mindset, creating “a way of life that is based on rules.”

“When there is no rule, we cannot do anything,” Sim wrote. “We become paralysed.”

The rule-primarily based system, initially conceptualised for a fledgling nation hoping to attract investments from abroad companies, did precisely what it meant.

Multinational companies promised a fleet of dependable employees obtained what they wished; a newly unbiased Singapore, rising from the chaos of battle, shepherded into prosperity by a no-nonsense, ruthlessly environment friendly civil service.

But in a quick-altering, globalised world, the system had now grow to be out of date, Sim said.

“To meet the challenge of the new world, to meet the challenge of rising to a knowledge-based economy, we have to innovate like mad.

[But] innovate means to create things out of nothing, it means moving into uncharted territories where there are no rules.

How can you innovate when you have to get approval of somebody who looks at a rule-book first?”

In essence, from a system that introduced Singapore wealth, NUTS had grow to be a roadblock: to innovation, to creativity, to development.

NUTS in public dialog

The time period took off.

It quickly turned a fixture in public dialog, focused at all the things from entrepreneurship to schooling. In explicit, it was used as ammo towards a civil service plagued with pink tape.

NUTS even made its means into parliament. “Suddenly MPs going nuts over ‘chaotic’ wisdom of Mr Creative,” one headline in The Straits Times proclaimed, after Members of Parliament (MPs) alluded to NUTS throughout a 2003 Budget debate.

One MP, Chew Heng Ching, cited NUTS in his argument concerning the inadequacy of the Budget’s initiatives to advertise entrepreneurship.

“Civil servants must not assume that the businessmen are out to cheat the system and exploit loopholes,” he said.

“There is a need for a comprehensive review of internal policies that stymie business and entrepreneurs, so that the spirit of free enterprise can be enabled.”

Another MP, Leong Horn Kee, put it extra bluntly. “Our people and our children are too used to being led, guided and spoon-fed by the  government,”  he said in a name to spice up entrepreneurship in Singapore.

“We have to break out of the old mould…I believe the government, being a caring parent, must learn how to ‘let go’.”

Separately, a 2007 ST discussion board letter blamed NUTS when native college students misplaced a faculty debate to their worldwide counterparts from the United World College.

“Sim Wong Hoo’s theory of NUTS may be food for thought for our Ministry of Education officials as our schoolkids and civil servants have grown used to the entrenched culture of NUTS,” the letter-author asserted, criticising Singaporeans for his or her “unquestioning conformity to higher authorities”.

The time period even made its means into the Malaysian press.

Chaotic ideas

In the last decade since, Sim’s public profile has largely light, alongside along with his as soon as-pervasive acronym.

But it stays firmly entrenched within the Singaporean vocabulary, sometimes making a reappearance within the odd LinkedIn publish or social commentary.

And the spirit of Sim’s sage recommendation stays simply as incisive immediately because it was in 1999 — whether or not in arguments in regards to the abolition of exams, or the deferment of National Service (NS).

As Sim himself put it in Chaotic Thoughts:

“We are moving faster and faster into many uncharted territories, where there are no rules.

We do not want to be paralysed by waiting for the rule to be formulated before moving — it will be too late. We have to discard our NUTS mentality and learn to live in a new world where there are no clear rules.

Not that it will be a cowboy lawless land. There will be broad guiding principles such as common goals, objectives and basic integrity to follow.

The rest, we have to look at the big picture and decide what is the best way to do a job, to achieve our goals.”

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Creative founder Sim Wong Hoo famously said S’pore suffered from ‘NUTS’. What did he imply? – Mothership.SG

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