Special Interview – Man Behind A Moderate Vision

Posted: August 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

Interview with Felix Ling – Man Behind A Moderate Vision

Edited on 7th Aug, 2009

The following is the written notes of Professional Ground’s most recent tele-conversational interview conducted with Mr. Felix Ling, Chief Consultant & Senior Partner of Platform Asia.

Our panel thanks Felix for the exclusive interview granted to Professional Ground.

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 Professional Ground:  Can you briefly tell our readers what Platform Asia is about?

 FL (Felix Ling):  The full name of the company that I work for is Platform Asia Management Services or in short, PAMS. The management of PAMS is driven by a set of vision and we focus on creating three major platforms for Asia’s travel trades, tourism, hospitality and IR industries.

Pro Ground:  What are these platforms?

FL:  We identified three platforms to build upon and bring about positive impact to Singapore IR and tourism. Namely, they are Extended Seminar Learning platform that is our core product for IR and gaming competency building, Specialization platform in which we collaborate with established institutes of higher learning and the Connectivity platform that we advance professionalism for IR-oriented consultancy services.

Pro Ground:  Talk about Singapore IR and tourism, what is your “crystal ball”?  Especially that you have very extensive background in the world’s largest gaming hub in Asia or Macau so to speak.

FL:  Timing is everything. The ups and downs of Macau gaming industry reflects one thing, what I call it the True Affordability, which remains a fact of life. Investment is one thing, but affordability changes with economic cycles. In the case of Singapore IR that it has been touted as the key driver of tourism. For all intents and purposes, I think there remains one key question for the authority to ask, that is on what scale this IR-oriented industry can grow to, achieve its optimal or most plausible contribution to the economy without at the same time, massive social issues. Long-term sustainability of the IR with extremely high investment and operating costs should be observed. Here we are talking about very keen competition in Asian casino-resort landscape, with Macau, Vietnam, Taiwan already into the same game and possibly India, Japan, Thailand in the further distance.

Pro Ground:  What about this phrase of “If we build it, they will come?”

FL:  This is no longer the case, in the new order of over-supply casino-resorts environment. Not even for Las Vegas now. Private equity funds and investment banks are part of the creators who push the gaming industry into this new order. The demands for betting in casinos, true affordability for high-end goods and gaming budget have not grown as fast as they build new casino-resort properties. We don’t have to look too far to understand the syndrome. When too much are based on credits, it spells problems.

Pro Ground:  You mean Macau?

FL:  Everyone could see what’s happening over there.

Pro Ground:  So besides what you have mentioned the optimal scale for economic benefits, sustainability and true affordability, what’s your concern for the service industries in Singapore? 

FL:  I would put it this way. The next five years of the IR development will be the critical milestone to check on the service industries’ health.  In terms of whether the service industries including tourism sector as a whole, will become more integrated service clusters in creating two-way values i.e. on one hand with compelling value for volume visitors to flock to Singapore and on the other hand it creates good economic value for the service industries and hence, also increase employment

One of the major roadblocks that I see is the lack of critical mass and systematic knowledge and competency learning opportunities for both the TTH industry clusters and individual service job incumbents going into this new environment. Potential conflicts between foreign talents and local workforce should be observed. The lack of practical competency development for IR-oriented service environment also hinders the scale and optimal growth pipelines that I mentioned earlier, for IR and service industry clusters to develop into good shape in order to win this game in the region for greater tourism receipts and overall good of Singapore’s economy.

Pro Ground:  What’s the vision that brings you into the management team of Platform Asia?

FL:  My vision is moderate but it is meaningful in the way that, through Platform Asia we could spearhead this initiative of knowledge and competency learning for at least, with our estimation 20,000 or more immediate pool of service industry workforce need to be primed and trained on IR/gaming services through our Extended Seminar Learning Series. Not to mention there is even a larger pool of mid-career aspirants who need to gain a head-start in IR-oriented service environment. The answer is practical competency learning. In this field, we have the experts and is first to put together such a learning package.

Pro Ground:  I keep hearing you mentioning this phrase, IR-oriented service environment. Can you elaborate?

FL:  It means integrated services. With the two IRs opening next year it is obvious that they will create a strong pull initially. Yes, I mean initially. At the end of it, the service industries as a whole cannot go about cutting out their own pies. That surely will lead to cannibalization of businesses and worse, zero-margin competition among the tourism, travels and hospitality trades as in the case for Macau. That the cyclical nature of tourism, travels and hospitality trades face will pose a greater challenge. Therefore I would advocate a vision of integrated services network among the industries that achieve greater level of collaborations to sustain scale of visits, good yet affordable pricing, fair margins and quality.

In association with what we set to move in the direction, we also advocate the vision of youth problem-gambling prevention. At the end of the day, start from youth problem-gambling prevention effort and the message will bring about a desirable long-term well-being for Singaporean society.

Pro Ground:  Thank you.

Vision.Platform Asia

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