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Idea of market liberalisation comes up against its test case

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COMPETITIVE markets are more likely to provide consumers with a wide choice of services at reasonable prices - this is the assumption behind many a move to open up previously shielded sectors to market forces. The logic has largely held in the liberalisation of various industries in Singapore over the years: telecoms, postal services, public bus services, and, most recently, the electricity market.

But the recent furore over teething problems faced by hawkers operating under a new model - one run by social enterprises rather than being government-managed - has raised questions about the basic premise of liberalisation.

In The Business Times Weekend this Saturday, Brunch examines the issue: Has the opening up of once-sheltered markets delivered gains, or unleashed destructive forces?

One man who knows a fair bit about steering a company through short-term pain for long-term gain is Cisco chief Chuck Robbins. In The Raffles Conversation, he notes that companies that struggled in the past are those that had basically forfeited the future because they worried too much about today.

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Meanwhile, should new staff be left to sink or swim?

Many employers seem to give scant heed to how they break in new hires and simply stick to tried-and-tested approaches. This week, our Cubicle Files columnist suggests that mentoring could be the answer that might lead to better performance and a higher rate of retention.

And in The Steering Column, the spotlight is on the Audi Q8 3.0 - the leading light of Audi's sport utility vehicle (SUV) range.

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