Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Is Singapore a Good Place to Live in?
1. Technologically it was impressive: everything worked so smoothly and i thought the congestioon charging 'smart-card' system superior to London's.
2. Environmentally it was very imnpressive too. No litter, or virtually none and no chewing gum on the pavements- both bugbears of mine back in UK.
3. Truly multiracial society: four languages and cultures co-existing in evident harmony- raree enough anywhere these days.
4. Social attitudes very civic minded and wholly lacking in the sort of thing of which we despair back home. So we see no noisy, anti-social behaviour; no groups of young men or women getting embarrassingly drunk and making others feel uneasy or manaced; no groups of threatening young males; inn fact, very low crime rates and a transparent honesty I thought unless-and I'm aware of this danger on a short visit- I'm horribly naive.
On the debit side I thought:
1. There is an intense focus on making money which is a bit daunting. Mammon rules very much every aspect of the place and it's no fun not being comfortably off I would imagine.
2. Civil liberties are scarcely defended and one can be imprisoned merely for criticising the government which is very authoritarian and insists on conformity. However, most people seem willing to trade liberty for prosperity and as a short visit tourist, it did not affect me.
Conclusion: Singapore has achieved huge success but in the process has lost something very important. A great place to visit but, I suspect, not a place I'd enjoy living in for very long.
1. Live in Britain, be piss poor economically, have the Government keep telling you how free you are(while they tax you to death), and watch criminals take the piss in front of one of the most enfeebled judicial systems in the world.
2. Live in Singapore, be rich, not be taxed, and watch a few criminal layabouts lose a few of their civil rights, as well as their teeth.
Not hard to see why there are so many British people living in Singapore.
Naturally I don't agree with Michael. "Piss poor" Britain? Hardly. In a post-affluent age, social liberty matters far more than economic liberty.
All the evidence from any period in the past, in any place, shows that people don't give a stuff for political freedoms if they have prosperity. Russia is the 21st century embodiment of this. The problem with the left is that they never seem to value the political freedoms of decent people.
Google the title and it's the top hit.
"It's like an entire country run by Jeffrey Katzenberg," the producer had said, "under the motto 'Be happy or I'll kill you.'" We were sitting in an office a block from Rodeo Drive, on large black furniture leased with Japanese venture capital.
And, in many ways, it really does seem like 1956 in Singapore; the war (or economic struggle, in this case) has apparently been won, an expanded middle class enjoys great prosperity, enormous public works have been successfully undertaken, even more ambitious projects are under way, and a deeply paternalistic government is prepared, at any cost, to hold at bay the triple threat of communism, pornography, and drugs.
The only problem being, of course, that it isn't 1956 in the rest of world. Though that, one comes to suspect, is something that Singapore would prefer to view as our problem. (But I begin to wonder, late at night and in the privacy of my hotel room - what might the future prove to be, if this view should turn out to be right?)
And they do retain birching in Isle of man- or have they ended that?- just like they do in Singapore. Michael can take comfort for his opinions from that at least. But for those who have a comfortable income his attitude would appeal. Supporting the status quo leads one into some pretty rightwing territory. Me, I'm not sure i'd be able to hack it and indeed would find my profession- political educator- to be pretty much not needed anyway.
another thingy ...the government does at times try to soften the rules ..but you actually have a sizable portion of the population wants it intact ...
cant criticise the government ? actually you can .. cant stop us ...the govt know that ... there is this elusive out of bound boundary (usually race and religion) that you should not try to cross ... try looking at the internet forum pages in our govt run sites ...we hurl insults at them but on this point you are more right than wrong
still the sterotype is fine ..i am cool about it ...there is always an underlying reason for it
Many thanks for your comment- most interesting. I only wish I could spend more time with you and your confreres but my life keeps me in this rain-sodden part of the world-family, friends, work- so spending any substantial time in Singapore will have to remain an outside chance for a while at least. It is a remarkable place though and I really did absorb a huge amount about it during my three day stay.
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