I’ve noticed in the weeks since our return from Asia that Singapore gets a lot of exposure in the U.S. press, particularly The Wall Street Journal. Why is that, I’ve been wondering? Singapore certainly has grown in economic clout but the country is the size of St. Louis for Pete’s sake. It’s too small to ever become a world power, politically or millitarily speaking.
But there’s so much that’s right about Singapore. They plan for the long term. They’re investing in infrastructure, they’re working to diversify their economy, and they’ve accomplished a 100% literacy rate. You can see the intersection of economic, social and political systems everywhere you look. It’s clear they’ve got a master plan in which each leg of the stool is critical in and of itself, and also critical as part of the bigger picture.
Not only do they tolerate their multi-cultural identity, they protect and celebrate it. The quality of life in Singapore is remarkable: it’s free from crime and drugs, it’s clean and beautiful, unemployment is low, and there are plenty of sporting and cultural events to enrich peoples’ lives. Everything they’ve done makes Singapore an attractive place to live and do business.
Sure, there are trade-offs. The price of this life includes fewer individual freedoms, more rules and restrictions, and a press corp controlled by the government. But the Singaporeans we talked to (both native and ex pat) seem happy enough with that bargain.
Perhaps the stories about illegal gum chewing and caning live so large in our imaginations because they’re the only chinks in the armor we can find?