Monday, July 21, 2008


I read this interesting article in asiaone online paper. The article talks about why Singapore’s success is seen as a threat to western ideology and why its always the scapegoat when the so called liberal thinking NGO’s take a swipe at this tiny red pimple that refuses to bust. I only extracted a small potion of the article, but if want to read the complete article go to asiaone online news…cheers

In an article published last week in The Guardian, one of Britain's most influential dailies, Singapore was yet again disparaged as a modern, but authoritarian state. Writer John Kampfner - a distinguished local columnist and the author was merely using the Republic as part of a broader attack on the policies of the British government. His contention was that ordinary Singaporeans allegedly gave up their personal freedoms in return for prosperity.

But Mr Kampfner's article is part of an emerging pattern: Reports from a variety of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international media sources periodically portray Singapore as a wealthy yet less than attractive state.

What accounts for this outpouring of venom about a country which, when all is said and done, remains just a tiny speck on the world map? The answer is rather simple. Singapore is merely a convenient scapegoat for a deeper crisis of confidence which now grips the West.

To a large extent, success is Singapore's biggest problem. It is hardly the only Asian country to undergo a remarkable economic and political transformation. But it is the only Asian nation whose academics and politicians are completely plugged into the current Western intellectual circuit. So, Singapore's international visibility far outstrips the country's actual size.

Western criticism of Singapore usually falls into two categories. One school of thought argues that the Republic still has plenty of problems: look behind the glitzy facade and you'd find many warts.

Another school of thought accepts that Singapore is successful, but claims that its example is irrelevant: It is just a small, beautifully-decorated fish bowl which cannot be replicated in a big ocean.

But both critical trends converge on one point: Singapore is a laboratory experiment which should have failed but which, for some apparently devious reason, has instead succeeded.

Western policymakers are growing desperate over increasing evidence that, far from being unique, Singapore-like development theories are actually working in an increasing number of states.

Yet Singaporeans can also derive satisfaction from the current climate. First, they are the subject of international curiosity because theirs is a system which works.

And they are being scrutinised precisely because people suspect that the Singapore model does have wider applications.

So, this is one instance when criticism may be the sincerest mode of flattery. Regardless of how much it stings.

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