A Glimpse at the Island State

I have made bad judgments not once or twice but more. So, the following is subject to this pretext. 

I finally am visiting Singapore as of today. A city-island-country which Senior Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, was highly praised by American diplomat, Henry Kissinger, for his vision and achievement in help making today’s Singapore. That was my impression as well. Boarding MRT and buses here, I feel that Indonesia, my beloved country, has a lot to catch up to its small neighbor; small but beautiful. Stepping in the deck of Marina Bay, I witnessed the magnificent architecture masterpiece by a Canadian and Israeli–according to my architect friend (no, not Ted Mosby)–Marina Bay Sands.

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Though, I found something unnatural. My friend, Fredo–The Architect–mentioned the cleanliness (another way to put it: lack of trash). I accepted the premise for the moment. 

As we further walked this island state that used to be called Temasek, we got to the point where we can learn many lessons from Singapore’s development strategy. The second-best strategy if I recalled my class with Prof. D. Brautigam as Singapore emerged from “systemic vulnerability” likened to what also happened in South Korea and Taiwan. Simply put, economic development first and democracy sometimes later or–to the extreme–none at all. 

I guess it was this latter part that bugged me about Singapore. An example is needed here. There’s a regulation for everyone that we cannot drink–even water–within the MRT area. Meanwhile, there are omnipresent posters about a particular drink I don’t even remember its name in the platform. Is this by design? Are every citizens okay with this or do some people express their disagreement in private? For whatever reason, I do think that the Singaporeans, well partially, bugged with this kind of issue so that elections polls in Aljunied district showed anomaly in the country’s election annals last year. The so called “opposition” party won the by-election in the district. Despite this fact, the status quo People’s Action Party is still the majority in the parliament and holder of the executive office of presidency.

A contemplation can be asked regarding this context: to what extend would you give up freedom of expression over the development level similar to Singapore? It’s a though one and there’s no correct answer. At different development level, society might want different things altogether. 

Whether my judgment is amiss, I don’t know; but possibly time and news will help us understand. 

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