I think Singapore has got a great deal to offer to the South East Asia region.
got a stable government, a fairly efficient (and not corrupt) civil and
military service, and a cohesive multicultural society. Law and order
is taken for granted, and women and children feel safe to take the
city's public transport at night (something which even Western developed
nations can't boast). In Australia, UK, America - its not safe for women to walk home at night. The justice system is so crap that even if the rapist is caught - he's often let out in 1 or 2 years time only to reoffend again.
Everything is relative. You only
need to look at the other countries in the region like the Philippines,
Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma to muse that Singapore is doing
pretty well for a country that has practically no resources and not too
long ago was beset with bloody racial riots and massive unemployment.
may think that their benign multicultural society just happened by
chance - but it took a great deal of social engineering by the
Government to make it so. Its immensely difficult to create a harmonious
multicultural society. The liberal democratic nations with their
emphasis on individual rather than community rights don't seem to grasp
this fact. Germany, and several Northern European nations, have failed
in this respect. Even in Australia, a very rich and prosperous nation,
racial tensions have increased and there has even been a big racial riot - Cronella -
a few years back. Certain ethnic groups are also armed to the teeth with guns, swords - and the police are usually impotent to deal with the problem.
But in this chaotic region, there's a
great opportunity for Singapore. It can offer its own template for
success to these nations. The best way is through education and training.
course we can't just march in and announce our arrival like a "white
knight" or to even make the terrible presumption that we can be a
conduit, a stepping stone or anything metaphorically significant. LKY sometime back had the temerity to suggest to China that Singapore could help it open its doors to the West. Yes that might be true - but he can't say that publicly. Since when did a gnat tell an elephant how to behave?
But we can set up schools and training facilities in the region.
The region - which is resource rich - badly needs trained engineers, doctors, civil servants, managers, skilled workers.
schools that can also train a new generation that is imbued with the
Singapore way of thinking - an order built upon stability meritocracy,
cooperation, and non-violence.
What are Singaporeans good at? Ask ourselves that question.
We seem to be good at building infrastructures, institutions, and a working civil multi-racial society.
We should be trying to import this system to our neighbors.
Its been said - "An idea is one of the most powerful insidious viruses known to man". That is how "Christianity", "Capitalism", "Meritocracy", even "Communism" has overtaken the minds of men and shaped their societies.
At the heart of all our actions is an idea. "Work hard, get a career, make money = success", "I invest because I trust my Govt not to tax me or confiscate my wealth"etc.., "I will fight and die for my country because it is the honorable thing to do."
Ideas makes the world go around. Once men's minds are captured by an idea they will move heaven and earth to make it happen.