Singapore spoils one for the world
What now follows are my own comments to certain points raised by Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in the article above.
"At the risk of offending Singapore's new Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, I must confess to being glad that the Minister Mentor title indicates no diminution of his father's authority. Such an unfashionable view would not have flowed from my computer a few months ago."
You are extremely correct at being worried about offending Lee Hsien Loong. If you do he will have you in court and bankrupt within the week.
"Pestered by beggars [..} I longed for Singapore's security, amenities and efficiency."
To think that there are no beggars or homeless people in Singapore is a gross mis-understanding and implies a lack of travelling beyond the main tourist areas such as Orchard Road. Along Orchard Road the police are extremely efficient in sweeping the homeless off the street and away from your gaze. But surely a well structured policy to 'help' the homeless, rather than 'hide' the homeless is in order. Also, the next time you visit Singapore, why not visit a construction site and inspect the accommodation that the foreign workers have to live in, in the centre of the construction site, in what appears to be a shanty-town like hut.
The UK and sections of Europe may appear unsightly, but in Europe, unlike Singapore, if the politicians are not addressing these social ills then the people can replace them. In Singapore the people are unable to voice alternative opinions on the government owned media and come election time, seeing one choice on the ballot paper is no choice at all.
Yes on the surface Singapore looks clean, safe and efficient. It reminds me of efforts taken when a rich group of G8 delegates arrive in an under-developed country for talks on world poverty. The delegates are shuttled around with areas that appear unsightly hidden behind partitions. Yes, Singapore seems to 'work' but work for whom?