16 Oct 2005

How can Singapore become a Global City?

I was pretty surprised to see an article like this in CNA. Read it and you'll find out why. The part that interested me was at the end, which I've pasted here. It also calls for the opening up of Singapore so that it can become a global city, and asks people to exercise tolerance.

Those sections of the media that proclaim that nation-building is an important part of their agenda should be more careful in their reporting of conspicuous consumption and large remuneration packages. The more they publicise these during difficult times, the more envy they unintentionally provoke.

As Dr Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's public relations genius, knew, the way to arouse any emotion is to repeatedly show, air or print the triggers of the emotion.

The NKF incident also showed why the Government plays such an important role in our lives - we want it to. We grumble the Government interferes too much. So, why did Singaporeans instinctively ask where it was?

Most of us were surprised that the police investigated the presence of white elephants at Buangkok. But should we be?

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng had said: "Regardless of whether (the offender) thinks it is a silly law or not, he does violence to the rule of law even if his actions are peaceful."

So, let's not call for new laws - whether about ungracious commuters who don't give up their seats or other annoying matters, as some readers have done - unless there is some harm that cannot otherwise be taken care of. We never know the unintended consequences of such laws.

Related to this, the majority should be tolerant of minorities. Letters to the press show that some feel minorities, whether racial or disabled, ought to conform.

The principle for new laws and imposing majority views should be rooted in John Stuart Mill's comment: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

Mill was a political philosopher who greatly influenced the thinking of the American and British ruling and intellectual classes in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The rise of London and New York have much to do with this.

In short, talented people elsewhere are attracted to these two global cities partly because the residents are more optimistic, the state plays a smaller role and attitudes and laws are more tolerant.

Of course, if we find the price of changing too high, we can opt for something less. But it would be a shame not to aim high.

A surprisingly candid piece about Singaporeans, with a very veiled jibe at the government: "Most of us were surprised that the police investigated the presence of white elephants at Buangkok. But should we be? "

On the side note, I was a bit jolted by this piece of information, which says some letters suggest that minorities should conform. Coming from a minority of a minority of a minority, it disturbs me that people today can think like that, instead of exercising tolerance for the statistically disadvantaged.


soci said...

This is a rather candid article to appear on CNA. I have noticed however that even LHL is very candid at about the lack of democracy in Singapore. It is always stated in a matter f fact why with a tinge of, 'oh well its necessary or inevitable' at the end of it.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is becoming a global city by importing people from all over the world to work and live as Foreign Talents.

Singapore's globalisation has nothing to do with Democracy. It is the incorporation of Singapore Inc. to turn this nation into a money making machine for the benefit of the political and business elites. Ordinary Singaporeans will see the role, purpose and power eroded to nothing in this globalised Singapore Inc.