Is This An Overview?
Singapore gained sovereignty in
1965, during a wave of anticolonialism.
Within the following decades, Singapore went from being an
underdeveloped state, into a prosperous and politically stable state. Taking immense effort to build an effective
government that provided for social inclusivity, political trust, a productive
economic system, and a defense network. To
survive, Singapore needed to manage ethnic tension, find trading partners for
resources, and defend itself against threats to their sovereignty.
capitalism, but with socialist ties. A competitive system that had more equitable
rewards. A system designed to give
people ownership over the outcomes of production, which had motivated people to
take responsibility for their lives and contribute to the building prosperity. To prevent a welfare dependent system. Singapore had sought international advice and
trained their work force.
developed a trustworthy government. To
build an effective government, they made policies to stop corruption cycles,
and punished corruption severely.
Politicians were expected to publicly respond to allegations, and
legally defend themselves against defamation.
This is a system where news agencies are punished should they make false
claims. Singapore learned from the
international community, and then the international community began to learn
from Singapore. Singapore was effective
at managing foreign affairs. They build
cooperation and prevented meaninglessly escalating frustration.
How Was Sovereignty Gained?
It was the British that established Singapore as a trading
post during the early 19th century.
During 1950s, there was a wave of anticolonialism. Lee Kuan Yew was elected as prime minister of
a self-governing Singapore in 1959, after working with trade unions and
political parties. Lee Kuan Yew party
went against the communists, which meant making enemies. Their victorious outcome came about after
difficult conflict. Singapore leadership
wanted to rejoin Malaya, and did merge into Malaysia in 1963. The cooperation was very fragile, for there
were Malay-Chinese race riots in Singapore.
Malay wanted dominance, and left no choice for Singapore but to
leave. Singapore became independent in
1965. Community experiences with
hardships made them determined to develop a multiracial and inclusive society.
Relying On The British And Americans?
Singapore was a small country, surrounded by larger more
powerful nations which favored domestic policies. Singapore relied on the British for military
defense, but the British were set to leave Singapore, taking their military
might with them. Without them,
Singapore’s security would have been threatened. Threatening their survivability. Security needed for trade and
investments. Without which there would
There were many Asian states gaining sovereignty, and did
not want European powers controlling them.
Asian states wanted an Asian solution to their problems. But, the smaller states did want to cooperate
with other European states to balance the power with the larger Asian states.
Singapore did not yield to pressure to override their legal
system for forging states, even when Singapore was weak and smaller that the
state pressuring them. By not yielding
to pressure, Singapore proved that the rule of law was meaningful and could be
overridden with impunity. They were not
afraid to enforce the law, especially with British forces still standing
Singapore did not want to be intimidated, therefore needed
to build a military defense force.
National service was a rite of passage for Singapore. Unifying the diverse people. Respecting the diverse people’s restrictions
based on faith.
As British influence was declining, the American influence
was expanding. Changing to a different political
structure was difficult. The British and
Americans handled power differently. The
British had civility, while the Americans want to prove their power. Americans needed to be handled without a
British buffer. Singapore relied on US
potential support to counter Soviet power.
Singapore was able to enforce various naval claims due to US power.
How Did Singapore Handle Racial Tension?
Singapore was composed of a diverse group of people, who did
not always get along. To handle the
racial tension, the government hired security who were a more neutral people
with a disciplined and loyal reputation to protect. Racial tensions raised more urgency for a
national security force to protect the fragile independence.
Racial tension made choosing a language a sensitive
topic. They wanted English because it
was a neutral language, and was needed for international trade. Rather than impose English, they accepted
different official languages. Singapore
was a diverse community, with diverse people who wanted to keep their language
and culture. The government wanted a
quality education, but English seemed to deculturize students and make them
The government made sure that different races were
intermingled, and were neighbors. Even
created laws to have inclusive elections.
Enabling the government to be representative of the people.
What Economic System Did Singapore Develop?
Singapore did not have natural resources. For Singapore to
survive, they had to be competitive. To
produce products cheaper and better than alternatives. Singapore had a diverse set of adaptable
people. Singapore wanted to become the
trading post for the region. They did have
a strategically located harbor.
Although Singapore was willing to have a common market with
Malaysia, the Malaysian government did not want the common market even when Singapore
was part of Malaysia. As Singapore did
not have close ties with neighboring states, they sought for ties with more
To develop Singapore as a competitive manufacturing state, they
sought for foreign expertise to improve their workforce. Singapore asked international companies to
send their instructors to train technicians.
They had set up training institutions.
That gave the people skills with understandings from diverse cultures. Making Singaporeans desirable employees. Singapore learned from foreign experiences to
develop effective labor practices.
Singapore protected its manufacturing industry, for various
electronic and other technical products.
Encouraged the business industries to manufacture other products as
well. Primary industries were meant to
be ship breaking and repair, metal engineering, chemicals, and electoral
devices. There were manufacturing
ventures that failed, some due to lack of experience. And also retrofitted some manufacturing for
more profitable ventures. The protective
tariffs were meant to be phased out, and they did not work with international
companies that wanted them maintained.
By 1975, international industries were still more efficient than
Singapore did not want an aid-dependent mentality. They wanted the people to succeed on
themselves. Industries were meant to
help employ Singaporeans, and not become dependent on perpetual injections of
Singapore wanted to avoid a welfare state, the experiences
that foreign state with welfare.
Singapore had seen how welfarism had demotivated other societies, to
prevent them from being productive.
Self-reliance was undermined by welfare.
With welfare, people became depended upon the state, and reduced
productivity. Singapore tried to make
people as independent as possible, but not everyone can be independent. Lee Kuan Yew was able to resist criticism
until the welfare state was acknowledge as a failure.
To become efficient, the Economic Development Board was
meant to take on responsibility for all investor needs rather than having
multiple departments. Investors wanted
to make sure that politics, economic, finance , and labor were stable. They wanted to make sure no disruptions to
their customers around the world. Even
during a resource crisis, like during the oil crisis of 1973, Singapore did not
claim special privileges over their stock.
They did not block the other countries from removing their stock. This meant that the government proved that it
was dependable. That Singapore would
share on the supply restrictions as every other customer.
Many development economists saw multinational corporations
as exploiters of land, labor, and raw materials. That they perpetuated a colonial
pattern. Singapore was not supportive of
these views, and had problems to resolve which the MNC could be part of the
solution. The Singapore people did not
have the technical expertise or entrepreneurs, therefore had to rely on
MNC’s. Singapore also had no resources
to exploit. What Singapore did have was hard
working people, infrastructure, and an honest and competent government.
By the 1990s, Singapore had become a world financial
leader. With jurisprudence, effective
governance, and balanced budgets. Singapore
wanted makes sure to not spend more than revenue collected, except in
recession. Financial malfeasances were
punished, but it was hard to make a case against international financial
Singapore’s financial regulations were strict. They were needed initially because Singapore
did not have a reputation. There were
requests for more leniency, but were rejected.
As Singapore did not compromise standards, Singapore was not as affected
by international financial crises. As
Singapore financial system grew, it needed to change to become more global
thinking, while relying less on protection from competition.
Lee Kuan Yew began a political career by supporting unions,
but during 1950s, unions became more communist.
No matter the political ideology, the unions had become more combative.
What was needed was to have the unions focus on jobs creation. It was the British who taught the
Singaporeans trade union practices, which had focused on taking away from firms
as much as possible no matter the consequences to the firm. The consequences of such practices included
unemployment. The practices created
economic inefficiency. The practices
needed to be updated.
The union system at that time contained few privileged
unionized workers with high pay, and many people underpaid and underemployed. Policies needed to change to pay based on
performance, not time. Lee Kuan Yew did
drastically change policies governing unions during the political uncertainty
of the British withdrawal. Policies
meant to bring more power to businesses to control their business. They changed the incentive structure of
work. Restoring employee changes to businesses. Unions needed to have a public ballot to take
The government was socialist, but also capitalistic. They wanted appropriate division of income,
but also needed personal motivation and rewards for a productive economy. There would have been social tension without
social fairness. Extreme results of competition
would have been socially disapproved of, therefore the government needed to
find appropriate income distribution practices to get elected. Social harmony was found in everyone sharing
in economic prosperity. Pragmatic
solutions were found for economic and social while limiting potential abuse and
Economic success, brought with it problems. While people were waiting for their
residences to be built, apartment prices kept rising. The people wanted the apartments built
quickly. The government was pressured,
and therefore increased the number of units built. But the increased units caused property
defects which need to be expensively ameliorated. The government learned not to abide by
popular pressure, when the government could deliver.
The government made policies for individuals to take
responsibility for their health care, and retirement. To not rely completely on government. An appropriate division of economic resources
gave people ownership over the outcomes, which motivated many to support the
economic methods. Rioters acted
differently about property they owned rather than rented. By giving people ownership, they would be
more invested in protecting their property.
With shares of ownership, they chose to increase their assets with more
When replying to why Singapore and not other states
developed, Singapore replied that they had a stable social system, a culture of
productivity and investing in the future, and supported an educated society.
How Did Singapore Government Function?
The government had trust and confidence of the people, that
the government would defend the people.
Even with various groups criticizing the government, they did not want
to ruin the trust with misgovernment and corruption.
Singapore wanted to avoid corruption as much as possible,
therefore politicians were required to defend themselves against allegations of
misconduct or malfeasance. There was a
public expectation that charges of impropriety or dishonesty, were to be challenged
in the courts. Opponents of Lee Kuan Yew
made slanderous claims, before elections to cause maximum damage. Lee Kuan Yew responded with legal means. The claims would have been legitimated if
they were not defended against using legal means.
During 1959, the government wanted a clean
administration. They were severely
disappointed with the corruption of other Asian leaders. The Asian leaders started by fighting for
freedom, but had become oppressors who plundered their people’s wealth. The way the leaders behaved, had terrible
consequences for their societies. The
Singapore leaders wanted to remove colonial rule, without the associated sigma
of Asian leaders who did not deliver on their ideals.
Initially, in Singapore, there was a lot of corruption on
all levels. Low ranked officials induced
bribes to increase their income, while higher ranked officers did not set a
good example. Officials did not have a
good income to live on, therefore abused their power. Illegal activities were removed quicker when
there was alterative employment available, and when the government was able to
enforce their polices.
The government made sure that that money use was held
responsibility, and amounts could easily be verified. Corruption in Lower ranked officials would be
controlled by simplifying procedures and less discretionary decisions. The priority was to remove corruption from
higher ranked official. Fines for
corruption were increased, as well as for providing misleading information to
the anti-corruption agency. Assets were
confiscated from those who were found to be corrupt.
Corruption could begin with how the candidate were to be
elected. With high monetary costs to
elections that needed to be recovered.
Singapore wanted to prevent the corruption cycle, by making sure that
money was not used to win elections.
With smaller expenses to elections, there was less costs to be
recouped. Getting votes by providing
During the crisis of 1997, many Asian countries were
devastated due to corruption. Singapore
was not as affected during the crisis, because they did had much less
corruption. The Asian crisis in the
1990s was due to institutional and structural weaknesses within those
states. That investments were made in
Asia contains various value system. In Confucian values dominate Singapore. Corruption is a disgrace to Confucian
values. Those who have Confucian values,
prioritize community over the individual.
To not use political official resources for personal use. Favors for relatives undermine the integrity
of the government. In Singapore, there
were not many abuses of public resources.
Without the corruption, there was less distortion of the allocation of
resources, therefore did not suffer as much during the crisis. When officials use public resources for
private gain, they exacerbate the situation for the people.
When the PAP government was gaining power, if Lee Kuan Yew
or associates were imprisoned, they had wives who would be able to support the
family without them. Lee Kuan Yew kept
their record clean, which the critics were not even able to find fault, other
than personal issues related to Lee Kuan Yew lifestyle.
The original members of government wanted to change society
rather than power. The following
officials did not face their threats, and had alternative sources of
employment. To attract officials, they
needed to be paid in comparable amounts to the private sector. Other Asian governments had corrupt officers
because they were underpaid.
Singapore government was able to have an effective
team. A team in which decisions could be
delegated to individuals, who would effectively resolve the tasks they were
charged with. The Lee Kuan Yew would set
the policy, but the other individuals were able to work on them. They learned to discuss policies, and then
have public discussions as well. The
government created a Feedback Unit, for the public to have a forum to provide
their feedback. Feedback was influenced
and improves policies.
The legal system based on juries, acquittals were very
likely, even with people who had committed terrible deeds. The jury system
failed, and was abolished. The
government even allowed caning, for it was more effective than long prison
sentences. The law made crime a low cost
to society. A society in which people
and property were protected. Freedom
exists in orderly societies. The
relatively severe punishments caused Singapore to get criticism, but it was due
to their legal structure that they kept sociality stable and with much less
Tolerance and accommodation are needed to make democracy
work. For the minority views to accept
the majority’s claims, until a peaceful transition of power after they have
persuaded people. Not all states had
Why Did Singapore Decide To Green Themselves?
Singapore had decided to become more environmentally
friendly, by cleaning up the environment.
To make Singapore a business and tourist destination. Although buildings could be improved, it took
more to change the bad habits of the people.
The government wanted less litter, noise pollution, and for people to be
By planting various vegetation, they gave the people pride
in their surroundings. Public spaces
were kept clean, as well as various public utilities. By cleaning up Singapore, it allowed the
collection of more rainwater. Cleaning
up the pollution removed the stench. The
clean streams also provided fish.
Improving the quality of life in various ways, such as providing
There were other Asian states that followed Singapore’s
leadership and cleaned up their environments.
Making them greener. They competed
to out green each other. A very helpful
competition. For Singapore, it promoted
morale, tourism, and investments.
How Did Singapore Handle News?
Newspapers have the power to shape the politics of a
state. In Singapore, newspapers cannot
print just anything. The news agencies
where not allowed to publish falsehoods.
Journalists are not elected, unlike the government. The government incentivized news agency to be
politically neutral. This is unlike the
West, in which wealthy people can control voter behavior through what people
read. Singapore government needed to
support their cultural attitude, rather than undermine it.
The East and West have different cultural attitudes, such as
their news approach. The West tends to
criticize government, while the East tends to support their government, with
measured criticism. Chinese readers
favor the group over the individual, while the Western news favored their
When the news agencies misbehaved, such as not publishing
government replies or general misreporting, they were punished by limiting the
number of papers they were allowed to sell.
This meant that the news agency was able to publish articles, but would
not get advertising income.
There were news agencies that had ulterior motives, as they
were being funded by foreign powers under false flag operations. The false flag operations were uncovered, and
How Did Singapore Engage The International Community?
Singapore, along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and
Thailand cooperated under Asean. The
intent was economic, and social development and stability, but the underlying
theme was for needed security to face Vietnamese aggression. Vietnam had skillful propaganda, and contempt
for Singapore. As Vietnam changed,
Vietnam wanted to make allies. They even
looked to Singapore for policy advice.
The Soviet Union and China had acknowledged the damaged by
isolation, and wanted to integrate them into an international economic system.
Japan had occupied Singapore during WW2 using brutal means,
but had changed. When Japan had lost the
war, they became diligent in trying to change themselves, they were a
hardworking people. Singapore wanted
compensation for wartime atrocities.
Trying to get an apology. But,
Singapore still forged political and economic ties with Japan.
The values presented are complex,
and are based on cultural values. Values
that can be readily misunderstood by perceiving them through different cultural
values. The policies described in the
book, can sometimes appear too harsh, that there could have been alternatives
ways to handle situations. The reasons
for the policies are explained, and they did foster the prosperous Singapore. Singapore did provide an effective and
successful governance system, which other states began to learn from.
This book contains a lot of political complexities, such as
trying to coordinate with different sides. A book that favors Western ideas. It is possible that the support given to
those ideas is a political maneuver, rather than genuine. The support could be an attempt to build more
ties with the West. Although there were
segments of the book that which criticized the West.