World class already

I refer to the letter “World class, we already are” published on 22 Mar 2007.

I agree with Mr Mahbubani that Singapore is already world class and should stop trying hard to. We should stop trying to be world class for world class’s sake, just like we should stop trying to be first for first’s sake. Years of struggling to be number one in school has led our elites to become prepossessed with the meaningless pursuit of that namesake of a goal.

I also agree with all the criteria he cited for Singapore’s being world class except for biodiversity. The amount of biodiversity that Singapore has is the same as any 683 sq km plot in Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica or Indonesia. That biodiversity has everything to do with our location in the tropics and nothing with us being world class. Moreover, our mostly impoverished secondary rainforests is nothing compared to the virgin jungles of Papua New Guinea.

I agree that Singapore has scored a major psychological victory over its neighbours in terms of water sufficiency but it comes at a price – that of greater energy dependency. What use is our newater plant if our energy supplies are cut off?

To say that the West is failing in major international security is to put that responsibility onto their shoulders. Shouldn’t international security be the responsibility of all nations?

It is easy to label the US as incompetent but much more difficult to carry out the duties that it carries. It is easy to indulge in self-belief of progressive competence but more difficult to appreciate the danger of where that progressive competence is leading us to.

Finally, I also agree with him that one of our top priorities is to mend ties with our neighbours. It is a daunting task not dissimilar to Israel seeking acceptance in the midst of an Arab world. I hope we never fail.


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