Second batch of signed Hard Truths raises $1.75m

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the 23 Feb 2011 report of Irish hedge fund manager Bill Bollinger’s comments on Singapore and MM Lee.

Mr Bollinger, having lived in New York and London and having travelled to major cities around the world, finds none functions as well as Singapore, citing rule of law, competence and most importantly safety as key reasons. However, using data from the World Bank governance indicators 2009:

Country Rule of Law Country Regulatory quality Country Government effectiveness
FINLAND 120% SINGAPORE 100% SINGAPORE 100%
SWEDEN 120% HONG KONG 100% DENMARK 100%
NEW ZEALAND 119% DENMARK 99% FINLAND 97%
NORWAY 117% NEW ZEALAND 96% SWEDEN 90%
DENMARK 116% AUSTRALIA 95% SWITZERLAND 87%
LUXEMBOURG 114% FINLAND 94% NEW ZEALAND 85%
NETHERLANDS 111% NETHERLANDS 92% LIECHTENSTEIN 82%
CANADA 110% SWEDEN 91% CANADA 81%
AUSTRIA 109% CANADA 90% LUXEMBOURG 80%
SWITZERLAND 109% LUXEMBOURG 90% HONG KONG 80%
AUSTRALIA 107% SWITZERLAND 85% AUSTRALIA 79%
UNITED KINGDOM 106% UNITED KINGDOM 84% NORWAY 79%
GERMANY 101% LIECHTENSTEIN 82% NETHERLANDS 77%
SINGAPORE 100% AUSTRIA 80% AUSTRIA 74%
LIECHTENSTEIN 100% GERMANY 80% GERMANY 68%
UNITED STATES 95% NORWAY 76% UNITED KINGDOM 67%
HONG KONG 93% UNITED STATES 74% UNITED STATES 63%

We see that while Singapore shares the top spot in regulatory quality and government effectiveness, it is far from the top when it comes to rule of law.

Also, if we were to average out the scores of the three categories:

Country Average
DENMARK 105%
FINLAND 104%
SINGAPORE 100%
SWEDEN 100%
NEW ZEALAND 100%
LUXEMBOURG 94%
AUSTRALIA 94%
CANADA 94%
SWITZERLAND 94%
NETHERLANDS 93%
HONG KONG 91%
NORWAY 90%
LIECHTENSTEIN 88%
AUSTRIA 88%
UNITED KINGDOM 86%
GERMANY 83%
UNITED STATES 77%

We find quite a number of countries that are quite close to us in these three World Bank governance indicators. This is despite the fact that Singapore is so much smaller and hence so much easier to administrate. There is also a “voice and accountability” indicator which Mr Bollinger would probably not be interested in.

For crime rate comparisons, we can refer to the United Nations survey on crimes:

Country Homicide (less than) “Rape
(less than)”
“Robbery
(less than)”
Japan 1 5 10
Singapore 1 5 40
Hong Kong 1 5 40
Brunei Darussalam 1 10 10
Switzerland 1 10 60
Germany 1 10 70
Austria 1 10 70
Netherlands 1 10 100
Norway 1 20 40
Sweden 1 60 100
Canada 2 5 100
Denmark 2 10 70
Luxembourg 2 20 70
France 2 20 180
United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) 2 30 70
United Kingdom (England and Wales) 2 30 150
New Zealand 2 40 60
Australia 2 No figures 100
Liechtenstein 3 10 10
Republic of Korea 3 20 10
Finland 3 20 40
United Kingdom (Scotland) 3 20 70
United States of America 6 30 150

* all figures are per 100,000 population

We can see that Japan and Hong Kong have low crime rates like us and many other countries are not far behind too. Again, it is worth noting that a small city like Singapore is much easier to police than much larger countries.

Mr Bollinger might be pleased to know that places like Hong Kong, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Denmark have scored well for both the World Bank governance indicators as well as the United Nations crime survey.

Mr Bollinger reportedly read MM Lee’s book to find out what made Singapore tick and found MM Lee to be visionary. That is like reading a Japanese history textbook to learn about Japanese involvement in WWII. One is bound to find Japan’s war time atrocities glossed over. To get the full picture, one has to also read history books from the other side of the conflict too. Similarly, Mr Bollinger should also read books written by MM Lee’s detractors to get the complete picture.

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