Defying the odds to become success story

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the 9 Aug 2011 letter by Dr Khor Swee Kheng.

Dr Khor admires Singapore for having achieved success despite the limitations of being small, resource starved and being almost completely dependent on the outside world. Many of the prosperous nations today are small nations. Dr Khor shouldn’t mistake smallness as a limitation to prosperity. Dr Khor should similarly admire Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea for having achieved success too despite being resource starved and being almost completely dependent on the outside world too for their prosperity.

Excellent education, health care, high living standards, first class infrastructure, efficient civil service, low infant mortality and high broadband penetration are common to all four equally amazing East Asian success stories. While Hong Kong stands shoulder to shoulder with Singapore for low crime rate, Taiwan and South Korean crime rates are not very high either. The rapid prosperity of the four East Asian dragon economies suggests that the so-called insurmountable odds have been overstated. It is hard to accept that a government that has lost 40% of popular votes can be considered as well regarded. Perhaps well regarded by foreign firms for investing and losing billions of our precious national reserves in their companies.

Dr Khor illustrates the long road ahead for Singapore’s maturation process by comparing Singapore’s 46 years of age with the United States’ 235 years. Would Dr Khor consider that the road ahead for Germany’s maturation is even longer since it is only 21 years of age? But the German maturation process has been going on for centuries. Similarly, Singapore’s maturation process has been going on for much longer than 46 years. It has been going on for 192 years already since 1819.

Dr Khor says that the world now stands in awe of Singapore the impossible city. Why would First World countries like the United States stand in awe of Singapore? That would be like the elephant standing in awe of the cat. Perhaps only cockroaches would stand in awe of the cat.

Dr Khor speaks of a generation of leaders almost unprecedented in history. The Soviet people had the same regard for their dear leader Stalin during the Second World War. Today, Stalin is hardly ever mentioned.

Grim predictions of starvation and international irrelevance were told even during the days of Sir Stamford Raffles. Thus, staying ahead of the curve wasn’t a peculiarly post-independence phenomenon. It has always been a Singaporean phenomenon right from the start independent of any one particular leader.

Singapore may be punching above its weight. So too are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark. Before we show pride in our punch, let us first show pride in being a society we claim to be, one that is based on justice and equality.


2 Responses to “Defying the odds to become success story”

  1. Ace Says:

    Germany considered Hitler to be their leader. What did he do to his country? Similarly, we always consider our leader to be the old man. History will be re-written once the MIW loses power because what they did did not benefit the citizens.

  2. anon Says:

    So Dr Khor is merely providing the ‘uplifting’ remarks the govt so sorely craved for?

    It’s too easy for someone to flatter this govt and get away with it . Not this time though.

    Good counter points made.

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