Get-it-right gets it wrong a second time

I refer to the 12 Aug 2015 TR Emeritus letter “My reply to Ng Kok Lim’s response to my article”.

Get-it-right wrote:

When it comes to one-party rule of SG, detractors are quick to point to N Korea. What about China? It is on the rise and rise under one-party longer than N. Korea.

The rise of China has been the exception than the rule. It at best shows that economic development can take place in spite of one party rule, it doesn’t show that one party rule is crucial to or necessary for economic development. It also doesn’t show that a multi-party China cannot be more prosperous.

Get-it-right wrote:

Comparatively, Taiwan, when under one-party rule, was an economic dynamo. Remember those days when you turned an electronic equipment over, you were most likely to find “Made in Taiwan” stamped on it? What is Taiwan known for today, after it adopted Western-style democracy? Strikes, protests, brawls in Parliament among elected representatives of the people, students take over Parliament, etc.

Multi-party Taiwan today is more prosperous than Taiwan under one party rule, not the other way around. If Acer, Asus, HTC and other Taiwan brands changed names to Taiwan, then “Made in Taiwan” would still be stamped in products all over the world.

Strikes and protests are normal facets of life in First World democracies. Even one-party China has strikes and protests. Strikes can be found all over the world except Singapore and North Korea.

Get-it-right wrote:

Look at Thailand. What has multi-party elections brought? A history of chaos followed by military coup.

Thai military coups are not brought about by multi-party elections as even Thai military governments have been subjected to coups.

Get-it-right wrote:

Look at the West. Britain, Europe and US are all on the decline.

The West is not on the decline but continues to lead in many areas of science and technology while the world continues to rely on the West for many of the products we consume like Microsoft Windows, Intel chips, Google and Apple products.

Get-it-right wrote:

The same Singaporeans who readily point out N.Korea as a bad example of one-party rule are also supporters of the Workers Party of Singapore. Do they not realize that the one party which rules N. Korea is the Workers Party?

The Workers Party of North Korea is a communist party but the Workers Party of Singapore is not. Just because they share the same name doesn’t mean they are therefore the same. Otherwise, the newborn Jeyaprakash Lee Kuan Yew of India will be the same as Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew. Get-it-right is using the same shameless trick PAP used to destroy political opponents – labeling them communists when they were in fact not.

Get-it-right wrote:

Goh Keng Swee was quoted. I have great respect for him but you are accepting his thoughts blindly without thinking about things for yourself. Yet you are the first to accuse the government of brainwashing Singaporeans.

If Get-it-right rejects Dr Goh’s words, then surely he must also imply that Dr Goh himself was blind and unthinking because how else would Dr Goh end up with a conclusion opposite to that of the supposedly not blind but thinking Get-it-right?

Nowhere in the first reply was there any mention about brainwashing of Singaporeans by the government. Get-it-right should not make unfounded accusations or he will be called a liar.

Get-it-right wrote:

Before Singapore, Malacca was the port of call along the Straits of Malacca. Before the Brits, the Portuguese and the Dutch had built it up. Why did the Brits not continue with it?

Because Singapore’s location was and still is better.

Get-it-right wrote:

Since Singapore’s independence, Malaysia has tried to by-pass Singapore’s port. First it was Port Klang, then they got nearer with Tanjong Pelepas and Pasir Gudang which is just across Punggol Point. As far as geographical location is concerned, they are equal to Singapore. So too is any of the nearby Riau Islands of Indonesia such as Batam or Bintang.

Get-it-right would be very wrong to think that our neighbors’ quest to bypass us has only been a post independence phenomenon. Far from it, Dr Goh Keng Swee explained that this quest by our neighbors to bypass us already happened during colonial times.

In the postwar years … new governments would look askance at the middleman activity performed by Singapore. It was to be expected that these governments would seek to bypass Singapore, develop their own ports … But it is by no means a recent phenomenon. On the contrary, the history of Singapore abounds with examples of governments which had been doing precisely this thing. As early as 1823, four years after Singapore’s founding by Sir Stamford Raffles, the first discriminatory measures against Singapore’s trade were introduced … the Dutch imposed a special levy on piece goods imported into Java from Singapore …Trade discrimination and flag discrimination were only two of the perils that Singapore merchants had to contend with. Another took the form of the establishment of rival trading centres. In 1847, Makassar was converted into a free port by the Dutch to take away the flourishing Bugis trade from Singapore. In the next five years five more free ports were established at other places in the Netherlands East Indies. None of these measures checked the growth of Singapore …

[Singapore Economics History Collection – The Practice of Economic Growth, Goh Keng Swee, page 5]

Dr Goh not only recognized that our neighbors will always try to by-pass us; he also recognized the strategic value of our excellent geographical location without which there would have been nothing for our neighbors to by-pass. The fact that Port Klang, Tanjong Pelepas, Pasir Gudang and other neighboring ports in the past have been set up to steal Singapore’s maritime position shows there is something worth stealing. If Singapore is transplanted to a far flung corner of Irian Jaya, our maritime position would become worthless for any country to want to steal or by-pass.

Get-it-right wrote:

More than a century after the Suez Canal, South Africa, the nation furthest from the canal in Africa, is still the most developed nation in that continent.

Contrary to what Get-it-right said, South Africa isn’t the most developed nation in the African continent. According to United Nations Human Development Index, South Africa is classified under medium human development whereas nations closer to the Suez Canal like Libya, Tunisia and Algeria are classified under high human development. Libya’s per capita GDP is also fairly close to South Africa’s. Detractors may point to Libya’s oil revenues but South Africa is also blessed with lots of diamond, gold and platinum.

Get-it-right wrote:

Geographically, South Africa’s location is worse than SG. It faces oceans in all directions except the north.

That’s part of the reason why Singapore is more successful than South Africa.

Get-it-right wrote:

We are talking about trade and investments from the US. If its geographical location, Mexico would be the first choice, followed by those Carribean islands, then Central and South America. Why would the American investors want to come tens of thousands of kilometers to tiny little Singapore?

American investors didn’t just travel thousands of kilometers to Singapore but to Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea as well. What attracted Americans to Singapore also attracted them to Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea and that attraction certainly wasn’t PAP.

Get-it-right wrote:

If geographical location can make all the difference, there would not be any need for the strategy to leapfrog the region to reach the First World. In reality, the government of the day had to go all out to sell Singapore to the world, to attract investments to its shore.

While geographical location doesn’t make all the difference, it did make a big difference. The strategy of leapfrogging the region was very much aided by our status as a transport hub as materials of all kinds flowed through Singapore, industrialists have easy access to raw materials; finished products can also be quickly exported to the world.

Even Lee Kuan Yew himself inadvertently admitted that location was important to a nation’s industrialization:

In 100 years from now, I go back to New Zealand and there will be the grass, the sheep, the cows, the tornados or hurricanes at Wellington, and there will always be this green pleasant place and not industrially developed because it’s the last stop in the bus line …

[Lee Kuan Yew’s interview with Mark Jacobson from National Geographic on 6 Jul 2009 for National Geographic Magazine Jan 2010]

Furthermore, the reality was that our leapfrogging strategy came from Dr Winsemius, not LKY, not PAP (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/dr-albert-winsemius-was-the-true-architect-of-singapores-industrialisation/).

Get-it-right wrote:

Many parts of the world were colonised by Europeans. When the colonies became independent nations, many of them had been colonised for over a hundred years or more, with well established institutions having been set up in all fields. Few of those independent nations have done well. None has done better than SG.
Sure, SG has received economic assistance under UNDP and its advisor Dr. Winsemius. So too those other colonies which became independent. They may not have Winsemius but they may have better advisors than him. Putting it in another way, if Winsemius were to be assigned to them, would he have such successful results as he had with SG?

Not all colonies were equally well run, even amongst British colonies, Singapore was already doing better than most other colonies during colonial times and that advantage carried on till this day. Singapore doing better than most newly independent nations today is the continuation of Singapore doing better than those colonies during colonial times.

Whether or not Winsemius was better, the fact remains that our industrialization followed his “United Nations Proposed Industrialization Programme for the State of Singapore” to a ‘T’ (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/dr-albert-winsemius-was-the-true-architect-of-singapores-industrialisation/). Even Lee Kuan Yew expressed indebtedness to Dr Winsemius, how can anyone say our success has nothing to do with him?

We can turn the question around and ask how India would have turned out if we had put Lee Kuan Yew in India instead? In all likelihood, we would have ended up with a more chaotic, more corrupted India that is not a single bit more prosperous.

Get-it-right wrote:

Why would China’s Cultural Revolution have scared investors to Singapore? That was creating turmoil only within China. It would only have weakened China which meant it would have less capability of
mounting overseas adventures like exporting Communism through revolution. In fact, the US and its non-communist client states around China like S. Korea and Taiwan would like to see the collapse of the Communist regime in China.

North Korea was so turmoiled that a million children died of hunger. Yet, North Korean military threat was never taken lightly. Similarly, China’s Cultural Revolution did not lessen the military threat it posed to its neighbors.

It wasn’t the US government or its ally states but MNCs, corporatists and capitalists who decided where to relocate factories and geopolitical situation was one of the factors they considered including the danger posed by the Cultural Revolution.

Get-it-right wrote:

If the Cultural Revolution in China could scare investors to Singapore, then the Vietnam War would have scared them away. It happened closer to Singapore. If that did not scare them, the fall of South Vietnam should. LKY was a proponent of the Domino Theory. On the contrary, US investments continued to flow in thick and fast after the fall of Vietnam.

While Singapore’s competitors Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea (North Korea being allied with China) were situated right next to China, Vietnam wasn’t situated right next to Singapore. There were buffer states between Vietnam and Singapore including Thailand whose military power was comparable to Vietnam’s. Thus, Vietnam did not serve as big a threat to Singapore as China did to Taiwan and the others in the eyes of investors.

Get-it-right wrote:

Can we truly rely on the US to maintain peace in this region? In 1975, after the fall of South Vietnam, the US withdrew completely from Vietnam, exposing the rest of South-east Asia to the threat of a Vietnamese invasion. After the Vietnamese ventured into Cambodia, it was the Chinese who put a stop to their further ambitions on the rest of South-east Asia by attacking Vietnam.

The US did not withdraw from Southeast Asia but maintained military bases in the Philippines. Chinese intervention did not prevent Vietnam from occupying Cambodia for more than 10 years and was more for the purpose of defying Russia to which Vietnam was allied to than anything else.

Get-it-right wrote:

Shanmugam cannot be more wrong. Singapore cannot rely completely on the US, or for that matter any other nation, to underwrite its peace and the peace of the region. The US is here only for its own national interest, no more, no less. The US was here to fight Communism closer to its source. It is here again, rebalancing as it says, to push its frontier of war nearer to its newly perceived enemy China. Instead of peace, it may turn the Asia-Pacific into a theatre of war, like the Mid-East.

Shanmugam cannot be more right. Our need for self-reliance doesn’t change the fact that if Japan wants to conquer Singapore again tomorrow and no one else intervenes, Singapore will fall again. We must be honest about how much we can rely on ourselves, the US’ underwriting of the peace in the region cannot be understated.

Not everything that the US does is out of national interest. US’ intervention in Bosnia Herzegovina while belated, served little if any US national interest.

Get-it-right wrote:

I can’t imagine how SG would be like if its government and people had adopted this attitude. “OK, we have superb geographical location, good institutions left behind by our ex-British colonial master and the US to maintain peace. We have all the factors in our favor. We can afford to go slow and take it easy. Let’s just lay back and relax. Everything will work out fine by itself.” You think we will have a Singapore like what we have today?

Of course Get-it-right can, it’s purely his imagination. The correct attitude should be: “OK, we have superb geographical location, good institutions left behind by our ex-British colonial master and the US to maintain peace. We have all the factors in our favor. We should therefore make the best of these opportunities and make hay while the sun shines. It’s okay to lay back and relax after a hard day’s work. Everything will be fine if we give our best.”

Get-it-right wrote:

Geographical location, geopolitics are not of no importance but they are less so than other factors for the success of Singapore.

In the first place, there wouldn’t have been other success factors to consider if there hadn’t been the success factor of geographical location. If Raffles founded Singapore in a far flung corner of Irian Jaya, Singapore would have amounted to nothing and there would have been nothing more to talk about. If our location is so unimportant, would Get-it-right agree to transplant the entire Singapore infrastructure and people to a far flung corner of Irian Jaya in exchange for twice as much land since land is so precious to Singapore? Perhaps Get-it-right would but I doubt most reasonable Singaporeans would.

Get-it-right wrote:

What really make Singapore what it is today, a tiny island without natural resources but a world class nation with world class achievements? Its strong and wise leadership with wise and trusting followers. Its strong and wise government with sound values.

Contrary to what Get-it-right said, Singapore has an important natural resource which is our excellent geographical location. Dr Goh believed it; Lee Kuan Yew inadvertently admitted it. Apart from our geographical location, Dr Goh also believed that our success was due to the continuation of the success formula we inherited from the British colonial government which he described as priceless.

Get-it-right wrote:

When we celebrate our 50th year of Independence, let us not forget that all that have been achieved through much hardships and sacrifices throughout the years can easily unravel if the government and the people do not work as one.

While celebrating 50 years of independence, let’s not forget that Singapore was founded in 1819 and that the last 50 years would not have been possible without the 146 years preceding them, so we should not forget the hardships and sacrifices prior to 1965.

Singapore is already unraveling under a bungling government. Unity with a bungling government means joining in the bungling. Responsible Singaporeans cannot do that.

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