Stop comparing Singapore with Third world countries

Why are we, a developed country, being compared with Third world countries all the time? Shouldn’t we compare ourselves with other First world countries like Taiwan, Korea, New Zealand, Denmark and Netherlands?

It never ceases to amaze me the kind of examples some people will use to drive home their point that the PAP is the one and only party capable of leading Singapore forever and ever.

In a letter to the Straits Times forum yesterday titled “PAP’s self-renewal a boon for the nation”, Jeffrey Law praised the PAP’s efforts at “self-renewal”, and in the process took a swipe — or rather three swipes — at neighbouring countries for their far-from-perfect political systems.

He started by saying: “It can be disquieting to know that some politicians in the region indulge in money politics and resort to buying votes.”

Was he referring to politics in other countries or in Singapore?

In the last three elections since 1997, the PAP has been dangling multi-million dollar HDB upgrading programmes in front of voters, telling them if they voted for the PAP, they will get lifts on every floor and nicely spruced up estates. If they didn’t, their estates would become “slums”.

During the 2006 election campaign, the PAP dangled a total of $180 million in front of Hougang and Potong Pasir voters in an effort to get them to vote for their candidates instead of the incumbent opposition MPs. $180 million! That’s $4,540 for each of the 39,647 voters in those two wards!

And that was not all. Just 5 days before polling day in the 2006 elections, the PAP government released $2.6 billion — euphemistically called the “Progress Package” — to the electorate.

Back in 2001, three months before the elections, the government also released $2.7 billion in “New Singapore Shares” to Singaporeans.

There was never a repeat of cash giveaways of this scale in between elections. These giveaways way exceeded the amounts used to buy votes in other countries.

So tell me, who really is engaging in money politics?

The author then went on to lambaste the Philippines because former president Joseph Estrada is planning to run again for President. Perhaps he is not familiar with the concept of a proper democracy whereby any citizen can run for President, subject to minimal eligibility hurdles, and it is up to voters to choose the best man or woman. This is not the case in Singapore, of course, where the presidential candidates are subject to ridiculously stringent eligibility criteria and are chosen by a group of Establishment figures in an opaque selection process.

He then gave a supposedly negative example of how it was common for six or seven candidates from different political parties to compete for a wakil rakyat (people’s representative) post in a small district in Indonesia.

Excuse me? What’s wrong with several candidates competing for one post? What is the ideal number then? One, like in most constituencies in Singapore?

Finally, he did a survey of one person, who remarked that politicians (in Indonesia) were more interested in gaining power and wealth than looking after the welfare of the people. How is Mr Law so sure that this applies to all politicians in Indonesia? And how does he know that it doesn’t also apply to some of our politicians? After all it is not the Indonesian ministers who paid themselves multi-million dollar salaries.

But even if all the above are true, why are we, a developed country, being compared with Third world countries all the time? It’s like comparing apples with oranges. Shouldn’t we compare ourselves with other First world countries like Taiwan, Korea, New Zealand, Denmark and Netherlands?

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

17 thoughts on “Stop comparing Singapore with Third world countries”

  1. “But even if all the above are true, why are we, a developed country, being compared with Third world countries all the time? It’s like comparing apples with oranges. Shouldn’t we compare ourselves with other First world countries like Taiwan, Korea, New Zealand, Denmark and Netherlands?”

    That is because Singaporeans are all dying to emigrate to countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, etc and not to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc.

  2. “Shouldn’t we compare ourselves with other First world countries like Taiwan, Korea, New Zealand, Denmark and Netherlands? ”

    Come, come, Gerald, sure you know that the Singapore govt have no ‘locus standi’ or guts to do that! ;)

  3. they compare to whichever ‘world’ that suits them.
    ask about public transport fares, and they compare to london.
    ask about press freedom, and they compare to african dictatorships.
    ask about income tax and they compare to norway.
    ask about minister salaries and they compare to CEOs

    its time to vote these corrupt people out of parliament.

  4. Why get workedup over regular contributions from regular bootlickers like Jeffrey Law, Lionel deSouza, Ace Kindred etc (they always seem to get their letters published no matter how moronic or shallow their contents are)
    I simply ignore them because I know what they usually write
    about.
    In fact, we get a better perspective of life here if we were
    to lay off ST or SPH publications all together

  5. Keep writing Gerald, your articles will help more youngsters become aware of the propaganda they are being fed.

  6. I don’t think it is a matter of being getting worked-up with the letters written by the bootlickers. Their letters have been deliberately chosen and published by the mass media for a purpose – to reinforce the PAP’s overall psychological warfare tactics and strategy, i.e. to brain-wash and indoctrinate the masses subtly over and over again.

    Can you remember someone in the government once said, “If a lie is repeated again and again, one people will believe it to be the truth” or words to that effect. I think it was LKY himself who said that, if my memory serves me well.

    So, Singaporeans now seriously need people like Gerald Giam and many other similarly passionate bloggers to refute such “lies” and open their eyes and ears, so that they will stop falling into the PAP’s psychological warfare traps.

    Good work, Gerald. Please continue to write and write and write. I enjoy reading your articles. Thank you very much.

  7. Typo Correction:

    “If a lie is repeated again and again, one day people will believe it to be the truth”.

  8. leeds – Don’t worry I’m far from worked up. I enjoy refuting these people’s regurgitations of PAP propaganda.

    fievel and Lindia – Thanks for keeping me going! :)

  9. If you pay careful attention to the rhetoric, the “comparisons” are made only when it is favorable to do so. The Singapore government and the media will always cherry-pick the issues and the countries to compare those issues against. We are not always compared against developing countries … only as and when it is convenient to do so.

  10. Let’s see.

    Firstly, money politics are categorised into 2 types. Overt and Covert. If you give money quietly to the voters, that’s covert and that’s ILLEGAL. If you give money publicly, that’s overt and that’s LEGAL. :)

    Secondly, presidents are categorised into 2 types. The talk back type and the obedient type. If you talk back, then you’re considered a threat to the government and will eventually cause chaos. If you’re the obedient type, you will help to keep the PEACE cos you simply let the government do their thing. :)

    Thirdly, gaining power and money are categorised into 2 types. The give me HIGH salary to stop my greed type, and the give me basic salary and tempt me type. If you give HIGH salary (in the hundreds of thousands), that’s considered LEGAL cos its open and acknowledged. But if its the basic type, you’re courting corruption.

    You see there’s always 2 sides to a coin. Some coins have 4 sides…ingots.

    * Should Singapore be compared with the 3 world countries like Malaysia or Indonesia? Why not? We’re not exactly 1st world you know?

  11. Fellow Singaporeans,

    I feel comparisons need to be macro and not micro or else we may be like the 4 blind men touching different parts of an elephant and then moves on to touch different parts of another elephant and draw a wrong conclusion.

    My first statement is our government is made up of fellow human beings and they are not perfect. Our government is made up of fellow citizens and is not perfect either – pretty much like ourselves. They are the first generation of ‘fathers’ trying to lead the way so besides drawing from examples and history, a lot depends on guts and experiences – that means we cannot realistically expect perfection at every angle.

    My second statement is that leading a country is much ore complex than anything and we, being a young nation, is still experimenting. If we think leading a wife and some children can be quite daunting at times, multiply that by a million times. So instead one trying to meet the needs of 4, try meeting the needs of 4 million. And, to add to that, our government are fathers for the first time.

    Lets not be critical of our government. If we do that, we become a laughing stock ourselves.

    The bigger picture is the delivery, dear friends. Lets compare what our government has delivered during the 45 years and what the other governments have done for their citizens.

    I can name a few things that millions of people can only dream of.
    1) Peace and stability. I have lived in various countries and have not seen that in any of them. Our foreigners friends can attest to that. We need not worry much about being stabbed or robbed or that our children would get kidnapped, I lived in a country whereby this happens everyday. The locals told me, “If there is no killing on the street for one day, than its really news”. It’s that bad.

    2) Employment for the majority. In Singapore, we usually choose what jobs we want. Not so in 90% of the world.

    3) Housing for all. One just needs to read the news and will see that millions of people have no proper homes. Their government is unable (for a huge number of reasons) to provide even for that.

    4) Food for all. We always say, “Don’t know what to eat today leh”. My goodness, what bliss!!! Tons of people have NOTHING to eat. Without the infrastructure set up by our government, that would not be possible at all! I knew a young girl who ate sliced bread and salt for breakfast because that’s all there was.

    5) Rebates for citizens. I know may say that the government take it back in the end. That is not really true if we sit down and do the maths OURSELVES. To start with, do you think our government needs to go one big round, spend administrative money just to pocket back the money? They just did not have to give the rebates. Which countries give money like that? Not many.

    I can go on… and on. But seriously, dear friends, we all live on the same island. Lets be gracious to each other and especially to our government – allow them space to grow. Would we like our children to criticize us everyday for the mistakes we make? Then why do we want to do that to others?

    Ah Beng

  12. Hello, please brush up your history and learn more about the definition of 3rd before you post next time….

  13. I’m sure Beng must be defensive and will try all ways to present a thief as a good man. A conman is a conman.

    While walking to a place, I heard a group of mainland Chinese saying, “Singaporeans are stupid.” What can I say ? 60% – FTs – fake citizens – selfish citizens = naive citizens = stupid Singaporeans. It’s very sad to see our country being taken away by barbarians and corrupt court officials.

    Money politics here is the worst in the world ! They didn’t use corporate’s monies, they use ours !

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