More on the hip new Singapore

This is the best article I’ve read yet on Sinagpore’s metamorphosis from rigid, no-nonsense dictatorship to gay-friendly, gum-chewing (with a doctor’s prescription), bar-dancing oasis of liberal pleasures.

I didn’t know, for example, that the recent decision by the government to hire gays came about “after officials discovered a study showing that America’s most gay-friendly cities were also the most creative and affluent.” (Are you listening, Republicans?)

This is at the heart of Singapore’s radical new course:

“If we want our people to make more decisions for themselves, and if we are to encourage a derring-do society, we must allow risk taking, and a little excitement,” [PM] Goh has said. His remarks and the relaxation of petty rules were, however, born not of generosity but necessity. Singapore is in trouble and in need of re-invention.

The article drives home the point that many don’t want to acknowledge — Singapore is in deep, deep trouble and the government has to do everything it can to get out of the iceberg’s way.

Easier said than done. Singaporeans are still too scared to get up on the bar and dance, the reporters says, so the new freedoms probably won’t change things very much, at least in the short-term.

After 40 years of being firmly guided in what education and career to follow, and even whom to marry, Singaporeans are being told to alter their character radically.

The government is now encouraging everyone to be a “bold thinker” and entrepreneur. It’s too bad they waited until now to see the light, when it really may be too late.

[Edited at 17.00, Sept. 13]

The Discussion: One Comment

Hi Richard, just joined the whole blogging phenomenon, and came across your site. I enjoy reading your insights – I find them honest and well-articulated. Your comparative perspective makes for an interesting read.

Anyhow, 2 cents after reading this post. It’s interesting to note the changes that have happened since: more young Singaporeans studying overseas (such as myself), and returning (or not), young professionals living overseas, and returning (or not). More access to information on Sg – and international – politics via the net. And more.

If observations from Singapore blogs (and articles about them) are anything to go by, there *has* indeed been a growing restlessness with the ruling party’s inflexibility, political rigidity, and generally compulsive need to control every aspect of Singaporeans’ lives. (In addition to teenage girls writing about daily events, for sure.) And, with the explosion of the blogging phenomenon in the last coupla years, there may yet be some dramatic change – if it hasn’t already started.

(Apologies for not first cross-checking with your more current posts – I have a feeling I’ll be coming back, though.)

April 26, 2005 @ 1:53 pm | Comment

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