Friday, 29 September 2023

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Singapore – on the bright side

In the lead-up to National Day, TOC’s writers share their personal views on what it means to be a Singaporean and what Singapore means to them. Here is the 2nd article.

By Ned Stark

We all are said to be, rightly or wrongly, products of the Singapore System. Though I would like to think of myself as a defect given some of the views I have held.

But nevertheless, as in most things in life, the Singapore system does have its good points.

In fact, as National Day approaches, it is time to look on the brighter side of things, for once.

Singapore has often been seen as a model for developing countries. Indeed a visit to other countries in the region will give us a sneak peek of how Singapore was like before. Due in part to the founding fathers (from all parties) and to our forefathers, Singapore has developed economically and in terms of technology.

Furthermore having been overseas this past weekend, I must say that being orderly is not such a bad thing at times. While I do have some strong opinions regarding Singaporean drivers, on the whole things on the road are rather orderly which makes driving less of a headache.

One of the oft-derided things in Singapore is the “pragmatism”. While pragmatism does at time seem to be one of the overused words in Singapore, it is also, in a way necessary for things to work. As a friend of mine once said, idealism is needed for a society to advance, but pragmatism ensures that the society stays there.


But one of the greatest draws in Singapore is safety. In fact whenever I go on a holiday, I would keep my wallet in the front pocket rather than in the back. And I would always check my wallet with a paranoia bordering on hysteria at times.

In Singapore, I am content to leave my wallet in my back pocket. Furthermore I rarely if ever, venture out alone when I am overseas in the middle of the night. Suffice it to say, such inhibitions are lessened a lot when I am in Singapore. While it is undeniably true that low crime is not equivalent to no crime, the sense of security in Singapore is something that, till now, is hard to find in some other countries.

Of course at times there are undesirable stuff about Singapore. But to borrow and paraphrase a saying, no country is perfect. Every country has its idiosyncrasies. But of course that is not to say that we cannot hope or work for change.

For at the end of the day, is not the desire to improve society, be it under the lightning bolt, the hammer or any other banner, a manifestation of patriotism?

Ned also writes on his own blog, Winter Is Coming.

Read also TOC writer Benjamin Cheah’s City Of Lions.

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