It depends on who you ask.
To vlogger Nuseir Yassin, creator of the video series Nas Daily, Singapore is the “almost perfect country.” So resplendent is Singapore to him that he announced last week that he is moving here with his girlfriend.
He is seeing Singapore through the eyes of a foreigner who fell in love with the country, and had the good fortune to hang out at a cafe with Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and days later, go on a stroll at Gardens by the Bay with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Singaporeans born and bred in this country would take a more nuanced, practical view.
We rightfully take pride that there is racial harmony in our country. Yet we are told that the people are not ready to embrace a non-Chinese Prime Minister, and it is time for the Elected Presidency to be Reserved for Malays, but then the eventual President, by all accounts, is of Indian descent.
We have one of the highest savings rates in the world, yet much of it is tied up in CPF savings, which people have access to only when the government says so.
Singapore also has one of the highest per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the world, but people struggle with rising cost of living – old people have to clear tables at food centres, and the Prime Minister advised Singaporeans to eat hawker meals, use free WiFi, and save on water and electricity.
Ministers in our country are the world’s highest paid, which imply that everyone else are similarly blessed, but in reality ordinary citizens take five years or more to earn what Ministers make in one month.
Another feather in the cap for Singapore is that we have one of the world’s highest rates of home ownership, but more than 80% own HDB flats which have now sadly become a fast depreciating asset.
Our country is touted as a model for meritocracy, yet all three children of Lee Kuan Yew became President’s Scholars, both sons became SAF scholars, the eldest one got promoted nine times in eight years of active SAF service, and went on to become Prime Minister – and this is just the tip of the iceberg!
We have low crime rates in this country and the streets are safe at night (thumbs up!) but the police will investigate you for holding a piece of paper outside the courts, or for saying in jest that you will throw egg at somebody important.
So, you decide if Singapore is the “almost perfect country,” resplendent in all its glory, or perhaps we can do much, much better.