Singapore is a small city-state that is located in the Malay Peninsula, south of Malaysia. It occupies an area of just 721.5 square kilometers. That's about half the size of Guam! How could it be that such a small, youthful country became a model for western nations? After examining these top 5 things we can learn from Singapore, we will all see why this is the case.
1. A Harsh Attitude Towards Crime is a Force for Good
Despite having a relatively poor Gini coefficient compared to other first world countries, Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in on the planet. Why is that the case? Simply because Singapore is a country that is not afraid of using the heaviest stick to punish criminals. The death penalty is meted out for offenses like kidnapping, drug trafficking, murder, economic crimes (like arms trafficking) and so on. Supranational organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch crying alligator tears about how the death penalty and other punishments for crimes are violations of so-called “Human Rights”. The real violation is in not punishing criminals severely. Allowing ex-cons to commit crimes against law-abiding citizens once more punishes a law-abiding society twice for the wrong-doings of criminals. While Singapore has a somewhat high recidivism rate -close to 3/10 ex-cons go back to jail- the USA is even worse in that regard, as 4/10 ex-cons go back to jail within 3 years. Let us not even mention liberal France, where 6 in 10 crooks fail to learn the lesson first time around.
Aside from a reduction in recidivism, harsher punishments dissuade citizens from committing a crime. An example: If the punishment for homicide was only a 10 dollar fine, it would be logical to assume that a lot of people would commit homicide. If the punishment for homicide is death, those people will think twice. By making the punishments for crimes more severe and by deterring potential criminal activities the state is effectively saving people’s lives; that is just what Singapore has done. This can also be seen in their fight against drugs. Harsh punishments against drugs in the west have been anathema due to the fact that the war on drugs was lost, this didn’t stop Singapore from achieving the lowest level of drug abuse. This is an achievement that pro-legalization people don’t like to talk about.
2. The Free Market is Effective
Singapore is ranked as the 2nd most free economy in the world, and an ideal example of a free market society. Singapore shows us that unlike how the libertarians would like you to think, you do not need a so-called “free society” to be able to have a free market.
Singapore has the 7th highest GDP per capita in the world. By comparison, the US is 19th, Norway is 11th, Australia is 29th and France is way down in 41st place. Singapore is also the 2nd best place in the world to do business. This allows Singapore to rock a 2.1% unemployment rate due to the pro-business environment; this is not a one-time event, the last time Singapore had an unemployment rate that was higher than 5% was thirty years ago, in 1988. For those who want to make the big bucks, Singapore is the best place to accomplish that. Singapore has an exceptional economy.
Critics claim that there is tremendous income inequality in Singapore. While the Gini Coefficient is indeed high compared to other first world countries, it is a non-issue. This position assumes that each human being is inherently equal. Income inequality also rises even if the economy overall for all parties is better. An example I can use is this: Imagine a 1000 person economy where each rich person has 100 dollars and poor persons have 10 dollars, the inflation rate is 10 percent and the cost of living is constant. The next year, rich people suddenly all have 1000 dollars while poor people have 75 dollars and the inflation rate is still 10 percent. In this scenario, both the rich and the poor benefit from this, but income inequality rises. People who focus on income inequality alone will claim that the country is worse off after the first year, which is completely wrong.
What is more important when it comes to analyzing the rich-poor dynamic is income mobility. Income mobility is the best way we can see whether it is possible for poor people to be able to be richer or not. As we see, Income mobility and income growth in Singapore compared to other first world nations are much better.
Overall, the Singaporean economy is objectively better than western economies on many metrics, and that is thanks to Singapore embracing free market values. Singapore also shows us that you don’t need resources in order to have a prosperous economy. Singapore has almost no natural resources, whereas Venezuela is bountiful but still manages to be a terrible place to live in. Thanks, socialism! Success is predicated on how the economy is managed, not solely on resources. Singapore is clearly a high-function project.
3. Equity, Not Equality
There is a huge difference between equality of outcome and equality of opportunity. The west focuses on equality of outcome, because the dominant paradigm believes in an objective truth; that all human beings are equal and interchangeable. the Singaporean government challenges that idea and proposes If we truly are equal, let us see what the results from giving everyone equal legalistic rights. The fact is that applied equity and its results challenge the predicted assumption of western neoliberalism/globalism; the claim that we are all inherently equal. Singapore proves this to be completely false; this terrifies the globalist/egalitarian. Singapore is thus seen as a “racist” country, despite it being a multi-cultural and multi-racial country. Egalitarians calling Singapore a “racist” or “unjust” country is a form of damage control; Singaporean success makes them uncomfortable.
4. The Fight Against Corruption CAN be won
Singapore is ranked as the 6th least corrupt nation in the world, and by many measures, corruption is practically non-existent there. The method is multi-faceted. There are heavy penalties for corruption. Singapore has an effective judicial system -something that is quite rare in many countries today- and an intelligent audit system. In virtually all public sectors, corruption is kept at a minimum. This is aided by paying public servants a lot more in wages. After all, if you get a lot of money by working for the government, then there is no reason to betray the state. Not only do bribes that would otherwise be seen as large sums of money seem small, a higher wage generates higher loyalty for the state. Loyalty to employers whether in the private or public sector is incredibly important if you want to have low corruption.
5. Authoritarianism Is NOT a Bad Thing
This is a very hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. We are captured in a political dialectic where liberty is seen as an objective force of good, and that we should be free to do whatever we want. Singapore shows us that authoritarianism when used in a manner that serves the interests of the society, can be good for a country. The authoritarian government of Singapore has achieved a country where its citizens are among the healthiest in the world. Singapore is in the elite tier when it comes to education. Singapore is among the least corrupt, highest income, lowest drug abuse, lowest crime afflicted and cleanest nations on Earth. This is all achieved by authoritarian governance. You cannot achieve incredible feats such as low corruption and low crime rate by having a liberal governance. Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, is an archetype example of an autocratic leader who jailed political opposition and did all those supposedly terrible things. The end result is a stable prosperous country that is one of the best in the world, despite having all the odds stacked against you.
Some might argue that Singapore is not an authoritarian country, that is only true if we look at the surface and just read that Singapore is a “parliamentary republic”. Singapore effectively is an authoritarian country; hence the term “soft authoritarianism”.
Singapore is thus a model country for western nations: she is morally virtuous, economically prosperous and a great, beautiful place to live in. If only the same could be said for other countries.