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Thread: Singapore Also Can
06-29-2009, 11:42 AM #171
So Switzerland cannot be twice the population size of Singapore (around 5 million now with a target of 6 million) as it has a low birth rate (9.77 births/1,000 population (2005 est.) and Swiss nationality comprises of many ethnic groups as indicated.
Though Switzerland is independent, it has a history of close cooperation with its neighbours as the same source indicated:
"The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. Switzerland's sovreignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two World Wars.
The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors."
So it is fair to say that actually Switzerland has a large friendly European hinterland though this is unofficial.
As regards Hong Kong's case, I can well remember how Hong Kong people felt when the then British colony was about to be returned to China in 1997, barely a decade ago. Many who have the means tried to obtain a second citizenship elsewhere and Britian was hard pressed to accept as many Hong Kong people but could not. Those who were unable to move out of HK for various reasons, principally financial, had no alternative but tried to make the best of available resources as they were afraid that the Communist government would make life very difficult and take away their civil liberties.
However, as it turned out those fears were unfounded as Hong Kong continued to thrive and instead of being a burden to them, China became very much a saviour as you rightly ascribed to China being HK's hinterland now.
Now will HK be able to survive if it were left on its own without China being its hinterland? I think HK can just like Singapore was able to survive on its own. Because HK people are resourceful and hardworking as they have proven under the British. HK has no umbilical cord with China then and even relationship with the mainlanders were not brotherly!
Love-hate relationship happens throughout history. International relations is now based on whether we have any common interest and how well we can develop such interests that can bring about mutual benefits. Singapore's foreign policy has been and still is "to be a friend to all and an enemy to none". We accept that all countries are entitled to their own views and to safeguard their own interests. But we can continue to keep in touch and agree to disagree.
If Germany and Vietnam can be reunited there is hope. It is much better than the "still at war" posture between North and South Korea. If people of
the same ethnicity and historical background cannot live together, Singapore's
position cannot be worse.
However, other wars, be they ideological, economic, political, religious, etc, among nations will continue and there is not much we can do about it. So if Singapore has no hinterland as you described it, it really doesn't matter much because Singapore has survived through half a century without one. Instead tiny Singapore has progressed and prospered far beyond the imagination of its neighbours.
And I repeat, Singapore's hinterland is no longer the historical notion of a physical/geographical nearness of its bigger neighbours. Singapore's backyard is the world at large. Can any hinterland be bigger?
Last edited by Loh; 06-29-2009 at 11:54 AM.
06-29-2009, 09:50 PM #172
Loh, just like you claim that the world at large is Singapor'e backyard, almost every other country can claim the same too. The difference is other countries don't do so because it is not in their nature to do so.
Yes, Hong Kong prior to 1997 was a borrowed place living on borrowed time, with many countries in the world, including Singapore, choosing their pickings of HK's best talents. With most of her best talents gone, HK had reinvented itself by being more "Chinese" with more high quality Chinese human inputs.
Had Hong Kong remained a colony it might be completely displaced by Shanghai and will revert back to its early 1880s "a barren rock in a barren place".
Just like Taiwan with China, the best time for Singapore to seek a greater " co-prosperity sphere" with her close neighbours to lay a solid foundation for a greater permanent union is now, when her bargaining power is greatest. The longer this is delayed the weaker your bargaining power. That Taiwan's president Ma is one smart man with impeccable sense of timing. Without a permanent union with Malaysia, Singapore will slowly become a little like what pre-1997 HK was, with the best brains leaving and immigrant workers population growing, the latter a necessary evil for economic growth without a hinterland.
Perhaps Singapore's mentor minister also has impeccable sense of timing, reading the tea leaves from his recent grand tour of Malaysia. Maybe he knows something we don't know.
06-29-2009, 10:41 PM #173
Singapore is an open economy and largely depends on the world for its exports of goods and services. That's why I said the world is Singapore's hinterland. Not many countries can be categorized the same as Singapore because of the nature of their economy, when they do not depend largely on exports to the world for survival.
Right now Singapore is enjoying a phase when we are able to attract some of the best brains in the world. We have a variety from different backgrounds and not just from the same source like Hong Kong now gets mainly from China as you said. How long will this last, I cannot tell but I believe we still get a positive net trade-off in the brain exchange. One day, our own talents may return to Singapore to contribute just as overseas Chinese are attracted to return home to China.
As to your suggestion of a permanent union with Malaysia, unless there is a drastic change in the attitude and policies of the Malaysian leadership, I think there is little hope of a merger again. It is pointless to lower one's success and current standing unless there is a guarantee of a better future.
Singapore believes in meritocracy, transparency and accountability, and in my opinion Singapore should do better with a much bigger country which subscribes to such ideas, a country which has proven its ability as a forward-looking, goal-oriented nation which has the interest of its citizens at heart. Otherwise, it is much better for Singapore to stand alone as it does now so successfully and continue to have freedom to do the things it aspires.
06-29-2009, 11:31 PM #174
Singapore has a very high percentage of permanent residents to citizens of about 13%. These permanent residents are talents from other countries scouted and courted by the Singapore government. The high percentage shows that permanent residents want to stay in Singapore for financial and economic reason, but are not willing to call it a permanent home. This is despite recent moves by the government to "tax" permanent residents by removing benefits they traditionall enjoyed with citizens. This non-permanence attitude by permanent residents may be also the cause for Singapore losing its top non-bonded graduates.
06-30-2009, 12:08 AM #175
China's progress looks nothing like Singapore's
Whilst on the subject of Singapore's small size and Hong Kong's dependence on China as its hinterland, an interesting article just appeared:
The Straits Times
June 29 2009
By John Lee
RECENT conversations with Chinese political scientists brought home the extent to which Beijing is obsessed with watching, analysing and replicating the success of Singapore. After all, despite a mediocre global ranking for political freedom, Singapore is confident, prosperous and orderly. Meritocracy is highly valued, its people generally contented and society, vibrant.
Most appealing of all, as far as Beijing is concerned, are the approval ratings for Singaporean leaders, which would make many democratic leaders envious. If there is an "Asian way" of enlightened authoritarian leadership, then Singapore is by far its best example. Unfortunately, the vision is seductive but out of reach for Beijing. It was never realistic and, if anything, China is moving rapidly away from the Singapore example.
Long before Singapore became a model for authoritarian leaders around the world, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington suggested that "authoritarian transition" could be a better way towards development for poorly industrialised countries (although he also argued that authoritarian systems ought to give way eventually to democratic ones".
After all, Europe did not gain universal suffrage until it had industralised. The per capita income in China is still one tenth that of Americ's. Over 700 million people still live on less than US$2 (S$2.90) a day. Democracy under these circumstances may actually bring regression and chaos rather than greater prosperity and a better life for the many.
Singapore is a pioneer in this regard. Few gave the tiny island much of a chance of success when it became a self-governing state in 1959, joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, and left it in acrimonious circumstances two years later.
Yet, in addition to outstanding leadership, Singapore had two advantages which China does not enjoy: the advantage of size or more precisely the lack of it, and pre-existing institutions that were protected and improved upon.
When it comes to policy implementation, size matters. Singapore is a country of roughly 4.5 million people. China, in contrast, has 1.3 billion people. There are 45 million officials in China and only 2 per cent belong to the central authorities. No matter how enlightened Beijing's leaders are, they are reliant on around 44 million unsupervised, poorly trained and often corrupt local officials to execute and implement.
This brings us to China's second major limitation. Policy implementation would be much more effective if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) built better institutions. China needs a strong civil society where there is rule of law. Courts need to be independent and officials, accountable. Private property has to be protected, individual enterprise given a chance to succeed, basic human rights enforced and the government, restrained.
Singapore has these virtues. The People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore was ruthless against political dissidents, but it either left existing British institutions in place or built better civil ones where needed. The father of modern Singapore, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, was after all a Cambridge-trained lawyer who understood the intimate relationship between good laws and their enforcement, and strong civil societies.
In contrast, these in China are weak. Deteriorating institutions have actually coincided with the increased role of the CCP in Chinese economy and society after the Tiananmen protests in 1989. For example, the number of officials before and after the protests more than doubled — from 20 million to 45 million.
Since the early 1990s, the CCP has retaken control of the economy. State-controlled enterprises receive over three quarters of the country's entire capital each year, reversing the situation prior to 1989. The private sector is denied formal capital (that is, bank loans) and access to the most lucrative markets, which is reserved for the state-controlled sector.
Only around 50 of the 1,400 listed companies on the Shanghai Stock Exchange are genuinely private. Fewer than 100 of the 1,000 richest people in China are not linked to the CCP. This state-corporatist model favours a relatively small number of well-placed insiders. Meanwhile, a billion people are largely missing out on the fruits of GDP growth. In fact, 400 million people have seen their net incomes decline over the past decade. Absolute poverty has doubled since 2000.
This extensive role of the CCP has coincided with a rise in systemic corruption. The party, after all, dispenses the most valued economic and professional opportunities in Chinese society. Courts at all levels are still explicitly under the control of party organs.
According to Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) studies, stealing from the public purse by officials amounts to around 2 per cent of gross domestic product each year and the figure is rising. A 2003 CASS report noted that over 40 million households have had their lands illegally seized by corrupt and unaccountable local officials.
Levels of dissatisfaction, especially with the local authorities, are so high that there were 87,000 instances of mass unrest in 2005, according to official figures, rising from a few thousand in the mid-1990s. To appease unhappy citizens, Beijing has instituted a system of "petitions" whereby aggrieved citizens can appeal to a higher authority against their local officials. A good idea, except for the fact that of every 10,000 petitions lodged, only three are heard.
Cut the excuses
Yes, it's true that China is still developing. But that excuse is wearing a bit thin. Reforms began in 1979. Since then, China's economy has doubled every 10 years. The middle class is approaching 100 million to 200 million people, depending on the definition. The building of institutions should be speeding ahead. Instead, since the Tiananmen protests in 1989, institutional building in China has, in many respects, gone backwards.
Peer behind the showcases of Shanghai or Shenzhen, and China looks nothing like Singapore. For a more accurate comparison, look at the crumbling civil societies in Russia or Brazil.
The writer is a foreign policy fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington. The revised second edition of his book, Will China Fail?, was released on June 27.
06-30-2009, 12:18 AM #176
07-01-2009, 04:04 AM #177
ASIAN YOUTH GAMES, Singapore 2009
I was there at the same Singapore Indoor Stadium that showcased the Aviva Singapore Open Super Series about two weeks ago. But yesterday I witnessed something quite different - the spectacular opening ceremony of the AYG put up and performed by mainly primary and secondary school students with the help of their teachers. They symbolise the vibrancy and vitality of Asian youth - our hope for the future.
The following account must be written by a student who was among the many who volunteered to help in the various functions and events at the AYG in preparation for next year's more demanding Youth Olympics, also hosted by Singapore.
By Shaiful Rizal
"More than 6,200 spectators were treated to a visual spectacle which showcased the exuberance of youth and multi-cultural diversity of Asia during the 1st Asian Youth Games (AYG) Singapore 2009 Opening Ceremony on 29th June 2009.
The Opening Ceremony show segment was a sight to behold with three exciting mass displays titled "Garden in the City", "Asia's Zest" and "Spirit of Evolution" unfold at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
400 eager young performers from Singapore's primary schools burst into the stadium and grooved in synchrony to a medley of songs sung in different Asian languages. They were decked out in colourful costumes and props depicting Singapore's national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, to welcome Asia's youth to the "Garden in the City".
The highlight of the show came after a dramatic dimming of lights where all eyes were focused on two dancers as they descended from the skies, suspended on a platform 17 metres off the ground. It was a breathtaking display as the graceful shimmering dancers illuminated the darkness.
This was followed by a glitter of red and gold which marked the beginning of "Spirit of Evolution", a highly energetic performance which featured modern dancers with innovative props symbolising how the youths embrace changes and shine amidst challenges.
Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, was the Guest of Honour. Representatives from the Olympic Council of Asia and the Singapore National Olympic Council were also present to witness the memorable event.
In his speech during the Ceremonial Segment, Mr. Ng Ser Miang, Chairman of the Asian Youth Games Steering Committee, said: "The Asian Youth Games are being held in the true spirit of Olympism - with the value of excellence, friendship and respect."
These three values were embodied in the two-day Torch Relay event which began on June 28. Three torch bearers, comprising Singapore swimmer Tao Li, bowler Remy Ong and shooter Jasmine Ser then lit the cauldron with their torches, bringing the relay to an end.
Of course, the stars of the AYG were the athletes themselves. The crowd cheered and applauded as the contingent of 1,400 athletes participating in the AYG marched into the arena from the centrestage, backed by harmonious sounds from the Singapore Youth Orchestra.
"This is your time, this is your moment," said Mr. Ng to the youths of Asia.
Those were the same words from the official song, "Asia's Youth, Our Future", which resonated throughout the whole ceremony in different renditions. The songs were delivered by Amni Musfirah, Nathan Hartono and Lian Kim Selby.
Mr. Timothy Fok, Vice-President of the Olympic Council of Asia said: "I am confident that the inaugural Asian Youth Games in Singapore will add a new and bright chapter to the history of the Games and will be a benchmark for others to follow."
Let the Games begin.
Here are some pics of athletes and officials arriving in buses and being welcomed by our girl volunteers with placards. More pics during the ceremony will follow.
07-01-2009, 04:14 AM #178
I really should visit Singapore more often...
07-01-2009, 06:48 AM #179
AYG Opening Ceremony Programme
When I arrived at SIS's North Entrance I was simply attracted to Frasia our AYG mascot. So I had to buy one from the stall where I took the opportunity to pose with the lady who sold it to me. Wilfredlgf would similarly be moved to get one too if he were around with me since he seemed to like all of our Singapore girls at the bus welcoming station.
I did not get a good seat which was located high up in the right hand corner. But the colourful programme diverted my attention for it gave a good account of what was to come. The Singapore National Youth Orchestra led by conductor Lim Soon Lee, in their smart uniforms up on the brightly decorated stage, kept us occupied with beautiful music and in a short time, most of us were singing and clapping to the chorus tune of the Theme Song:
This is the time
This is the moment
We believe our dreams will come true
Hand in hand
We strive to our best
A recording disc of this Theme Song was included in the programme.
Again Mr Iskandar Ismail, Music Director, must be thanked for his compositions and arrangements to lead the proceedings in seamless, entertaining music.
The stage is now set for an evening of exhilarating performances of dance, song, action and movement which are suitably complemented by brilliant lighting, voices, noises and music.
(PS: After all the excitement and at the end of this memorable show, I discovered that I lost my zoom lens and I tried to search for it with the help of a young security officer but without avail. I duly made a report and actually lost all hope of ever getting it back. However, this morning I received a call from SIS Security that they have found my lens which I happily returned there to claim it. My baby is still with me now. )
07-01-2009, 07:02 AM #180
Somehow some pics are missing ....
07-01-2009, 01:08 PM #181
Great pictures, Loh
I simply can't get over the fact that there's no badminton at these Games.
That's rather bizarre when badminton is one of Asia's most popular sports!
07-01-2009, 09:02 PM #182
07-01-2009, 09:53 PM #183
So Singapore has been served by Presidents who came from the various races:
1 Malay (Yusof Ishak)
1 Eurasian (Benjamin Henry Sheares)
2 Indians (Devan Nair, SR Nathan)
1 Chinese (Ong Teng Cheong)
I'm sorry I left out the late Mr Wee Kim Wee who was Singapore's fourth president after Mr Devan Nair and before Mr Ong Teng Cheong. Mr Wee was a journalist before he became Singapore's ambassador.
Not mentioned in the above link was the fact that Mr Wee was a rather good badminton player and was later actively involved with Singapore badminton during his prime.
07-01-2009, 10:30 PM #184
Here comes the AYG guys from:
Bendemeer Secondary School
Bukit Panjang Government High School
Choreographer: Mr Law Kum Seng
Last edited by Loh; 07-01-2009 at 10:32 PM.
07-01-2009, 11:15 PM #185
Theme Song "Asia's Youth, Our Future"
Soloist: Amni Musfirah, School of the Arts
Volcalists and Dancers: National University of Singapore - Centre for the Arts
Choreographer: Mr Patrick Loo
07-02-2009, 12:18 AM #186
Garden in the City
* Edgefield Primary School
* Gongshang Primary School
* Nan Hua Primary School
* River Valley Primary School
* Audrey Koh Su-Min, Methodist Girls' Primary School
* Teo Jin-Li Lanabel, Raffles Girls' Secondary School
* Tham Xuan Lin, British International School, Jakarta
Chief Choreographer: Ms Sylvia McCully
Choreographer: Mr Andrew Ng
Choir Medley by:
* Ai Tong School
* Qihua Primary School
* Tampines Primary School
07-02-2009, 02:47 AM #187
Th Opening segment of the programme sets the tone and mood for the show. The artistic elements as portrayed by the Singapore National Youth Orchestra combined with the ruggedness and youthful energy of the Roller Skaters help to heighten the mood. The theme song brings messages of hope and friendship.
While the Garden in the City mass display was performed by 400 young students to welcome our foreign guests to our beautiful and serene Garden City with a multi-racial community, highlighted with a huge circular hoop picture of our national flower, Vanda Miss Joachim and with the Singapore flavour showcased through the music sung in Malay, Tamil, Chinese and English, Asia's Zest is quite different.
The shining mirror ball held by two dancers decending from the ceiling shows that there is always a silver lining in adverse times (such as now in our worst financial crisis) and there is always hope for a bright future. A group of students perform energetic moves with bamboos, depicting the zest and passion of the youth.
* Crescent Girls' School
* Mayflower Secondary School
* Nan Hua High School
Choreographer: Mr Low Ee Chiang
Co-Choreographers: Ms Ang Lay Hoon & Ms Connie Ban Tse Yeng
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