Singapore’s Growth from Nought to Affluence in 50 Years

BBC’s Way of Looking at Country’s Success

The big-bang growth of Singapore from nought to affluence in just 50 years of independence is nothing short of the spectacular. From humble beginnings in 1965 to being among the world’s wealthiest today, Singaporeans have indeed experienced a fairytale journey on the fast lane.

And this is not just because Ferraris and Rolls Royces are not an uncommon sight on its clean roads even as the rich-poor gulf is widening. The country offers a fairly comfortable life for all its citizens though certain policies that could affect the high quality of life here are being pushed hard.

Disperse or We Fire: This growth from swamps to skyscrapers is succinctly captured by the BBC portal today with interesting photographs to show some of the issues that had to be dealt with to enable development, peace and harmony among races.

_81244407_624xgetty3373853One of them shows armed police in vehicles bearing the message “Disperse or we Fire” aimed at quelling riots between Chinese and Malay groups in 1964 – but that was a year before Singapore was forced to leave the Malaysian Federation.

Pet Themes: It is interesting to note that even back then police firing was not indiscriminate and rioters were warned to disperse or face firing.

What is just as striking is how the BBC builds into its report some of its pet themes – lack of free speech, stringent penal system (with about 400 people hanged to death since 1991), low population growth and the need for filling Singapore with more foreigners (60:40 local-alien ratio is apparently not enough!).

Disneyland with the Death Penalty: It also presents how intelligently former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had rebutted the description that “Singapore is Disneyland with the death penalty.”

First of all, Singapore is not Disneyland, it’s a very serious place. Then the death penalty, because of the proximity to the drug triangle, if we’re too lax in the control of drug trafficking, Singaporeans are going to suffer. So it’s a difficult decision, but we have to defend our position on that,” he says.

Self-Promotion: What is also inescapable is that the piece is as much of Singapore’s development as it is of the writer’s family! That’s self-promotion the journalistic way!

Let me leave the rest here so you can check out what the BBC has to say about the country in Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (SG50) year – http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31626174

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filed under Media, SG50

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