Singapore would be happy to rejoin Malaysia if it surpassed the island's success, its former prime minister and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said.Is Lee Kuan Yew a shit stirrer who likes to ruffle Malaysian leaders feathers?Is he being histrionic ?He said Singapore is only interested to rejoin if Malaysia were more successful.
With the present Malaysian leadership, its unfair practices and economic discrimination against the other races, can Malaysia overtakes Singapore in term of economic success ?
Malaysia enjoyed a good degree of economic success under former prime minister, Tun Mahathir Mohammad, who discreetly downplayed the NEP (New Economic Policy) to stimulate economic growth. Mahathir , whom many Malaysians have learned to hate during his tenure, knew, without strong Chinese participation, the economy would not be able to grow substantially to take the country out of its underdeveloped status. The government still needs the Chinese economic engines to drive the economy to a higher level.
Malaysia and Singapore, due to ideological differences, have had a long history of ambivalent relationship.
On the 9th 0f August 1965, in Singapore, at about 10 a.m., music played on the radio was cut off abruptly for an urgent announcement that will change the course of history and the faith of the two nations.The announcer solemnly read out a proclamation.
"Whereas it is the inalienable right of the people to be free and independent, I, Lee Kuan Yew, prime minister of Singapore, do hereby proclaim and declare on behalf of the people and the government of Singapore that as from today, the 9th day of August in the year 1965,Singapore shall forever be a sovereign,democratic and independent nation,founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of her people in a more just and equal society."
Later in the evening, Lee Kuan Yew appeared on television, overcome by emotion, cried and only regained his composure after about 20 minutes, announced to the nation the separation of Singapore from Malaysia.The separation was at the behest of Tungku Abdul Rahman and his ruling party, UMNO.The sudden ejection of Singapore from Malaysia was taken with mixed feelings, some were overwhelmed with emotions while others were jubilant.Some Chinese merchants in Singapore's Chinatown set off firecrackers to celebrate their liberation from Malays' hegemony.
Singapore was thrown out of Malaysia without being given the chance to explore other avenues to resolve the issue of Malaysian Malaysia broached by Lee Kuan Yew. The Malays took his demand for equal rights for all Malaysians as an affront to Malay supremacy and disrespect to the central government.
Most nations have to fight for independent, Singapore had independence forced on them. As Lee Kuan Yew wrote in his memoirs "We were a Chinese Island in a Malay Sea". Two million Chinese surrounded by over 100 millions Malays. He said "How could we survive in such a hostile environment." Undaunted, Lee Kuan Yew would spend the next 40 years to find answers to this difficult questions.
Singapore, an island nation of about 214 sq.mile has no natural resources and an economy that can survive better on the inefficiencies of its neighbours.The entreport trade founded in 1819, which it depended much on, now face a doubtful future. Much of Singapore economy, at that time, depended on its strategic location as an entreport and the military presence of British forces.British defence spending in Singapore accounted for about 20 percent of the GDP and directly employed 30,000 workers and indirectly another 10,000 domestic help.The scaling down of the British presence would have a serious impact on the economy.
The man of steel, Lee Kuan Yew is not easily rattled, not afraid of danger, combative and take no nonsense, embarked on a long and tedious journey to develop tiny Singapore into a nation he visualised would one day be one of the most ultra modern and most developed nations in the world. The man had gone through turbulent times in pursuit of his dream of making Singapore a great city state.
I have lived in Singapore for over ten years and witnessed the progressive transformation of the country from a gangster-infested and crime-ridden city into ultra modern, efficient and an almost crime free metropolis. From the already efficient Payar Lebar airport to the super efficient Changi airport, I have witnessed the clock work that the leaders of the country had installed to catapult it into the twenty-first century. This is the airport of the future, where traveller's comfort and ease of movement is a priority. Not many airports can rival Changi, where even the toilets can dazzle you.Going through Immigration and Custom is like a breeze and it's probably the only airport in the world where, upon arrival, your baggage waits for you at the carousel instead of you spending time waiting for your baggage to arrive.
The brand new Sepang International Airport is a far cry from being airport of the present, let alone the future, built more as a showcase than functionality, it has many drawbacks.As always and in true Malaysian tradition the toilets are what toilets should be.... must have that shitty smell.For a first time traveller, arriving at Sepang can be quite a challenge if you were to have an immediate connection on a domestic flight. Directional signboards can be quite misleading and there weren't enough shops, restaurants and cafes inside the main departure hall. Malaysia Airports Berhad should send some of their personnel to Changi to learn how airports should be run.
Even in the eighties Singapore was already advance and efficient. You can apply for a telephone line and it would be installed within the same day, where ever you are. Even more amazing, the many years that I and my family lived there, we have only experienced two blackouts that lasted only for a short while. In many parts of Malaysia, blackouts and power surges are daily occurrences.
Singapore never failed to amaze me for its incredible efficiency.One day I arrived at Changi and was at the Immigration counter waiting for my passport to be chopped and to my utter amazement and disbelief, the Immigration officer told me politely that I haven't paid the property tax on my apartment and asked me to do so immediately before the government take action against me. I do not know of any other country that had such well coordinated government departments , certainly not in my country, where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
If you have been visiting Singapore frequently, you would probably have noticed how they carry out their road repairs. Most roads were repaired at night when there were less traffic on the road, to avoid causing inconvenience to motorists.In Singapore, no truck carrying spoils to the work site dare spill dirt on the road, any spillage would be quickly removed by the driver's assistant and any traces of dirt left behind would be washed away. In Malaysia roadworks are carried out at anytime of the day causing long queue and delay to motorists. The relevant government department seems not to have any control over the contractors doing the work.Spillage on Malaysian roads are very common and the culprits are seldom penalised.Malaysian policemen are only interested in checking the validity of road taxes and close their eyes to other more damaging offences.
There was a joke in Singapore that even the angsana tree dares not shed its leaves, out of fear of Lee Kuan Yew, that he would be so angry, he may order the tree to be chopped down. In Singapore, the specie of trees to be planted were chosen for its character. If it has a nasty habit of littering the roads with its leaves, it would not be the tree of choice. This botanical discrimination is for the purpose of cutting down the cost of cleaning up, which makes a lot of sense. Singapore is greener than many other cities including those of its neighbours. Most pedestrian malls and boulevards are lined with trees on either sides to provide natural sheds. This is a city that cares about its citizens and visitors, putting taxpayers' money to good use, providing excellent amenities for the people. Unlike Kuala Lumpur, it is a pedestrian friendly city. The walkways in bustling Orchard Road in the city centre are covered by shady trees .The same cannot be said of Jalan Bukit Bintang in downtown Kuala Lumpur. After Kebun Raya in Bogor, Indonesia and the Pamplemousses in Mauritius, Singapore is the only other country in this region that can boost of having a botanical garden.
A functional city must have good public transportation system.This city state has one of the most efficient and reliable public transport. The public buses and LRT are clean and on schedule.Taxis are available everywhere and round the clock. Taxis cannot refuse to take passengers as long as they are not changing shift. Any taxi driver found to have broken the code of conduct may lose his licence to drive a taxi. This is a government that mean business and enforce the law without fear or favour.
Try get a taxi in Kuala Lumpur during peak hours, most taxi drivers will refuse to take you to the place you want to go to, if they do agree, they will charge you a bomb for the fare. Worse still, there were many instances where taxi drivers cheated foreign tourists by overcharging the fare.Recently, there was a case where a taxi driver raped his female passengers. Discipline is still a big problem with taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur.The government knew about the problem but have done nothing to stop it.
Many years ago when I was still staying in Singapore there was case where a rickshaw driver who charged a Japanese tourist an exorbitant amount for a short ride on his rickshaw.The driver was charged and when the case went to court, the Singapore government brought back the Japanese tourist to attend the court case as a witness and a victim. The Japanese tourist got a free holiday as all expenses were paid by the government. Most other government would have considered it a petty crime and would not have bothered.Some 9.7 million tourists visited Singapore in 2005.
Some are born, some are made and some are gifted.Lee Kuan Yew has it all.He became Prime Minister of self-governing Singapore at the age of 35.At 42 he was Prime Minister of independent Singapore.
In his second memoirs 'From Third World To First' he said "We faced tremendous odds with an improbable chance of survival.Singapore was not a natural country but man-made, a trading post the British had developed into a nodal point in their world-wide maritime empire.We inherited the island without its hinterland, a heart without a body."
Immediately after the expulsion many foreign press predicted doom for Singapore .The Sydney Morning Herald, on 10th Aug 1965 wrote "An independent Singapore was not regarded as viable three years ago.Nothing in the current situation suggests that it is more viable today".The London Sunday Times, on 22 August 1965 wrote "Singapore economy would collapse if the British bases - costing more than 100 million sterling - were closed"
Undaunted, by the prophecies of the Western media, Lee Kuan Yew assiduously set out to prove that nothing is unattainable as long as you persevere , which he did and proved the soothsayers wrong.
The per capita GDP of Singapore in 1959 was US$400, in 1990 it had grown to US$12,200 and in1999 to US$22,000.Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy.The manufacturing industry is well-diversified into electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical sciences manufacturing.In 2006, Singapore produced 10% of the world's foundary wafer output.It is also the busiest port in the world in term of tonnage shipped.It is the world fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre after London,New York City and Tokyo.It has been rated as the most business-friendly economy in the world.Thousand of foreign expatriates work in multi-national corporations in Singapore.
The per capita GDP in 2006 was US$26,833.It was ranked No.24 in 2005 per capita GDP.How could a seemingly godless person like Lee Kuan Yew transformed a small tropical island into an economic powerhouse without any natural resources and with a population of less than 5 millions?
It has been said 'take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves'.
Singapore's success story had been on nothing is to small or too little for government to intervene - like the rickshaw driver.
In Malaysia, we want the biggest, the tallest, the longest and ............forget the little things.