There’s so much to say about this place, so to start here are some bone-dry facts to set the tone.
Singapore is home to about 4.7 million people. Chinese make up the vast majority.
About 25% of that are foreign workers, mostly Asians from the Indian subcontinent working as construction workers.
About 25% of Singapore is on reclaimed land.
People can exercise their freedom of religion. In fact, many of the religious structures are highlights to see.
The primary language is English.
Singapore is not a democratic state. Some have called it a benevolent dictatorship, which I think is pretty accurate.
To call this place clean and well ordered is to say that the Arctic is a wee bit fresh.
OK, we’ve got that out of the way. My impressions?
I spent most of the day today on a series of tour buses that stopped at a number of highlights.
Quite frankly, the amount of money being spent and invested here approaches Biblical proportions. Even having seen it first hand it’s hard convey the scale of what’s taking place here.
Now, I think it’s important to remember that this isn’t a democracy. But it’s not communist either.
The way I figure it, the system here let’s business do pretty much what it wants as long as it fits into the prescribed plan of making and keeping Singapore a strong and wealthy state.
There are no protesters here chaining themselves to trees or whatever complaining about climate change or save the whales or whatever the cause is that week.
Case in point: There is a speaker’s corner here for anyone to get up and speak their mind. But first the speech must be approved by the Ministry of Communications and Information. That’s no joke.
Singaporeans also pride themselves, quite rightly too, that the streets are clean and crime is almost unheard of.
Oh, by the way, one of the punishments for criminals is ‘caning’. Essentially, the offender is beaten with a rattan stick. Depending on how it is done and the number of strokes, it might leave the victim some mild bruising up to the tearing of skin.
Importing of illegal drugs may be an offence punishable by hanging.
With that as some background, is it possible that Singaporeans may have built themselves a model state?
Look for the pictures in the next post, and decide for yourself.