What did the British ever do for us – Singapore edition

Being right at the moment in Singapore, I read with great interest Nick Cater’s “What did the British ever do for us?”. Every time I come here I am astonished how this place has changed – first time, 1975 – and how extraordinary it is. It is the Venice of the 21st century, a city state that also happens to be the world’s greatest trading nation.

Is this an Asian nation? Of course. But is this a nation that has built on its British traditions. You mean this English speaking, Parliamentary democracy, with independent judges and the rule of law? You mean this country that took its industrial relations system from Western Australia? Do you mean this country whose economy is run on the economic principles of John Stuart Mill?

They know their heritage and they are grateful for it. And they keep it in mind because they also know how easy it is to be blown off course by ignorance, stupidity and ill will.

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94 Responses to What did the British ever do for us – Singapore edition

  1. gabrianga

    Wasn’t quite so civilised when I was first there in 1957 but things changed for the better in 1959 when Lee Kuan Yew took the reigns.

    Never fails to amaze me how the country seems to progress, each time you visit

  2. Makka

    “They know their heritage and they are grateful for it. And they keep it in mind because they also know how easy it is to be blown off course by ignorance, stupidity and ill will.”

    Characterized by a certain religious sect. All the while many here in Australia do their best to demean and indeed break our ties with our very fortunate heritage. Led by the Leftslime – Australia’s 5 th column.

  3. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    It’s my favourite foreign country and I am as jealous as hell!

    Hope you are dining at Newton’s Circus tonight.

  4. Wozzup

    Both Singapore and Hong Kong demonstrate how much has been owed by the world to Britain. In both places they fostered attitudes, systems of government and systems of commerce that have made these places powerhouses of the world. A lucky confluence of British institutions and connections and Chinese entrepreneurial spirit and their own connections. All countries are shaped greatly by their beginnings. I recently read a quote by an American author that “When North America was settled we got all Britain’s puritans. When Australia was formed you got all their convicts. You got the better end of the deal!” I laughed thinking how true. But the more I have thought about it the more I realised we are still paying a price for that. Twenty years ago Fred Hilmer spoke about the convict mentality still at large in Australia – a mentality that sets workers against bosses and instills a culture which does not favour hard work and personal effort. A culture that pits “them” against “us”. I think its still true although waning but is still the driving force that underpins Labor and the left. And this is part of the reason (there are others) why we did not benefit from the British influence in the same way that Singapore and Hong Kong has – the cultural setting was not a fertile one for an entrepreneurial spirit to take root. We are still fighting that battle.

  5. Robert Crew

    Parliamentary democracy
    It’s been a while since I went to Singapore, probably a decade, but I remember an article in the Straits Times saying freedom of speech was being introduced for the first time, in the form of a Speaker’s Corner in a designated area of a public park. In typical Singaporean fashion, this freedom of speech was available only to the unamplified voice, and only if you submitted your full speech to the local police station for approval a month before, submitted to a criminal background check, and did not refer negatively to state officials, government politicians, or government policy!

  6. boy on a bike

    Rob

    That sounds to me like what a conservative had to go through at the ABC under a Labor government.

  7. blogstrop

    Singapore’s success has been built by politicians who would be hounded by the left press from dawn to dusk (and beyond) if they were operating in the Australian context. There’s a foundation of toughness, responsibility and a tendency to reward people for doing well rather than punish them and take their money to give to those who do not try.

  8. stackja

    blogstrop
    #1182094, posted on February 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    Singapore’s success has been built by politicians who would be hounded by the left press from dawn to dusk (and beyond) if they were operating in the Australian context. There’s a foundation of toughness, responsibility and a tendency to reward people for doing well rather than punish them and take their money to give to those who do not try.

    As I remember the left press ended up in prison.

  9. Infidel Tiger

    Lee Kuan Yew was an early adopter of the Fisk Doctrine. Every ten years Singapore looks at the evidence and continues to ban leftism. It really does work.

  10. blogstrop

    As I remember the left press ended up in prison.

    Prison’s too good for them!

  11. Ant

    Big fan of Singapore.

    I’d even give up chewing gum for Australia to manage things a little more like they do.

  12. boy on a bike

    As I remember the left press ended up in prison.

    And Lee was an avowed socialist. He understood all too well the dangers of a radicalized, left wing, rabble rousing gutter press.

  13. Jim Rose

    Singapore newspapers have less local and international political news than those free suburban papers we get as junk mail

  14. stackja

    Jim Rose
    #1182123, posted on February 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm
    Singapore newspapers have less local and international political news than those free suburban papers we get as junk mail

    I do not view political news as news. Just agitprop.

  15. Antipodean

    i disagree Jim.

    I was in Singapore last week and was reading an interesting expose in the Straits Times of the new Abbot government and the Austerity drive amoungst its ministers re travel costs etc.

  16. daggers

    Oh, please – the ‘success’ of modern HK and Singapore have very little to do with the British. They are family-run conspiracies which exclude competitors. One has to laugh when HK, for example, is awarded a gong for being the world’s freest economy. Try to open a supermarket there. Or a pharmacy. Or just about anything else. You have no hope unless you partner with one of the big boys, the ones who own all the land and therefore get to set the rentals.

  17. daggers

    Not one Asian English language newspaper is worth a glance. They are all dreadful.

  18. sabrina

    Singapore is a very disciplined society, authoratarian, built on low-paid labour from the sub-continent. They do not tolerate freedom of speech – western style. I doubt Catallaxy style forum will survive there. But by and large with strong law enforcement, the country has prospered.

    I pass via Singapore 4-6 times a year, and love to spend a day or two there. Overseas news content in The Straits Times is no less than what you see in the SMH or the Australian.

    Education level of the Ministers is interesting read, see the British/Western influence, and a blend of education background (one lawyer and accountant!)

    PM – MSc -Mathematics/Computer SC/Cambridge/Harvard
    DeputyPM – Electrical Engg/MSc – Imperial College/Harvard
    FinanceM – Indian origin/ LSE, Cambridge
    TradeM – Engineering/Cambridge
    MinisterPM’soffice – Engineering/Loughborough/Stanford
    CommunicationM – EngineeringPhD/Stanford/Associate Professor at NUS
    DefenceM – Medical Doctor/NUS/Cornell/Texas
    EnvironmentM – Medical Doctor/NUS –Indian Origin
    ForeignAffairs,Law – Law from NUS – Indian origin
    Health – Engineering from Cambridge
    DeputyTrade – Economics/Adeaide, MPA/Harvard –Indian origin
    Education – EconomicsMA/Cambridge, MPA/Harvard
    DeputyForeignAffairs – Accountancy and MBA/NUS
    ManpowerM – Economics/LSE,NUS
    SocialDevelopment – Economics/Cambridge, SloanFellow/MIT

  19. Pyrmonter

    Judicial Commissioners and the extensive use of contempt proceedings aren’t quite in the spirit of the Bill of Rights (the real one)

  20. Kingsley

    Sabrina – interesting that almost no lawyers in cabinet. Is that part of Singapore’s success?

  21. Stateless, free and happy

    Prosperous yes. A model for liberty no.

    I doubt many of you guys (and I) could live there for any length of time. Well, you would be fine criticizing the left, but there may come an odd time that even you guys might actually want to criticize those in power and then you will face the reality that there is more to liberty than trade.

  22. Tom

    Not one Asian English language newspaper is worth a glance. They are all dreadful.

    Generally agree in most cities, but the Jakarta Globe, which competes with the Jakarta Post for expatriate English-speakers, has high professional standards.

  23. Stateless, free and happy

    Mk50 of Brisbane, why eat at Newton Circus. In a city full of wonderful food, why fall into the tourist trap? Its ok for a Tiger beer but nothing beyond that.

  24. sabrina

    The current president (elected by popular vote) has a first degree in Physics from NUS, followed by MSc in Operations Research from MIT, and PhD in Applied Mathematics from Adelaide. He then worked in the banking sector and then went on to lecturing Mathematics at NUS where he rose to the Vice Chancellor rank.

    Kingsley – about your observation on the number of lawyers in their Ministry – I do not know. But personally, I feel the role of lawyers and accountants have been dispropotionately high in the administrtaion and decision making process in western countries.

  25. Jim Rose

    daron acemoglu wrote on why singapore is not a democracy but is economically successful in his book on democracy and dictatorship:

    Why has Singapore not democratized?

    Our analysis suggests a rather simple answer. Singapore is a very equal society. There is no traditional wealthy landed elite and the economy relies on external capital and businesses.

    Most people therefore appear to be relatively happy with the status-quo, at least not so unhappy that they want to engage in serious,and potentially costly, collective action to induce a major change in political institutions. There is little to gain relative to what they already have.

    By the same token, however, the current elite of the PAP have little to lose other than power.

    The PAP is primarily made up of successful middle class people and has remained relatively open in the sense that it has tried to co-opt people of talent and potential opponents.

    Although the political elites will likely lose theirconsiderable rents from office holding, this is unlikely to be sufficent to justify a long period of repression to keep their privileged positions.

    Our analysis therefore also suggests that Singapore should eventually become a consolidated democracy. At some point, there will be pressure from some segment of the population for more representative political institutions. And at that point, the elite and the PAP will not …find it pro…table to use repression to prevent democracy.

  26. blogstrop

    Middle Class is good! Thanks Jim.

  27. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Newton Circus ain’t the tourist trap it used to be. Nowadays the tourists all eat at the bloody food courts in the shopping complexes. As a ‘local’ tourist trap, the seafood joints at Boat Quay took over years ago, with the Canning Lane complex etc all in on that act. I could also namea dozen places between Campbell lane and Hindoo lane, along the Serangoon Road. I really like the Amritsar at the corner of Cuff Road and Serangoon, two doors down from the magnificently named Bazooka Garments shop.

    I have Singaporean friends who live on Buckley Road and as they note, mostly it’s the locals eating at Newton’s these days. That’s certainly been my experience the last dozen times in Singapore, too.

    All of the above said, the Imperial Treasure La Mian Xiao Long Bao at Raffles Quay is hard to go past, but you do not slop in there in street clothes!.

  28. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    daggers:

    Oh, please – the ‘success’ of modern … Singapore have very little to do with the British.

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

    They are family-run conspiracies which exclude competitors.

    Bollocks.

    They use a bedrock of British legal and financial concepts (yes, including national service) to build a strong country in a place not only surrounded by people who do not like them but also one which has precisely zero natural resources aside from physical location.

    Go and study why Lee Kwan Yew did what he did, you ignorant clod.

  29. The PAP is primarily made up of successful middle class people and has remained relatively open in the sense that it has tried to co-opt people of talent and potential opponents.

    I suspect also that Singapore has the sense to maintain a cohesive and socially supportive education system which encourages intellectual talent to flourish, without filling kids’ heads full of crap about global warming while failing to teach them how to spell.

    How unlike the home life of our own dear queen.

  30. Peter

    Few people consider that modern transport and communications make the world smaller and our geographic proximity to Asia less relevant than ever..

  31. Tal

    Locals don’t eat at Newton Circus…..too dear lah

  32. Stateless, free and happy

    only local socialists eat at Newton Circus

  33. Melbourne

    @Jim: Do you know which of Acemoglu’s books that excerpt is from? Interested in following it up.

    Is it “Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy”?

  34. Not one Asian English language newspaper is worth a glance.

    Not even The Jerusalem Post or The Times of India?

  35. Antipodean

    Mk 50, have been in Singapore recently for a while, lots of Singapore army choppers, fighters, marine surveillance aircraft, etc getting round. A lot more noticeable than in the past.

    The Chinese antics in the China Sea got a lot of local media coverage. Something going down?

  36. jupes

    Sabrina – interesting that almost no lawyers in cabinet. Is that part of Singapore’s success?

    Absolutely no doubt.

  37. Jim Rose

    on no lawyers in the cabinet, Lee Kuan Yew got at double first in law at Cambridge.

  38. Jim Rose

    jamacia and singapore were at the same level of development in 1965 and similar in opporunity and locational advantages. both had british legal systems

    in the mid-1970s, jamacia elected michael manly as PM.

    singapore went in another direction in 1976 when the PAP was expelled from socialist international

  39. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Antipodean:

    Mk 50, have been in Singapore recently for a while, lots of Singapore army choppers, fighters, marine surveillance aircraft, etc getting round. A lot more noticeable than in the past.

    The Chinese antics in the China Sea got a lot of local media coverage. Something going down?

    Holidays, I hope, old friend.

    Yes, a lot is going down. The Chinese are rampig up their claims to the South China Sea and insisting that the fishing vessels of littoral nations get a Chinese permit to fish inside their ‘ambit claim zone’. The Indons and Sings are really worried over some Chinese rumblings regarding the gas fields north of Natuna Besar, the Phils are realising that the Chinese are serious about seizing control of every flyspeck they own… it’s getting very tense.

    I have seen estimates (which I do not trust) of tensions getting to the point that a minor clash could spiral out of control in the 6-18 month bracket. I think these are overblown and a touch hysterical.

    Everyone is arming as fast as they can absorb new capabilities.

  40. danger mouse

    Steve,

    Do you have any speaking engagements while you are here?

    If you are needing a decent coffee tomorrow morning, I can recommend Loysel’s Toy. Let me know and I’ll come down. Happily buy the coffee for you and share my experience living here.

    DM

  41. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC at 6:14 pm:

    “daggers:

    Oh, please – the ‘success’ of modern … Singapore have very little to do with the British.

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

    They are family-run conspiracies which exclude competitors.

    Bollocks.

    They use a bedrock of British legal and financial concepts (yes, including national service) to build a strong country in a place not only surrounded by people who do not like them but also one which has precisely zero natural resources aside from physical location.

    Go and study why Lee Kwan Yew did what he did, you ignorant clod.”

    This is not for daggers – I’m not interested in assisting the dull and ignorant – but for those who are prepared to learn a little of this marvelous part of Asia from the observations of a successful leader.

    I could live in Singapore tomorrow for a myriad of good reasons.

  42. peter

    A long time resident pointed out to me that civilian control in Singapore was well planned and easy when you considered that all the high rise living merely needed one gun emplacement centred at the entrance foyer to prevent public mayhem.

  43. I don’t usually go against the grain here on the cat, but libertarians getting hard-ons over a state that is demonstratively averse to freedom of speech is quite pathetic. Intolerance of leftism is founded on their essential hatred of dissent, however intolerance of contrary views is hardly the stuff of moral superiority.

    Demonstrate their tolerance to freedom of speech when it challenges the elite and I will withdraw my fundamental objection. Sure, they are economically successful and disciplined, but they are not libertarian by any measure. 30-odd years without a change of government is highly suspicious, especially in light of considerable evidence to the contrary. Fire away.

  44. Nice link, Mick.

    Straight off the bat –

    He is critical of the social breakdown that he sees in America: “The expansion of the rights of the individual has come at the expense of orderly society.”

    Is that a libertarian quote?

  45. Stateless, free and happy

    Beer Whisperer, sadly, there are very few on this blog that are libertarian.

  46. jupes

    I don’t usually go against the grain here on the cat, but libertarians getting hard-ons over a state that is demonstratively averse to freedom of speech is quite pathetic.

    Not many libertarians have actually posted on this thread TBW, because Singapore has a high standard of living and seems to be doing quite well for itself without being the stoner and junkie heaven that libertarians crave for. It upsets their psyche.

  47. I wouldn’t go that far. Humans are fallible and tend to lose sight of what’s right. Singapore’s outcomes are certainly a challenge to libertarianism and prove there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    The question is, what principle takes precedence?

  48. Fair enough, Jupes. Singapore is an economic success story, but did not get there via libertarianism. But of course, libertarianism is about freedom, of which economic success is but a side-effect, yet it serves to cloud the value of libertarianism. Shit, I never even thought of myself as libertarianism until I came here and saw what I fundamentally had in common with the cat and most of its followers.

  49. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From The Beer Whisperer at 10:46 pm:

    “… Singapore’s outcomes are certainly a challenge to libertarianism and prove there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    The question is, what principle takes precedence?”

    It doesn’t matter. My observation is that Singapore is so distracted by full employment, commercial success, fine living standards, self sufficiency, relative security notwithstanding they are surrounded by places that would destroy them, community order and safety within it.

    They are not much interested in deep philosophical discussion about what system works best because they discovered it already.

  50. .

    They are not libertarian and Hong Kong outperforms them economically in most measures.

    Proton Cars is one of their more dubious policy results. Need I mention control of the press that would make the Fink blush?

    People still insist with this crap “if we had corporal punishment for summary offences and executed people for tiny quantities of drugs, we’d be free and happy like Singapore”.

    Not only are not libertarian if you support such imbecilic nonsense, you really don’t care about freedom.

    Eastern Europe basically all outperform Singapore in terms of economic liberalisation and haven’t decided to rely on some bizarre jackasses worshiping jackals form of authoritarian “democracy” to get there (besides Russia).

    What really offends me is when people insist that Australians don’t do drugs because they are illegal, yet insist we ought to take Singapore’s approach, which is predicated on the idea that Lee Kwan Yew knows better than everyone else and his family and associates are born to rule.

    He is the idiot who criticised us for having a high standard of living and high productivity – and thus leisure time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. What he basically did was criticise a first world nation enjoying flexible labour markets. Shades of our own far left right there.

    He’s an envious little shit and he has presided over the official implementation of an infantilising, low brow and paternalistic culture.

  51. .

    self sufficiency

    What complete and utter nonsense.

  52. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From . at 11:23 pm:

    ” self sufficiency

    What complete and utter nonsense.”

    Powerful dot, knowledgeable, persuasive, a marvelously intelligent counter point.

  53. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From . at 11:20 pm:

    “They are not libertarian and Hong Kong outperforms them economically in most measures.”

    Then follow four inventions by you leading to the assertion that I:

    “Not only are not libertarian if you support such imbecilic nonsense, you really don’t care about freedom.”

    Sort of a convoluted plagiarism thing happening there – I’m to blame for stuff you raised but which I never touched on :)

    “Russians … drugs … born to rule … “

    then the pearler:

    “What he basically did was criticise a first world nation enjoying flexible labour markets.”

    No, no – he suggested we get the corrupt slugs controlling our ports out of the way or we’ll suffer. We didn’t and we did! Fly into Singapore , look out the window and watch in awe as they line up for as far as one can see, hundreds of them waiting to dock and do business.

    “He’s an envious little shit and he has presided over the official implementation of an infantilising, low brow and paternalistic culture.”

    You now make it crystal clear that you know so little of the subject the history of which you so enthusiastically rewrite.

    I say that’s a pith poor effort Fisky.

  54. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Ooops – not “Fisky”, Dot.

  55. Libertarianism doesn’t matter, according to Mick. What, the “white trash of asia” didn’t provide you with any hints? Rather than demonstrate their libertarianism (which doesn’t exist), you reiterate their economic success. How much of that success is reflected in their own wealth, as opposed to those who do not control the levers of power to their own benefit?
    Fine, bathe in the glory of their economic success, but conflating if with freedom is your problem. Go and enjoy the fruits of their success, and report back to us on your satisfaction. Hell, you can even complain about the climate without diminishing your argument.

  56. You now make it crystal clear that you know so little of the subject the history of which you so enthusiastically rewrite.

    Dot, you’re obviously wrong, because Mick asserts so. He knows, just ask him.

    Yeah, I’m being facetious, but unsupported claims of superior knowledge are just that. Parry, Mick!

  57. Fisky

    I say that’s a pith poor effort Fisky.

    Living inside your head is fine by me, Mick (it’s the most spacious accommodation!), but shouldn’t you think about charging me some rent once in a while?

  58. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From The Beer Whisperer at 12:06 am:

    “Libertarianism doesn’t matter, according to Mick.”

    I never mentioned the notion The Beer Whisperer, I merely pointed out that while we sit about pontificating wisely they’re getting on with the job of success (without “conflating if with freedom” so you’d best take your “problem” back and deal with it yourself) and we are being way to clever to notice and learn from it.

    “Dot, you’re obviously wrong, because Mick asserts so. He knows, just ask him.”

    I’ve had a go at outlining the Singapore I have experienced over the years quietly here for a long time. The best result for me is that you summarily dismiss that so that I maintain my competitive advantage.

    I repeat “They are not much interested in deep philosophical discussion about what system works best because they discovered it already.”

  59. Chris M

    Singapore has a high standard of living and seems to be doing quite well for itself without being the stoner and junkie heaven that libertarians crave for. It upsets their psyche.

    Haha, and do they have the Libertarian open borders to go with that?

  60. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Fisky at 12:14 am:

    “Living inside your head is fine by me, Mick”

    is way too prepubescent 14 for me Fisky.

    Did you not read the immediate correction, or does that impede the triumphal strutting, chest out doing laps around a keyboard?

  61. Jannie

    I did some postgrad work at NUS . Their law students were more widely read in English lit than most English specialists I knew in Australia. Most had been proprly trained in formal grammar, whereas my high school stopped teaching that discipline by 1970.

  62. Armadillo

    Steve, if you happen to wander down to the Merlion, there is a bridge right next to it. Walk to the exact centre. In the middle of the road (look both ways before stepping from the curb) and then proceed to the middle. There, you will find something bright and shiney. It is something that I doubt even the tourist guides know exists. ‘The Cats’ and their history is perhaps closer than you think.

  63. Empire Strikes Back

    I like Singapore and Singaporeans a lot. I work with them every day. I always look forward to visiting.

    But…those that contend they have unveiled some magic formula for economic success and social order are either wilfully nostalgic, or delusional. They now face the dilemma of prosperity. Young Singaporeans lack the drive of their forebears and because they have grown up in a tightly controlled society, they also lack the disruptive creativity that would aid their transition to the next phase.

    They will prevail, but they have challenges ahead. Before too long they will have to address the absence of liberty. The next generation of entrepreneurs will demand it.

  64. Empire Strikes Back

    Singapore has a high standard of living and seems to be doing quite well for itself without being the stoner and junkie heaven that libertarians crave for. It upsets their psyche.

    A typically facetious and fatuous remark. We all know you fear and loath those who like to get their rocks off Jupes. It upsets your psyche. Why don’t you migrate to Singapore? You’ll love it.

  65. I never mentioned the notion

    Silly me, I thought this was a libertarian site. Singapore proves, unfortunately, that economic success can be achieved in other ways. If we didn’t give criminals and their ilk the capacity to exploit our principles, we could be a much wealthier nation. Of course, Singapore’s current success does not give enough credit to the British, which was the point of this post to begin with.

  66. Fisky

    Did you not read the immediate correction, or does that impede the triumphal strutting, chest out doing laps around a keyboard?

    No, I didn’t bother. I never really do to be honest, because, as I’m not the first on this and other contemporary threads to note, the tone is always the same – yelling, spittle, and banging the table a lot.

  67. nerblnob

    Young Singaporeans lack the drive of their forebears and because they have grown up in a tightly controlled society, they also lack the disruptive creativity that would aid their transition to the next phase.

    That is also my recent impression of Singapore, but I don’t have as much experience of the place as some commenters here apparently do. The youth seem to be comfortably middle class and more focused on leisure pursuits. Not entirely a bad thing in my opinion.

  68. Armadillo

    Of course, Singapore’s current success does not give enough credit to the British, which was the point of this post to begin with.

    I guess that is true if you mean ‘British’ to include people from the ‘former colonies’.

  69. Anthony S Adams

    Best Hash House Harrier runs I’ve ever been on! Mind you my running days are distant memories now. I also recall them building an MRT in double quick time and under budget. It’s the only country that has actually increased its land area. And their building / redevelopment ethic is second to none! No unions or arguments over rates of pay! I’d say they have done well albeit under a benign dictatorship.

  70. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    This is one of the great Cat threads. Plenty of things to think about and input from a range of people with experience of the place. I was in Singapore last year for only three days; have been there a few times before, for longer, staying with ex-pats. It is constantly changing and the point about the next generation of entrepreneurs needing a more creative and assertive population base is a good one. In my university lecturing days I have had Singaporean students who came to Australia in order to bloom; they felt very creatively (and thus entrepreneurially) constrained in Singapore – so Dot is right in some ways. Freedom of speech is a value in itself, and also an economic value.

    Singapore PM when I was there gave a speech about the economic rise of Vietnam, saying ‘they want to eat our lunch’. They are acutely aware of the regional competitive environment. In many ways, fear drives them. It should drive us more too – but we do have more to fall back on, more diversity, more resources, more alternatives, more geographic variety. They must look at us and wonder: our lunatic leftism. Still, when they executed that young Australian for what we would regard as a misdemeanour, I was shocked. Something Brave New World abut that. Also, quite a few of the women were after me (something about the guys??).

    The extremely high-standard technocratic education of Singapore’s politicians is an eye-opener when you look at our lot. Thanks for that outline, Sabrina.

  71. Blogstrop

    If libertarianism means pretending outlaw bikie gangs are just guys who like bikes then I’m never going to be one.

  72. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    ps Jannie, you are right. My Singaporean students outdid my Australian ones in the quality of their written work as far as its grammatical and linguistic standards were concerned. Most of them were rather weaker on the conceptual level to begin with, staid and predictable, but improved over the year as they loosened up and developed a sense of daring.

  73. 126 Squadron, Republic of Singapore Air Force, trains at Oakey Air Base outside Toowoomba.
    Before I retired as a Special School principal in Toowoomba, I always had a small but distinct enrollment of Singaporean kids with Autism at my school.
    This was statistically absurd, but it was the result of air force families with Autistic children competing for the Australian posting (which I think is three years).
    These parents were quite happy to tell me that there was no provision (except through charities) for their kids back home.
    What did exist was care – not schooling.
    The brave new world in Singapore apparently has no place for children with disabilities.

  74. Mike of Marion

    Anthony S Adams
    #1182741, posted on February 9, 2014 at 7:38 am

    AHHHH, a mate of me old friend “Best Dick” , me old mate who was an engineer at the red kangaroo. I think he is still an active member of the HHH.

  75. Alfonso

    Ah Singapore….I went for the fly fishing, stayed for the sambar hunting in their Sth Alps and now equate standard of living with 1 person/ m2 and an orderly creepy society. Here’s hoping they never change their minds on that, best to concentrate the majority where they’re happy and where they don’t interfere with me.

  76. Large Brass Ears

    Proton cars are from Malaysia, and they are crap.

  77. .

    Yes well I make a pretty laughable fuck up about Proton Cars, then in much the same vein people insist Singapore is self sufficient.

    “We don’t have a well known manufacturing sector and we rely on entrepot trade and foreign investment, but we’re self sufficient”

    Utter crap Mick. utter crap.

    You now make it crystal clear that you know so little of the subject the history of which you so enthusiastically rewrite.

    No, I know plenty about labour markets, actually.

    If you want to be a jackass worshipping a jackal because he hasn’t blown up the economy like Swanny, I’m sure there are quite a few millions of Australians you can kowtow before.

  78. .

    My Singaporean students outdid my Australian ones in the quality of their written work as far as its grammatical and linguistic standards were concerned.

    Mine were shit and could not have possibly been anything more than hot dog vendors or get a plum job in daddy’s kleptocratic, regime supporting, nepotistic, glad handing, and utterly unproductive corporatist, tax eating, bludging firm.

    …and I have plenty of well justified invective for Malaysian, Indian, mainland Chinese and Australian born kiddies too.

    Mature age and off the land. These guys should be given scholarships articulated all the way to professor. They actually take to the idea of doing a work!

  79. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From . at 10:38 am:

    “Utter crap Mick. utter crap.

    You now make it crystal clear that you know so little of the subject the history of which you so enthusiastically rewrite.

    No, I know plenty about labour markets, actually.

    If you want to be a jackass worshipping a jackal because he hasn’t blown up the economy like Swanny, I’m sure there are quite a few millions of Australians you can kowtow before.”

    “labour markets”, “jackass”, “jackal”, “Swanny” – how did they get a run in this particular race?

    I have no idea what all that was about. I was commenting on Singapore, Dot.

  80. Go Tiges

    Last time I was there (late 90′s), Malaysia was regularly switching off the fresh water supply to Singapore for hours at a time, for ‘maintenance’. Is that still going on? It caused a lot of tension back in the day and was one of the reasons why the Singapore airforce has the capability it has.
    Loved the old (HMS) ‘Terror’ club at the Sembewang navy base. Was a great spot for pre-dinner beers followed by chile crab in Sembewang.

  81. Alfonso

    We caught and released a 250 lb striped marlin last week on an azure sea and under a sky so blue it’d turn you into a poet.
    Just average income Australians (except me), on any Wednesday, using their own gear, knowledge and passion.

    Geez, I’m missing the second soft top BMW I could have had in the 35th floor 3 bedroom apartment overlooking muddy seas in Singers…….while lusting after a life the restaurant diversity main chancers will thankfully never twig to.

    Real Quality of Life doesn’t translate well into Libert politics.
    The poor fools think it’s only about the free use and efficient function of money.

    As long as you have a theatre that holds your attention and I don’t see you on the rivers, blue water or in the mountains then I desire to subsidise your activities with massive tax money….. as long as you teach your kids to aspire to the same thing.

    My aim is to have as much of Australia moving to Singers as possible……
    ……….for the Quality of Life.
    Bwaaaaa.

  82. Fred Lenin

    Is “democracy”as we know it really the Ideal form of government? The Singapore government are highly educated people unlike our Professional bludgers. They would find highly paid employment if they left politics, people like rudd ,giliard,shortass would never get anywhere there they have ne batchelors of them yartz unioists mno slater and gordons or morrie blackthingy firms ,no corrupt judiciary appointed by the alp .no greens. The place sounds like paradise !! How come the younited nayshumist narxist fascists havent corrupted Singapore like the other countries,find the secret and implement ie here. i suspect it has something to do with giving the maggots no fundingn!

  83. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Lizzie: My Singaporean students outdid my Australian ones in the quality of their written work as far as its grammatical and linguistic standards were concerned.

    Dot: Mine were shit and could not have possibly been anything more than hot dog vendors or get a plum job in daddy’s kleptocratic, regime supporting, nepotistic, glad handing, and utterly unproductive corporatist, tax eating, bludging firm.

    Maybe different types of students, Dot. Yours as part of an MBA stream only there because daddy sent them? Mine self-selected into a chosen field, often self-funded or fought daddy in order to come, and arrived with top-notch academic entry qualifications. When Singapore hothouses its brightest in high school they read good English literature and are taught grammar, which is always a useful place to start.

  84. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Are you channelling e e Cummings, Fred Lenin, or what? iphonia strikes again?
    (Also, your attempt at Catallaxian yarts-speak still needs some refining. See me after class.)

    And here we are talking about boring things like grammar and punctuation. :)

  85. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    correction – e e cummings

    That was an iphonia strike for which I bear full responsibility.

  86. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Have to agree, Alfonso, that you can’t kick back in Singapore in the way that you can at our South Coast beach house. Nothing like being in the upstairs outdoor room with a cold glass of sav blanc at the end of a glorious day of blue-skied leisure. Beach houses around us range from fibro shacks to major mansions and anything inbetween. Whatever their style or cost, each one is a palace in its own way, with its own little outside shrine, somewhere, to the gods of sitting back and breathing in that special whiff of genuine Australian good luck. And then there’s the floating aroma of barbecued tucker on the evening air as the warm dusk settles and the mozzie candles are lit against the few that have breeched the screening; a completely satisfying and very Australian moment that beats the ambiance of any Singaporean restaurant (I won’t say it beats the food, ‘coz I am very partial to Singapore eateries).

  87. .

    I have no idea what all that was about.

    We can tutor you, squire.

  88. .

    When Singapore hothouses its brightest in high school they read good English literature and are taught grammar, which is always a useful place to start.

    ???

    If you want to write an instruction manual?

    Maybe different types of students, Dot. Yours as part of an MBA stream only there because daddy sent them?

    Yep. They were shits.

  89. Bons

    If libertarianism means pretending outlaw bikie gangs are just guys who like bikes then I’m never going to be one.
    Go you good thing. Liberty stops at the border of criminality. Too many posters here confuse liberty with anarchy.

  90. .

    Congratulations, you don’t have the peer pressure of a bogus caricature to follow.

    You are still free to choose your own destiny (so far).

    What a country.

  91. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    If you want to write an instruction manual?

    Definitely. Conceptualising your audience, recognising the parameters of the task, finding the right words and tone to explain and clarify what needs to be done, and identifying problems for trouble-shooting – all of this is greatly assisted if the writers of instructions can empathise (novels develop this skill) and clearly communicate (grammar helps; so does punctuation – people who read a lot have a linguistic and grammatical facility across a range of purposes). So reading literature and learning grammar develops a useful skill. Most instruction manuals are hideous; unable to link to user needs, and not clear or of much use. Thus there is resistance to reading manuals. The acronym RTFM (Read the Fucking Manual) indicates how widespread this resistance has become. Often it is because the manuals (instructions) are so bad.

  92. Combine_Dave

    So to summarise even economic freedoms combined with stable institutions and laws (compare that to our frequently shifting laws/reguations and closed union shops) are enough to ensure a people’s prosperity?

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