3quarksdaily has a well-written piece on Singapore.
It is true that changes are afoot in a nation that â€“ after the Asian Financial Crisis, and the terror caused by the spread of SARs â€“ realised its government could never offer it complete protection. The bargain for freedom from want in return for silent cooperation was not legitimately struck. It was based on the false notion that Singapore was a nation in charge of its own destiny rather than a small sliver of land, smaller than the dot that represents it on the global map.
It made me think of my last trip to Singapore, a couple of months back. Every time I visit Singapore, I am surprised by the pace of change. I, in my nostalgia, try to seek out places I knew from before, and am constantly reminded that I am oh-so-outdated.
But this time, I was struck by the number of foreigners. I still remember the time I first came to Singapore. The year was 1995 – sure, there were some foreigners around, but we felt like foreigners – I mean, we felt like we were a minority – as I assume, foreigners in any country are supposed to feel.
I was in Singapore for just a day and had way too many people to catch up with – so I set up shop at a cafe near Millenia towers and as I had cup of coffee after cup of coffee with friends who managed to sneak off work for a coffee break, I indulged in one of my fav pass times – people watching – and I was more than amazed by the proportion of foreigners – almost every other person seemed to be a foreigner!! And for the first time, I heard murmurs of dissent among my Singaporean friends, and we had some lively discussions on the topic.
I don’t quite get it – why is the Singapore Government so desperate for foreigners? Do they really need so many foreigners – to perhaps, the extent, that you have to ask who is the minority here? I can only imagine the government has a plan – and a good one too – that is behind this mass import of “talent”. But none of my Singaporean friends seemed quite able to explain to me the rationale behind the policy. Which begs a bigger question. This is just one of the many policies that the Government makes on behalf of the citizens. I wonder, without due political participation and debate, why do the people assume that the Government will get it right every single time? What if they are wrong?