Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Singapore Does Everything Better

Written by johnleemk on 3:49:09 pm May 18, 2007.
Categories: ,

Malaysians have an annoying inferiority complex when it comes to Singapore. Most Malaysians fall into two fallacious categories; they either believe that we should emulate Singapore as much as possible, or that we should avoid emulating it to the greatest extent.

This petty childishness of course has many root causes. But one cause, sad to say, seems to be that Singapore does everything better.

Of course, the "patriotic" Malaysians are up in arms now. "What?!" they indignantly ask. "How dare he say that Singapore does everything better than we do!"

But it's an unfortunate fact of life. The Singaporeans outdo Malaysians in virtually every arena. No matter where you look, Singapore is, in everyday parlance, kicking Malaysia's ass.

Take the simple example of megaprojects. Which country builds megaprojects that actually last? All Malaysia could do was put up a couple of twin penises in Kuala Lumpur, a now out-of-date international airport in the jungle near Sepang, a Multimedia Super Corridor that nobody remembers anymore, and an administrative centre that looks like it was transplanted from the Middle East.

What has Singapore done? The whole damn city-state is a megaproject in itself. The roads are immaculate, the skyscrapers are towering (and always freshly painted), and everything runs like clockwork.

Then there's the issue of administrative efficiency. Malaysia's efforts to stamp out corruption and red tape have been pathetic. Singapore, on the other hand, is near the top of Transparency International's rankings.

Or you could bring up education. When the Americans want to learn how to blindly memorise, guess which country they go to? That's right — the city state down south.

Or there's tourism. Which country is internationally known for its iconic airline and breathtaking tourism campaigns? Not Malaysia (though we did our best to catch up with Singapore, "Malaysia Truly Asia" hasn't exactly made the cut).

And of course, look at all the other things Singapore does better than us. When it comes to old men hanging on to power beyond their time, which country managed to do it so subtly that virtually no political turmoil has erupted for almost two decades?

When it comes to suppressing freedom of speech, which country actually jailed bloggers? Which country made international headlines for confining protesters to minuscule "free speech zones"?

When it comes to rigging the electoral system, which country had to resort to blatant gerrymandering and malapportionment? Which country subtly manipulated the system by initiating Group Representative Constituencies and making it seem like it wanted a strong opposition by even appointing opposition Members of Parliament?

When it comes to moral policing and nannying its citizens, which country is famous for enforcing bans on oral sex and chewing gum? Which country earned international scorn for caning an American delinquent?

When it comes to subverting the free press, who has done a better job? The country where everything the mainstream press puts out is transparently propaganda, or the country where the state-controlled newspapers actually produce critical commentary that is almost as sharp as anything you might find in bastions of real free speech?

When it comes to racial discrimination, which country has been truly successful? The one where it is transparently clear that apartheid is predominant, or the one where the only hard evidence of such discrimination is the variety of racist remarks made by the country's founding father, who was worried that the minorities would not be loyal to the country and thus justified their suppression in the armed forces?

I mean, Singapore is beating the pants off Malaysia in every arena. Whether you want to stamp out corruption, or stamp out basic freedoms, it is Singapore that has a commanding lead. The clever dicks across the causeway know not only how to do it better than Malaysia, but to do it so quietly that unless you are paying attention, you hardly notice. Is it any wonder we Malaysians, with our transparent failures, are suffering from such a bad inferiority complex?


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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