Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Grass is Not Always Greener on the Other Side

It is common for people of any nationality to think that the grass is greener elsewhere.  That's because it's natural for us to see other people's lives through rose-tinted glasses but when it comes to our own problems, we magnify them.  Singaporeans are no different.  You hear the most complaints from taxi drivers.  The government is blamed for just about anything that happens.  We have no natural disasters and things really are hunky-dory here unlike in Malaysia where everything that can possibly go wrong in a third-world nation goes wrong there.  And yet people here continue to complain.  Even minor floods become a big issue and the government is given a rap on the knuckles.

I used to say that complaining Singaporeans should be made to live in Malaysia for a year and they are sure to return with gratitude in their hearts for all that they are blessed with here.

Before I go on, I must make it clear that I'm not a pro-government man.  By nature, I tend to be anti-establishment and I do have a lot of respect for many Opposition Party members in Singapore.  When I hear of someone joining the Opposition, I KNOW he's not doing it for selfish or monetary reasons because in my books, selfish and money-minded people don't join the Opposition.  But at the same time, I believe in being truthful.  Things are wonderful here and when you look around you, there really is no place on this planet that most of us would rather live in than good old Singapore.  Forget politics, forget how "paternalistic" the government may be.  The fact is they have done a good job.  OK, they are paid a lot but they have done a good job.  Just look across the Causeway or look at Indonesia and think.  Our leaders may be paid a lot but they don't take a penny more than what they are legally entitled to.  I prefer this sort of open honesty.  But the bottom line is they have done a really good job.  And is it so wrong to reward those who have done an excellent job?

And I'm not the only one who says this.  The Economist has just reported that Singapore is now the 6th best country to be born in.  Just look at the list:

If this is not a firm and unequivocal affirmation of how well Singapore has done, I don't know what will satisfy people who refuse to see that the grass here is the greenest in the whole of Asia and it's the 6th greenest on the planet.  If you throw in the other factors which I'm sure the Economist Intelligence Unit failed to consider such as how delicious our food is, I think Singapore will easily outstrip Switzerland.

But there will always be the rabid naysayers who can't see anything good about Singapore even though you have shown them the facts and I always wonder why they remain here if they dislike this place so much.

I will show you one more piece of evidence and this time, I believe even Chee Soon Juan will concede that the government has done a fantastic job.

In 1988, the Economist Intelligence Unit did the same assessment and Singapore ranked 36 together with East Germany.  Malaysia followed at No. 38.  USSR was No. 21 and even India beat us and tied with Mexico to stand at No 27!  China (yes, Commie China) then ranked 32.

What does that tell us?  In just 25 years, Singapore managed to raise itself to No. 6 in the list of the best countries to be born in.  I don't know about you but I think anyone with an ounce of gratitude in his system will have to acknowledge that the government of Singapore has done a magnificent job.  And the next time there is a minor flooding in Orchard Road, just smile and remind yourself that we're No. 6 and kudos to the leaders for this.

NOTE:  The above information is obtained entirely from the Economist.  At least there can be no dispute as to the reliability of the facts stated.


  1. "I used to say that complaining Singaporeans should be made to live in Malaysia for a year and they are sure to return with gratitude in their hearts for all that they are blessed with here."

    Please lah early in the morning don't be so patronizing. I have plantations in Burma, Honduras, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Cambodia and I can tell you for a fact that life there is significant less stressful than what it currently is in Singapore.

    Do try to have a happy day.

    Darkness 2012

    1. I so agree with u, dotseng. Malaysia may not have all the fancy buildings, expensive gardens and restaurants but has many spots of natural beauty that the humble can enjoy. Only Singaporeans who are rich love it here. Those who have not will find M'sia the happier place. Dont look down on others just cos they have less money. BTW, a huge gini coefficient is nothing to be proud of. How happy can the working classes be if the disparity is so wide and all the "happy" places are out of reach for them??

    2. I have disputed the argument that an income disparity should lead to unhappiness for the working classes in this post. As I have explained, the correct question to ask is whether the poor in Singapore are worse off now than they were before. In Singapore, they're not. They are much better off now. Hence the income disparity is irrelevant.

      You wrongly assume that the only "happy places" (as you put it) in Singapore are expensive places. I have spent a lovely day from about lunch time to long after dinner cycling in the park connectors and eating at hawker centres and it's incredible how beautiful Singapore is. It may not be natural beauty but it's still beauty. The beaches along East Coast all the way to Changi are pretty too. My total expenditure including my lunch and dinner could easily have been less than S$10. In many other countries, S$10 won't even get you a nice sandwich from a service station.

      Of course if you think the only factor that makes a country the best to be born in is its natural beauty, many countries will beat Singapore simply because of its size. A bigger country can afford to have more natural beauty than a small island. But that's not the criterion anyone would use.

      The Economist takes into account many factors in order to come up with an indication of where Singapore stands. It's something we should be proud of.

  2. "NOTE:  The above information is obtained entirely from the Economist.  At least there can be no dispute as to the reliability of the facts stated."

    That is precisely the reason why you have failed to hit the nail on the head and your essay rings hollow. As economist can only measure what they are trained to measure - it is not so different from a man who has lost his keys somewhere in the park in the evening - but he only seems to look for what he has lost in places where there is a street lamp. My point is when everything is reduced to the metric of GNP and GDP - then Singapore is definitely a great place to live. But what you need to understand is if we use other metrics to gauge the quality of life along with asking ourselves deeper question such as whether most Singaporeans are really enjoying the fruits of globalization - then you may find that the outcome may be radically different from what you have just presented.

    You are new in blogoland. May I be the first to welcome you. Only my feel is you should read broadly.

    I have to go to the field now.

    Darkness 2012

    1. Dotseng, if there is anyone patronising, it's you. I do read widely and my advice to you is to do precisely that - read widely. Do not limit your reading to only angst-filled blogs of complaining folks. If indeed you have plantations in various countries, you would be a prime example of someone who has benefited from the way Singapore is governed and you, of all people, should show some gratitude for that. Very frequently, we don't count our blessings and I suggest you try doing that. Look at the workers in the plantations in all these third-world countries and although you think they live stress-free lives, nobody (certainly not you) would want to trade places with them. You may not be aware of this but every sentence you have written merely confirms the truth of what the Economist says - that Singapore is the 6th best country to be born in. Have a good day and be thankful.

  3. OK. Now I understand perfectly where you are coming from dum fata. Since the entire premise of your essay hinges on really just a poll - perhaps you can explain to all of us, how we managed to be top the most emotionless people in the world? If what you say is palpably true, that Singapore is the 6th best place in the world to be born - then how to reconcile these two diametrically opposiing findings?

    As for demanding that I should be grateful to the government - please do not presume to tell me how I should lead my life. As for your commentary concerning my workers, all I can say is your ESP skills leave alot to be desired. Kindly confine what you have to say to what you have written. Try to be civilized and if possible polite.

    Please come back to me on how these two opposing polls can be intelligently reconciled to lend support to what you have written.

    Good day to you.

    Darkness 2012

    1. Dotseng, I do not wish to engage in a fruitless debate with someone I can immediately see to be crude and unmannerly, unthinking yet at the same time quick to accuse. You claim that I am impolite but you do not realise how rude and condescending you are. If it is not within your capacity to observe a few rules of common decency and politeness, I will not allow your comments to be published. If you have anything to say that you want me to reply to, I suggest you rephrase your comments in a manner that does not fly in the face of the norms of propriety. Try not to swagger and don't get personal. Deal with the facts and if you think what I have posted is incorrect, show the evidence in support of your own proposition. When you get personal and make your own presumptions, you can be sure your opponent will reply in like manner and that will defeat the purpose of a fruitful debate.