This is why Singapore is so successful


Photographs and videos of Mr. Nathan’s ceremonial gun carriage is available for all to witness. But what many didn’t see…and also the thing that left the strongest impression on me, was the backup procession which was trailing a good 5 five minutes behind Mr. Nathan’s main train.

A standby gun carriage, ceremonial vehicles and emergency vehicles tailed the official train en-route to the NUS.

That, to me is an example of how deeply thought through the Civil Service operates. That to me, is the hallmark of government thinking: to think ahead, think across and to think again.

There are those who criticise and accuse the government of “not thinking”, but seriously – look at how they work. They have a reason to address every tiny detail of decision making; even into why the acronyms of our expressways are named as such. 

At a dialogue I attended last evening, Chan Chun Sing shared that even if PM Lee was to have collapsed at the National Day Rally and never recovered, there was already a procedure in place. Any one of the Cabinet Ministers could continue the speech (and would have continued the speech), delivering it with as much precision. There is strong emphasis on team effort – not just one man, but a team.

Deputy Prime Ministers would be ready to take on the role of Acting Prime Minister. The next line of leaders are already in place. If you are an ardent observer, even you would be able to figure out who the candidates of the PM’s seat are.

National development was never left to chance.

The new port in Tuas was not built a few years ago, but rather more than a decade ago. The reason to move it was planned as far back as the 1970s – not only does it free up a central area in Singapore, it would move the visually and environmentally polluting ships to a far corner of the island. Oh and if you say Tuas is too far to deliver goods, well – there are technologies and expressways you don’t even know about yet. The undersea connector to join the North into the MCE for example – that info is available, you just need to search for it.

Consider Changi Airport; its architects were not tasked not just to develop a fancy building. Rather they were asked to incorporate aesthetics, usability and experience deserving of a world class airport all the way up to the heart of Singapore. That’s why you have beautiful flowers even as you drive out of the airport vicinity and that’s why the East Coast Parkway was built. This is documented in MM Lee’s memoirs. Observe most other airports around the world – the beauty and convenience ends when you exit the complex doors.

Look at this layout of the MRT circulating the internet:

future smrt singapore

The source of this map is unknown and begun circulating the internet a good 10 years ago. No one knows if it is accurate or not. The authorities neither confirm nor deny its accuracy, however it seems as if over the years the stations that pop up are really beginning to resemble this map.

Discussions, studies, debates and plans for Singapore for the next 50 years are already available, if you care to seek it out.

That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. I’m not even sure what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight.

One of the remarkable things about Singapore governance is the team effort to drive the mechanism forward. To say it is merely a PAP team effort would be doing the nation a great disservice. This team is not just the PAP. It is the law makers, the Judges, the President, all the civil service, the Unions, the corporations, the people – all working seamlessly as one mechanism.

It is the ability to orchestrate and manoeuvre all these moving parts for the collective welfare of the majority of Singapore. It is for this reason that although we’re a small country, we’re able to standup against giants.



About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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