Can we re-create Hong Kong’s instability in Singapore
What if, for some twisted reason, I could benefit from a riotous Singapore? How can I re-create what happened in Hong Kong such that it can happen here?
Firstly, we would need for the land to be messed up. This is Hong Kong’s fundamental problem. I can do it in a few ways:
Allow a small group of rich families to own land that they can hold forever
Allow a the middle class of today to hang on to their properties forever, the property will then always stay in their family through inheritance
Not allow the government to take back land easily for re-distribution
Because of these actions, land will get more and more scarce. Properties will be forced to become smaller and smaller in order for more to be built. In short, reckless policies that satisfy only a current generation of home owners are dangerous.
Learning point: Transfer of land and properties across generations cannot be at the expense of future generations
2. Get a political party that would be Mr. Nice Guy and create policies that will make them liked
Behave like a marketing person – give the people what they want, when they want… the goal being to win the next elections. Or, if you have just won the elections…dismantle everything the previous party has done because that’s your election promise.
If the business owners of a particular trade want laws relaxed so they conduct their businesses better, give it to them
If the enactment of unworkable, unenforceable laws wins favours for you, put them up
In short, do what is convenient, easy and popular. Be Mr. Nice guy. After all, this is far easier than pushing out unpopular policies that need a lot of explaining and dealing with ruffled feathers.
When this happens, policies become short sighted…serving only the immediate electorate and neglecting (to disastrous results), the people of the future.
Learning point: Long term policy making as the success of any government cannot be measured just by the short term
3. Make the political party, its ideologies and members the center of importance
If you create rock stars out of the political members, you’ll open yourself up to a lot of political lobbying and influence by members of the business community. When they do this, you will find the country slowly becoming more favourable to the rich and as a result, the rest of the country doesn’t have a share in the wealth.
You can do this by:
Making remarks and threats against other countries because it makes you look tough
Making statements to journalists on a whim because it makes you look “in control”
Associating with business leaders and allowing policies to be influenced by them because it makes you look powerful
Learning point: Regardless of political systems and party interests, exercise of leadership must be people and country first
4. Try to appease every segment of society, fulfill every want and put out every fire
In a 21st century context, society can be very fragmented. There are groups that fight for everything from climate protection to animal welfare, LGBT rights to religious freedoms. Everyday, there is something new that demands policy attention or a group’s rights that is direct conflict with another.
The worst thing that a weak government can do, is to be everything to everyone and try to appease every segment of society. When this happens, sometimes the louder, stronger, but not necessarily representative group gets its way and when this happens, everyone else suffers.
The greater good, the bigger picture, is sacrificed to win the favour of disparate groups.
Learning point: The greater good is what that matters. All parties have to bear this in mind, only then can we have unity in diversity