Your correspondent has worked 2 times here in Singapore some 30 and 10 years ago over a total of 4 years. A flying visit to Singapore for a few days has shown that the pace of development has not changed as this small country expands with reclaimed land and aggressive building for its residents and visitors.
New buildings have multiplied, the old landmarks have been renovated and redesigned, plants and trees have been installed and everywhere you turn is a salute to human ingenuity and integrity.
The government here has planned and thought carefully about the long term needs and aspirations of the people.
Education, good security, family values, law and order and hard work are the main pillars upon which the island continues to be built.
Good basic security of life and housing is given to all in return for work. The safety net is there for the very young and the very old – for the workers, present and future, there is an obligation to get an education and find work. The young are encouraged to study seriously at home and abroad. Generous scholarships are available for those who work hard. There is little or no support for those who chose to drop out.
This society has remained stable for decades and adjusted to the self-imposed discipline, and although a few demand greater rights for an opposition, it does remain muted because the majority live well.
The housing and pension solutions are interesting because they leave nobody behind in terms of quality of life. You are guaranteed an ever-improving life with favourable healthcare and living conditions so long as you accept the above conditions.
You can look at the Nordics taxpayers and consider if they have been forced to support many long-term unemployed or lazy folk who have decided to drop out of the job market and and not make the effort to rejoin it – or you may consider that the trade unions have usurped democrats power and forced rigid labor constraints on the economy.
You could say, perhaps, that the trade unions have hi-jacked the economy and limited opportunities that more dynamic economies, like Singapore, have now enjoyed.
Or, you could consider if the Nordics have been anesthetized (put to sleep) by lazy, self-serving politicians. Men and women who should have known better, but, like the trade unions, are only interested in preserving their vested interests.
Or, you could consider if the very wealthy business owners want to keep all the coins in their own pockets and buy the politicians…
Whatever your political inclination, Singapore offers a model that must be taken very seriously as a well designed model for the future. We live in a global world and cannot just sit around and wait for gold coins to fall in our laps from the clouds.