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I hate it whenever people (I’m looking at your, various ministers) cite Singapore’s nature of being devoid of natural resources and being small as a reason for the lack of democracy, or detailed planning, or something along those lines. Yeah. Small. No natural resources. Because if an island the size of Singapore with the same population size with the same calibre of leaders ended up in the middle of the Pacific – the very same outcome would occur.

In so many ways, being on the international trading route, and therefore having a shot in being a major commercial centre, is far, far much better than having oil wells (for one, no natural resource curse). And while Singapore doesn’t have a sprawling hinterland, Malaysia and Indonesia pretty much acts like one: it’s not as if Singaporean firms don’t have interests in neighbouring Johore or the Riau archipelago.

And while Singapore bears the risk of invasion, consider this for a moment: Malaysia kicked Singapore out for demographic reasons. Indonesia aren’t too fond of their own local Chinese and have been facing from the very beginning violent secessionist movements, not to add another to the list. It was risky; Singapore was and still is the only modern city-state functioning completely autonomous from a much larger power – but it doesn’t mean that Singapore had to turn into some conscripted authoritarian police state to achieve development.

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One Comment

  1. Hi there,

    My name is clyde, and on Saturday, i was debating with my friend over Singapore’s recent immigration policies

    i was of the impression that such widespread immigration was detrimental to the quality of life of the average Singaporean, and that governments ought to be protecting the well-being of its citizens, and not the pockets of the MNC’s, that clearly appreciate the cheaper labour brought in from neighbouring countries

    my friend, however, was firmly rooted in the ‘fact’ that in order for Singapore to stay relevant and competitive in the region, it would need to remain competitive by ensuring cheap labour was readily available, even if this is at the expense of the average Singaporean

    his main reason was the “small nation, no resources” argument u mentioned in your post (i googled the phrase, and was led here)

    imo, i do not believe that Singapore would implode if the country slowed down productivity-wise and took better care of its ppl..i found my friend’s argument somewhat elitist, in that it looked after the rich and neglected the plight of the ordinary Joe

    nonetheless, i would still value your input, because uve been trained in political science, which i guess kinda makes u an expert…can singapore afford to slow down and look after its ppl better?


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