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Reform Magazine | June 17, 2018

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A letter from… Singapore

A letter from… Singapore

Peter Cruchley writes to ‘Auntie May’ from Singapore

Chinese media outlets nicknamed Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, ‘Auntie May’, after her three-day visit to Beijing early this year. The term ‘auntie’ is used for key allies of Beijing

 

Dear Auntie May,

I know your favourite thing about Singapore is that chewing gum is banned. The first-time penalty for the selling of gum can be as high as $100,000 SGD, or a prison sentence of up to two years. The ‘little red dot’ is clean, clean, clean.

The World Toilet Organisation was founded in Singapore. You can get fined for not flushing after you use the public toilet. And, if you urinate in a lift, the lift will descend to the ground floor, lock its doors and summon the police. I can see why, Auntie, this is your happy place.

It’s not all well-meaning authoritarianism though. Singapore has a highly competitive spirit (it is ranked the third most competitive market in the world.) Did you know that the Guinness World Record for the longest human domino chain was set in Singapore on 30 September 2000? It measured 4.2km!

Singapore is the largest exporter of ornamental fish (contributing 25% of the world market). This gives some plus side to balance the claim that Singapore is the world’s fifth largest arms importer, despite being half the size of London.

Singapore is the model city for model citizens. The punishment for gay sex is a two-year jail term. Reporters Without Borders ranks it 151st among 180 nations for press freedom. Since 1991, Singapore has executed over 400 prisoners and 80% of Singaporeans support the death penalty. Singapore likes its model citizens to fit in and do as they are told.

No, it’s not all well-meaning authoritarianism or record-breaking competitiveness. It’s also well-paid authoritarianism and record-breaking competitiveness. Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, earns $1.7m USD annually, four times more than the US President…

Peter Cruchley works for the Council for World Mission, Singapore

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2018 edition of  Reform

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