Before I move on to what I really want to tell you guys, I would like to portray a flattering image of the city-state of Singapore. The state is separated from Malaysia by the Strait of Johor and from Indonesia by the Strait of Singapore, so it lies between the two mentioned nations. Made up of a large main island and sixty-three surrounding islets having a total area of about 714 square kilometers, Singapore is smaller than Islamabad.
With a spectacular nightlife, picturesque dining and coffee spots and lavishly prodigal hotels, the cosmopolitan state deservedly ranks 4th on the list of the most expensive cities for expats.Fracas, hubbub and the topsy-turvydom is a real attraction for the party animals as they sit and dine along the quays caressing the river that channels through the city. For some, cherishing the adventures on the tallest roller-coaster rides on the planet is the real treat. Boutiques, China Town and gardens are all top of the class. And for us selfie-obsessed people, The Merlion selfie will be a memorable one. A real gem of a city!
Like most of the Pakistanis, I feel concerned about the ongoing political and social crises that has thwarted our progress since independence. Masha-Allah in Pakistan, we think less about prioritizing partially because of lack of a capable think tank. For example, I recently discovered the importance NJHP (Neelum–Jhelum Hydropower Plant); it could yield almost 45 billion rupees every month in revenue if completed within the next two years but our generous government cannot grant a meager two billion rupees for the next two years. However, some very esteemed and beloved projects run on a daily loss and still merit 46 billion rupees. Shakespeare uncovered a secret to being happy; no expectations. So I have already ceased the recurring illness of expecting from my leaders, you should too. Assuming that our government regains its senses or someone sensible comes into the government, I would love to see how our nation progresses. Considering that we have abundance of human and natural resources, we shall be among the best in a short span of time. It would be an uphill journey of-course and one of those dreams that doesn’t look like getting fulfilled in the near future but dreaming is no sin. Singapore on the other hand was gravely lacking in human and natural resources but the right priorities brought the right results.
The Chinese and Indian immigrants played a major role in shaping the economic and national future for ingenious leaders like Lee Kuan Yew, the dictator who governed for three decades. We hate dictators, even if they are good. Our politicians have a knack for exploitation and chicanery who easily double-cross the naïve. But the longest-serving Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, the dictator, took charge of a state with high crime rates, poverty and so many ethnicities and transformed it into the second safest city and wealthier than most of the developed nations.
In the graph above, the blue line shows the GDP per capita for Pakistan and the orange line for Singapore. I just wish we could have a dictator like Lee Kuan Yew. Singaporeans owe everything to him, to a dictator! It is just about priorities, freedom in a shack or an autocracy in a tall condo overseeing the cleanest of cities. But our politicians have made us believe that, whether we are thieves, looters, raconteur and liars; we are still better than a good governing dictator.
The progress of Singapore at such a rapid pace is a multi-dimensional story. Before independence, most of the engineers, doctors and other professionals from Singapore worked abroad. Then Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, took radical steps to bring the professionals back to their state which was certainly challenging. The government offered them heavy salaries, more than the corporate sectors for the first time. Engineers and doctors started coming back, lured by large sums. The feat worked, the same professionals now form the underpinning of the state. Can we do something like that too? The Republic of Singapore spends 20% of its national budget on education and is host to the best university of Asia, the National University of Singapore. Another Singaporean university sitting just three places behind in the rankings is NTU (Nanyang Technological University). Singaporean education system produces scholars more competitive than the British and the American systems. Its high school is the mother of a well-functioning government and its workforce consists of the immigrants and natives alike, with measly discrimination.
Being a Pakistani, I envy Singapore and lament every second a politician has exploited our country. It could have been different to what it is now, Pakistan could have been different. The sectarian wars, ethnic and racial discrimination, nepotism and the frauds of the impotent dynasties have plagued our motherland. Even though Singapore was lacking in natural and human resources, yet it progressed. Both were colonies of Britain, yet Singapore is a 1st world country and Pakistan a 3rd world nation. A big reason to worry!