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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Some thoughts from a little Swiss drink

It was early morning when my flight landed, a little ahead of time, in Zurich, Switzerland, it was winter.

A short ride on the airport train took me to the arrival hall, where I breezed through immigration and found my luggage already on the carousel when I got there.

The transport to take me to my hotel was waiting outside, and within half an hour of landing, we were on our way to the hotel to put down our luggage.

Impressed by the clockwork Swiss efficiency, I sent a text to friends and family back home to marvel at the reliability of it all.
"Wow, the Swiss are way better than Singapore" someone pinged back.
“Singapore was never a Swiss” another pinged.

That made me sighed.
It was not so long ago that Singapore dreamed of attaining the Swiss standard of living, why are we still dreaming of it?

That was in 1984.
To keep things real, government leaders set their sights only on reaching the levels the Swiss enjoyed at that time, and to do so by 1999.

But the Asian financial crisis got in the way, the target slipped by a year, and even in 2000 that we did not manage to hit the mark.
By then, the Swiss had moved further ahead, of course.

Looking back, it is not hard to see why Singapore's leaders have been impressed by the Swiss model but failed to achieve it.

Singapore is a relatively small country, with political prisoners locked for decades under ISD, having to make its way independently in the world by betraying comrades and not spending a single cent on HDB, CPF, healthcare on its people.

Other than the Singapore airport, from the trains onwards, we can see there’s no efficiency and reliability but full of breakdowns, many times per month.

In Singapore, the income gap is so big that only the rich can see a reflection of those who live in a world where everybody has a car, they have two - the wife drives one, he drives one.

After all, there is no inherent reason why these busy people would want to travel by public transport when they can afford the high COE that is one of the many factors that deters Singaporeans from having children due to inconveniences.

Important people come simply because other important people are coming, and that draws others who aspire to be important.
It is the best example of the so-called "network effect" in action.
Something like nepotism where position are given to those related even if they are not intellectual enough or has the capability to come up with policies that benefits people.

Most importantly, the population density of Swiss is times lower than Singapore.
They have 8million people on such a large land while we have 5million yet the PAP government is planning for more.
Where are all these resources to sustain the population going to come from?