|Singapore: An Ideal Model for Constructing Future Plans|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/02/27 17:55 《英语学习》|
Singapore offers a unique example of both modern state building and strong economic development all in one.<注1> The tiny Asian republic, which has an area of 617 square kilometers and a population of 3.5 million, has impressively overcome several challenges.
In addition to its diminutive<注2> geographical area and small population, Singapore is a recent state. It gained independence in 1965 after seceding from the union with Malaysia.<注3> And it is almost totally lacking in natural resources and imports all its food requirements. Its population is a heterogeneous<注4> mix that is 78 percent Chinese and 14 percent Malay, with the 8 percent ethnic Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans. Its ruling political party<注5> has been in power since 1959, and the government plays a major and basic role in running the economy.
Despite the above retarding<注6> factors, which are enough to push the country affected by them to the bottom of the global economic stack, Singapore enjoys one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. During the quarter of a century from 1970 through 1995, it notched up<注7> an accelerating annual growth of around 9 percent. And its seaport, which is one of the world's largest in terms of tonnage<注8>, has contributed to making Singapore an important industrial and financial center in Southeast Asia. Singaporean citizens enjoy some of the highest incomes in the world. Their gross national income (GNI) averaged some $99.4 billion in 2000, and per capita income was $24,740.
Singapore's path, which began as a British colony in 1819 when British adventurer Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles rented the island from the ruler<注9> and brought in Chinese and Indian labor to establish the colony, provides us with several lessons on how to join the ranks of developed nations.
The individual, who was shaped by means of scientific educational curricula and central government planning, has been the basic axis around which the country's development has been built.<注10> Singapore has invested in building its ethnically, linguistically and culturally heterogeneous population, basing its efforts on high-standard technical education, and promoting the values of thrift, ethnic equality and ethnic homogeneity.
Singaporean students outperform<注11> their American and European counterparts in scientific fields (mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology), according to recent studies. This reflects the government's reliance on educating the younger generation to ensure that the country continues to flourish.
To sidestep the consumerism and individualism that have afflicted many developing societies, the government encourages its citizens to save.<注12> And it has imposed a kind of government housing based on mixing ethnic groups in certain proportions that it considers conducive to generating long-term homogeneity and harmony.
The second factor underpinning Singapore's progress is the humility with which it views its achievements. Once at a meeting with some 10,000 students at Singapore's national university, Lee Kwan Yew made plain that Singapore, as a nation and as a self-sufficient economy, had still not achieved its aspirations,<注13> and that its successes to date<注14> were not enough to secure it a suitable place in the world over the next 30 years.
Over the past 36 years of its political life, Singapore's accomplishments amount to a miracle.<注15> They have transformed a backward country into an industrialized one and into a world center. Those feats deserve praise. But the Singaporean government knows that claiming to have reached the goal signals the start of laxity followed by an accelerating fall into the abyss,<注16>and it avoids falling into such a trap.
The third cornerstone<注17>underpinning Singapore's prosperity is that it has preserved its Eastern values and national laws. Singapore has a strong political leadership that takes vigorous decisions in the interest of the state without losing its authenticity or fearing criticism. The incident of the reckless American young man (Michael Fray) who was sentenced to flogging in Singapore for vandalizing private property is an example of sticking to values and upholding national laws.<注18>
Despite the shouting and wailing of the media in the West, and in the US in particular, claiming that the punishment was barbaric and violated human rights, the government did not hesitate to carry out the verdict, which represents society's values and protects it, irrespective of whether this resulted in foreign satisfaction or anger.<注19>
Laws dealing with moral and ethical values whether they apply to drug-related crimes, armed assault or prostitution are strict in Singapore. The government has not wavered in implementing them, despite all the criticisms directed against it, because they represent the national will.
Singapore faced the choice of succumbing to<注20> the moral dissolution that has afflicted some neighboring countries. But It adopted a different option. It chose the path of scientific challenge and technological excellence that expresses human dignity and a confidence in it. This was the correct choice that allowed it to protect its cultural and social values and environment from some bad effects of western civilization. And it provided high and continuous economic returns<注21>. By contrast, the countries that found it easier to adopt the choice of moral defeat suffer several social problems and concomitant<注22> economic collapse.
These examples could benefit economic planners in many other developing countries, and exemplify to them the necessity of protecting values and not getting carried away<注23> by the prospects of cheap, materialistic gains; of investing in hi-tech education; of avoiding conceit in the media; and of precluding the overstatement of small achievements in a way that obscures challenges.
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