Thursday, May 25, 2006

Impressive Singapore

William Esposo wrote a column for Philippines' in which he raves about Singapore after his two trips here. From
You will catch many Filipinos expressing a wish that we here had a leader like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, the chief architect of the Singapore success story and now called the Minister Mentor. The worse it gets here, the more you will hear fellow Filipinos wishing that we were being led by Lee Kuan Yew...

In our country, people are desperately looking for jobs. In Singapore, people seem never to stop working. Singaporeans who are well into retirement age are all over the place engaged in post-career work. Many of them are driving taxi cabs while some are providing services in world-class Chiangi Airport...

What impresses me most about the leaders and citizens of Singapore is their drive to excel. Singapore is a country that is ready to compete globally, a country that will not rest on its laurels. Alas, this attitude is very much missing in our country. Filipino individuals here and there do manage to make their imprint on the world stage but by and large we as a people are plagued by that “pwede na yan” (“That will do”) mentality.
The article got some good response from readers. Here's one. From
I read your article regarding how impressive Singapore is. I've been here since November on an assignment basis with Deutsche Bank, and I'll be staying until the end of June. Sadly, I agree with your article.

Although I've been battling with homesickness ever since I got here, I can't seem to stop admiring how wonderful this place is. The transportation system is organized, the routes and directions are clear; heck, even their maps are accurate to a certain granular degree.

Some of it is really about basic attitude. Cross the streets on the proper pedestrian lane, wait for the signal to cross, don't block the intersection points, don't push your car when the street across is full -- some basic things that should be done.

I can't really say that the people here are conscious of cleanliness, because most of them are such "slobs," but the place is always in order because of the number of people they hire to clean up after people. Taxis are not picky with their passengers, they will bring you wherever you want, and some even will suggest routes that you might prefer.

It's so amazing that the unemployment rate is only 3.4 percent, and that a lot of elderly are still working, as fast-food crew or maintenance service personnel. We have more able-bodied personnel in the Philippines, and yet we deride the thought of working menial jobs, or maybe it's the pay. (My apologies if I'm drifting out of topic as I'm writing free-hand).

There are still a lot of things that I wish we could do back home, and I'm sure a whole day of ranting will not be enough. One of the more fascinating points that I've heard from a cab driver is that Singapore is so small that communicating development to the far reaches of the island is so easy, unlike in the Philippines.

But you're right: Attitude is the more crucial argument here. Singapore had to bridge cultural/racial gaps, which I think it has done successfully. Everything really boils down to having the right attitude.

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