Monday, January 4, 2010

Return to the Lion City

Just over six weeks after I was forced to stop working in Singapore, I returned to the Lion City for the first time last week, on a brief break from Jakarta.

Despite some uncertainty over whether or not I would be welcomed back into the Merlion's warm embrace, my re-entry into Singapore passed without incident. The immigration officer at Changi airport gave me a few dodgy looks but stamped me in, meaning, hopefully, that I am not on any blacklist.

Although I have been accused by some people of being hostile toward Singapore and therefore getting my comeuppance when I was denied a work visa, I actually grew very fond of the city-state during my year-long stay.

After the chaos of Jakarta, it was nice to be in a city with proper infrastructure and greenery. Despite the lack of respect for certain key human rights, it is impossible to deny that the Singapore government has done a great job of developing the island and its economy.

When it comes to appreciations of development in Singapore, the key dividing line opens up over whether authoritarian government was/is necessary for growth or whether such repression in fact hindered/hinders it.

It is not an easy question to answer.


  1. Quite easy to answer if the question is targeted to the peoples of the economic divide- the rich and the poor.

  2. Good point Aidil. And there's little doubting that the modern history of Singapore has thus far only been written by the winners - if only because the government does its best to stop anyone else from writing it.