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.