01 January 2010

From Singapore

Singapore - a breath of fresh air. Is it?
Compared to all southeastasian cities, it's definitely cleaner. The public transport system works. There's enough space on the sidewalks to actually walk. Car drivers stop to let pedestrians pass. Few people spit, almost nobody litters. The small boat that took us to a small island the other day can only take 12 passengers, otherwise people are advised to complain. The buses are clean and in good working condition. People are polite. The city is full of huge shopping centres with expensive shops. Everybody goes shopping after work or on public holidays. And to think that Singapore was "thrown out of" Malaysia in the 50ies, and managed all this by itself...

The downside?
No freedom of speech. Press heavily influenced by the government. The same prime minister ruled for decades, the current prime minister is his son. Homosexuality is illegal. No social security. No real opposition (although they do turn up in elections but never win). High rate of self-censorship in the press and the arts. Spitting is forbidden and punished with a high fine, as is eating or drinking on the subway (costs 250 Euros), littering and many other things.

The question:
Is all this necessary to build a working state which is clean and where people are nice to each other? Is it necessary to have such strict laws and punishments about what I would call minor issues? If there weren't any laws like these, would people spit and litter and smoke everywhere? Maybe yes... (look at China). Or maybe not?

I don't know.

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