1) IT'S A CLEAN CITY
this is tightly enforced with lots of rules and fines ("Singapore is a
FINE city"). for instance, if you litter: $1,000. Vendors can't sell chewing
gum, although if you can find it, you can chew it. If you forget to flush
the toilet after you go: $500 fine.
2) RULES LIMIT UNWANTED BEHAVIOR
But then there are other "rules" which serve other purposes. For instance,
lots of people were driving over the border to Malaysia to buy their gasoline,
so there's a rule that says a singapore car can't cross the border with
less than 3/4 tank of gas. and if you're caught, you're turned around
to go fill up. also, because indonesia is not friendly these days with
singapore, if you're caught smoking an indonesian cigarette, your house
will be searched, the cigarettes will be confiscated, and you will be
hauled to court.
3) FORCED RACIAL DIFFERENCES
singapore has 4 official languages: english (which everyone is required
to learn), mandarin (required for all chinese to learn), malay (required
for all malays to learn), and tamil (required for all indians to learn).
you don't get a choice; your second language in school is based on your
race. chinese make up 70% of the population, malays 14%, indians 10%,
others the rest.
4) SURVIVAL OF THE RULING PARTY
it seems that the ruling party really wants to stay in power; there are
no checks and balances in their government. the ruling party has always
been the PAP (People's Association Party - other people call it the Pay
And Pay party), made up of the chinese. There are 4 opposition groups,
and each group MUST sponsor someone to run in each parlimentary district.
It is a rule that EVERY citizen (over 21) must vote, and ballots are completed
with names, addresses, and identification numbers. You only vote for the
party; not for people. And if you vote for PAP, you'll get great benefits,
like better apartments, more protection, etc. if you speak out against
PAP, you'll be sued for slander, and end up bankrupt. pretty easy to see
where the vote goes; 99% of the vote goes to PAP.
5) LACK OF RESISTANCE
so, you ask, why can't people group together in a single district, and
all vote for a different party, and get their own member of parliament?
great idea, but also thought of by PAP. Each district has racial quotas.
You can't move large numbers of people together. also, the mayors of each
district are chosen (not elected) by the PAP. makes it kind of hard to
organize any resistance.
6) WHY AREN'T WE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?
Should we feel bad for these underdog minorties? It seems that we Americans
like to try and force everyone to elect their leaders democratically.
so why don't we pick a fight with singapore? maybe it's because they're
economically successful. or because they're not killing or imprisoning
the minorities. like our stand with china; we squack about human rights,
then keep on granting them most favored nation trade status.
i have two pictures attached: one is a
guy cleaning the parking lot, and the other is
Raffles Hotel. Raffles is the guy who landing on the peninsula in
1827, and purchased the land for Britain. This is the most famous hotel
- it's done up in 1915 style.
That's it for Singapore. We're off to New Delhi, India. On the way, we
have a 5 hour layover in Bangkok, so maybe I'll get out and get some pictures
there and post out an email.