If your personal politics mean that you think Trump is a left-wing softy then you’ll absolutely love Singapore. Everything you have ever preached actually works there. If you read The Guardian*, don’t go there. You’ll only get upset.
Singaporean society is very, very civilised. It dare not be. If they litter the streets, cross the road in the wrong place, urinate in public, spit their chewing gum or even fart in a lift then they’ll be faced with a fine that has many noughts at the end of it. It’s a draconian deterrent, but it appears to be more effective than being made to do a couple of days weeding at the local old folks’ home. At the top end of the criminal scale are drug-dealing and murder, you can get hanged for those in Singapore. Hence they tend not to be a buoyant sector of the economy, like they are in the USA.
Singapore has a dictatorship that can be described as ‘benign’. I presume this means that as long as the population behaves itself, and most of it does, then the family that has been running the country since independence won’t beat them over the head with batons. I’m also guessing that, should the population start muttering rebellious phrases like ‘fair elections’ and ‘press freedom’, then the dictatorship might turn a tad more malignant.
However, it is a place that does make me question some of my deeply held beliefs about the merits of our own UK democracy. This is the democracy where we elect a bunch of ‘never had a proper job’ politicians to spend five years in the Westminster bubble. This is a place where they do very little, apart from rack up expenses and whip up a dense cloud of spin in order to get you to give them another five years on the gravy train at the public’s expense.
On the other hand, Singapore’s pretend democracy does demonstrate how to run an efficient, clean and cheap transport system, how to maintain a crime-free, harmonious, friendly and well-educated society and how to very pleasantly increase your waist-size by at least two-inches at very little cost.
Three days is about all you need to get a flavour of the place as it is only about the size of the Isle of Wight. The attractions are mostly to be found by whizzing around on their wonderful metro system which makes London’s shabby little underground look like the runaway mining-truck sequence at the end of India Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Therefore if you go to Singapore make sure you walk their clean and safe streets, eat their wonderful food, be nice to them and make sure you behave yourself…unless you want to find yourself in Changi Prison having your testicles unpleasantly stimulated by 10,000 volts.
However, if you are really missing Western ‘civilisation’ during your stay then go to the Disney-esque Clarke Quay. I presume this has been specifically built to make all the ex-pat bankers feel at home in its faux pubs, bars and clubs. Ten minutes of watching the pissed-up inhabitants of Little-England, Little-Australia and Little-White South Africa frolicking in their own vomit might confirm the rather sobering view that Western democracy may be a tad overrated.
*The Guardian is a UK left-wing newspaper. Although it is so expensive now (£3.30 on a Saturday!) that only the landed gentry can afford to read it.