Sunday, May 13, 2007

Singapore's Miracle Acheivements questioned by Australian Rodney King.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have received a review of a book by Rodney King of Australia "The Singapore Miracle, Myth and Reality" which questions the self proclaimed achievements of the Singapore rulers of Singapore. Like I had suspected, these achievements may be nothing more than "window dressing" while the actual dirty money laundering goes on. Remember, even corner shop Chinese laundries also have window dressing.

Gopalan Nair
May 13, 2007.

MELBOURNE, April 8 (Bernama) -- A book just released, and available in Malaysia, has questioned the achievements of the Singapore Miracle.

'"The Singapore Miracle, Myth and Reality", by Australian writer Rodney King, casts doubt on the city-state's claims of cutting-edge efficiency, global competitiveness, economic freedom and transparency. It also queries whether most Singaporeans are as affluent as their government contends.

"Books about Singapore have usually praised its achievements or criticised its authoritarian rule," King told Bernama.

"But few ever probe its widely publicised claims that it is a brilliant success that other countries should follow," he said.

His book argues that Singapore's capital and workforce productivity is often mediocre and well below that of the West and Asian economies such as Hong Kong. The country also displays endemic inefficiencies at both macro and micro economic levels.

The performance of the construction, financial and service sectors is second-rate, while Singapore Airlines does not deserve the top rankings it receives.

Also, Singapore is not a developed country, despite recent claims by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew that it was.
"In fact, Singapore is a dependent and underdeveloped economy," notes King, who worked for 15 years in Singapore from the 80s, including a long stint with The Straits Times there.

The dominant position of the MNCs in the economy, low entrepreneurial and innovative capacities and an under-educated workforce were the main reasons, he said.

Moreover, the city-state's supposed affluence was largely a myth at middle and lower income levels.

About 30 percent of the population still lived in poverty by Western living standards. Singapore's Housing Development Board, Central Provident Fund and its state-run health schemes also have severe shortcomings.

"Singapore government claims that 90 percent of Singaporeans own their own homes are misleading," King says. Their HDB units were on 99-year conditional leases.

Also, the health schemes provide only patchy coverage for most Singaporeans while only about one quarter of retirees can survive on their CPF savings. Despite this foreign housing, health and pension experts regularly praise these schemes as models to be emulated.

"Singapore has brilliantly sold itself to the world as an amazing success story to attract foreign investment and talent," King said. "It's managed to get most Western think-tanks and ratings agencies to give it top scores for such things as competitiveness, transparency, economic freedom etc."

However, the book showed that the accolades of such bodies were undeserved, he said."

"These bodies reflect the interests of foreign capital and their methodologies are shoddy and incompetent
at times." And the statistics they are fed by the Singaporean authorities are often dubious and designed to put Singapore in the best light.

To sell itself to the world Singapore has also denigrated and patronised its lesser-developed neighbours. "As such it's really time that Singapore and its much-touted achievements were rigorously scrutinised," King said.

"The Singapore Miracle" is being distributed by MPH Distributors and selling in Malaysian bookshops for RM135. – BERNAMA

+R King's email:

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