Ever wonder how S’pore ended up with the most powerful passport in the world? 

Imagine having to apply for a visa every single time you travel. An act that involves going through the long, arduous process of filling up forms, submitting bank statements and detailed itineraries to go on a holiday. Thankfully, due to the strength of the Singapore passport, we rarely tire ourselves with such bureaucracy.  

So how is it that a tiny island half the size of Bangkok punches above its weight and ends up with the most powerful passport in the world? While there is no single answer, it boils down to the pragmatic vision and leadership in our early years. Post-independence, then-Minister for Foreign Affairs S. Rajaratnam was adamant that Singapore should stick to a policy of non-alignment and build bridges with everyone. While easier said than done, Singapore was able to solidify its international standing without getting itself entangled in geopolitical conflicts through careful diplomacy.  

Fifty-odd years later, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan echoed similar views. “We aim to be a friend to all but an enemy of none,” said the Minister as he charts out the core principles of our foreign policy. And so far, being a friend comes with certain privileges, one of which has to be visa-free travel.  

Of course, several other factors have also helped Singapore to win friends around the globe. Being a young country without historical baggage gave us the leverage to chart our path without getting bogged down by hostility, feuds and differences that characterise the foreign relations of many other nations. Moreover, our economic and political stability makes it highly improbable that Singaporeans would overstay their welcome and become illegal immigrants elsewhere. 

Proud to be Singaporean 

There is no doubt that the Singapore passport is a book of opportunities, something to be treasured by patriots and rebels alike. Because ironically, hopping on a plane and living in self-imposed exile would not have been this easy without the power of a Singapore passport. But more importantly, our passport is also a source of pride that encapsulates the Singapore story. 

As Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong shared in a post, “The passport we carry is a reminder that amidst our current challenges, we can continue to stand tall and proud as citizens of this little red dot, with the confidence that we have a lot going for us today, and we will keep on building a better tomorrow!” 

Photo Source: STB/ Vivian Balakrishnan/Lawrence Wong via Facebook