Shanmugam responds to The Economist: What price your sneer?


Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, in a Facebook post, has responded to the latest piece by UK-based publication Economist on Singapore’s leadership changeover. His post in full:

The Economist can’t resist sneering at us. It’s an instinct lodged deep in the unconscious of the British commentariat class. They can’t stand that a people they were accustomed to lecturing are now doing better than they are, across the board.

Take governance: DPM Lawrence will be our 4th PM in 59 years. Meanwhile, in the UK, Mr Rishi Sunak is their 4th PM in 4.9 years.

Mr Boris Johnson, when he was PM, accepted a holiday worth £15,000, and £50,000 for renovations of his residence, from donors. In Singapore, anyone who did what Mr Johnson did would have been charged in court.

Or the economy: We started as a British colony, with a per capita GDP of USD 500. Now, it is more than USD 80,000.

According to a recent Forbes report, we have the fifth highest GDP per capita in the world by PPP (purchasing power parity) terms. Well ahead of the UK.

Or our media: the Economist refers to our “docile press”. It obviously prefers a situation like in the UK, where one person can control major media outlets, and have politicians pay court to him, and where media owners can influence who gets elected, and who becomes PM. A similar situation in Australia was described, by a former Australian PM, as a cancer on democracy.

Or in the provision of social services: We provide our people, of all classes and races, with far better healthcare, housing and education.

Or in public safety: the law and order situation in London is well documented. Last year, across England and Wales, investigations into more than 330,000 vehicle crimes (including thefts and break-ins), or 85% of all cases reported, were closed without any suspect caught. In more than a hundred neighbourhoods, 0% of reported car thefts were solved. A situation like that would be unthinkable and unacceptable in Singapore, which has been ranked by Gallup as the safest country in the world since 2015. 95% of adults in Singapore feel safe walking alone at night.

Or in social cohesion: In the UK, a Tory party donor recently said, of a black MP, that looking at her makes him “want to hate all black women”. His party said all should just move on from the comments. That’s it.

In Singapore a person who makes such a comment is likely to be charged in court.

What price your sneer?