SINGAPORE – If a body politic is looking at how to move a struggling city from poverty to riches in a short time, Singapore is the model. When Singapore was founded after independence from Britain in 1965, it was not only poor, but it was torn by ethnic divisions from its un-formed national identity, including a departing British colonial mercantile and trading class, a Chinese majority, Indians and Indonesians.
Singapore had nothing of note in 1965, when it split off from the newly formed (and also struggling more) Malaysia. Neighboring Indonesia was against the formation of the country, and Singapore’s survival was tenuous. It had no national resources, no extensive education system, no industry, no social services, no defense, no land, no oil, no nothing. Just a year earlier, the tiny city state had survived Muslim race riots. What a way to begin a nation.
What Singapore did have was a port, about two hungry million people, and a leader named Lee, Lee Kuan Yew, who believed in the place. It also had a a statue of a British colonial, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, situated in a prominent place for all to see. [Read more…]