Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some Lessons from Singapore

After a brief visit to Singapore, I could not but express my wonder for such a progressive and fascinating country. Certainly, understanding what they did right is an inspiring exercise. This country's example is quite poignant if we think that Singapore declared its independence from the Malaysian Federation in 1965. Well, they were more or less let go from Malaysia for being "too troublesome" a country.

In fact, when Singapore became an independent nation, others expressed their doubt of their viability as a nation, especially as the British announced that they would withdraw their military bases and approximately 20% of the gross national product. Their per capita income in 1965 was roughly $500 per person (Honduras was $216). Now of course, the story is so different being one of the top ten countries with the highest per capita income and quality of life.

What were the principles behind their success? Reading Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (Former Singapore's Prime Minister from 1965-2000) memoirs we can distill some lessons as we start today a new chapter in our life as a democratic and free republic:

1) Unwavering respect of  law and order
2) Confidence in ourselves and our capacity
3) Understanding that we are alone and to trust only in ourselves for our destiny. No more relying on gifts, grants or international charity.
4) Reward capacity, industriousness, talent and intelligence
5) Respect and promote diversity
6) Reward and promote entrepreneurship
7) Seek social justice and equality

As I continue reading Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs, I will continue distilling more lessons....


  1. These same principles were key to the success of the fledging United States of America. They will work anywhere a people determine to hold fast to them and demand nothing less.