The Second Version

05/12/10

Hotpants Country

I have visited Singapore and I decided that Hotpants Country is a fitting nickname: the number of girls wearing tight and short shorts is huge. It can be a distraction, I tell you.

How can I describe that state, besides the abundance of exposed skin? 60% Jakarta, 30% London and 10% unique; Singapore is certainly a city where West meets East, but it is without doubt Asia.

Anyway, on a more serious side I find Singapore an interesting experiment. The city-state is what can be called and enlightened oligarchy, where concepts like freedom of expression and association are not held in the highest regard. And the ruling class is not really shy about it, they will express their opinion rather candidly.

Truth to be told, I expected Singapore to be a more uniform and regimented place; instead - at least in Geylang where I was based - there was a comforting degree of disorder on the streets and in the shops. I did not feel like living in a dictatorship. And it is probably the country I have visited with the least visible police presence.

Singapore is prosperous, safe and orderly - even more so when compared to its neighbors in Southeast Asia. I cannot bring myself to regard Singaporeans as stupid or inferior for choosing to trade some liberties for more safety and wealth.

This is, I think, in line with the evolution of my opinions about democracy. I'd take an enlightened oligarchy rather than a degenerate democracy like most of the Western ones these days.

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