Singapore as a model
Imran Khan has often used Singapore as an example of good government and many surveys have shown that this is the case. Singapore is one of the safest, cleanest and most corruption-free city states in the world.
The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since independence, started as a socialist party, but its present ideology can best be described as pragmatic.
In other words, one should adapt whatever works and is useful and not adhere to any dogma. As I have spent most of my working life in Singapore and have seen it grow ‘from Third World to First World’, I will point out a few key issues which enabled it to do so.
It is regarded as a government responsibility to provide safety, security, clean environment, affordable housing, health and education to all its citizens, irrespective of their race or religion.
Education has played a key role in its development. Primary education is free and compulsory. Vocational education is also given great importance and there are five polytechnics which provide a variety of courses, enabling people to enter the job market.
All public utilities such as water, drainage, electricity and postal service are government-owned and run efficiently like in any other country in the world.
The government also holds a majority share in some other enterprises such as SIA, which is regarded as one the most profitable airlines.
There is no worldwide income tax but there is property tax, GST and very high road tax. Cars are extremely expensive to prevent clogging of roads and pollution. However, public transport, which includes metro, is very efficient and affordable.
The government is very harsh on criminals. It is a capital offence to murder, kidnap, possess unlicensed weapon, indulge in armed robbery and trade in drugs. Fines are imposed for minor offences, which include littering, spitting, eating or drinking in public transport, smoking in ‘no smoking’ areas, graffiti and vandalism.
Religion as a subject is not taught in government schools but instead ethics is taught. The government feels that it is the family responsibility to teach whatever religion they want to and religious schools are also available.
Sex education to a certain age group is taught in schools with the result that unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are rare.
Dual nationality is not allowed and all 18-year-old males are required to do national service, thus providing a well-trained army in case of an emergency.
Subsidised housing is provided for low-income groups. These houses are modern and are equipped with recreational facilities.
It is not possible for a large country like Pakistan to fully emulate Singapore, but there is still much to learn.
Dr Viqar Zaman