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28 February 2003
I am a young Singaporean studying in Australia. The experience of studying overseas has definitely opened my eyes and brought new perspectives into my life.
Even though I’m not that politically inclined (I’m a business student), I certainly appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly while living in a world of democracy.
Like many people have pointed out, calling oneself democratic does not necessarily mean one is a ‘soundly governed’ country. My Taiwanese friends tell me Singapore is clean, safe, modern and so on. Definitely, the ugly side of Singapore is well concealed.
Like Singapore, the Aussie government also faces many problems especially over the Iraq issue. However it is the way that they show how decisions are made that’s commendable.
People here are open to protests, they allow free speech. No one party has absolute power over others. Parties have debates, criticisms and many issues are openly aired to the public through live radio and other media. Nothing apparently is hidden far away from anybody.
And I have also seen many problems solved due to listening to people when peaceful protests were held. In short, all politicians can be slammed when bad policies were made, while being praised when sound policies were implemented (of course, it takes alot to get praised, especially politicians).
Both Mr John Howard and Opposition leader Mr Simon Crean get bashed by the public on national TV very often when people were not very convinced about their action and words! I can see the ‘power to the people’ theory over here, which is so fundamental in the notion of democracy.
As I have said earlier, it is apparent to me that Aussie politicians do not fully take decisions in their own ways and try to fabricate details as if decisions were the people’s wishes. I don’t have to repeat what others have said about Singapore being a nanny state for the past 40 odd years. It doesnt take a political scientist to see this. People can sense it themselves.
My only wish for my beloved countrymen is that those who consider our country still a ‘pretty nice country’ to live in (assuming that you are an obedient citizen), people would grow to be more receptive to changes and be more willing to voice out their concerns.
Like what I always study in business, what I think is most important is that people must be at least concerned about the existing situation, for anything else to happen. That’s the reason why I’m typing this letter now, just right after my exams!
I’m concerned about the future of Singapore even though I am a few thousand miles away from all of you. It is also my wish to stay in contact with you guys, to discuss our interests.
All the best in what all of you wish to achieve.