Home News Singapore’s wealth continues to grow under its leaders. So is dissatisfaction.

Singapore’s wealth continues to grow under its leaders. So is dissatisfaction.


Singapore was once considered a wealthy and parochial city-state. Today, it has become a dazzling international destination. It has hosted Taylor Swift concerts and Formula 1 night races. And on a per capita basis, it’s much wealthier than the United States.

The shift occurred under Lee Hsien Loong, the Southeast Asian country’s third prime minister. He largely followed the semi-authoritarian and free-market model pioneered by his father to make Singapore more prosperous, Lee Kuan Yewthe country’s first leader.

On Wednesday, Singapore welcomed a new leader for the first time in nearly 20 years. Mr Lee, 72, will hand over the reins to his deputy, Lawrence Wong, 51. Their People’s Action Party has ruled Singapore continuously for more than 60 years and has achieved stunning success. But some people worry that the much-hyped “Singapore model” is disappointing more and more people.

Singapore is one of the most expensive cities No. 1 in the world, but there is no minimum wage. House prices have soared and many Singaporeans say social mobility has plummeted. Others complain that free speech remains tightly controlled, although not to the same extent as before. Demand for overseas workers adds to the pressure; about 40 percent of Singapore’s nearly six million people are not citizens.

In contrast to his famously strict father, Mr Lee has shown flexibility and responsiveness to public demands, but the PAP’s support has taken a major hit during his tenure. For now, though, it retains a firm grip on power.

Mr. Huang has tried to project an image of an everyman: He grew up in public housing, didn’t go to the same elite school as his predecessor, and enjoys playing guitar. Lee Myung-bak will continue to serve as “Minister of State,” just as his father did after leaving office in 1990. Lee Myung-bak has said that his children are not interested in politics.

Earlier this month, Mr Lee delivered his last major address to the nation at Singapore’s Parliament House, the landmark building of the new Singapore. marina bay sands Casino resort.

“When I was sworn in as Prime Minister, I pledged to build a more inclusive Singapore: not every man for himself, but every man working together to make life better for us all,” he said.

A few hours later, a scene unimaginable a few decades ago occurred nearby. Hundreds of people gathered for the rally at Speakers’ Corner, a place in the city-state of Singapore where Singaporeans do not need a permit to protest. Among them were deliverymen, bus drivers and medical staff, many wearing fluorescent yellow safety vests to draw attention to safety. French anti-government movement.

Addressing the crowd, activist Kokila Annamalai said the PAP-led government had created a system that “has always protected the rich, not the working class”. She added that Singapore is “a playground for the rich while the poor are crammed into tiny rental apartments.”

The People’s Action Party is one of the most dominant political parties in the world. The party’s ministers receive high salaries, which the party says prevents corruption. It transformed Singapore from a backwater swamp into a first-world country and a key cog in global maritime trade.GDP is Approximately $83,000 per capita compared to Approximately $76,000 In the U.S.This city-state was a major financial center and cleverly Controlling the coronavirus pandemic and growing tensions between China and the United States.

But dissatisfaction has been growing. In the 2020 election, the People’s Action Party’s popular vote hit a new low of 61%, and the opposition party won a record 10 seats out of 93 seats in Parliament.

Choo Yi Hung, 30, has never voted for Mr Lee’s party. Two years after graduating from college with a degree in English language and linguistics, he was delivering meals and tutoring students, earning about $2,400 a month. He still lives with his parents; he wants his own apartment, but it’s out of reach. He cannot purchase a public housing unit from the government until he is married or reaches the age of 35. Not that he could afford it.

Mr. Zhu contrasted his plight with that of his grandmother, an uneducated widow raising five children in the 1960s. Her descendants now live what he calls a “comfortably middle-class” lifestyle, with some owning apartments and cars.

“I think a lot of people would say: ‘Yes, you grew up in a more developed, wealthier country,'” Mr. Zhu said. “But I think the opportunities for social mobility are much less.”

Mr Lee has said the two-party political system “doesn’t work” in Singapore. But in 2020, he formally established himself as leader of the opposition in parliament and made concessions that gave the opposition bloc control of 12 seats, more than the 10 it won.

“He knows that if he wants to maintain the dominance of the People’s Action Party – which I think he has largely done – he has to control the pace of change,” said Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at Singapore Management University.

Socially, perhaps the most radical changes Mr. Lee made were Repeal colonial-era laws Consensual sex between men is prohibited.

“At least there’s a sense of ‘we can do this now,’ and finally we’re not criminals anymore,” said Leow Yangfa, executive director of LGBTQ rights group Oogachaga.

But Mr. Lee also further cemented the definition of marriage as a heterosexual concept. Public discussion of race and religion remains tightly controlled, and human rights groups say the government remains tough on its critics. In 2021, the Singapore High Court ordered a blogger to pay Mr Lee The compensation for defamation is about US$100,000.. (The New York Times Company apologizes and pays fine In 2010 and mid-1990s Resolved defamation claims brought by Singaporean officials in connection with an opinion piece. )

Critics say the government has weaponized a law purportedly aimed at combating fake news.

“You never know when or what you’re going to say may run afoul of the authorities,” says playwright and podcaster Joel Tan.

The Singapore government said in a statement that it had stepped up engagement with the public. It also spells out its philosophy of free speech.

“Freedom of speech is an important part of Singapore’s constitution, but it does not confer unconditional rights on Singaporeans,” the statement said. “When it affects the safety and security of Singaporeans, and the peace and harmony that Singapore enjoys, the government will will intervene.”

To some, Mr Huang’s appointment was encouraging.

“We no longer have Lee Kuan Yew, but we also have a non-traditional type of leader,” said Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, editor-in-chief of Jom, an independent online magazine about Singapore. “I do like that.”

In recent years, Mr. Li has faced Open feud with his siblings and A series of scandals within the People’s Action Party. This tarnishes the squeaky clean image the party has projected. But he left office a popular leader.

Zoe Tan recalled seeing Mr Lee mingling with residents in Teck Ghee, a district in northern Singapore. “He would walk around the market and be very humble,” Ms Tan said. “He would take pictures with us.”

Ms Tan said she had twice emailed the Prime Minister to ask for a grace period on housing payments. Both times, his office quickly made arrangements to help her.

“I feel very sad that Lee Hsien Loong is retiring, I thought he would go on forever,” said Ms Tan, who now works at the Singapore Community Development Council.

In a speech at Marina Bay Sands, Mr Lee said political changes could threaten Singapore’s prosperity.

“Singapore’s system doesn’t have to fail completely to get into trouble,” he said. “If our politics become like other countries, we will end up worse than other countries.”

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