Singapore, state-island owner of one the biggest (and most unknown) companies in the world.
Perfect but boring? From Singapore. However, they would answer with no shame and with every right: “yes, so what? It doesn’t matter to us if we are boring because we are the fifth country with the highest per capita income”. That is how practical they are, and look how well it went for them since, in 1959, they were one of the remaining colonies to get rid of the British Empire. Despite that, the Victorian trace can still be noticed in every corner of their state-city. Not only because they drive on the left side of the road, but also because of the gentlemen education that has remained there. Not in their genes, which have all the colours except for white, but in the most important of their leitmotivs: Zero Political corruption. We talk about what it is called National Campaigns, marketing waves that the government utilizes to flood the little island constantly trying to educate the population. There have been many and very popular, such as: Speak Good English, to avoid the development of Singlish -like Spanglish but the Asian way-; or Romancing Singapore to promote the birth rate. Although most of them didn’t work, with the two first, the campaigns Be Practical and Be Honest, they turned a 4 million people country about to starve in a little World Power country.
You might think it is impossible that just saying “be practical”, a country can improve, but when Singapore does something, they follow through it to the end. If you don’t believe it, take a look at their educational system: Streaming Education. In other words, those who can, count; those who can’t, don’t. It might not sound very supportive, but you can’t deny that it’s practical and, given what we have seen, also productive. Each child is oriented to the area that he is skillful, and if they don’t excel at anything, they are left behind. This is capitalism applied in schools. It is even worse, because they support the good ones, but only on the areas that are a priority for them. The rest…, “sorry, but I cannot waste my time on that right now, we have more important problems to solve”. Decades ago, they decided that Mathematics Science and Information Technologies would be the key areas for their development and to surpass others. Since then, they have overfed the education in those areas over any other. They did it spending 20% of their budget in education- in U.S.A. is hardly 4%-. Of course, don’t expect their athletes to win any Olympic medal, nor their Embassy to organize an exhibition for a local artist in London or Paris. Sports or Arts can feed a privileged few, but not a whole country, that’s why they never supported or promoted them. All the money that is thrown away in our countries so that the fencing team, or any other sport can practice for four more years, they invest it in really necessary things.
Nothing is free. The toll that they have to pay for these policies is zero creativity. In the whole country there is no one building that is worth a picture, nor interesting monument. That is why I wouldn’t say Singapore is beautiful. And for the same reason its citizens get bored and end up seeing it as a hotel, instead of a nation. The place where they live, and that’s it. Most of them have preserved their own origins and keep it with devotion in their own neighbourhoods: Little India, Arab Street, Holland Road or China Town. Imagine this mixture in a European country. It would not last two days without arguing or fighting. Not there. As usual, they apply their practical ways. At home everybody feels and speak whatever they want, but in the school everybody learns in English. They knew that the best thing for their economic development was for everybody to speak in English, and they imposed it to the letter. It was that easy. Now, for the same reason, they have introduced Mandarin in all schools.
Imagine how the future generations will come out. First class computer technicians, who can speak perfect English and understand Mandarin as native speakers. We tremble with fear thinking about how our poor child will feel competing with these children, speaking broken English and aspirating the “h”, but very proud because our national beach-soccer team won the World Championship. Those who can, count; like them, speaking three different languages. Those who can’t, like us, type with two fingers using a laptop whose parts have been, probably, manufactured in Singapore.