Poll: Is Singapore a model for other countries?

An opinion piece from a Washington Post columnist on Wednesday praised Singapore‘s public policy achievements, citing the country as a shining example the United States could learn from.

The writer, Matt Miller, is a fan of Singapore’s “benevolent dictatorship”, and listed several areas which impressed him in spite of the island nation’s anti-gay laws and denial of press and assembly freedom.

Citing Singapore as a “policy wonk’s paradise”, the weekly columnist on economic and other domestic policy issues highlighted Singapore’s stunning economic development and also former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s enforcement of anti-corruption practices.

Singapore’s transport system also impressed Miller. Apart from running “the world’s best airline” (Singapore Airlines), the city state, he said, also boasts gorgeous subways, electronic road pricing that is “every wonk’s dream”, and ample parking spaces in the city.

On the issue of housing, Miller states that in the U.S., “public housing means ghetto”. However, praising Singapore’s national strategy of helping locals own their own homes, he cited that 80 per cent of people live in public housing and almost everyone owns their homes.

Miller also highlighted Singapore’s fiscal strength, praising the Central Provident Fund model, stating that it helps build up financial assets that can be used to assist locals in buying homes, covering medical expenses and preparing for retirement.

While admitting that “Singapore is hardly perfect”, with its long-ruling People’s Action Party getting too complacent and out of touch, Miller provided his readers with the biggest take away from his column:

“While Americans fight endlessly about “big government” vs. “small government” yet do nothing to meet our biggest challenges, Singapore has ignored ideological claptrap and focused relentlessly on what works… Singapore thus stands as the leading modern example of how government as pragmatic problem-solver can dramatically improve people’s lives.”

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