Opinion split on S'pore model of 'benevolent dictatorship': Yahoo! poll

Yahoo! users are split over whether Singapore’s model of governance should be an example for other countries, especially the United States, to follow.

Last week, American columnist Matt Miller expressed his admiration for 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.

He was particularly in awe with Singapore’s stunning economic development and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s enforcement of anti-corruption practices.

While 43 per cent of respondents disagreed with Miller in a Yahoo! Singapore poll last week, 37 per cent of them agreed with him.

Cleaven Yan, who agreed with Miller’s points, commented on Yahoo! Singapore's Facebook page, “Other than the high cost, Singapore is indeed a model based on meritocracy regardless of race, religion and safe environment.”

“Frankly saying, what we can be proud about is our clean accessible water and security. We should be blessed to have these. We can really complain all day on all the expensive living expenses in Singapore and pro-PR policies… for those who cannot accept this fact but want to move on, I think they should,” Louis Loh added.

However, many users also took issue with Miller’s assertions.

Yahoo! user Ken Lung commented, “I hope Matt Miller has the courage to take up Singapore citizenship and enjoy his life ‘benefiting’ from his ‘benevolent dictatorship’ style of government. Otherwise, it's just cheap talk.”

Nafisha Bte Ahmad agreed and said, “Before you be a role model to the world, you should first make your people happy. To the outside world, you’re a hero, but actually a zero.”

The remaining 20 per cent of poll respondents said that they had mixed feelings about Miller’s article.

Veronica Kinko Lim said, “In some aspects, perhaps (Singapore can be a model to follow). Like what some had mentioned about cleanliness, religion and racial harmony. In others, like politics, not advisable. In my view, I think the Singapore government should learn from other countries in some areas, which I believe a lot of fellow Singaporeans do agree.”

Hilmi Jumahat, perhaps, summed it up more philosophically, “We are a model in many areas, but we’re still not perfect. Good and bad coexist.”