We expected to use the house bikes a lot while we were here, but it was just too darn muggy (tho Jennifer did work in a long ride by herself on our first day). We started out peddling on this, our last day, but only made it as far as the subway stop-with its irresistible air conditioning. We revisited parts of Little India, which included visiting 2 well known temples there. But we were feeling tired, and perhaps already starting to mentally pack our bags and prepare for our flight to Bali the next morning.

We arranged to meet Yi Jing later at a Starbucks in the same mall where she’d taken us a few days before. It was nice to see her again, and without needing her to fix anything for us. I’m afraid we might have peppered her with too many questions about her country and culture -though she seemed fine with it. She helped us understand how seriously Singapore responds to deviant behavior. Criminal cases are decided by lone judges, not juries. Guns are a big no-no. Just using one, or being with someone who does -whether or not any shots were fired- usually mandates a death sentence. Same for violent assaults, and possession of not so large amounts of narcotics. In fact, the mere owners of property where guns or narcotics are found can be put to death. In short, the collective good trumps the individual. Singapore draws a definite line between society and those who act against it. The rules are clear, and so is the punishment. Societal shame plays a vital role, and the messages starts early. We don’t remember seeing commercial billboards anywhere, but we frequently saw posters that cited examples of selfish and unacceptable behavior, reminding everybody to act responsibly: don’t litter, steal, or cut in line. Be a good member of society. In America, you mostly just hear criticism of Singapore because of its laws against chewing gum or spitting, but what’s not mentioned are the quality of life benefits that most everyone enjoys just by feeling safe and cared for.

Singapore does not allow its citizens to protest against their government. It doesn’t happen. But there aren’t many pressing issues that the people would take to the streets about anyway. Singaporeans are a prosperous people. Their streets are clean and safe. Their infrastructure is solid. Their economy is robust. Their people look healthy. Their city nation is diverse and interesting. And their government is considered to be among the most corrupt-free in the world. I find it amazing and fascinating that a government that does not allow its citizens to protest against it, would still act so responsibly for its people, and manage things so well. And this strikes me as a much better arrangement than the other way around.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Matt & Rita
    May 08, 2013 @ 07:44:36

    Travel’s so broadening, isn’t it? It is very interesting to consider the pros and cons of other forms of government and social organization.


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