In an interesting read, Jeff Ooi challenges the ‘myth’ of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kwan-yew, suggesting that South Korea has done far more with far less, and has overcome more difficulties.
- Both Singapore and South Korea were under colonial dominance before WWII, the former under British rule, the latter Japan’s.
- Both had dictorial regimes in the guise of democratic electoral processes, only that South Korea was courageous to take down the repressive regime backboned with the armed forces’ might.
- Both have close-to monoethnic demography, which off-loaded the countries the extra-luggage in formulating social-economic policies.
- In terms of GDP performance, South Korea has a composition by sector that makes it 40.4% industrial and 56.3% services-based. It’s an almost similar skew for Singapore: Industry: 32.6%; Services: 67.4%.
- South Korea has relatively a vast population, while Singapore is a tiny red dot. Proportionate ratio is at work when it comes to provisioning of all kinds.
- After WWII, South Korea’s economy and demographics were ravaged by the Korean War in the 50’s. Singapore continued as a British protectorate under the Straits Settlements after WWII, faced home-grown communist insurgency in the 50’s and mid 60’s, and well-shieled by Malaysia during Konfrontasi.
- On independence, Singapore inherited and perfected the jewels of the crown left behind by the British, the harbour infrastructure, the entrepot trades, the regional financial hub - milking its northern hinterland that the colonialist decreed by design. South Korea built itself from scratch after picking up from the ashed of the invaders’ loots.
Technorati Tags: asia, singapore, east asia, korea, northeast asia, southeast asia
December 21st, 2005 at 2:09 am
Nice post… One key point of comparison not mentioned (at least not explicitly enough) is the agricultural sector. SK had a substantial ag. sector and had to make the transition from ag to industrial development (which, as we have seen, Korean “peasants” are none too pleased about). Singapore, as noted, has always been more entrepot trade-oriented. There is little for the world to learn from S’pore in terms of ag development. I have always thought S’pore is more a matter of urban development, as opposed to complex national development. Perhaps Cleveland could learn something from the Lion City…
December 21st, 2005 at 6:43 am
but the singapore govt is much more efficient and cleaner.
i also wouldn’t say LKY is a ‘dictator’ like Park. Park is probbaly closer to Chiang of Taiwan for comparison purpose.