Monday, 4 July 2011

Singapore’s round trip: third world to first world and back to third?

Is it just me or has the incidence of crime increased in Singapore? Everyone, including myself, writes about litter on the streets, bicycles on pavements but more serious crimes get short shrift. (Let's not kid ourselves, littering and riding bicycles on pavements are also crimes. At one time, it seems the government even enforced fines against such 'minor' crimes.)
Singapore in 2004 hardly had any murders or similar violent crime, or at least they were not reported. That was the Singapore I expected upon my return in 2009.
Instead, I returned to a Singapore with casinos, sleaze and, most recently, one dead body a week floating in the Singapore River. If there is no corpse in the river then step two is checking communal water tanks. Arguably, one reason for the apparent increase in crime is due to a bolder media which reports each occurrence.
Oh and in case I forget, flabby middle aged men parading around in wet underwear at Singapore Zoo is also acceptable in Singapore 2011. Surely, when a virtually naked man appears in a public space someone must have the courage to confront him. Writing letters to the Forum or posting videos on Stomp helps but instant action is often better.
Time for a new approach to community policing in Singapore?
I worry that Singapore's social fabric is deteriorating in other ways. Consider the amount of individuals apprehended while attempting to bribe government officials. A man caught up in a raid on seedy hotels offers a policeman cash to have his name removed from a list of names; a woman confronted for not paying her son's train fare wants to leave a 'deposit' with an SMRT officer when threatened with police action. Numerous examples abound.
Attempted bribery is not bribery – at least not yet. Further, one murder a week does not make Singapore the murder capital of the world. That accolade still rests with the likes of Washington, D.C. or New Orleans.  
It is impossible to turn the clock back. Nor does one wish to return to the past. However, Singaporeans must be conscious of society's direction. A little bit of vocal aggression against petty violators, e.g. litter bugs, people eating on trains, not giving up seats for the elderly, etc. might be just the medicine to reverse the decline.
Societies change over time. The People's Republic of China was not always a capitalist society; Germany was divided into two nations and Singapore was a Third World country. For change not to be damaging or regressive, it must be controlled.


Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of small and medium sized businesses. He can be reached at .


  1. Singapore is very definately on the decline . It may have been 1st world for finance and GDP , but has always been 3 world for everything else.
    Now there is the problem of excessive immigration , with no integration , and a big lack of real social education . Add to this the problems in public transport , housing , costs , all created by a disconnected government , and all is set for the decline , especially seeing the number of true Singaporeans leaving the country .

    1. Hi ... Thank you for taking the time to write a comment.

      Singapore's 'decline' must be seen in the larger context of a world undergoing serious dislocation and change. When placed in the bigger, global picture, there are many reasons for us to be more optimistic about Singapore's future.

      Kind regards,