The Philippines As Singapore?

Posted at 07/09/2012 11:00 AM

Filipinos, with the exception of our politicians and crooks, aspire to be like Singapore.

Many say it is not possible.

It has nothing to do with our intelligence or capacity for work. Singapore is manned by Filipino nurses, retail staff, maids and croupiers so we can do it. It is just the other things.

Like discipline.

Sociologists attribute Singaporean discipline -they line up everywhere- to the Confucian ethic while forgetting that the country is a mix of Malay Muslims, Hindu Indians and Chinese (and now Catholic Filipinos). Others say it is inherited from British rule and the playing fields of Eton.

Singaporean discipline has much to do, I believe, with the army, specifically the requirement that all young males undergo military service. Forced conscription is the great equalizer. The sons of the wealthy and the politicians are forced into the same conditions as the poor. Switzerland, S. Korea, Israel, Austria, Norway, and Taiwan -disciplined societies all-have a draft so there must be something to this. If the Philippines wants to emulate these countries, it should consider compulsory military service or some form of community work for our young.

The other great equalizers are education and income distribution. In Singapore any qualified student is assured of higher education regardless of income. Money is forcibly taken from a parents’ contribution to the Central Provident Fund (the equivalent of our GSIS/SSS) to support their child’s university education. However, once the child is working and paying into the Fund, the latter deducts from this to repay the parents.

Singapore believes building a strong middle class is the key to social harmony and stability. This means controlling the disparity in incomes through the social welfare net.