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LEADER

Singapore shows Hong Kong the way forward with big projects

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 3:48am

The airport's capacity is to be doubled, public health insurance will cover pre-existing illnesses and the government will make housing more affordable, all without much argument. This may be true in Singapore, where the government has just announced these plans, but not in Hong Kong. Similar questions have prompted debate here about environmental impact, welfarism and a stable property market.

Critics of Singapore's way of doing things say it lacks the lively public debates in political forums and a diverse media - and challenging of government policies - that have become an important part of Hong Kong's political scene. Defenders say it has become better at getting big things done - a quality Hong Kong has traditionally prided itself on.

So long as conflict between our officials and lawmakers are blamed for frustrating progress, and lawmakers bicker among themselves, Hong Kong risks such comparisons.

The latest have been prompted by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's annual National Day Rally policy address. The centrepiece was the expansion of Changi airport. "The question is do we want to stay this vibrant hub of Southeast Asia, or do we want to let somebody take over our position, our business and our jobs?" he said. This resonates with a comment by former secretary for commerce and economic development Frederick Ma Si-hang, that it is time for Hong Kong to look beyond micro issues and focus on how to move forward with big projects, as it did by building an airport in the 1990s, before it is overtaken by fast-growing economies such as Singapore's.

Ironically, while the Singaporean government may be seen as authoritarian, it can cite election with a popular mandate as its authority for getting things done, as opposed to our executive government's lack of it. In this respect, Lee's unequivocal response to the challenges facing Singapore follow the wake-up calls of two by-election defeats for the government on top of its worst-ever general poll showing in 2011.

Universal suffrage therefore can be part of the solution rather than the problem. Hong Kong will not get its own version of a popularly elected chief executive and legislature until 2017 and 2020 at the earliest. But the city cannot afford to wait until then for lawmakers and officials to strive harder for compromise and consensus on how to move the city forward and maintain its competitiveness.

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curvermac@gmail.com
I'm surprised that a venerable paper like the SCMP can swallow the tales that politicians, especially grossly overpaid politicians, spin lock stock and barrel.
soh.t.hong.5
jh40, how I wish you will migrate to some greener pasture. Having work and live abroad for more than 15 years, everytime I come "HOME" to Singapore, the sense of pride in seeing ever changing improvements in transport, infrastructure, systems, education makes me really proud of our government. Please pack up your bags and depart Singapore.
cwyau
That is a wonderful conclusion! And it should conclude the current political regime. We did an amazing job in the 90s with the old political system. This has explained the political system is not the vital factor of Hong Kong's success. Hong Kong has been stuck in more or less the same place without further development for the past 15 years. Should this be continue?.....
"The question is do we want to stay this vibrant hub of Southeast Asia, or do we want to let somebody take over our position, our business and our jobs?"
jayceho
Being a Singaporean myself and living in Singapore. The housing are definitely cheaper than HK, but we are also suffering from the govt Pro-foreigners policies, which include PRC, filipinos, myanmar, etc.
When there's a crime, its always the foreigners who get away with it lightly. We also wonder where is the law and justice here..
Yes, new projects coming up, but we are expecting our taxes to be hiked up too. Ministers do not wish to cut their million dollar salary. As they think it reduces corruption.. But we have many corruption cases this year and perhaps more, as they are not being uncovered.
More land area for foreigners? They want 6.9 million people in our land! To increase GDP? How can we manage when our own local transportation can't even function properly without any train delays or breakdowns?
Do you know that the annual operating cost of our new Gardens by the Bay is $53 million?
****therealsingapore.com/content/53-million-maintain-gardens-bay-every-year
****sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/huge-costs-gardens-bay-keep-035900881.html
Using renewable energy etc and still $53 million to maintain the gardens? No corruption? I'm not too sure..
Teemotee
Let's examine the indisputable flaws in jh40's little thesis put up here. I'll address the "pro-foreigner" issue he has raised. If you are one of those who constantly think that the foreigners are "taking away" jobs from the Singaporeans, you're a simple-minded fool then. The foreign workers here are mostly employed in the low wage service sectors and construction sector where Singaporeans do not and would not work in, often due to the education qualifications they have thus seeking a much higher paying job. This means that without Singaporeans working in these sectors, the only solution is to import foreign labor to feed the labor demands. Look at what has happened to the construction sector after the government decided to restrict inflow of foreign labor: Widespread delays due to the lack of manpower and rising costs. It is people like you who fail to see the greater picture of issues and only complain endlessly about things. Learn to be less narrow-minded and more intellectual when considering about "national" issues. Of course, you aren't a minister nor a significant individual in the society so that is too much to ask of you.
JHHZ
Seriously, jh40, bringing your anti-govt, anti-foreigners rants from yahoo singapore to scmp?!?!? There was a reason I, a singaporean, stopped browsing news on yahoo singapore and it's because of people like you who do nothing but complain about the sg govt all day and on every single issue. Not happy? You can leave sg and move to HK. No one is stopping you. No, actually please don't move to HK because I happen to really like HK as well.
Why can't singaporeans understand that the govt is not perfect and no govt on earth is perfect? Yes they made a mistake by letting too many foreigners in before they had the infrastructure ready. But you know something, the govt is trying it's best. It's bigoted people like you who refuse to admit that the govt is trying to change and improve. What more do you want? Now that the govt has announced new measures for home purchase and healthcare, you suddenly had less things to complain about so you had to dig up Gardens by the Bay and complain about that too? OK, let's tear down Gardens by the Bay. Does that finally please you or will you have something else to complain about after that? My God, get a life, alright.
I've lived in Cambodia for two years and now currently in Australia for almost two years....a developing country and a developed country...let me tell you from experience, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Learn to be satisfied with what you have because it could be a lot worse.
JC
folks like jh40 only know how to live in the present and the past, not the future.
The government is making plans for the future. The entire national day rally was focussed on improving policies to better cater to a changing Singapore and the changing needs of Singaporeans. Yet someone like Jh40 comes along and pews a thesis that the government is pro-foreigner.
What a load of thrash that foreigners are given special treatment by the law.
Jh40. Go get a grip on yourself instead of constantly blamiing foreigners. Your xenophobic propaganda is absolute rubbish and disgrace. Don't be loser
lucifer
Most of Hong Kong's problems outside of health care are being caused directly or indirectly by the Mainland and its domestic policies.
Why do so manymainland tourists come here to buy luxury goods, raising retail rents everywhere? Why do the so called parellel traders/smiggler pests exist? Because The Mainland taxes them so much. Why do Mainlanders buy Hong Kong property? Because mainland property is too restricted, ownership is questionable and the property market is driven by currency control induced speculation. Why do Mainlanders come to Hong Kong and clean out all the milk formula? because China has no rule of law and thus no accountability, causing wide spread food scares and taited products abound. Why do college graduates earn so little in HK? Because the government pushed HK companies into the Mainland without supporting them here either with tax policies or by reducing reliance on land. Why are the local stock markets have so many propblems with fraud, theft and violations of shareholders' interests? Because the market camne to rely on the listing of so many dubious mainland companies..,..the gift giver is actually the devil in disguise. Until Hong Kong can act unilaterally in its own interest, Singpore will always be more competitive. These days, Hong Kong exists to serve China and will ultimately be discarded. But be forewarned. When the Mainland goes down, it will take Hong Kong with it, not Singapore.
Griffin
Hong Kong- we should have a move!
Another Social Critics...
Seeing How Singapore can have its Determination & Power to execute its Good Livelihood(Affordable Housing) for its general Population...
Reflecting That 'CY' & Its Related Group are Manipulating in Against HK's Population in that Arena.
If not its Pricing skyrocketed over 97's in Almost 50 percent, even Since after 01/07/2012...
Through mainly 2 Governmental Acts that 'CY' & 'Barry Cheung' Insisted & Manipulated, though even rejected by Legislative Councillers.
Will HK's Financial Secretary & Monetary Authority step-in to Implement socalled 'Ginger' Tactics Forcely...In order to counter its Out-Balance of general HK's Affordability, as well as, its Risk Burden to HK's Financial System.
That skyrocking HK's property-pricing Intention even one of HK's Tycoon - Mr. Li S.K. did express its Pity through Donation of its Farm-Land in Intention of building affordable Housing for young Population.
Central China Government should Carefully see through that 'CY' & Its Related Group...
"Evil Nature"
Power Abuses, Corruption, Triad Involvement....More are Coming...If UnStoppable...
Resembles much Alike BoXiLai's Incident in its Manipluated City...
Coming Thursday is almost an End of BoXiLai's Incident...
New Beginning for that 'CY' & Its Related Group....Full Investigation & Coming Prosecution...
IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL OF 'CY' & Its Related Group...
With those Evil-natured Stepping Down One by One...
Do HK's Peoples another Great Achievement, as Singapore Did...BRAVO!!!

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