Photos added by Seelan Palay
Maybe Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was right in 2001. Singapore has indeed reached the Swiss standards of living. However, Singapore is different from Singaporeans. A country might reach the heights of Mount Everest, but its population might be in the depths of the Mariana Trench of the Pacific. So what's the Swiss standard of living is Mr Goh referring to?
I think I know. He was referring to the playground Singapore is to rich people. We have beautiful homes like Sentosa Cove and we are in the midst of building two massive playgrounds at Marina Bay and Sentosa. We are a major banking hub in the world, and many banks call Singapore home too. However, a closer look into this glitz and glamour might be surprising. Let's see who calls Singapore home, along with the many red-shirt Singaporeans on national Day.1. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and the Butcher of Africa
Mr Mugabe has presided over Zimbabwe for 29 years, in which Zimbabwe's economy went into free-fall, and many of his political opponents were jailed or killed. The United States and the European Union has enacted travel bans on Mr Mugabe and his government officials.
End of the travelling, you say? No fear. Captain Planet Singapore flies to his rescue. Singapore, apparently, is one of his favourite destinations, and he has visited Singapore several times for holiday and his doctor appointments. What's more? Singapore provides him with our fantastic banking services, designed to hold and manage his cronies and hismoney, as the inflation in Zimbabwe soared by 11.25 million percent. Singapore: a friend in need is a friend indeed!
As for Singapore, according to Zimbabwean media reports, this is the favored location for Zimbabwean ministers and military chiefs to park their ill-gotten wealth.
2. Than Shwe, head of State of Burma
It's an open secret that Singapore and Burma are best bed buddies, cosying up to each other like lovers. I think our relationship with Burma is on better terms than with Malaysia, given that a Singapore's spokesman described the relationship as complementary.
A Singapore spokesperson proclaimed, "Singapore and Myanmar should continue to explore areas where they can complement each other."
So how are Singapore and Burma such good friends? It helps that staunch friends like Singapore do not ask the Burmese how their money is gotten. Everyone knows that Burma has a booming economy, in drugs. Burma is the world's largest heroin supplier, and everyone knows how strict Singapore is with drug traffickers, especially heroin traffickers. However, the strictness does not seem to apply bilaterally. Common sense will dictate that since Singapore has such a tough stance on drug trafficking, we will not be good friends with Burma. Unfortunately, money sense for Singapore's politicians is greater than their common and ethical sense. Top Burmese officials travel freely between Burma and Singapore and they, obviously like Mr Mugabe, make full use of our excellent banking facilities and health facilities.
Singapore has also gone to the extent of aiding them in the suppression of their own citizens. Not only do our government spy on its own people, our government helps other governments spy on their people too. How's that for being excellent neighbours?
Singapore has been more than willing to share its expertise in intelligence with its Burmese counterparts. The Singapore-Myanmar Ministerial-Level Work Committee was set up in 1993 in Rangoon to "forge mutual benefits in investment, trade and economic sectors." The committee includes intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, other top Burmese ministers, and high level Singapore an officials. At the December 23 meeting, Khin Nyunt urged his ministers to give priority to projects arranged by the Singaporean government. "Pilot projects are being implemented to transfer know-how to Myanmar," said Khin Nyunt in his address. One such project is a state-of-the-art cyber-war center in Rangoon. Burma's military leaders can now intercept a range of incoming communications-including telephone calls, faxes, e-mails and computer data transmissions-from 20 other countries. The high-tech cyber-war center was built by Singapore Technologies, the city-state's largest industrial and technology conglomerate, comprising more than 100 companies.
3. Kim Jong II: the Dear Leader of North Korea
Kim Kong II seems to be the Dear leader of many North Koreans, and the amount of affection shown for their Dear Leader, is the same amount of affection the Dear Leader shows for the shiny city state of Singapore.
Singapore apparently has a working relationship with North Korea, and we seek to invest in the greater good of the communist North Korea. Our greediness knows no borders, not even to countries whose citizens starve while its Dear Leader dines on caviar and the some of the activities that it carries out include state-sanctioned sophisticated money forgery.
So while USA and other nations are trying to negotiate with North Korea in curtailing its nuclear ambitions, law-abiding and responsible global citizens like Singapore are busy thinking of more ways to cooperate with North Korea and invest there. Aren't we indirectly funding their nuclear projects and their exploitation of its citizens? I doubt such thoughts ever crossed our leaders' minds.
Ahh, our neighbours. Singapore is definitely a top destination for Indonesians, rich ones only. no, its not for our nasi-lemak. its for our excellent banks and healthcare system.
His remark was in response to the result of Merrill Lynch and Capgemini's survey which reported that one-third of 55,000 Singapore's rich people are Indonesians. The number reaches a total of 18,000 and their status is that of permanent residents (foreigners who have permanent stay permits) in Singapore.
The global financial organization estimates that the amount of assets of Indonesian people in Singapore is S$87 billion, or around Rp506.8 trillion.
That's a pretty huge sum, no? now, of course, being fantastic neighbours of Indonesia, we will never ask them how their money is gotten. Our banks happily safe-keep these money for these rich Indonesians, and our country happily welcomes their consumption. It does not matter how these money was gotten. Money is always money. dirty money, clean money, all is money in Singapore. and Singapore welcomes all forms of money. If hell notes has an exchange rate and can be converted into Singapore dollars, I have absolutely no doubt that Singapore will accept it.
So now you know why Singapore is so rich, so nice, so pretty, so safe? It's for you and me.
You and me to see, and for corrupted Indonesians and dictators from Zimbabwe, North Korea and Burma to enjoy.
A friend in need, is a friend indeed!