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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Singapore and Israel

I'm sat at Singapore Changi airport, waiting for a red eye to Tokyo, after having spent 3 days in this wonderful city-state. I've been to Singapore several times in the past, and it's a great place: "Asia for beginners".

Every time I'm here I'm struck by the fact of how much Israel would benefit by adopting some of the practices of the Singaporeans. I agree that, strictly speaking, Singapore is not a "true" democracy; in fact, it has been described as an "illiberal democracy" or even a "benign dictatorship". But my argument is that this is exactly the type of democracy Israel needs.

Here are some examples of Singaporean practices that I think would do wonders if applied in the Holy Land:

  • Freedom of speech is moderated, to protect minorities and to prevent "disharmony". Oh, if someone would only put a leash on the Israeli media!
  • You kill someone (first-degree murder), you die. You traffic in drugs, you die. Simple and effective.
  • OK, so perhaps capital punishment is a little harsh, so how about this: you don't flush the toilet, you chew gum in public, you litter, you jay-walk, you trade in pornography - you are a criminal.

I think the idea is clear. Compare Singapore to other "Chinese" countries in Asia and note the difference in wealth, law and order, cleanliness, manners, etc. Certain populations need taming, for want of a better term. Israelis could do with a little taming themselves. Things would look much better if heavy fines were imposed every time someone threw litter from his car or cut in line at "kupat cholim". I say: hit the Israeli where it hurts most: his pocket!

It's a well-known secret that Israel helped Singapore build its military. It's time Israel also learns a thing or two from Singapore.

1 comment:

ben zion said...

Several years ago it was actually a TV show on Channel 2 about Singapore and how we can use its experience here - it was all a bit too populistic to my taste, but still..