Monday, May 9, 2016

Comparing Jamaica to Singapore

I always have a really good laugh whenever one of our bubble-headed technocrats compares Jamaica and Singapore. The confusion and the blame game as to why Jamaica is not as successful as Singapore is never ending because at one point in our history Jamaica was economically ahead of Singapore. This really had nothing to do with Jamaica but had more to do with Singapore’s history. One just have to look at the countries violent past to see where it is coming from. Then something changed - Singapore change because the people of Singapore realized that they needed to change. ONE of the world’s great economic success stories.

Singapore owes much of its prosperity to a record of honest and pragmatic government, the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew. When one look at the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew one clearly sees why Singapore was successful and Jamaica NOT. So let me borrow a phrase from the movie Braveheart to further explain – “The Problem with Jamaica is that it is full of Jamaicans” and if Lee Kuan Yew was the leader of Jamaica, Jamaicans would kill him. The man hated decadence in all forms so there goes the nightly dancehall and he hated welfarism, so no let off culture. Lee Kuan Yew supported tough laws and punishments, making Singapore orderly, clean and disciplined, these words are like kryptonite to the average Jamaican and no matter how tough these laws are the people always voted his party back into power.

Jamaica cannot achieve what Singapore achieved simply because the Jamaican people equate indiscipline with freedom. We Jamaicans pride ourselves on our ability to be indiscipline. Singaporeans place a lot of importance on discipline, and corporal punishment is widely accepted. Caning is not only used to punish criminals but also as a disciplinary measure in schools, the military, and in the domestic scene. I remember when the American teenager Michael P. Fay was convicted and caned for vandalism, the boy did the crime and had to do the time.

The people of Singapore it seems are genetically predisposed to Hard Work and Discipline while the people of Jamaica are genetically predisposed to Merriment and Indiscipline while screaming Poverty and Suffering. 

Work Attitude, Productivity and Competitiveness 
Singaporeans have a superior attitude to work than Jamaica, we cannot compare. They are more productive and sacrifice leisure in the interest of high productivity which gives Singapore the competitive advantage. They are the world’s second most competitive economy behind Switzerland.
  • Singapore has one the lowest crime rates in the world. Only 16 people were murdered in 2011 in a country with a population of 5.1 million. In 2005, Jamaica had 1674 murders for a murder rate of 58 per 100,000 people. That year, Jamaica had the highest murder rate in the world. There were 1,682 reported murders in 2009 and 1,428 in 2010. In fact Jamaica murder rate has been over 1000 for about 2 decades.
  • Singapore have the healthiest people in the world
  • Singapore was named by the World Bank for the seventh consecutive year as the best country to do business in.
  • Singapore is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. In 2015 Singapore scored 8 while Jamaica scored 69 out of 167.
  • If they had a Merriment Index then Jamaica would be number ONE!

Discipline Population that follows the Rule of law 
Chewing gum is banned in Singapore and the importation of chewing gums into the country is illegal. Singapore is bent on maintaining its reputation of being impeccably clean, with an active campaign against littering and stringent enforcement in place. First time offenders who throw small items like cigarette butts or candy wrappers are fined $300. Those who throw out bigger items like drink cans or bottles are considered defiant and are required to appear before the court. The punishment usually involves a Corrective Work Order (CWO), where the offenders clean up a specified area while wearing a bright luminous green vest.

Not flushing the toilet is a crime  regarded as a breach of propriety in Singapore, you will be breaking the law if you do so. Expect to pay a fine if you get caught. Don’t even think of urinating in elevators, as they are equipped with Urine Detection Devices (UDD), which detect the scent of urine, setting off an alarm and closing the doors until the police arrive to arrest the offender.

Vandalism is a serious offense in Singapore, with penalties that include not only fines, but also jail, and three to eight strokes of caning. The act constitutes damages done to both public and private properties. Damaging, destroying and stealing public property, as well as drawing, painting, writing, inscribing, and marking any private property without the owner’s consent are considered illegal. Affixing placards, posters, banners, and flags is also prohibited. So no merriment posters all over the place with woman a skin out.

So it makes me laugh every time Jamaicans try to compare the Jamaican economy to Singapore economy, claiming that we should be where Singapore is with regard to economic development and growth. How so and in which cosmic reality? 

The problem is they are missing one vital factor… The people… The difference between Singapore and Jamaica is the mind-set of the people, their discipline, their attitude to work, family and life in general is completely different. The people of Singapore are not afraid to sacrifice, sacrifice and more sacrifice which defines people from that part of the world. For the most part we Jamaicans are a merriment/profile society who regards hard work and long hours as slave driving. Coupled with our let-off mentality our basic attitude to work is - “The boss not paying me enough to come out of bed, much less get in on time”…This country, any country is only as good as its people. 

Most Jamaica suffers from a lack of discipline, sometimes I believe that as a people we are genetically predispose to rejecting discipline and moral values. Jamaicans also suffers from a strong sense of entitlement, most genuinely believe that some entity owes them a living just for living. They see no problem throwing their garbage on the street because they believe it is the Governments job to pick up after them and no entity on earth can pick up after them faster than they can throw it. Jamaicans scream poverty for everything not because they are truly suffering but because they use it as an excuse to be indiscipline.

All this coupled with a high level of greed, selfishness and a lack of respect for human life tells me that things will only get worse before they get better.

In most black communities worldwide you will find Asians hard at work supplying services way into the night, nail salons stay open to do the nails of black people going out to party and enjoy themselves. All West Indians grocery stores are run by Asians, and Chinese food is bought through bullet proof glass all hours of the night and day.

So no I do not see where or how Jamaica could surpass Singapore or achieved what Singapore achieved because we are indiscipline, love handout, like to live an over the top life on poor people budget and enjoy too much nightly merriment with not enough Imagination, Innovation and hard work. It is not only the Jamaican Government that is corrupt but Jamaicans in general live a corrupt life, it is safe to say that corruption is a way of life in Jamaica.

The honor system or honesty system

While traveling in the English countryside during my vacation I came upon a food stall called the honesty box by the locals, this food stall was unmanned, various goods left in the stall with a note containing the price for each type of items, people would approach the stall, take what they wanted and pay for it, even rumbling through the money box to find correct change.

On another occasion while in Amsterdam trying to get a train we noticed that there was no turnstiles, inspection points, no booths or people on the platform inspecting our tickets, you just buy your tickets and get on the train, I asked a fellow passenger how this worked, what was I to do with my ticket, he said that someone may come around to inspect our tickets, the fine was very high for not having a ticket and that the system was based on the Honor/Honesty System… on the what???

"An honor system or honesty system is a philosophical way of running a variety of endeavors based on trust, honor, and honesty. Something that operates under the rule of the "honor system" is usually something that does not have strictly enforced rules governing its principles. In British English, it would more often be called a "trust system"."

Even when we got to our stop no one came around to inspect our tickets but that did not stop people from buying their tickets, getting on the train and settle down to read their morning news paper.

Could such a system work in Jamaica? I am not sure, I would like to think that in some nice quiet Jamaican villages that the concept of the honesty box could work, that people in some rural areas would respect and trust others. I know such a concept would not work in most major cities around the world, I cannot see the Honesty System working in New York subway system based on the amount of people jumping the turnstile, nor would the concept of the Honesty Box work in a city like London. I am not saying that people in the rural countryside of England are all honest people but one report states that 98% of the people are honest enough to make leaving your goods and money unmanned in a stall a worthwhile venture. My cousin believes that if you were to leave your goods and money unmanned in a stall in Jamaica than you would return not only find the money missing but also the goods and the stall itself would be nowhere to be found as people would laugh at you and call you “eeediot” for trusting yardman.

My Granny used to boast that she could leave the house with her front door open and feel safe in the fact that everything will be in place when she returns. That tells me that Jamaica use to exist with the same level of honesty as the people who lives in the English countryside, Amsterdam and countless other countries, so how can we get back to that level.

Could you leave your stall with your produce out for people to serve themselves and pay the requested amount in Jamaica?

Corruption in Jamaica
Many Jamaicans believe that corruption is one of the root causes of Jamaica’s high crime rate and economic stagnation. In 2014, Transparency International gave Jamaica a score of 38 out of a possible 100 on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), one of the lowest scores in the Caribbean. According to the CPI, 85 percent of respondents in Jamaica felt that political parties were corrupt/extremely corrupt. That figure was 74 percent for parliament and 86 percent for the police force.

A key area of concern for corruption is in government procurement, on which the OCG serves as a watchdog. In 2014 after the OCG criticized the bidding process for a new power plant, the Inter-American Development Bank withdrew its financing support, effectively ending the project. A 2011 report written by the Contractor General about corruption in the Jamaican Development Infrastructure Program led to the resignation of Mike Henry, then-Minister of Transportation & Works.

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