Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sunny Kulathakal with cabinet minister Vayalar Ravi and Singapore President S R Nathan

Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Affairs , India, presenting the Gulf Who's Who Directory Bahrain edition to Mr. Goh Chok Tong, former Prime Minister & Senior Minister of Singapore . Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius and Mr. Sunny Kulathakal, Managing Editor of Gulf Who's Who Directory are also seen.

Mr. S.R. Nathan, President of Singapore receiving the Gulf Who's Who Directory Bahrain edition from Mr. Sunny Kulathakal , Managing Editor and Mrs. Elizabeth S.K., Director, Sunliz Publications W.L.L., Bahrain.

Can a vast country like India follow Singapore?, Kulathakal asks

At a dialogue with around 700 people at the Global Indian Diaspora Conference held at Singapore weeks back. Mr. Sunny Kulathakal of Bahrain asked an interesting question to the former Prime Minister and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew who led the team that laid the foundation for the country’s development after independence. Lee was Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990.
" Your Excellency ! we consider you as the father figure of Singapore. What is the secret of your success in making Singapore the cleanest and disciplined city in the world? Is it because of the small size ? Can a vast country like India follow Singapore?
With a smiling face the architect of Singapore spent more than twenty minutes to answer the question in detail.
Mr. Lee identified four factors behind the Singapore success story.
They are :-a capable and incorrupt government , meritocracy, equal opportunities for all regardless of race , colour or money & power and making every Singaporean a stakeholder in the country.
Before replying Mr. Lee said he was aware of the vast difference between a small city state and a vast continent like India. But when you come to compare cities it is exactly the same.
First Mr. Lee said he was not involved in a solo effort as he had a very good team of very able ministers whose integrity and ability were beyond doubt.
He said, " Yes, I captained the team and made decisive moves but I had people who understood what had to be done to get there.
It was important to have a completely incorruptible government in place, he added." Once you have a corrupt government , you’are in deep trouble……the whole system is skewed, including decision making.
Another crucial factor was to set out a level playing field for everyone.
" You get a job not on the basis of your connections-your father, your friends or whatever – but on the basis of your performance.We have equal opportunities for schooling, health and I would say life.
As for making every Singaporean a stake holder in the country , Mr. Lee noted that many Singaporeans own property.
So, today you can ask a taxi driver , any hawker, he owns a flat, he owns his home, the smallest of which is worth $ 150,000 and the biggest is worth $600,000 to $700,000 even in today’s depressed prices. So he is a little stake holder .
This means Singaporeans understand that voting-in a bad government could lead to a plunge in property values and loss of jobs.
They may say this is authoritarianism, that is how we get reelected" he said. " They don’t know the economic rationale behind it. Everybody has a stake, everybody has to perform."