Years back when I visited Singapore for the first time I was quite taken aback by the affluence of this South East Asian city state. It didn’t look like Indian cities — Mumbai or Kolkata.
It was spotlessly clean. It was economically well off, orderly and easy to go around though stradled with harsh punitive rules. But what stuck me most was the clear absence of slums or ghettos — so prevalent across the world — especially in rich cities. Instead there was public housing where the poor were housed. No one lived in slums.
The architect of modern Singapore – Mr. Lee instantly became one of my several role models.
But the question is — why did he not allow slums to organically develop, as they do and instead spent money on creating public housing to avoid people living in slums?
Was it because he wanted to create a cleaner and better image for Singapore to attract foreign investments, given that an estimated 40% of world maritime trade now passes through Singapore?
Or was it that he had an unwavering empathy for the poor and wanted to give them a better deal in life as he did for ministers and civil servants of the state by ensuring that they earn high salaries?
Delving deeper I saw that these weren’t the reasons for Mr. Lee to go for mass public housing.
With a big ethnic Chinese majority but sizeable Malay and Indian minorities, Singapore suffered race riots in the 1960s. This deeply influenced young Mr. Lee’s consciousness, which he never quite forgot till he passed away at the ripe old age of 91. So after a painful divorce from Malaysia in 1965 he went for public housing and enforced quotas in allotment of public housing to force integration of the three major ethnic communities. All this was done to avoid the painful repetition of ugly detrimental race riot.
And his mindful action did pay off the intended benefit. Political stability and social order that followed, attracted huge foreign investment in a climate that proved “ease of doing business” that ensured Singapore to grow into one of the richest countries of the world.
In Nemetic terms this is the play of the RGB waves, where —
R wave (event) — ethnic riots
G wave (behavior) — segregation of the ethnic communities from the major Chinese ethnic community and tension between those
B wave (consciousness/intention) — change of consciousness and intention of Mr. Lee
This gave rise to a new set of RGB waves, through the action of Mr. Lee, which may be described as —
R wave (event) — investment in public housing and allotment through quotas.
G wave (behavior) — Political stabiity and social order
B wave (consciousness/intention) — one of the world’s richest country.
The Economist, March 28th – April 3rd 2015, The Wise Man of the East, page 16.