Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
It is said that a poor and weak man used to live in a makeshift shack. He was sound asleep one night but woke up in the middle of the night and decided to make his shack bigger. He also decided that he will work hard, earn money and become a billionaire and the sheriff of the town. The moral of the story is that what this poor and weak man wished came true. He became a billionaire without taking money or handout from anyone. He also became the sheriff of the town without even carrying a gun. He made his shack bigger without grabbing any space from his neighbor. Well, the above lines tell us the very brief history of a country called Singapore. Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee a few days ago. It is not easy to dwell on the accomplishments of a country like Singapore in a few lines, but there are a few things that make many people around the world admire this little country. Singapore in only 50 years grew from a swampland to a country with skyscrapers and state-of-the-art infrastructure. It even grew in size not because they invaded other territories, but because they utilized science and technology in the best possible way for land reclamation. It has become one of the richest countries in the world without taking other people’s resources. The Singaporeans simply utilized and made the best use of their very limited resources and turned it into a country with unlimited resources in 50 years. Singapore has become a powerful and influential country. It was the smallest Asian country 50 years ago. Now it is the second smallest country in Asia with a population of about 5 million. This very small country has one of the most sophisticated military arsenal with the most advanced technology that an army can build or buy. Singapore has a trained and advanced army, air force and navy. In terms of military strength, Singapore is a small country, but they think big. People around the world and even those who have never been to Singapore wonder how did a country that was one of the poorest in the world just 50 years ago has become one of the richest in the world capable of having a say in the world economy! Simply put, it is very hard not to admire Singapore and Singaporeans for their achievements. In the past, Singapore was not left alone. Even though it was poor, without any tangible resources and mostly a swampland, there were presence of foreign powers. Firstly, the country was under Japanese control. Then the British took over. Merger with Malaysia took place in 1963. In August 1965, it became independent. Lee Kuan Yew became the first prime minister of Singapore. After that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You work hard and build the country no matter where you come from. When you are in Singapore, you can see the whole world. You can be in little India, China, Europe, Arab world and all corners of the world. People and countries can learn many things from this little country. It was and is capable of bringing together people of different backgrounds and ethnicity. Even though the country had very little resources, they all lived in harmony and peace. Now we see many countries and societies with far more resources divided on the basis on ethnicity, race, etc. Despite their vast resources these countries have not been able to bring their people together. I think Singapore has achieved outstanding success because its people worked together to build the country. They have established the best education system and implemented an effective work ethic. But, most importantly it is hard work that has contributed to the success story. It is true that Singapore is a young country, but it also has a rich history and culture that date back to hundreds of years. Why would anybody really admire Singapore, a country that started to develop just 50 years ago? It is both because of its achievements in such a short time and its continuous march toward advancement and prosperity. As a matter of fact, as far as I know, it is the only country in Asia that has top AAA rating from all major credit rating agencies. Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee, and the world said, Congratulations. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. At 50, Singapore is Young, Prosperous reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.