Differing values may lessen 'Singapore effect' in the UK

The United Kingdom has fallen so far from its peak as the empire that controlled a fifth of the world population.

Mr Boris Johnson and Mr Nigel Farage, both of whom were leaders in the Brexit movement, are leaving the sinking ship when they could have stayed on to steer it ("Brexit leader Johnson rules out bid to be British PM"; last Friday, and "Nigel Farage quits as Ukip leader"; Tuesday).

The country appears to be now looking to Singapore, a tiny speck in its former empire.

The Telegraph coined the term "Singapore effect" to describe the situation where an effective government emerges, with spectacular results, when it realises that no one is going to do it any favours.

Mr Farage, the former UK Independence Party leader, has even suggested that negotiators from Singapore be headhunted to handle the UK's exit from the European Union.

Having lived through three eras - as a colony, Malaysia and then Singapore - I find that moral leadership in political leaders is the main driver of the value system for society to function.

Moral leadership exists in politicians in Singapore and China because of the influence of Buddhism, Confucianism and the communitarian spirit.

The "Singapore effect" seems to have worked for China - it is becoming a rising global power - because of these common values.

But this may not work for the UK, as the two countries have less in common in terms of values.

Hua Tye Swee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Differing values may lessen 'Singapore effect' in the UK'. Print Edition | Subscribe