Unique balance of democracy and discipline in Singapore

I attended the public lecture by the late South African president Nelson Mandela in Singapore in 1997.

Mr Mandela was asked to define democracy. He answered that "democracy can be defined in as many ways as the number of people attending this lecture".

Singapore has a unique system. It has progressed and prospered because of it.

As a Singapore citizen of Ceylonese origin, I admire the fact that people are free to move around at any time of the day or night without being anxious for their safety.

No one is discriminated against or oppressed by the Government or fellow citizens because of their mother tongue, skin colour, sexuality or place of birth.

This is an indication that "right reason" and "moral laws" prevail here.

It is encouraging that the Prime Minister's Office has assured us that Singaporeans should "most certainly discuss the democracy we want, among ourselves" (Singaporeans alone decide how our system should work; Dec 21).

We have equal opportunity to express our views, regardless of our social status. Our MPs and ministers are only an e-mail away.

Arguably, it is the Government's determination to keep the right balance between democracy and discipline which makes Singapore different.

The existence of street-level injustices in many parts of the world today is unmistakable evidence that democracy ceases to exist the moment discipline ceases to exist.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2017, with the headline 'Unique balance of democracy and discipline in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe