Overthinking It

An actual objective comparison of Malaysia and Singapore 50 years after separation

The sad events of last week brought about much discussion amongst people on the success of both countries since separation 50 years ago. So it is important to look at the facts objectively.

  1. Human Development

While some will argue that Malaysia’s tertiary enrolment rate is 36 per cent compared to Singapore’s 30 per cent, one statistic surprisingly not mentioned is the United Nation’s Human Development Index. Singapore has a score of 0.901 (9th highest in the world) compared to Malaysia’s 0.773 (62nd in the world).

Singaporeans also have better life expectancy, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling and literacy compared to Malaysia. What is the point of comparing tertiary enrolment rates when children in one country are getting several years less education in the first place?

  1. Finances & Inequality

Well, some will bring up that Singapore’s wage share of GDP is lower than that of most developed countries like South Korea and Japan. But when comparing the average wages, Singapore has a higher average wage than Korea and Japan. Well, to the actual Singaporean worker, which would you prefer – A higher average wage share and lower actual cash-in-pocket or a lower average wage share and a higher amount of cash in your pockets? The answer is obvious.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, Singaporeans have better perceptions of their well-being, community and government compared to Malaysia. Gender Inequality-wise, Singapore also trumps Malaysia with a Gender Inequality Index of 0.09 compared to their 0.21 and more women representatives in Parliament.

  1. Politics

Singapore and Malaysia have both been governed by one party each (the PAP & BN coalition respectively) since time immemorial and it is true that both parties have more seats in Parliament than their vote counts entail but that is a problem inherent to a first-past-the-post system. This feature can also be seen in the United Kingdom’s elections to the House of Commons. In May 2010, the Conservative Party won 47.1% of seats with 36.1% of votes whereas the Liberal Democrats received 23% of the votes but only got 8.8% of the seats.

While Singapore may have financially bankrupt opposition politicians (some by their own choice), Malaysia also has their fair share of politicians being locked up. The highly publicised case of Anwar Ibrahim is a great example. It is debatable whether Malaysian voters make bigger impacts with their votes.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that Singapore has its flaws and its strengths but it’s laughable to deduce that Singapore is in any way inferior to Malaysia. Perhaps, this article’s writer should stick to his day job.

1 Comment

  1. I had no idea they were united… You learn something new everyday ay..

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