I think there are 2 phases to a country, nation-building (建国) phase and nation-running (守国) phase. Not sure if there is any official term for that. Maybe we can call it developing country and developed country. For now, I'll stick to use my own words.
For nation building, it's when a country is new. A lot of things need to be done to survive and to bring the nation to the next phase. What's at stake is only the future. You don't lose much of what you already have because you have nothing much anyway. What you need is the ability to react fast to changes, and to improve at as fast a speed as you can. You don’t have to worry too much about protecting what you have. You also need to make sure there are not too many voices around, as that will only distract you from what you need to bring the nation forward. If there are negative voices, you may even need to eliminate it as this may set you back considerably. This is the time where we need a good, strong and visionary leader. All our future will depend on the leader, but at least we have nothing to lose.
During nation running phase, the country has developed somewhat. Other than improving, we need to protect our assets. By now, we would have amassed some wealth; we stand to lose them all if things are not done properly. We need to divert our attention on protecting what we have and not jus put all our efforts into moving forward. We need more measures in place that will restrict the government from doing things that might harm ourselves. The government will probably have less leeway for that.
In Singapore, I think our government has done very well during our nation-building phase. Our then Prime Minister, now Senior Minister, is an exceptionally good and visionary leader. He has brought us leaps and bounds to what we are today. We owe what we have today to him. I speak this from the bottom of my heart, and I am sure not too many of us will disagree.
Over the years, our government has repeated says that it's OK to have 1 party winning every election, as long as that party is constantly changing and adapting to the situation. I am not sure if I agree with that. It sounds reasonable though. But the thing is, I don't think we have adapted well to situation and that there's enough changes made. We still have a law that can put anyone behind bars without a trial. We still have a police force that can deny a person caught a lawyer when they interrogate him. Our justice system is under the payroll of the government. We still have a fear of racial riots if the wrong thing is said. We still have a government that can pretty much do what they like if they think it's right.
A government that can pretty much do what they like if they think it's right. It's a good thing to have during the nation-building phase. It's not so attractive now as we may stand to do lose a lot if 1 day the government becomes corrupt. I am not accusing the government has gone corrupt now. But nobody knows what will happen in the future. Government can change, personnel can change in the government, and people can change. And we stand to lose too much when that happens to not try to control it now while we still have a chance.
And that’s what I think is wrong with Singapore now. We are using the wrong management style for our country.