Singapore has a unique appeal in the development vision of many Asian countries. Many developing countries here want to build bright cities like Singapore. In just a few decades, the city-state of Singapore has taken itself to unique heights in economic, political and global terms. This Asian country has achieved economic success by pursuing its own policy without following any colonial or neo-colonial policy. As a result, Singapore deserves real congratulations. The overall success of the country is so unique that the governments of many Asian countries often promise their people to transform any existing city, suburb or even village into ‘Singapore’.
Some Asian countries are seeking to build cities like Singapore in their respective territories with funding from China in exchange for co-operation in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. Take Myanmar. When the port of Kyaukpyu in Rakhine State was built, it was called the “Mini Singapore” of the future. Currently, two pipelines run from Kyaukpyu to Kunming, China. Of one oil to another gas. Despite the severe energy crisis in Myanmar, none of the gas and oil that goes to Kunming through this port goes to Myanmar. However, China pays regular royalties to Myanmar for this pipeline. The area will now have a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and a deep seaport. According to media reports, 80 percent of the ownership of these two projects will be in the hands of Chinese investors.
Myanmar’s Suu Kyi-led civilian government at the time expressed concern that the projects would require large sums of money borrowed from China and would be difficult to repay. The city of Singapore is very close to the international sea communication system. But international sea communication will be far away from the port of Kyaukpyu. It will mainly play a role in communication and transportation between Yangon and Mandalay. However, due to the current political situation in Myanmar, the possibility of foreign investment in the port of Kyaukpyu has been reduced.
Policymakers in Pakistan have often said that the city of Gwadar in the country’s Balochistan province should have been as developed as Singapore 10 years ago. They say they have now taken steps to build a deep-sea port, an SEZ and an international airport there to make up for the mistakes of the past. China will do almost everything to build the infrastructure for these projects. In the long run, Chinese companies will be leased out large areas to build deep seaports.
The elites of Myanmar and Pakistan who want to make Singapore a city, do not live in those cities themselves. In fact, the ruling elites have clashed with local tribal groups in these areas. Indigenous people in Balochistan and Rakhine have always been skeptical that if their city was Singapore, they would be able to enjoy the benefits of that developed city.
Sri Lanka also wants to take the country to the heights of Singapore by implementing the Colombo Port City project. In that case, they are also building special export zones by borrowing money from China at high interest rates. It is being implemented by a Chinese company. The country’s port of Hambantota had to be handed over to China for 99 years after failing to pay its debts. In fact, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar will build some multi-storied buildings like Singapore in those cities with huge loan money. In fact, it is almost impossible for them to be in Singapore.
First of all, Singapore has not done any development work by borrowing from anyone at high interest rates or by adjusting the regulatory policy of foreign countries. They have come up with a plan on how to develop the country’s economy in the long run with their own resources and manpower. They have taken to Singapore to establish a culture of equal respect for people of all faiths as the key drivers of overall development. But there is no such thing in Rakhine or Balochistan or Colombo. There remains ethnic conflict. For this reason, it will not be possible to make the cities of these countries ‘Singapore’.