The Instigator
colinong
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Oromagi
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Does Singapore have the highest quality of life in the world?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Oromagi
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/26/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,619 times Debate No: 36031
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)

 

colinong

Pro

Within a short span of a few decades, Singapore has a relatively low crime and unemployment rate, world-class education and public housing, above-average transport system and excellent infrastructure.
Oromagi

Con

I will accept the debate. Although I am an American who has never traveled to Singapore, I have co-workers and friends in there and I have developed an interest in the place. Although Singapore is a place I'd like to visit, I would not want to live there. By objective consideration of a wide range of factors, Singapore's quality of life does not merit a #1 ranking.
Debate Round No. 1
colinong

Pro

As an economist, I feel that the strength of Singapore is its ability to maintain a strong currency despite the fact that it has not apparent natural resource that can earn a lot of export revenue. Her only resource is human talent which is extremely mobile and knowledgeable. Along the same line of argument, Singapore has the highest FDI per capita in the world.
Oromagi

Con

Thanks, colinong. I am not surprised that an economist would find much to admire in Singapore's rapid expansion. Let us agree that Singapore is a businessman's paradise: built by competent capitalists as a monument to the possibilities of free trade.

But just as Singapore demonstrates the possibilities of Capitalism, she also demonstrates the limitations of capitalism. Money helps, but it can't buy happiness. Economic expansion helps. It is certainly a factor when considering quality of life, but making money only goes so far. Capitalism places no value on freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of association. Capitalism places little value on environmental preservation and sustainability. Capitalism knows nothing about the pursuit of happiness. In the places where quality of life blossoms brightest, capitalism is tempered with democracy: the fecund, ungovernable fun of freedom. Con's argument is that Singapore has failed to fully embrace the liberties of democracy, and until she does, will never qualify for the top spot on any objective "quality of life" list.

Singapore is not very free.

Capitalism is the recognition that competition makes for a stronger business environment. Likewise, democracy is the recognition that competition makes for a stronger political environment. In spite of Singapore's claims to a multi-party system and some progress in the most recent elections, Singapore's politics are monopolized by the People's Action Party and its small group of political insiders dominated by the Lee dynasty. These insiders maintain their monopoly on power via corrupt and undemocratic practices. They forbid criticism of the government except under the most contained and scrutinized of circumstances. They censor government criticism on film or television. They have abolished trial by jury and employ a compliant judiciary to sue and harass and fine political opponents. Until this monopoly is broken, Singapore's leaders do not fear loss of power and are not genuinely constrained by the power of the electorate. America's Occupy Wall St movement would be unthinkable in Singapore. The U.S.'s long tradition of perpetual dissatisfaction with our government would not be permitted in Singapore.
Social change moves slowly there. The recent popular movements in America towards gay marriage and marijuana legalization are discouraged in Singapore and change is at the mercy of a conservative few old men at the top of the pyramid.

Singapore is boring.

I know Singaporeans hate to hear it, but the complaint is made so often because it is true. If you like shopping or fine dining, then Singapore is a fine place to be, but if you love a bustling bar scene, or a spontaneous outdoor concert, or a gallery of experimental artists, then Singapore is by all accounts dull, dull, dull. Singapore is more concerned with rule of law than free expression. The surprise and riot of popular culture is suppressed. The counter-culturalism of Rap or Punk would have been strangled at their infancy in Singapore and so could not influence her modern culture today, the way those sounds do in the west. The graffiti art of Shepard Fairey or Banksy would be suppressed by caning and those artists would never enjoy the standing they hold today in Western Art. It is no coincidence that Melbourne holds the top position on so many quality of life lists and also has the most vibrant, in-your-face graffiti art scene in the world.
So much of modern media is banned or restricted in Singapore that it can not be said that she has kept up with modern art. Con cannot imagine living in a state where Monty Python, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Last Tango in Paris, South Park, Sex and the City and many other great sexy, comedic, sarcastic, counter-cultural works of art are simply banned. It is that art which shocks and surprises and upsets the balance that influences generations and enriches cultural progress. But Singapore will have none of it, and without great art, Singapore will never be number one.

Singapore's environment is sad.

If one is a lover of dense urbanization, endless concrete and pavement, cars and ships and planes, then Singapore is a fine place to be. But even city lovers need an escape to nature now and then, and Singapore has little nature left. This is understandable given the large population condensed into such a tiny country but it is also sad. In the last 30 years, Singapore has cut down 90% of her rainforest and replaced it with cement. She has razed her shorelines and replaced them with docks. The country named for her tigers now has none outside of cages. Good for business, sure, bad for the human soul. Although she has made some improvements in recent years, her own National University of Singapore ranked the country as the worst environmental offender of all 179 countries as recently as 2010. We can hope that last month's air pollution crisis, caused by Indonesian wildfires, gave the government some new incentives in this regard, but the steady stream of denials and misinformation provided during that crisis suggest they will not lead on this issue. Singapore lives by her factories and refineries and petroleum barges, so environmental issues must take a back seat. But if she wants to be tops on the quality of living index, she must somehow become a lovelier place to live.

It is not my intention to offend any Singaporeans reading this debate, and if any take offense I apologize. I do admire Singapore's financial success and empathize with her struggles to balance that success with freedom and happiness in a small, hyper-urban country. Nevertheless, Singapore must face these challenges with courage and conviction if she wishes to be considered the #1 country in quality of life.
Debate Round No. 2
colinong

Pro

Happiness is biased towards a person's experiences, culture, religion and immediate environment. Most second-gen Singaporeans never had an opportunity to live in a country that boasts of the 4 season, large acres of space and hyper-active investigative media.

Singapore, warts and all, is where they live in and choose to settle down for the whole of their lives.

Thus with Singapore's current physical constraints, increasing happiness can be just a marginal improvement in the status quo.

So which status quo can show a dramatic improvement?

Economic growth!

It is measurable and be pegged against other countries.
Oromagi

Con

An economist can't quantify freedom of speech, but that does not make the joy of expression less real. An economist can't quantify the value of an untamed landscape, but that does not diminish the pleasure of an open sky or untrammeled mountain.

Con argues that there are many aspects to a rich quality of life that can't be defined by statistics. Many of which are the very qualities for which Singapore lacks: freedom of expression, political freedom, environmental preservation, sustainability, freedom from a thousand petty laws and the self-censorship those laws bring. If Singapore wishes to be #1 in quality of life, these intangibles must be addressed.

A canary in a cage can be happy. He can look across to the goldfish in its bowl and say, "Look, I have more space in my cage than that goldfish. My perch has a better view. My master takes me out and strokes my clipped wings. Therefore, I am better off than the goldfish". But would that canary still be happy if he met a raven outside the window? A raven flying free, free to eat a bug one day and the ripened corn the next? Free to mate with who she liked and sing out whatever she feels when she likes? Even in winter, when the corn is scarce and the raven is thin, the fat canary eating his fistful of seed, considers and feels envy.

How then do we judge the canary's quality of life? He is better off than the goldfish, certainly, but who would not prefer the raven's flight?
Debate Round No. 3
colinong

Pro

colinong forfeited this round.
Oromagi

Con

Since colinong has forfeited his round I will keep this short. Although forfeiture does not necessarily imply that the forfeiter has run out of arguments, I hope that I have convinced colinong that Singapore is not yet ready for a #1 and he no longer contests the point. If you agree that a place that ranks last in evironmental policy can not be #1 in quality of life, if you agree that a place where Rocky Horror Picture Show is banned cant be #1, if you agree Singapore must make substantial environmental and democratic improvements before achieving top rank in quality of life, vote for con.
Debate Round No. 4
colinong

Pro

colinong forfeited this round.
Oromagi

Con

Since colinong has forfeited his round I will keep this short. Although forfeiture does not necessarily imply that the forfeiter has run out of arguments, I hope that I have convinced colinong that Singapore is not yet ready for a #1 and he no longer contests the point. If you agree that a place that ranks last in evironmental policy can not be #1 in quality of life, if you agree that a place where Rocky Horror Picture Show is banned cant be #1, if you agree Singapore must make substantial environmental and democratic improvements before achieving top rank in quality of life, vote for con.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by IsaacBigEars 1 year ago
IsaacBigEars
Im singaporean but yes it is true singapore is a boring (but safe) country. At least it has sentosa( a recreational island completed with universal studios).
Posted by Poetaster 3 years ago
Poetaster
No worries, Oromagi; although my personal experiences might have embellished my arguments, I probably wouldn't have relied on them to make my arguments (that although Singapore might have a high QoL index, there are countries which at least equal it in that respect).
Posted by Oromagi 3 years ago
Oromagi
Sorry, Poetaster, if I'd seen these comments yesterday, I would have given colinong an opportunity to respond before accepting. With your firsthand experience of Singapore, I'm sure you could have provided a more personal and specific argument.
Posted by Poetaster 3 years ago
Poetaster
Blast, that's what I get for fiddling around!
Posted by Poetaster 3 years ago
Poetaster
Colinong,

If you reduce the number of rounds to 4 and reserve the first round for acceptance and stipulations (giving us 3 rounds of actual debate), then I'll happy to take this debate with you. Five-round debates tend to draw very few voters and readers; they just end up being too long.

Good topic; I lived in Singapore for 4 years!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
colinongOromagiTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.
Vote Placed by jzonda415 3 years ago
jzonda415
colinongOromagiTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: F.F.