Noticias de Singapura

É uma notícia de há 10 anos, mas não deixa de ser interessante:
In the media frenzy, Singapore was depicted as a rigidly authoritarian state where one should not expect to vandalize cars without accepting the punishment — three whacks with a rattan cane — as Fay eventually did.

But Singapore is trying to loosen up, and the government, from no less an authority than founding father Lee Kuan Yew, has appointed a task force to figure out how to do it.

The "Remaking Singapore" committee, ceremoniously unveiled this year and made up of the country's brightest minds, takes social engineering to a new level. Its assigned goal: to create a more soulful society.

"We've been very rigid, very robotic in the way we approach life," said Mohd Haris Manaf, of the Singapore International Foundation, a government-sponsored organization similar in function to the Peace Corps. The foundation itself, some point out, is a sign of a changing ethos.

"We're trying to open up more, to get beyond the five C's (career, condo, club, credit card and car), to loosen up as a people and smell the roses."

Rarely has an authoritarian state attempted a squishier project. If it can be done, however, Singapore may be the republic to do it. The quest would be no more a leap in consciousness than it took to transform this swampy isle at the edge of the South China Sea into one of the most prosperous nations in the world. (...)

A main component in Singapore's spectacular rise has been its tightly controlled populace. It is one of the most micromanaged societies in modern history. (...)

In addition to the "don'ts," the government has pushed a bewildering array of "do's" that, to many Americans, might smack of Orwellian social engineering.

There was the Smile Singapore campaign intended to make tourists feel loved and therefore boost tourist dollars. Immigration officers were given government-issue mirrors to periodically check their grinning quality.

Currently there's the Singapore Kindness campaign, the Speak Good English movement, and the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents, requiring people to support their parents in old age.

Alarmed by its declining birth rate, the government formed the Working Committee on Marriage and Procreation, which exhorts Singaporeans, especially those with college degrees, to marry and have sex as often as possible. Toward that end, the government runs an online matchmaking service for college graduates.

A pamphlet on how to date successfully, distributed by the government's Social Development Unit, advises that you "obtain a repository of information" from the Internet and newspapers so that "you will not be caught in a situation where you run out of conversation topics."

The pamphlet also says "oral hygiene cannot be ignored because there's no bigger turn-off than a foul mouth reeking with leftovers from lunch."

The government-controlled press, in unison, recently ran stories on the best places in the city to park and smooch, going as far as suggesting ways to ensure privacy, for example, by covering the car windows with newspapers.

Poking fun at the government's long reach, Asad Latif, a journalist for The Straits Times, announced mockingly at a meeting of the Remaking Singapore committee:

"The Singapore government has decided that the people shall be more spontaneous."

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