Thu | Oct 21, 2021

No shame to emulate success

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2021 | 12:12 AM


In the 1960s, both Jamaica and Singapore had embarked on a path of self-government from Britain. Shortly after Jamaica gained independence on August 6, 1962, the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, thought it prudent and visited Jamaica to observe and learn from Jamaica’s self-rule.

Jamaica’s economy then was burgeoning, unlike Singapore’s. Lee Kuan Yew sought advice from the Jamaican Government, and copied their economic model. Three years later, August 7, 1965, Singapore had gained her independence and was no longer under British rule.

Interestingly, nearly 60 years after Jamaica and Singapore made those initial steps towards self-government, that first step for Singapore ended up being a giant leap in terms of their economic success. Comparatively, Jamaica has not made their second step.

Prior to those first steps, GDP per capita for Jamaica and Singapore were US$460 and US$470, respectively. Fast-forward almost 60 years, Jamaica’s GDP per capita has struggled to reach US$4,500, whereas Singapore’s has galloped to US$55,000. Interestingly, both countries whose economic situations were virtually identical, now occupy opposite ends of the economic spectrum – with Singapore standing majestically at the apex, while Jamaica is on all fours at the base.

The moral of this story is that when you don’t have a plan, you can observe and learn from someone who already has one that is successful, as exemplified by Lee Kuan Yew.

Jamaica’s prime minister can copy the crime plans of countries that are successful in that endeavour, such as Japan and the Scandinavian countries, whose per capita murder rate are below one per cent per 100,000.