Bhutan is not the 'Shangri-la on earth', says Khaw
19 October 2011
SINGAPORE: The measure of happiness has been a topic of debate in Parliament over the last few days, and constant references to Bhutan have been made as well.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan joined the debate, saying he visited the small nation a few years ago and the romanticised version of the ancient kingdom did not fit the reality he saw there.
In his speech in Parliament on Wednesday, he said Bhutan is not the "Shangri-la on earth" that some make it out to be.
Mr Khaw said: "Most of the time, I saw unhappy people, toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products. They have studied us because Singapore is also a tiny nation, living next to big neighbours.
"We have successfully transited from third world to first, and managed to create a functioning and harmonious society for our people. In their minds, Singapore could well be the Shangri-la and they want Bhutan to emulate Singapore."
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin weighed in on the discussion on what some perceive to be the government's obsession with economic growth at all costs.
He said the pursuit of GDP should not be an end but a means to an end.
Mr Tan said the main preoccupation at weekly Cabinet meetings has been to provide for Singaporeans and Singapore.
He added that the government is not perfect and there are things that it can do better and it will do its utmost.
"Life cannot be whittled down into an efficient equation, however effective it may be. Not everything is an economic digit; some of the most important things in life cannot be quantified. At the end of it all, it is about us as Singaporeans, and the future we want to build for our children. And we as the government must have the courage to play our role to lead and do the right things," said Mr Tan.
Instead of doing his job improving the life of Singaporean and making Singapore a nice place to live in, Khaw Boon Wah has to gunned down Bhutan as they are measuring their people happiness index.
So Boon Wah said he saw many unhappy people there toiling the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products. Hey you don’t have to go all the way there to see unhappy people. Look at your own country!
Isn’t most Singaporean working long hours days after days worrying about our rice bowl and high cost living and whether will there be a pay cut or will we lose our job to cheap foreign workers soon.
In my mind Singapore in the last county in the world that will be the Shangri-la and I nearly chock on my breakfast when I read Boon Wah suggestion.
For God’s sake we are not even close, Boon Wah where have you been?! Come down from your ivory tower and see for yourself!
Newbie Minister Chan went on saying the government is not perfect. Well if you are the most expensive team in the world you jolly well be damned it!