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Why Singapore shouldn’t be Uhuru’s model of progress

By Andrew Wasike | February 13th 2018

The social and economic parameters upon which President Uhuru Kenyatta's’ second term in office will be evaluated are well set in his ‘Big Four’ agenda items - food production, employment, housing, and health. However, the debate on how to achieve these four objectives is only just beginning.

For example, in a commentary in a local daily, one politician offered two pieces of advice to the President: First, curtail excessive freedoms, which he opined “could see a country degenerate into anarchy.”

Second, that Uhuru must decide what to do and be less bothered about how it gets done. The politician cited Singapore and its former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as perfect role models for Uhuru. Singapore is a tiny economic tiger in the Far East about the size of Nairobi Metropolitan.

Mr Yew was an authoritarian ruler who stifled political dissent and freedom of the press. Despite this flaw, he led a generally corruption-free government that attracted a lot of foreign investment.

According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Singapore is one of the top 10 least corrupt countries in the world. Whereas there is evidence that its economic rise is associated with zero-tolerance to corruption, there is no similar evidence of association with suppression of civil liberties and press freedom.

Therefore, except for his intolerance of corruption, Yew’s leadership style in the 1960s and 1970s cannot be recommended for Kenya of the 21st century.

But we can copy the governance system of the other nine least corrupt countries - Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand, which all practice a unitary parliamentary system of government.

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