Mr President: Of turning Malawi into Singapore

Singapore skyline. Photo: Reuters

Mr President, remember the promise to develop Malawi to the level of Singapore? Some people made fun of that but I would like to take you seriously. They say a dream changes the future and bigger the dream the bigger the success.

At least we have a dreamer in the presidency but we need so much more than just dreams. We need a leader who acts on the dreams, that’s what will change the future.

However, Singapore is a very interesting choice to benchmark your development goals on. Be mindful that Singapore is the world’s most competitive economy with the most modern infrastructure, efficient public service and has one of the lowest poverty rates.

All those attributes are the opposite of what Malawi is and you, Mr President, want to turn that around and make Malawi the new Singapore.

But it all starts with one step, eventually, you’ll leave the country in a better position for such a trajectory to get to Singapore level. 

Mr President, you first have to understand how Lee Kuan Yew, the man behind Singapore’s transformation when he became the Prime Minister in late 1960s, turned the poor island with no mineral resources into one of the most developed countries in the modern world.

I suppose you know that Lee Kuan Yew kick started his transformation agenda after Singapore got independence from Malaysia by launching a fierce fight against corruption, toughening anti corruption laws and raiding on the corrupt citizens.

Action not rhetoric!

He reformed public sector by improving salaries, invested in public infrastructure and created the most attractive investment destination with eased procedures and tax rates through Special Economic Zones.

Lee had an eye on the global economic developments to position his country well and reap from opportunities that came forth. One such moves was when the US de-linked the dollar from gold. He made a quick move in 1971 to establish Singapore as a regional centre for foreign exchange, providing incentives and preferential taxes to cultivate the dollar market in Asia.

Dividends from economic growth were able to impact on poverty reduction more, thanks to a population control policy of two children per family.

Mr President, I understand your wish to make Malawi become like Singapore, but as you can see from the aforementioned key reforms Singapore implemented, it requires vision, resolve, ingenuity and policy consistency.

These are what lack in Malawi since 1994 and the recent emergence of political instability is just making things worse. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure stability, vision, resolve and policy consistency. 

To turn Malawi into Singapore is to turn the $338 GDP per capita to $57 714, make Malawi the most competitive economy in the world and bring down poverty rate from 52 percent to 12 percent.

I still scratch my head why you had to mention that and even be repetitive about it. As you can see from the figures, even achieving a fraction of that would be a massive leap towards development but you must put your acts together.

Right now, I have to remind you that even your own medium term development blueprint returns Malawi in the poverty dumps by 2030, that is lack of vision and without it, people perish, so its said.