1st June every year since 1963, Kenya as a country commemorates the day she attained self-rule from the British Government, preceding full independence on 12th December 1963. This saw her join other countries like Singapore, the then British colony too which also gain independence in 1963. But how exactly are these countries different from each other 53 years down the line?
Kenya and Singapore have a common history as they were both declared Independent from Britain in 1963Today, there is a gaping difference between the two countries. The Southeast Asian Island city-state was faced with rapidly growing, poor and uneducated population living in slums.With precarious markets, small land, water scarcity and few natural resources, it struggled along until 1965 when it became an independent nation from Malaysia with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in control.
The Prime Minister endorsed a free-market state, attracting prominent multinational corporations. Two decades later, Singapore’s economy grew by 800 per cent. The average income per person appreciated more than fourfold while families living under poverty dropped to about 0.3 per cent. Singaporeans’ average life expectancy hit 71 years, with practically everyone having a job and a home.
To produce these economic miracles, the father of Singapore controlled population growth through the setting up of free family planning clinics. This was followed by an intense campaign dubbed plan your family small. Inhibitive strategies such as shorter maternity leave, higher hospital charges and less income tax relief were also implemented to discourage women from having more children. Women who agreed to be sterilized after their second child were rewarded usd5,000 (about sh420,000), given priority for public housing and their children got into good schools. To date, Singaporeans think that two is the right number of children.
All workers were required to save a minimum of 25 per cent of their salaries. They would claim the money only after the age of 55. The money would go into a central provident fund, with which the government built roads, schools, hospitals and housing.
There is no corruption in this country. The corruption perceptions index lists Singapore as one of the least corrupt states in the world, along with New Zealand, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world. Transparency international report 2016 ranked Kenya among the most corrupt countries in the world, at position 139 out of 168 countries.
As Kenya marks her 53rd anniversary of self-rule, the question remains, Are we in progress or in regress?