From the outside, Singapore looks incredible. Filled with state-of-the-art buildings and public services in every corner of the country. It's one of the cleanest, safest countries in the world and has a great reputation - attracting big businesses and garnering praise from international leaders.
However look deeper, and you find that: all that glitters is not gold.
Singapore is known for being economically prosperous, having one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. 'GDP per capita', is the amount of economic output divided by it's population - basically a fancy way of saying how much wealth the average Singaporean has.
But bear in mind the word 'average', because Singapore also has one of the highest income inequalities in the world. Income inequality typically comes when the rich makes far more than the middle-class, which leads to that earnings gap. They say if Bill Gates walked into a room, the average income of everyone would increase to over a million.
And here are more statistics: Singaporeans work one of the longest hours in the world, Singapore has one of the highest poverty rates among developed countries, and the happiness of Singaporeans often ranks low worldwide.
Coupled with the fact that Singapore is essentially a dictatorship. Singapore does allow citizens to vote, but the government controls the entire mainstream media (Newspapers, Tv Broadcasting etc.), and controls the rigid curriculum of most schools - all of which spread pro-government messaging. They've also got a compulsory 2-year military for all males 18 and above, when Singapore has never had any threat of outside danger - devised mostly to cultivate obedience. Also, the police has imprisoned people who've spoken against the Government, from owners of opposition sites like The Real Singapore and The Online Citizen, to outspoken individuals like J.B.Jeyaretnam, Chee Soon Juan, and Amos Yee (That's me).
Having this effective propaganda network has lead the same political party, 'PAP', to rule the country for the last 50 years. Singapore's current Prime Minister 'Lee Hsien Loong', is the son of Singapore's ex-prime minister 'Lee Kuan Yew'.
So looking at Singapore objectively, you find that majority of Singaporeans are actually overworked and emotionally suffering under a dictatorship, and the government silences any negative views towards them. Only the top 1% seem to enjoy Singapore, and it's the positive experience of the rich and powerful that shapes the glowing praise towards the country.
I hope not just Singaporeans, but the international community develops, a more truthful understanding of Singapore, because finally realising the country's weaknesses opens people's eyes to find solutions, that can improve the lives of Singaporeans for the better.
Related: The Story of Amos Yee