The Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dr. Abass Bundu has give an instructive lesson about Sierra Leone and Singapore to members of Parliament in his welcome statement to Honourable members of the All People’s Congress on 7th November, 2023 as 52 members of the APC Party subscribed to the oath of office.

His apt statement about Comparison between Sierra Leone and and Singapore stems from the fact that the two countries gained independence in the 1960s but a current remarkable difference between the two countries in terms of GDP and Per Capita income, Education and Governance system.

Below is the  Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dr. Abass Bundu Bstatement

“Honourable Members,
Before I delve into the nature of the task in hand, allow me to recall here a little instructive lesson of contemporary history to refresh our minds. Our country, Sierra Leone, obtained its political independence from our British colonizer in 1961, four good years ahead of Singapore, a comparatively small island country in Southeast Asia, which attained its statehood in 1965. It was and still is inhabited by a much smaller population than ours, consisting of Chinese, Malays, Indians and others. So it is not any less heterogeneous than we are in Sierra Leone. But there is this remarkable difference. Singapore had nothing, literally no natural resource at independence apart from human beings and a deep sea harbour, just as we have our own Deep Water Quay. But we in Sierra Leone have a lot more assets to be proud of: we are endowed with gold, diamonds, iron ore, bauxite, tantalite, rutile, palm oil, palm kernel, etc. etc. You name it, we have it.
Yet, in 1961, Sierra Leone’s per capita income was only $140 and its annual GDP was $328 million. Singapore’s per capita in 1965 was $517 and its annual GDP was $975 million. By 2022, sixty years on, Sierra Leone’s per capita income was still only $488 and an annual GDP of not more than $3,970 million compared to Singapore’s per capita income of $82,808 and an annual GDP of $466,789 million.

Today, with this galaxy of notables gathered in this Well of Parliament from both our two main political parties, I cannot resist the temptation to ask the question: where did we go wrong? It is certainly not for want of human capital, because we once prided ourselves with the accolade of the “Athens of Education” in West Africa although today we lament how that has plummeted to such low levels that the young at school are not ashamed to think they have a Divine right to spy to pass public examinations and our public servants are equally busy embellishing the desks of their offices with Degrees and Diplomas, not properly earned, but purchased from non-accredited “Dominion” Colleges with high sounding names. So while Singapore was busy obtaining laurels and moving up the development ladder rapidly from a Third World classification to a First World, Sierra Leone has remained behind wallowing in abject poverty and deprivation and fighting with other countries and hoping for the crumbs to fall from the dinner tables of rich countries.

Honourable Members
With all the brilliant minds we have produced in this country, past and present, where really have we gone wrong?
To answer this question, I will invite all of us present in this Well today to borrow a leaf from Singapore’s enviable Book of Development.

First, they gave the highest national priority to educating and training their people to the highest standard. They sent them to the best of the best colleges everywhere at home and abroad and they got them bonded on scholarships that obligated them to return and work for Singapore after graduation. The success of this scheme reached such a point that those who went to the United States, the country with the stiffest requirements in the world for a visa, relaxed their entry requirements for Singaporeans because no Singapore graduate wanted ever to remain permanently in America after graduation because the salaries waiting for them at home were much higher than they could earn in America.

Second, Singapore challenged their citizens to imbibe a sense of patriotism that was second to none. Those who have studied with Singaporeans in colleges abroad can testify to this. A student from Singapore aspires to nothing but a first class honours degree and the day he gets it he is on the next plane back to Singapore.

Third, Singapore developed a culture of appointing to high office people of proven competence and leadership based on meritocracy. Nepotism and cronyism died the very day that an independent Singapore was born and they have remained permanently in their graves to this day. Remember, Honourable Members, how serious this principle is respected in a country with such a small population that everybody virtually knows everybody else. Amazingly, this is a country where their development plans are tailored to run for decades and they are executed to the last detail and it matters not who or which political party is in power.

Fourth, in Singapore the culture of incorruptibility is second to none. Their leaders don’t govern; they lead and they also peremptorily lead by example. The first Prime Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, was once accused of corruption by a British newspaper in England. What did he do? He sued the newspaper for defamation but interestingly he sued not in Singapore but in the British Courts and he won. That in itself speaks volumes about the character of the man.

Honourable Members
I narrate all this simply to demonstrate the essential ingredients which combined to produce the phenomenal economic development of Singapore. But it also points to another simple truth. Singapore has achieved its phenomenal development and growth over the last 60 years not by luck or happenstance but rather through good and transformative leadership that is highly educated, locally-driven, focused, motivated, dedicated, purposeful and incorruptible. This is the new challenge facing us today in this Sixth Parliament and it confronts all of us equally regardless of party colour or affiliation. I invite all of us to emulate the good example that Singapore presents and it’s not yet too late to do so. It may sound like a feat of serendipitous proportions but it’s not impossible. Together we can do it and achieve it!

Honourable Members
I thank you all for your kind attention,”