On a trip to France in late February, Singapore’s foreign minister George Yeo was shocked when he learned that Singapore was “petit”. This unnerving piece of information was presented to him gently by French diplomats during his car trip from the airport to his hotel in Paris. According to senior French officials, Mr. Yeo was becoming alarmed at the long time the trip was taking from the airport. He began explaining to the French how things would be different in Singapore. “In Singapore,” Mr. Yeo asserted, “things are more efficient.” He began telling his French hosts how their traffic system was not as well-managed, how allowing French transport workers to go on strike “is regrettable”, and how all those freedoms they have in France are causing traffic jams. Mr. Yeo also warmly extended an offer for French ministers to visit Singapore, where experts can assist them in solving France’s myriad problems. After an awkward silence, a young diplomat informed Mr. Yeo that France was larger than Singapore, so some places just take longer to travel to from the airport than places in Singapore.
George Yeo finds out Singapore is a small country on trip abroad