Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Singapore is the future of China in urban order

By Harvey Dzodin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-30 08:05

And why isn't the ban on smoking in Beijing restaurants or the use of coal fire for outdoor barbecues effective? Simply because it is not strictly enforced. Having laws that are not enforced invites disrespect for the laws and the institutions that make them. Singapore does not have this problem.

The same philosophy is applied to traffic. Singapore's electronic road pricing system regulates traffic by imposing a charge on the use of certain routes, with the amount varying according to the traffic load on the roads. The amount charged is automatically deducted from a stored-value card built into the vehicle.

Beijing drivers are some of the worst in the world. How can some of the nicest people on the planet get into a Jekyll and Hyde mode the moment they get behind the wheel of a car? Though currently done on a small scale, China has the means to monitor drivers across the country for compliance with laws and regulations and to automatically levy fines. This should be particularly easy because Chinese people want safer roads and courteous drivers, and would love to get from point A to point B in a predictable amount of time.

Imagine Beijing, and other Chinese cities, with courteous drivers and free-flowing traffic. Imagine a cleaner, healthier environment. This is my Chinese Dream!

Some say it's impossible given China's vast population. I disagree. Let's put the matter to test in a district of Beijing and see the results. I have confidence in the Singapore model with Chinese characteristics. I have seen China's future and it is bright, clean and harmonious!

The author is a senior adviser to Tsinghua University and former director and vice-president of ABC Television in New York.


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