Tiny Singapore's leap from developing world to advanced economy within a single generation depended on a strong government hand in external relations, economic policies, citizens' retirement savings and more — leading to a perception that the country is a "nanny state."
Even though Singapore is now a developed economy — the only country with that status in Southeast Asia — Singaporeans still hold high expectations of their government. And they're right to do so, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told CNBC.
"Well if you asked a Singaporean, on the one hand they'll say, 'Let us do our own things.' On the other hand, when an issue comes out, they'll ask, 'What is the government doing about it?' And they have very high expectations of what the government should be doing, which is right because they've voted for the government and they expect the government to be able to perform. So we have to keep that balance," Lee said.