Lee Kuan Yew deserves the plaudits he today is receiving. Singapore is one of the world's truly great places, and it very likely would not have been without him.
But it isn't a place I could comfortably have lived.
When I was on the academic job market in 2003, I interviewed with an economics department in Singapore before heading down to Canterbury for an interview there. The city was wonderful, and I suppose I could have learned to live with the humidity and heat. But big moves should not be made in error, so I aim for the separating equilibrium.
I asked a few questions about whether somebody who works in public choice could really ever fit well in Singapore given the political climate, and whether it would ever be a problem if I decided to turn to domestic issues rather than stick with American and Canadian data. There were awkward pauses and looks back and forth; I had my answer. I didn't get a job offer in Singapore, but neither could I have accepted one - it wouldn't have worked well out for either of us. I rankle when there are areas I'm forbidden from looking at - it makes them all the more tempting.
The department's Chair was very happy for me when I told him I'd taken an offer at Canterbury, telling me my work would be a much better fit in New Zealand. He wasn't wrong.