The Safe Cities Index, published by The Economist Intelligence Unit, ranks 60 cities based on 76 indicators. These indicators include personal safety, digital security, health security, infrastructure security, and environmental security. In the 2023 report, the top 10 safest cities in the world are Copenhagen, Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Wellington, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Stockholm. Safety is a top priority when we choose where to live or visit. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this factor is considered a basic human need.
I watched a TV-broadcast interview with Mr Lee Kuan Yew many years ago. A lady American journalist asserted that Singapore is well-known for its lack of freedom and violation of human rights. Mr Lee explained that the West placed an inordinate focus on political rights while ignoring the fundamentals of good governance, such as the effectiveness of governments making policy choices, executing policy, and preventing corruption, and their performance in producing the results people wanted (for example, good incomes, health, and safety.) He further added that he would guarantee the personal security of the lady journalist if she chose to go for a midnight run anywhere in Singapore. “This is true freedom”. He asked her, “Can you do that in America?” Fortunately, violent crimes are rare in Singapore and Japan.
We experienced our first earthquake in Kanazawa before we went to Gifu. Just before feeling the building (hotel) sway, our mobile phones went off, “Earthquake, Earthquake!” We were stunned. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened because Japanese buildings follow high earthquake-resistance construction standards. We were also warned of bear sightings while hiking in the Kamikochi National Park. These warnings were prominently and frequently posted in bear territories. If freedom is a right (it is!), then freedom from various sources of harm is also a human right. Personal safety extends beyond crimes.
A Russian proverb declares that being healthy, wealthy, and safe is better than being sick, poor, and insecure. Based on these criteria, Singapore has done well. Never mind about other shortcomings or blemishes. We should be grateful for what we have. And what we have is most evident when we witness what others do not have when we travel abroad.
Observing cormorant fishing and walking back to the hotel (safely) reminded us of our blessings. Be contented and be happy!