First, there was the Formula 1 race. Malaysia started hosting F1 races at its purpose built circuit in Sepang in 1999. Singapore started hosting F1 night road races in 2008, nearly a decade later.
Second, casinos or integrated resorts. Malaysia’s casino complex or IR in Genting Highlands opened in 1971.
Singapore’s first of two IRs, a Genting offshoot called Resorts World Sentosa, opened in February 2010. While nearly 40 years behind Malaysia, Sg has made up for lost time by having two casinos instead of one.
Third politics. Malaysia has always had vibrant, some might even say contentious, politics. By contrast, Singaporean politics has more often than not been effete to boring, the intermittant strident Opposition outburst notwithstanding.
However going by the run-up to the 2011 general elections and the overnight blooming of candidates from the Opposition camp, like mushrooms after rain, Singapore politics looks set to go where Malaysia has gone before.
Hopefully, however, the rough and tumble of greater debate and scrutiny of policies and more diversity of views will not lead to an imitation of what’s been happening across the Causeway: politicians dying mysteriously under interrogation; corruption allegations and dirty sex scandals.
Like most people, I like my bit of gossip about leaders and leaders-in-waiting. But no sex and scandals please! I am Sgporean!