17-19 Feb 2012
I was on a mission in Singapore – find traces of a distant aunt and her life in Singapore. From shifting through family archives to gathering as much information as possible from other distant relatives, I’ve made thorough preparations and I will not leave Singapore empty handed. Looking back, thank goodness for this family mission or else, I’ll get so bored.
The first stop was the National Archives where I walked away with a copy of a speech given at my aunt’s Art Exhibition.
The National Library has a great collection of books as well as a nice view of Marina Bay. Most importantly, after 30 minutes of digging around and getting help from the librarian, I found an information booklet featuring my aunty’s paintings. Although the Art Gallery did not have any paintings on display and Parliament House (which apparently houses two of her portraits) are closed off to the public, I was nevertheless satisfied with the result. One day, I’ll set foot inside Parliament House and see the portraits in person.
Singapore, a population of over 5.5 million people is the second most densely populated country in the world ( the first is Monaco). BUT…and I commend the Singaporean policymakers for this- more than 50% of the country is covered by greenery. There are many parks and reserves. Despite disliking tall buildings and skyscrapers, it is comforting to see trees, gardens and greeneries on the roof of these buildings.
It is one of the less-corrupted countries in the world and many should learn from the Singaporean way of governance and monitoring. Maybe a small population has a lot to do with it since it make things easier but fundamentally, it is all in the national institution.
Singapore is pedestrian friendly and well connected by the metro system. There are different areas around the country that could fill up your days. Chinatown, Singapore’s traditional Chinese quarters is a nice stroll and one of the main attraction is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It is also the only unofficial home of Singapore’s gay community. There is also a Little India neighbourhood.
The river that runs along Singapore’s busy CBD is a great starting point since it is where you will find a lot of the country’s historical attractions. The central government buildings are built in the area where Raffles originally landed and founded his colony. Sigh- yeah…it’s Raffles again- the guy with exceptional handwriting and letter-writing skills who went exploring in Central Java. There is a North and South bank and in between the two are restaurants, cafes and bars. Basically, all the attractions are walkable – Gardens by the Bay, Merlion, Clarke Quay and more. All in all, a nice stopover.
Challenges for Singapore? – The governing party and the Singaporeans poses the greatest threat to the country. It’s always like that.
- Economy – How to maintain positive economic growth, reduce unemployment
- Ageing population/ birth rate/ immigration policy
- Maintaining a national identity/ erosion of national identity and over-westernised?
Random facts about Singapore
- Singapore has held more than 200 national campaigns since 1959. From courtesy to innovation, the common cause is for the the betterment of the nation.
- Many people immigrate to Singapore and work for a few years before leaving for other countries such as USA, England etc. How can the country cultivate local talents to push herself forward, prevent this “springboard” effect and balance it out with incoming immigrants?
- From a Fengshui p.o.v, the country is shaped like a crab. Quite a lot of parks for this green country.
- Some call it a “fine” place, too draconian and a Disneyland with the death penalty. Drug trafficking = death penalty.
- Locals have to pay 100SGD to enter Marina Bay Sands Casino, foreigners don’t.
- Very clean due to the strict rules e.g. spitting, littering prohibited and fined.
- Despite the respect for “freedom of speech” and being a democratic country, there are restrictions e.g. media, reporting.
- Begging is illegal in Singapore but some still do it.