My Impression from the Garden City
I was once or twice in Singapore’s airport on a transit trip, but have never been visiting the City State. We have planned to bring my father to come here and Malaysia for his first trip to a foreign country, in his life. When told him that we will visit Singapore soon, my father reacted spontaneously: “Singapore is a small country and used to send people to learn from Cambodia concerning city planning, in the sixties”. He is right.
Singapore got the independence (was expelled from Malaysia) in 1965. It is a small city state with a length of 46 km and a width of around 24 km. It is more or less as big as Phnom Penh’s territory now. It is lacking of natural resources, has no mountain, not enough fresh water or sand (need to buy from Malaysia, Indonesia or even from Cambodia in the case of sand). The country has 5.2 million of population consisting of 75% Chinese, 15% Malays, 7% Indians and others. It is one of the fourth “dragons” in term of rapid economic development in East and Southeast Asia (including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea). The GDP is more than U$50,000 per capita. More than 10% of the populations are Millionaires. The long serving Prime Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, has brought his country from the third World to the First World, within three decades. The second PM was Goh Chok Tong and the current one is Lee’s oldest son, Mr. Lee Xian Long. Most critics do not like the authoritarian leadership style of Le Kwan Yew, but some praises him because of prosperity, he helps to create for his country and his people.
We spend two days and one night here, a very short time for a country’s visit. However, we have seen some interesting places in this city. It is well planned, beautifully designed, orderly kept, clean, and all well functioned. The public transport is functioning smoothly, the roads are wide enough. There are fewer cars, less pollution; with more trees and flowers and high buildings. No wonder, if everybody is allowed to own a car, than this city state is just a car park. Our guide told us, one needs to pay S$80,000 to obtain car buying license from the state with ten years permission period. To buy a Honda Accord, one would pay (car price, permission, tax, insurance etc) around S$165,000 (U$1=S$1.23). With this sum of money, we can buy eight Honda Accord in Cambodia. The port is one of the biggest in the world; with 14,000 ships up-down load, annually. There are entertainment areas and recreation centers organized for its people and to attract tourists from around the world.
Comparing to Cambodia, we have almost everything. But, we were busy, in the last three decades, fighting each other (while Singapore was growing) because of political ambitions of the political elites and the influence of the Cold War. Now, we are one of the poorest countries in the world, with $980 per capita. We are back on track again, but it will take time to catch up the losing phase. My father and my family are happy that we come to visit here and one of my wishes comes true. I am very happy and my father too.