Know Singapore

Singapore Port is changing by the day:

Sembnarine’s Mega Yard at Tuas South in front and the new Tuas Container Terminal (under construction) behind, with Jurong Island in the background. If you zoom in and have some local knowledge you can make out Sultan Shoal Lighthouse as well.

Skills upgrading in the Maritime industry in Singapore:

Singapore as it was in my young and tender days (1950s -60s):

How did Singapore develop from the above to become developed and a rich country in one generation?:

1 Like

I must hunt out my 35mm slides of the period and digitise them. I have some of Pulau Tioman when the only inhabitants were a couple in an attap hut on the beach. I can tell you the make of every motor vehicle in the picture.

The GPD per head is miles away from 80% of the populations income whilst they live in housing built by the gov on land owned by the gov and leasehold so they are giving their flats back in the future.
The cost of the flats is a made up a figure by the gov which helps ensure you convert part of your pension to leased bricks and mortar to afford them. They allow using your pension to buy an apartment, this allows the gov to push the price up but you still owe the gov that money back with interest when you sell, lets hope your flat goes up faster than the interest they pay on a pension.
Yes property speculation ( during downturns )using your pension has made many poor.
The Gov is an expert in convincing you are doing well whilst you dont notice you dont have any money left at the end of the day.
They also like to sell gov departments into listed companies and allowed people to use their pensions to buy them, another conversion from your money to theirs.
Singtel float being the best example where it was described in the foreign press as the largest pension grab in history. It was a monopoly at float then the gov removed that several years later. The share price reflects that. SGD2.00 at the CPF discount price in 93, SGD 2.50 today

The narrator glossed over the debt issue, which is how the gov explains it, the key part missing is not net debt but the interest bill on that debt which is significant and climbing.

The do mention the very low productivity in Singapore as its a nation of low skilled workers most of whom are cheap foreign labourers. Many Singaporeans are competing with them in the low wage space.
Thats a self inflicted wound and as much as they try initiatives to move the workers up the skills tree, several generations of bosses only know that to compete you get cheaper labour.
Years ago with good infrasturcture and planning Singapore used its low cost base to get on the map, the problem has been as costs and currency went up they dont know how to compete.
Singapore Airlines is proof of that.

Its a great place for the wealthy both local and foreign as many laws to make it that way.
No tax on foreign income is one and very rare in the world, not something many locals can make use of.
Only wage earners are obligated to pay into the pension scheme.
Lawyers and Accountants in partnerships also dont contribute till retirement age where they have to have a minimum balance which is just over the USD GDP figure so easy to pay after a life time of investing.

There is no FOI act in Singapore and all government documents are secret until they say they arent.
LKY and his cohert did a great job for the majority from federation to about the 80’s then the structural issues became an issue as the world moved forward.

The old people keep voting for the incumbent gov as they lived from the poor days to modern.
The young born into this are not happy and and not moving forward compared to any other nation, easy to know with travel and the internet plus everyone knows someone that has migrated and can see that lifestyle and growing wealth in another place.

Its has become a very unfair society, I feel sorry for the majority of the locals.

How predictable!!
Negative comments and conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen.

How can you live in a place populated by uninformed HDB dwellers, who don’t see how they have been fooled all these years??
If they hadn’t been told so by smart foreigners they would never have known how badly they have been cheated all these 50 years, or more.

Run by some unscrupulous people that take all their money and give nothing in return. And the fools keep on voting for them. How silly is that??

The smart people run away to a country run by a Government of honest and upright politicians that wants all the best for their people and nothing for themselves. Populated by even smarter people. (Descendants of people selected by the best of British judges, no less)

Easy, they pay the bills so the rich live well.
No tax for non singapore income, no capital gains tax, no tax on securites income, no tax on foreign flag yachts, do I need to go on?
They are all laws to make the rich richer and rich poor divide greater which it has.
The gov is fantastic!
Can you name another country with these policies?
You truly lived in the Truman show whilst you were here, thats very clear to all.

Just a coincidence or they like the airport…

The trend in voting is the PAP might be out at the next election so unlike you the population is waking up.

In fact Singapore was developed from a rather backward country to what it became later by a Dutch economist Albert Winsemius (1910–1996) who was a Dutch economist best known for serving as an economic adviser to Singapore.

In 1960, Winsemius led the United Nations Expanded Programme for Technical Assistance (EPTA) team to examine Singapore’s potential in industrialisation. At that time, Singapore had just attained self-government and was facing high unemployment and growing population. Winsemius presented a 10-year development plan to transform Singapore from an entrepot trading port into a centre of manufacturing and industrialisation.

Winsemius’ first emphasis was on creating jobs and attracting foreign investment. Labour-intensive industries, such as the production of shirts and pyjamas, were expanded. He also encouraged the large-scale public housing programme, believing that it would bolster the country’s image, thus attractive to foreign investors. One of his earliest pieces of advice was not to remove the statue of Stamford Raffles as it was a symbol of public acceptance of Singapore’s British heritage and could alleviate concerns that investors have towards a new socialist government. With Winsemius’ help, Singapore attracted big oil companies such as Shell and Esso to establish refineries there.

Winsemius worked closely with Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore. Lee was a great admirer of Winsemius and when the latter retired donated a lifetime luxury mansion for the private use of him and his family.


Yes he is well recognized as an important contributor to Singapore’s early growth and even survival. This fact is not something that is hidden, nor has it ever been a secret.
LKY have priced him in speeches and in writing many times over the years and thanked him for his contribution to Singapore.

Another, maybe less talked about fact, is Israeli contribution to Singapore’s security in the early years of independence, when both Malaysia and Indonesia was hostile to the upstart “little red dot in a sea of green” that nobody gave much change of surviving on it’s own:

With no natural resources, no hinterland and not much in the way of industry at the time, it was almost totally dependent on the British Armed Forces, who was still the main employer of Singaporean workers (They suddenly pulled out in 1971)

A little anecdote:
When the Israeli advisors visited LKY’s office at the Istana they were shock to look out the open window and look directly at an apartment building with no security and open air walkways at each floor. It was within easy range for a sniper.

The Istana got “hardened” with new security fences around the grounds, armed guards patrolling the perimeter and manning the two gates.
The grounds are only open to the public on a couple of days a year

PS> The walkways on the apartment building got covered. Still is to this day, (unless it has been demolished, like many other buildings from that period) or at least was last time I walked past.

The danger period for Singapore was before 1968. The British And Commonwealth armed forces employed so many Singaporeans because they was so many of them. There were 9000 Royal Marines in Nesoon barracks. In 1965 there were 60,000 British and commonwealth troops and 80 warships including 2 aircraft carriers based in Singapore. New Zealand manned two minesweepers and provided a Frigate.

When the British forces withdrew from East of Suez, Aussies and Kiwis took over some of the facilities and roles the Brits had played, but far few in numbers.
(They did keep Bugis Street alive and humming though)

The Five Power Defense Arrangement is still in existence and hold annual exercises in the region, but not with permanent presents of foreign forces in Singapore, or Malaysia.

USAF has a small supply base and Air Force contingent in Singapore and the US Navy’s 7th Fleet make regular visits at Changi Naval Base.

The first 10 years or more after independence was tough in Singapore, with attempts to keep the population growth in check by the “Stop at Two” campaign and limitation on foreigners working here.

That included in the Maritime industry, which had been identified as a future growth area, with local and foreign owned shipping companies being encouraged to use the Singapore Ship Register. The problem was that there were few qualified Singaporean officers and local Maritime Education had just got underway. The Naval Base had trained some very capable Mechanics and the Royal Navy, RFA and MM some good Engine Drivers that became Engineers.

Lot of dispensations were issued to fill positions on the ships, but foreigners were still needed to fill top positions, both afloat and ashore.
One problem was that Singaporean Deck officers quickly found jobs as Harbour Pilots and left the ships before they got to hold command, or even serve as Ch.Officer. Engineers became Superintendents, or worked on the shipyards.

In the early 1970s I was Master on a Singapore flag ship, where I was the only one with a license eqv. to my position.

By the early 1980s Singapore encouraged labour intensive industry to move to other countries in the region to free up work force and factory space for more capital intensive industry with higher Value Added
Singapore even offered monetary support to Garment Manufacturers to move to Bangladesh and Electronic Assembly plants to move to Thailand.

Singapore is a place for foodies.
Food of all kinds and all different cuisines are available 24/7 and some even at affordable prices. (You can also find upmarket expensive places)

Places for late night supper for the party animals, or night owls:

A renown guide to Singapore food by a renown foodie can be found here.
The MakanSutra:

If you don’t want to travel half the world around just for a meal, maybe this will be a better choice. (At least a bit closer):

While I love Singapore it has its pluses and minuses. Education? World class which was one of Yew’s greatest accomplishments. Providing proper housing for the citizens? Good. Attracting international business to the country? World class. Infrastructure? Great. Low corruption? Very good.
The problems I have seen is the country now seems to rely on imported labor rather than increase the pay of the Singaporeans. Lack of press freedom. The low to nonexistent tax rates on capital gains tax, foreign income etc., is indicative of late state captured capitalism. I hope the leaders see the handwriting on the wall before it is too late. It is a tiny but very nice place…if you can afford it.

No Singapore is not perfect, but name one country or place that is.
With the experience of race riots in the 1950s and -60s there is nothing that scares Singapore authorities more than somebody stirring up racial trouble. A “free press” like in the US or Europe, with all kinds of nutcases voicing their bigoted opinion under the umbrella of “freedom of speech” is a luxury that Singapore cannot afford.

For thos who have the rime and interest, here is a NG video about Singapore the future city:

I’m sure somebody can find any number of things that is wrong about this prediction and all that it stand for.

1 Like

The leaders havnt got a plan so the rich poor divide is getting greater and the economic plan is still the same as when Britain handed over, low tax to attract foreign capital and make sure there is cheap labour for those foreign companies.

Thats a hard pushed propganda that has run its course, more then once foreign companies have been quoted in the press that the graduates are just not employable what has your education system done to them.
That leaves no room for the majority of locals and the only place they can vent is in the voting which is moving toward the opposition in each election.
The problem is the old farts that just remember the great job that the government did from the beginning, undertandable as their lives just got better and better, so keep voting that way but they are ignoring the future of their grandchildren and the people in the gov today are not those from LKY’s group.

Now you have the situation with young people with some get up and go, leaving as they can see that a lifetime working in another country will put them well ahead than if they stay.
I hear it from lots from friends that are at the top of global companies that local staff see their opposite number overseas and are jealous of their lifestyle when they were always told you were better off in Singapore because its a low tax place.
They have woken up that although their colleague in Australia/New zealand/USA etc pays more tax but yet owns a huge house ( in their eyes) 2 cars and a boat but is on the same salary and they are still living with their parents in a HDB.

Here’s a history of the economic reality

The gov own a huge chunk of the economy

The joke is they need the GLC’s ( Government Linked Corporations) as a place to put the Singaporeans.
The gov power comes from the military so they keep plucking them out and dropping them into postions they are wholly unskilled and un qualified to do.

After several high profile technical failures on the SMRT, the underground railway and the bosses falling on their swords, the public was made well aware that the bosses were from the military and they just replaced one with another, the world is laughing.
The locals have a great joke…
" Son why did you join the military" “Because what I really wanted was a train set”

here’s the quality of the clowns in gov these days, just another flunky yes man from the military.

this guy is being touted as the next PM
There is almost nobody in gov today that LKY would of had in his cabinet, yet they are a product of his education system. The old gang were not products of the system the gov created and hence well respected by all.
Can you imagine a foreign company employing people like this?

Here’s another flunky from the military put as the head of Singapore Press Holdings

A CEO that doesnt like questions at a press conference.
SPH is majority owned by the gov to keep control of the press and has never made any money.
so lets agree it cant make any money as a monopoly

its all good if you believe what you read in the newspaper but