‘Little India’: Diverging Destinies in Heritage Spaces , pp. 2 of 10

Singapore: Destiny or Direction?

Destiny, the predetermined course of events, associated with the earliest of geographical thinkers and evident in the work of environmental determinists until the early twentieth century, still has a place within the karma of oriental theosophy. But while geography may have indeed been destiny underpinning the success of the British colonial trading port of Singapore and, more latterly, accelerating the rise of the modern development state since 1965, the future of Singapore after 50 years of independence will depend upon the state’s continued competitiveness in the face of heightened competition from Asia’s newly liberalising economies. As other centres, notably Dubai, Hong Kong and Shanghai, have taken on the mantle of global cities, questions have been raised regarding the continued applicability of “Singapore Exceptionalism”. The city-state’s combination of astute economic management, ambitious infrastructure provision and bold attempt at social engineering being characterised as an older, inflexible, top-down structure deemed less applicable to the demands of an increasingly volatile and continually re-inventive group of  “worlding” cities (Roy & Ong, 2011).

Tacit recognition of the need for change was characterised as the “new normal” by longstanding PAP (People’s Action Party) government member and now Singapore President, Dr Tony Tan, who envisaged that through a “process of debate, discussion and challenge, we will end up with better results and progress for Singapore” (Asia One News 15 July 2011). Subsequent commentators have been less sanguine about the city-state’s polity asserting that “Singapore is in the midst of a profound economic and sociopolitical transition (which) began around the turn of the century and accelerated after the 2011 General Election” (Low & Vadaketh, 2014, p. 1). While the PAP convincingly won the 2011 General Election with over 60% of the popular vote (a result that would be regarded as a landslide in any western democracy), the first time loss of a multiple member Group Representation Constituency (GRC) coupled with a second successive negative swing in the popular vote led to some soul searching within the government. The lukewarm support of the electorate was ascribed to heartfelt, genuine concerns within the ambit of the prosperity consensus pact, most particularly rising home prices, greater levels of congestion and issues relating to the city-state’s increasing economic reliance on foreign workers.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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