SG50 : JOIE DE VIVRE
This post was written for www.hnworth.com, a site targeting high net worth individuals in Singapore.
Lifted off some stuff I wrote 2 years ago, relevant nonetheless….
Have fun reading…
I was pondering and then, fretting over my post for this week because there is really nothing particularly inspirational to write about and I am determined not to don that Doom Gloom hat for once on this brilliant day of sunshine with no chance of meatballs and distant clouds that, hopefully, shall lay their woes where they are.
A friend suggested I do the Sumiko Tan oven adventure story but nah, that would be what we read in the Sunday Times, no ? Or writing an ETF critique piece which I shall do sometime in the future before a heavy meal and most certainly before spending a day preparing material for that dratted bond seminar that I have been talking eternally about conducting.
So it came down to this SG50 Funpack mailer that I have just received that got me all bothered because I cannot find that confounded postcard that would entitle me to my funpack and it would be such a damper if I am to celebrate without the lovely pickings that are free unlike the SG50 water bottles that are going for 20 bucks at the petrol kiosks.
SG50 is something I have not contemplated on for this busy year and we are less than a month away now before the party kicks off.
50 years on and Singapore is still all about services as far as the economy is concerned, contributing 67% to total GDP with manufacturing just about 19% and construction at 5%.
Just look at what the cat dragged out from the old book pile. I must have nicked this some 2 decades ago from either my grandparents’ or my auntie’s troves even though it has British Red Cross Society neatly stamped inside the cover.
Skimming through the first few chapters, I am astounded by some striking similarities I found.
Such as the population problems.
“The rapid increase of the population has imposed a severe strain on public utility services.”
And our current problem with transportation ?
“The city becomes more crowded every day and encroaches upon the surrounding country. In the outskirts the expansion of the population overruns the supply of urban amenities and leads to slum conditions…. The Government has financed a series of major housing schemes. It has so far pledged over $100 millions in loans to the Singapore Improvement Trust, its housing agency, and by the end of 1953 was the owner of nearly 10,000 houses and flats.”
The population then was already 1.1 million, including Christmas and Cocos-Keeling Islands, which I have entirely forgotten about. But the beauty of the population then was that majority were within the ages of 0-10. The Baby Boomers ! My mommy was one of the 0’s that year and they had about 31 thousand private cars that year compared to over half a million now which is pretty good going considering that there were 170,000 bicycles and tricycles then.
Over 40% of the population was employed but income tax was Higher with the tax rate peaking at 30%. There were just over 2 dozen banks then and I am pleased to see some familiar names in their midst especially Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank ! Our POSB was started in 1949.
Singapore succeeded as a free port in a vision conceived by Stamford Raffles not before it was destroyed by the Javanese about 400 years before that. And a mighty trade centre Singapore remains in the world today. 60 years down and some of our problems remain largely the same – land (housing), water and transport, thus, we still have the same things to complain about.