Impressions of the Lion City

Last weekend was my first time ever visiting Singapore. Also my first time out of Malaysia (passport please!), and the Konvo trip was my first time flying. Seems I do a lot of ‘first times’ with my honey!

Me, Anne and her mum went down to S’pore mainly to catch Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress. It’s currently Singapore’s most successful musical production. Very well done, with melodies that stick in your mind, good humour and drama, and really wow-ing stage props!


Watching from the upper floors, the 45-degree angle of the backdrop made it look like an isometric-view videogame (specifically, Final Fantasy Tactics where the battle area ‘hangs in the air’).

The story portrays the Empress Dowager Cixi in a positive light, which is just one opinion on this controversial person – Wikipedia is less flattering. But that’s not what I wanted to blog about.

Riding around S’pore by bus, Toyota Wish and LRT, the impression I got everywhere was: Everywhere outside the city proper looks and feels like service apartment grounds! The well-landcaped greenery, the pretty and not-jammed roads, the bright signboards for everything everywhere, the stylish and neatly arranged housing apartments, the feeling of safety…

It was like the entire of Singapore island is enclosed within a classy gated community that charges high maintenance fees, but spends those fees very appropriately. And the wow thing is, I’m not inside a Prima Regency (Anne’s apartments) kind of place… I’m outside on the normal streets!

Anne commented several times about the ‘cost-of-living : income’ ratio in S’pore being quite good. Branded shirts on sale for S$4, which would be RM9+. But look at it this way, where in Malaysia do you get quality (and non-fake) branded clothes for RM4? She opined that something is wrong with Malaysia’s system of economy, something you can learn more about from various popular blogs around.

Perhaps in practicality, nothing is outright wrong with our economy. Just as developing China has cheaper cost of labour and production, developed Singapore has the 22nd highest GDP per capita in the world.

After a while, I too felt that it wouldn’t be bad working in Singapore. Anne wasn’t as keen, she can’t stand to take public transport every day (even such of S’pore quality service). LRT okay lah, but buses every day not really. For me it would be all right. The problem would be coming back to JB every day to be with Anne (moreso when we’re married).

But I don’t feel any worry about this matter; it’s completely comforting to trust that your whole life and future are planned out by God. Hear hear! 

Upon coming back to JB after just about 24 hours, we were greeted with the nostalgic smells of Malaysia… Vehicle exhaust, old cigarette smoke, urine/toilet fumes, and a general stuffiness. For some reason, it was comforting (or at least familiar). It was home. S’pore taxis just don’t have that special smell of cigarette/exhaust smoke saturation.

You can’t just flatly compare the the two nations though. Singapore is small – easy for leaders to implement and enforce rules. It is isolated/protected by the sea – immigration and imports can be strictly controlled. It started out without any entrenched cultural or religious norms that demand to be taken into consideration.

And it has a hard-working populace who were forged by the desperate situation the nation started out in – it was succeed, or die! A stark contrast to the easygoing, resource rich and highly subsidied lifestyle of Malaysians. (Then again, most American states are bigger than the whole of M’sia, and they manage to get 50 of them to form a successful and powerful nation!)

So just imagine if a country had Malaysia’s land and resources, and Singapore’s skilled/hardworking workforce and development. We would rise to become South-East Asia’s first superpower!

There is talk of S’pore simply buying/taking over M’sia wholesale, but this is foolishness. Attempting to incorporate the entire of M’sia (or even just Semenanjung) in one swallow would only choke the Singaporean system.

I propose that the melding process proceed gradually and sustainably. Start with rejuvenating Johor Bahru – implement better law enforcement, upgrade public services, clean up the streets, re-educate the citizens, improve the economy.

At the end of this period of development, JB will be transformed, able to stand proudly on its own… And ready to contribute to the assimilation of the next area of land! No more will JB be the allegory of crime and potholes. It will be one with the Singlaysia/Malayapore Way!

Bit by bit, the original dreams of 1963 will become reality…

One Response to “Impressions of the Lion City”

  1. cutlerylover storytime Says:

    cutlery Set Block

    Impressions of the Lion City | LEADING MALAYSIAN NEOCON

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