Singapore – Foreign, Yet Familiar

singaporeBy PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

From the Malaysian news service Sinchew comes a vital article by prolific journalist Martin Abbugao explaining what Singapore natives and visitors will be drinking. This island republic is rich in many things, but water is not one of them. Water reclamation is an emerging industry with huge potential for profit, and science has tackled the problem in a big way. The key, according to Khoo Teng Chye, chief of Singapore’s water agency, is membrane technology, a large-scale and relatively inexpensive way to purify water using semi-permeable filters and no chemicals. Abbugao says:

The government has turned two-thirds of the island into a massive catchment for the abundant rain that falls all year round to supplement the water piped in from Malaysia.

A 7,000-kilometre (4,340-mile) drainage network directs rainwater into 15 reservoirs, a number that will increase to 17 next year.

Stormwater harvesting on such an ambitious scale is far from usual in the urban centers of the world. The plan includes canals made to look like natural streams, which is not a bad idea.

That’s all well and good, but what about the famous Raffles Hotel, where the Singapore Sling was invented? It will surprise no one to learn that Kevin Dolgin has written elegantly of Raffles in The Third Tower Up from the Road. Nevertheless, Singapore is, alas, not exotic. Far too many people speak English for any exotic ambiance to survive, apparently. Except in Chinatown, which still has old-timey pastel-colored buildings with retro window shutters.

Singapore recently made the news when pictures of a couple having sex in a park were circulated through cyberspace. And because of its annual Airshow and trade show, which sent its managing director Jimmy Lau to the Paris Air Show to learn more about how to manage all the delegations and meetings smoothly. This was reported by Satish Cheney, who says next February’s Singapore Airshow is already 95% booked.

While waiting for the Airshow to happen, what might a person do in Singapore? Well, a person might visit the new Coins and Notes Museum. Or one might go to the ten-day Singapore Food Festival which features “Peranakan” cuisine, and that’s a Malay term that means “locally born.” The city also offers an annual 12-day Cultural Heritage Festival, attended by a million and a half people. And there’s an annual horse race, the Emirates Singapore Derby, which appears to be a very posh occasion indeed.

As the HQ of literally thousands of multinational companies, Singapore is a tempting target. But it’s also a place to feel safe, because the administration is quite serious about anti-terrorist drills. Although it’s an expensive area to live in, it’s also a place not to worry about that, because Singapore has recently legalized the sale, by their owners, of human organs. So relax! If you run out of money and have to sell your kidney, just tell them it was owned by a little old lady who only drove it on Sundays.

photo courtesy of Singapor3, used under this Creative Commons license

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