They say time waits for no one. I guess in the Singapore context its true. I have only been gone for a short space of 4 months but things never stand still in Singapore. The URA and LTA never stop digging, building, revamping, restructuring and reconstructing this island. Being a small country only 42km wide and 23km deep, we certainly provide alot of jobs for engineers. While I was away, Vivocity, Ikea and Courts decided that they will compete with each other and create a mega mall right smack in space constraint Singapore. As if Singapore still needs another shopping mall, these shopping meccas opened with massive fanfare as usual with huge throngs of people rushing in to be the first to set foot on the newly tiled floors.
Being a small island and all with the need to survive, I guess we all have to change constantly to survive competition. Unlike most countries, Singapore has nothing to dig out from the ground. We rely extensively on what we can create and provide. And all these are in the boundaries of man-made. We can't man make oil, neither can we invest in a million sheep and export them for wool. We don't have the space and the government is no god.
But I feel being a citizen of this country, there is something that I wish will stay permanently. No, I am not against the necessity of change. I just feel that as a country we need to have something that we can remember for a long time. Yes, we can attract short term tourism with new spanking malls every half a year but what Singapore really needs is something that we can treasure and something that we can identify ourselves with. Just like Sydney has the Opera house, Malaysia has the twin towers and Paris has the eiffel tower, Singapore needs an icon that we can remember and distinctly identify. And please, don't tell me we have the merlion. I can't imagine a ton of tourist being attracted to that half fish half lion to come back everytime when they feel like it.
I have to agree with Neil Humphreys that for all the hype about Orchard rd, that place is just an area of shops. There is nothing unique about that place. With this year's STB slogan being 'Uniquely Singapore', I hope they actually go out and promote something that is unique on this island. Except for Singlish, its still hard to find anything that is unique so far.
Time has changed everything in Singapore. Roads are built and rebuilt, buildings are replaced, retail turnover is frequent. Like an old sword, Singapore is sharpen everytime the government feels that it is blunt. But no matter how hard they sharpen, the only thing that will change is the blade. The overall lustre of the sword remains. And it is lustre that attracts people like bees to honey.
What Singapore needs is an icon. A lustre that will keep bringing the people back to see the glitter. And no, the casino and merlion doesn't fit into this category. It's time we look beyond the obvious and go for the juggernaunt. Let's look at something in the league of the Eiffel tower.