Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Thoughts on Singapore

Singapore recently celebrated 50 years of being an independent nation, and there was a huge amount of celebration, and rightly so. (I though used the holidays to get out of Singapore and get a cheap holiday)

I have spent the last 5 years here, and despite my love hate relationship with Singapore, this city has given me a lot.
From a directionless and choppy career in banking, atleast this place has let me firm up my goals and career interests.

Thanks to my regular pub quiz nights (Tuesday Trivia), I do have friends from various nationalities and backgrounds, while earlier in London and Dubai, all my friends were either Indians or Bankers ... and then the conversation gets extremely boring.

Singapore is one of the few truly global cities, where no matter where you are from, it can be like home.

Though my own assimilation in Singapore remains incomplete. I scored 4/5 on this test of Singlish

Some more links about Singapore (thanks to social media)
50 reasons why Singapore is the best City - CNN
50 pictures of old Singapore you might not have seen before
Kishore Mahubani on Why Singapore is the worlds most successful society

Tyler Cowen (blogger at Marginal Revolution and Prof at George Washington University) has a few great posts on Singapore. At times it takes an independent outsider to be able to get an accurate view

Why is Singapore Special - Great Leadership, efficient bureaucracy, great food.
A Simple Theory of Singapore Complaints - Many Singapore residents would be better off if in some regards the country were not so nice. That is a hard problem to solve, but in some ways a nice problem to have.
Singapore as a Financial Corporation - this is the best one, its basically a mega hedge fund with some citizens.

Some of the recent success, (especially financial) has come with the twin tail winds -
1. Easy US monetary policy (US Federal Reserve printing money, and this easy money leaking into emerging markets)
2. Breakneck Chinese Growth (and probably a lot of it debt fuelled)
These two phenomenons are now reversing, and thus the tailwinds would turn to headwinds.
Though given the strong institutions built in Singapore, it should be robust enough to withstand the turning tide.

While the last 5 years have been enjoyable roller coaster ride for me, looking forward for 5 more.

Mahjula Singapura! (Onward Singapore)

P.S. - For the Trivia Nerds some #SG50 questions from the great Caleb Liu (picked from his FB wall)

1. There are two other countries that gained their independence in 1965, both former British colonies like Singapore. The first is the smallest country in mainland Africa by area, the second is an island nation and archipelago. Can you name them?

2. Buildings in Singapore have a maximum height restriction due to aircraft overflight restrictions - what is the maximum height in metres? Also, three buildings share the honour of being the tallest in Singapore as they are all built to this maximum height. What are the three buildings?

3. Which seafood restaurant, which still has a prominent outlet near the East Coast Park lagoon, is famous for inventing pepper crab (Note NOT Chillli Crab which is disputed)?

4. Singapore's MRT system was first opened in 1987 with a stretch of 5 stations running between which two stations? Name both of them.

5. Which area of Singapore has a name that originates from Kampong Shan Ting or literally "pavilions on the green" which accounts for the colourful roofs of its HDB flats. It also formerly contained a canal known as "dead chicken river" because people used to throw dead animal carcasses into it?

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