The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

Singapore turns 50: local issues in a global city

Michiel Baas

Singapore turns fifty this year. After a brief merger with and eventually an unfortunate expulsion from Malaysia, Singapore became an independent nation on 9 August 1965. These fifty years as an island-nation, city-state and ultimately one of the most ‘global’ of cities in the world have been marked by exceptionally rapid change. The week of mourning that followed the recent passing of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who was at the helm of the country’s spectacular transformation, once again brought to light the underlying narrative of survival in the Singapore story. The many reportages on TV and in newspapers that were united in their focus of ‘Remembering Lee Kuan Yew’ often revolved around how Singapore had faced its issues and challenges head-on from the start and how it had turned them into its advantage.