Thursday, August 09, 2018

We Are Singapore

The city of Singapore was founded in 1819. When the British first set foot on the island, Singapura (as it was known then) was a simple fishing village. (Most parts of the island were covered by forests and swamps.) The villagers were unaware that they would be witnessing a historic turning point to the island.

The British were then in search of a place to build a trading post to strengthen their trading power in Asia, most notably the Far East. Leading the British expedition was Sir Stamford Raffles from the British East India Company. Raffles was 38 when he landed on Singapore. He quickly realised that Singapore's location was ideal for a new port.

Not long later, the British signed a formal treaty with the Temenggong, or local chief. The British flag was first hoisted on 29 January 1819, thereby establishing Singapore as a British colony for the next one and a half century. Singapore became independent in 1965.

The British set up Singapore as a free port. As maritime trade grew throughout the region, immigrants from different parts of the world arrived in Singapore to find work or do business. Most of them came from China, and they mainly worked in plantations, quarries, warehouses (or godowns) and wharves. The British government and the East India Company sent many people to Singapore to perform adminstrative and other public functions, among them are troops and convicts from the Indian subcontinent to build roads and rail.

In no time, Singapore became a busy harbour for transporting goods between the Far East and Europe. Archaeological evidence suggests that a few centuries prior to the British, a substantial settlement may have already existed. However, this is a story for another time.

It is no mistake that the British founded modern Singapore. For this reason, Singapore is commemorating its bicentennial in 2019 with a year-long calendar of events. Singaporeans are grateful for the foundations the early immigrants have built. Many structures and public spaces built in the colonial days have been preserved till today.

Singapore became an independent country on 9 August, 1965. (Yes, many parts of the island were still covered by forests and swamps.) Under the leadership of founding prime minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the pioneer generation of Singaporeans successfully transformed Singapore into a vibrant first-world nation with a thriving and competitive economy. For Mr. Lee, his government and the pioneer generation, nation building was not an easy task. Indeed, neither would it be easy for the younger generations to bring Singapore to new heights of success. However, Singapore will always be ready for new challenges and opportunites, and scale to greater heights of success.

As we celebrate as one nation, I take this opportunity to wish all Singaporeans and friends:

Happy National Day. Majulah Singapura!

No comments: