Awareness and visions: Singapores Prime Minister had the will and effort to transform Singapore from a city crowded with buildings and infrastructure, to a city that is greener, so that peoples mental and health conditions will improve and to convince outsiders of the countrys sustained development.
Policies and measures: Policies and measures are the major tools in this example that has helped make the leaders vision become real. Here are some policy measures that have been established according to this vision.
A vision of a good leader to boost up the economy by attracting international investors with trees
A city is pictured as a place with buildings, roads, people and chaos. To have nature existing in uniform with the city atmosphere sounds as almost impossible. One small country in this World, has been capable of bringing this concept to reality, this owes it all to one visionary leader, former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew.
The Garden City of Singapore unfolds herself to the foreign visitor the moment he steps into the Singapore Changi International Airport. The tiny urban industrial city of some 647.5 sq. km with a population of 3.6 million is well known as a 'Garden City'. Despite her rapid industrialization since the 1960s where a great part of her natural surroundings had to disappear to make way for infrastructures, industrial and urban centres, she has today emerged relatively unscathed by negative environmental impacts.
David Bellamy, a well-known conservationist, said that Singapore "is a role model for other cities in sustainable development", while Alexandra A Seno acknowledged that "with her landscaped grounds and profusion of greenery, Singapore well deserves the 'Garden City' title".
The Garden City was the brainchild of the former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, now Senior Minister (SM). There were two main reasons for the SM's passion for gardens.
First, to woo investors. "In wooing investors, even the trees matter," so said SM on 1 August 1996, when the Economic Development Board of Singapore celebrated its 35th anniversary. He reflected: "well-kept trees and gardens were a subtle way of convincing potential investors in the early crucial years that Singapore was an efficient and effective place." In the very first sentence in the introduction to the book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, it was noted: "Lee Kuan Yew wanted Singapore to become a garden city, to soften the harshness of life in one of the world's most densely populated countries, ."
The verdant city of Singapore today is the result of a deliberate 30-year policy which, according to SM, required "political will and sustained effort".
Speaking at the official opening of the new $5-million National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 20 October 1995, he said: "I have always believed that a blighted urban landscape, a concrete jungle destroys the human spirit. We need the greenery of nature to lift up our spirits."
So it was that from the 1960s, the 'trees' did woo many investors. And it would appear that in 1963, the then Prime Minister sowed the seed of the Garden City by launching what would subsequently become the annual tree-planting campaigns which was subsequently replaced by the 'Clean and Green' Week in 1990.
In 1968, during the passage of the second reading of the Environmental Public Health Bill, it was stated: "The improvement in the quality of our urban environment and transformation of Singapore into a garden city - a clean and green city - is the declared objective of the government."
1968 was the beginning of the high-water point of Singapore's industrialization and urbanization.
The 1968 'Garden City' approach was her vision of integrating environment with development and influenced her subsequent environmental policies. The epithets "green and clean" to describe the 'garden' were elements in her "Garden Approach' to sustainable development. Although this term 'sustainable development' was not known and was only given political legitimacy in 1987, in the Brundtland Report, Singapore was already well ahead in envisioning Singapore as a clean and green Garden City.
This vision was embodied in her environmental policies. Subsequently, strategies were developed under the Singapore Green Plan (1992) and six workgroups were established which developed strategies for the Plan. The six groups were in the areas of environmental education, environmental technology, resource conservation, clean technologies, environmental noise and nature conservation (see The Singapore Green Plan - Action Programmes, 1993).
Singapore is not content just to be just a Garden City - she wants to hold herself up as a "Model Green City" in the year 2000, so goes the title of the Green Plan - Towards a Model Green City - A Tropical City of Excellence.
Literature or other written project review references
Source of Information:
Ministry of the Environment
40 Scotts Road
Tel: 732 7733 / Fax: 734 7763
National Parks Board
Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259589
Tel: 4741165 / Fax: 475 4295
Ms Koh Kheng-Lian, Director,
Asia Pacific Centre for Environmental Law,
the National University of Singapore,
10 Kent Ridge Crescent,