Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Happy Birthday SG: We are 40 today

I'm not one to celebrate my own birthday, let alone a nation's. National Days come and go but somehow I'm paying more attention to it this year.

Maybe it's because 40 is a nice round number. Maybe because of it's a nice round number, the respective grassroots and government machinery has been out in force with the celebrations, and I can't help but notice it.


Wasn't even born yet.

My parents were, but they don't really tell me and my siblings "war stories". Oh, my dad sometimes goes into those "Back-in-those-days" storytelling mode but rarely.

Personally, I think there's are two books that everyone ought to read if they wish to delve a bit more into Singapore:

This is volume 1 - The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew
NLB Call No.: 959.57 LEE (Singapore Collection)
ISBN: 0130208035
Click here to check for item availability

It surprised me that I found it engaging and enjoyable. "Unputdownable" even, because it read like a political-thriller novel... like Tom Clancy without the military hardware. It's a blunt and personal look at the events that led to Singapore's Independence -- the Japanese Occupation, leading strikers against the colonial government, and then against the communists, the riots, merger with Malaysia and The Separation.

Volume 2 is titled From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000
NLB Call No.: 959.57 LEE (Singapore Collection)
ISBN: 0060197765
Click here to check for item availability

Where Volume 1 gives insights as to how Singapore achieved independence, this volume tells how modern Singapore was built. Chapters like "Going It Alone", "Building an Army from Scratch", "Britain Pulls Out", "Surviving Without a Hinterland", "Creating a Financial Center", "Winning Over the Unions", "nurturing and Attracting Talent", "Keeping the Government Clean", then insights into relationships with global neighbours like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the then Soviet Union, America, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and a few more chapters on China.

From the National Day video - "40 Today" - (source: www.sg):
Friends and fellow citizens.
This is a constantly changing and forward-moving society.
Singapore has changed, but more important, you and I , not only have we grown older, our own thoughts, our thinking has changed.
As the world around us changes, so we change to meet this new situation.

This wasn't said today, or two years ago. It was said on 11 August 1966 by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. And it still holds true today on our 40th birthday.

I'm not sure if people from overseas can make sense of the video. Basically it shows old photographs contrasted with the modern equivalent. Upon reflection, I noticed the video is all about the people of Singapore. In many sense, that's what Singapore only has, really. Its people.

BTW, there's a shot of the library at the 4:50 mark in the video. You can't really tell unless you're familiar with the place because they didn't feature the library that prominently.

I only have one grouse with the video.

Where's the librarian?

Happy birthday, Singapore.
(More well-wishers can be found at this Tomorrow.sg post)

Tag: ,


  1. happy birthday!

    i read the first few chapters of volume 2 and was very impressed. that's political will.

    re your question, the librarian's always somewhere in the background... rambling =)

  2. Very touching when you said that all Singapore really has is its people. I suppose the same can be said for any country, but... it touched my heart. I have a lot of respect for Singapore. I will read your recommended books. Happy Birthday to Singapore.

  3. hi, i was assistant director of the 40 Today video.
    sorry bout the missing librarian, it did occur to me, but we didn't come across any sexy award-winning types in our research. probably didn't look that hard in the first place, oops.
    i was pushing to shoot in the new library but it was still too much in construction at the time of our shoot. oh well.
    it looks great now though.

  4. To Won Ha: yes, you're right.The same can be said for any country. But for Singapore, it's even more so. We've got no farmlands, no large natural water resources or natural resource of any kind. Only the people.

    To pinkiebrown: Thanks for dropping by. I hope to win an award soon to qualify for a similar video. Unfortunately, I can't improve my sexiness... But some of my colleagues -- ladies & gents -- are good looking people. You probably didn't look hard enough. :) I'm kidding. It's a nice video. Great job.


Join the conversation. Leave a comment :)