Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Brief History of Singapore


If you are new to Singapore, you’re probably wondering how this small city-state in Southeast Asia with a total land area measuring only 273 square miles (707.1 square kilometers) and one of the youngest nations in the world became one of its most successful.
The answer lies in a unique set of geography and history – Singapore’s strategic location on the major sea route between India and China, its excellent harbor, and its free-trade harbor status granted by its visionary founder Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. However, while Sir Stamford Raffles created the framework for Singapore’s early success, it was Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who shaped the first quarter-century of Singapore’s existence as an independent nation and defined the path to its current success. What follows is a brief history of the country’s origins from a colonial outpost to the developed nation that it is today.

Mythical Origins

Recent studies have verified that lions have never lived on Singapore but legend has it that a 14th century Sumatran prince spotted an auspicious beast (probably a Malayan tiger) upon landing on the island after a thunderstorm. Thus, the name Singapore comes from the Malay words “Singa” for lion and “Pura” for city. Prior to European settlement, the island now known as Singapore was the site of a Malay fishing village and inhabited by several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people.

The Founding of Modern Singapore

In late 1818, Lord Hastings – the British Governor General of India – appointed Lieutenant General Sir Stamford Raffles to establish a trading station at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula.  The British were extending their dominion over India and their trade with China was expanding. They saw the need for a port of call to “refit, revitalize and protect their merchant fleet” as well as to prevent any advances made by the Dutch in the East Indies.
After surveying other nearby islands in 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles and the rest of the British East India Company landed on Singapore, which was to become their strategic trading post along the spice route.  Eventually Singapore became one of the most important commercial and military centers of the British Empire. The island was the third British acquisition in the Malay Peninsula after Penang (1786) and Malacca (1795). These three British Settlements (Singapore, Penang and Malacca) became the Straights Settlements in 1826, under the control of British India. By 1832, Singapore became the center of government of the three areas. On 1 April 1867, the Straights Settlements became a Crown Colony and was ruled by a governor under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office in London.

Loosening Britain’s Stronghold

During World War II, Singapore was occupied by the Japanese.  British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described this “as the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”. In the aftermath of the war, the country faced staggering problems of high unemployment, slow economic growth, inadequate housing, decaying infrastructure, labor strikes and social unrest. Nevertheless, it sparked a political awakening among the local population and saw the rise of anti-colonial and nationalist sentiments, as epitomized by the slogan “Merdeka” which means “independence” in the Malay language.
In 1959, Singapore became a self-governing state within the British Empire with Yusof Bin Ishak as its first Yang de-Pertuan Negara (Malay for “Someone who is the eminent Master of the State”) and Lee Kuan Yew as its first and long-standing Prime Minister (he served until 1990). Before joining the Federation of Malaysia along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak, Singapore declared independence from Britain unilaterally in August 1963. Two years later, Singapore left the federation after heated ideological conflicts arose between the Singapore government’s major political party called the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the federal Kuala Lumpur goverment. On 9 August 1965, Singapore officially gained sovereignty. Yusof Bin Ishak sworn in as its first president and Lee Kuan Yew remained prime minister.
With independence came bleak, if not precarious economic prospects. According to Barbara Leitch Lepoer, the editor of Singapore: A Country Study (1989): “Separation from Malaysia meant the loss of Singapore’s economic hinterland, and Indonesia’s policy of military confrontation directed at Singapore and Malaysia had dried up the entrepot from that direction.” According to the same book, Singapore also faced the loss of 20 percent of its jobs with the announcement of Britain’s departure from the island’s bases in 1968.

Road to Success

Instead of demoralizing Singapore, these problems motivated Singapore’s leadership to focus on the nation’s economy. With Cambridge-educated lawyer Lee Kuan Yew at its helm, the Singaporean government was aggressive in promoting export-oriented, labor-extensive industrialization through a program of incentives to attract foreign investment. After all, Singapore still had its strategic location to its advantage.
By 1972, one-quarter of Singapore’s manufacturing firms were either foreign-owned or joint-venture companies, and both USA and Japan were major investors. As a result of Singapore’s steady political climate, favorable investment conditions and the rapid expansion of the world economy from 1965 to 1973, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) experienced annual double-digit growth.
With the economic boom of the late 1960s and 1970s, new jobs were created in the private sector.  The government provision of subsidized housing, education, health services and public transportation generated new jobs in the public sector. The Central Provident Fund, the country’s comprehensive social security scheme sustained by compulsory contributions by employer and employee, provided the necessary capital for government projects and financial security for the country’s workers in their old age.
By the late 1970s, the government changed its strategic focus to skill and technology-intensive, high value-added industries and away from labor-intensive manufacturing. In particular, information technology was given priority for expansion and Singapore became the world’s largest producer of disk drives and disk drive parts in 1989. In the same year, 30 percent of the country’s GDP was due to earnings from manufacturing.
Singapore’s international and financial services sector was and still is one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy accounting for nearly 25 percent of the country’s GDP in the late 1980s. In the same year, Singapore ranked with Hong Kong as the two most important Asian financial centers after Tokyo. By 1990, Singapore played host to more than 650 multinational companies and several thousand financial institutions and trading firms. On the political front, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee Kuan Yew and in 2004 Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became Singapore’s third prime minister.

Singaporean Identity

Out of 5.312 million Singaporeans, 3.285 million are Singapore citizens and roughly 0.533 million are Singapore permanent residents. Chinese, Malays and Indians comprise the three official ethnic groups in the country. With such a multi-ethnic population, the country’s leadership envisioned a Singaporean identity that calls for “rugged individualism with an emphasis on excellence”.

Summary

The island’s initial success resulted from its role as a conveniently located and duty-free entrepot for the three-way trade among China, India and the Malay archipelago. By the late 19th century, the British overloads of Singapore had extended their influence throughout the Malay peninsula and the port of Singapore acquired a rich hinterland of resources.
When the British failed to protect Singapore from Japanese occupation during World War II, they lost their credibility with the Singaporeans.  The aftermath sparked an outpouring of anti-colonial and nationalist sentiments. After the Merger with Malaysia and the subsequent separation, the former colonial port of Singapore become a leader in global financing and trading in the 1970s. Today, it continues to wittingly maneuver its way in the world of international trade, just as it had done in the 19th century, and a large part of that success is owed to its government’s pro-industrialization policies and excellence-oriented multi-ethnic people.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

25 Pictures that will make you completely re-evaluate your existence

1. This is where we all live, our Earth.

2. This the solar system, our “neighborhood”.

via: foxnews.com

3. This is the scaled distance between Earth and Moon. You thought the moon was farther?

we-are-tiny-24

4. What if I told you that between Earth and moon you could fit every planet of our solar system?

via: reddit.com
via: reddit.com

5. If you still don’t have a measure of how tiny we are, here is North America compared to Jupiter.

6. You could line up SIX Earths on the Saturn’s rings.

7. And here is how our sky would look like if Earth had rings like Saturn.

via: io9.com
via: io9.com

8. This is a comet, compared to Los Angeles. Big, isn’t it?

9. If that was big, here is the sun, and we are that tiny little point down there.

via: twitter.com

10. And here is how we look like from the moon.

NASA
NASA

11. And from Mars.

NASA
NASA

12. From Saturn.

NASA
NASA

13. And from Neptune, 4 billion miles away.

NASA
NASA

14. But let’s look again at how we look like compared to the sun. It blows my mind every time.

15. That little dot is the sun, seen from Mars.

NASA
NASA

16. Did you know that there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth?

17. And between all these stars, many are much bigger than our sun. Take a look at how it looks compared to VY Canis Majoris.

18. And galaxies are incredibly bigger. Just so you understand: if the sun was a blood cell, the Milky Way would be as big as the United States!

via: reddit.com
via: reddit.com

19. The Milky Way is enormous. Here is where we are inside it.

via: teecraze.com

20. It’s mind blowing to think that all the stars we can see to the naked eye at night are just part of this yellow circle.

via: twitter.com

21. But don’t you ever think the Milky Way is the biggest galaxy in space. Here it is compared to Ic 1011!

via: twitter.com

22. This is a picture taken from the Hubble telescope. In just this space there are millions of galaxies, each and everyone of them containing million of stars, each with planets orbiting around them.

23. This is one of these galaxies. It’s named UDF 423, and it’s 10 billion light years away. Do you know what this means? It means that it’s light takes 10 billion years to reach the Earth. Basically, by looking at this galaxy you are looking 10 billion years into the past!

via: wikisky.org

24. Keep in mind that every single inch of your vision of the night sky contains billions of galaxies, stars, planets.

via: thetoc.gr
via: thetoc.gr

25. But it’s not all roses out there. Here is a black hole compared to our orbit. A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that no particle or light ray entering that region can ever escape from it.

So whenever you think about your life and existence, about the good and bad in this world, keep in mind that we are just a tiny, little dot lost in space. Just a little recap. This is where we live.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is how we look like in our solar system.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

And in our interstellar neighborhood.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Our neighborhood compared to our galaxy.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

And how it looks like from farther.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s zoom out a little more.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Some more.

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

And here we are, here is the observable universe. Everything we said before fits in that little red dot. Impressive, right?

photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin  (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
photo credits: Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thinking about how tiny and insignificant we are compared to the universe totally blew my mind

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Crystal mosque in Terenqqanu, Malaysia


Crystal Mosque in Malaysia is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. There are no doubts that today mosques function not only as the sacred sites for Muslims but they also attract tourists due to their rich history and outstanding image. 

The Crystal Mosque or Masjid Kristal is a mosque in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia. A grand structure made of steel, glass and crystal. The mosque is located at Islamic Heritage Park on the island of Wan Man. The mosque was constructed between 2006 and 2008. It was officially opened on 8 February 2008 by 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu. It has the capacity to accommodate over 1,500 worshipers at a time.

 The planning and realizing such impressive park took lots of resources and work (the estimated budget that was spent on the realization is about$ 80M). Among all the sites, the Crystal Mosque is the most famous and visited sightseeing highlight of the park. Just imagine yourself standing in front of this solid and shiny architectural wonder. Indeed, to some people it might seem like a scene from a fairy tales and legends, which used to tell us about magic golden palaces. The visual effect is truly amazing and it is certainly worth seeing this unbelievable building both from outside and inside.

Crystal Mosque History & Details

The mosque was built in the period between 2006 and 2008. Crystal, steel and glass were used as the three main materials in the construction and altogether they form a really incredible and astonishing look, which has been the reason to rank Crystal Mosque among the most beautiful mosques in the world. Another interesting fact is that this is the first mosque in the world to be equipped with different up-to-date amenities including wireless internet connection. The capacity of the mosque is quite imposing too, since there about 1, 500 worshipers can be taken in at one time.

Although the traditional historic mosques carry some exciting stories from the past, one should not make a little account of the new ones and Crystal Mosque is a great example. As a breath taking engineering achievement this mosque building shows us that nothing is impossible – even crystal buildings. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Langkawi Sky Bridge - Mount Mat Cincang, Malaysia


This bridge will take your breath away:  The Langkawi Sky Bridge and Langkawi Cable Car and are some of the most popular attractions in Langkawi. The Langkawi Sky Bridge on Pulau's Mount Mat Cincang is only accessible via cable car. At 2,000 feet above sea level, tourists can literally walk across the treetops and view the canopy like never before. The walkway spans more than 400 feet, with observation decks strategically placed to show off the 99-island archipelago of Langkawi in an epic panorama. Langkawi Sky Bridge is completed in 2005.

Mount Mat Cincang is the second highest peak of Langkawi with an altitude of 709 meters from the sea level. If you look back from Burau Bay area, you will see the majestic mountain full of dense rainforests sloping down to the bay area. Mat Cincang is the oldest mountain in the whole of South East Asia having been formed some 500 million years back and has some of the oldest and stunning rock formations. The mountain range is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Geoparks of Langkawi and is a top tourist attraction in the region. 

The rainforest in mount Mat Cincang is full of amazing flora & fauna. While you can see gigantic trees in the forest, there are also many different small animals in the jungle. Some of the frequently seen animals include the Macaque Monkeys, Monitor Lizards, giant squirrels etc. You will also see many different bird life here including Golden Brown Eagles, Horbills, bablers and more. 

How to visit Mount Mat Cincang

So how can you explore Mat Cincang Mountain and even reach its peak?  

There are several ways. The most popular is by taking the Cable Car Ride from Oriental village which is located at the foothill of Mount Mat Cingcang in Pantai Kok area. This is one of the steepest cable car rides in the world and will give you a breath taking view on the way including that of the rainforest, the famous Seven Wells Waterfall, islands and the sea. From the peak you get a panoramic view of the island. 

Related Posts with Thumbnails