Singapore opposition nothing more than frail invertebrates: NYT

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Read in the New York Times, an article on how Singapore is reclaiming land for the future, with awesome pictures and some interesting details on how Singapore is digging deep down under and will soon build up higher in the sky above container terminals.

The feature long article can be summed up in these buried paragraphs, which speaks of how Singapore has a one party rule system that allows its government to do anything it wants.

“Singapore has always held elections, but only one party — Lee Kuan Yew’s People’s Action Party — has ever ruled the island, and only three men have ever been prime minister. Opposition parties have never been permitted to be anything more than frail invertebrates, so the P.A.P. can do as it pleases.”

It says the environmental consequences of remodeling the coastline — an altered ecology, wetlands rubbed off the map — can be waved away.

And residents can be moved so that projects can proceed. In Singapore’s quandary of where to put its people, the people themselves — the living as well as the dead — can seem like pieces on a checkerboard.

Talking of the dead, there is the Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery which lies as close to Singapore’s geographical midpoint as is possible without intruding into the grounds of the Singapore Island Country Club.

Largest Chinese graveyard outside China!
The article says no one has been buried here since 1973, but it still holds more than 200,000 human remains within its 400 acres, making it one of the largest Chinese graveyards outside China.

On the site, lies the remains of the man who introduced the governess Anna Leonowens to the king of Siam was buried in a Bukit Brown tomb.

This story became a famous show on British television, Anna and the King.

The cemetery is so overgrown with weeds that it is one of Singapore’s few truly untended spaces.

There is no signage, and most inscriptions are in Chinese.

One side of the path into the cemetery was lined with a green metal fence hiding construction work on a new expressway that will soon tear through the heart of Bukit Brown.

“We can’t have that graveyard in the center of the island forever,” a former city planner told me. Singapore prefers columbaria, in which urns of cremated remains are stored in cavities on a wall.

“All our graves are high-rise too!” he said with a laugh.

A group of citizens is campaigning to save Bukit Brown, calling it a vital piece of the island’s heritage, but more than 4,000 graves have already been exhumed, and the ground that contained them has been leveled.

But Singapore is moving on.

Source: NYT