Singapore: The Tale of an Incredible Transformation


Rushil Garre, Staff Writer

Most people today know the country of Singapore as a gleaming city-state with grandiose skyscrapers and monuments. It is widely considered to be an ideal vacation spot. However, the island nation wasn’t always seen this way.

Just around 60 years ago, during the 1960s, Singapore was an extremely poor country with substandard infrastructure. Over 65% of the population lived in slums. It had a GDP per capita of around 500 USD, one of the lowest in the world at the time. To make matters worse, it had no farming land or natural resources. To say Singapore’s future was uncertain would be an understatement.

It was during this time that a man known as Lee Kuan Yew entered the picture. He became the prime minister of Singapore on August 9, 1965. Lee formulated a plan to improve the poor conditions of the country. With the assistance of Israel, he established Singapore’s military and intelligence network. One task accomplished, Lee began to focus on strengthening the nation’s economy.

Lee believed that in order for Singapore to progress, its people must be united. Thus, his administration punished religious extremists who used hate speech to divide the public. He also invited multinational companies to set up branches in the country. He convinced them to do this by setting up policies that encouraged low taxation for businesses.

As a result, slums were destroyed and replaced by polished towers. Singapore essentially jumped from a third-world country to a first-world one. Today, the nation’s GDP per capita is over 70,000 USD – one of the highest in the world. It now ranks #1 as the best-educated nation and #1 for the best place for children. Just a few days ago, Singapore’s public train system was rated as one of the greatest to exist. Lee Kuan Yew is now recognized as the founding father of the island nation.