Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011 (Singapore)

SO, THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE: From the top of the Marina Bay Sands Casino, you look out toward the ocean over the top of a huge landscaped area. Dotting the place are numerous tall structures--about 25 meters high and up (right). They look like GOLF TEES for Paul Bunyan. We lazily wondered about them.
Today, because I stuck my head into the Marina Bay City Gallery I found out what the heck they are. I overheard a tour guide telling students (above) about something called "supertrees" that are sprinkled throughout the area. These are basically "vertical gardens" that will eventually feature flowering tropical climbers, ferns and other plants. They will be lit up at night. These will provide shade. From the Web site above:
The ‘Supertrees’ are man-made structures that will incorporate vertical greenery with environmentally-sustainable functions such as collecting rainwater and recycling heat.
We'll be gone before we can get an up-close look. Might be worth coming back to see them when they are done.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Today's Straits Times captured what will be a historic moment. Lee Kuan Yew's tenure as cabinet member here in Singapore. The news of his intention to leave the cabinet was in the news last Sunday (when we were in Seoul). It's not exactly an Arab Spring here, but this is a significant event for Singapore. It remains to be seen how things will change. But it is clear that many Singaporeans were very upset with a pronouncement Minister Mentor Lee made before the election, essentially threatening voters in a certain district with repercussions if they were to vote against his People's Action Party. (He said they would have "five years to live and repent" their decision. Not very statesman-like.)
For a non-official view of his departure and career, try this "Online Community of Daft Singaporean Noises". The official responses are very easy to find.
The man and the city-state are hard to separate. He was one of the most enduring and profoundly important leaders of the last 50 years. The change here is worth noting, both officially and unofficially.
Toronto's Globe and Mail puts this in a healthy perspective--summing up the change ("Singapore's Minister Mentor Steps Down but Not Out") and crediting a Singaporean novelist with starting a healthy change here (in 1994)--see "The Little Article the Rocked Singapore".

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