10 July 2006

Singapore & Natural Resources

An interesting post from the new Singapore Angle blog:
Anyone of my generation would recall the copious amounts of indoctrination being applied upon us in school. There is this particular piece of Malthusian absurdity which I would like to debunk today. It is called:
"Singapore has no natural resources, and the only thing we have is people, therefore we must make full use of our human resource"
Some think that this is to justify treating human beings like numbers on a balance book. To me, the greater evil that this piece of propaganda has inflicted upon Singaporeans is the creation of a mistrust of capitalism, and an addictive reliance on government meddling in our everyday lives. It is time we discarded that myth that we lack natural resources, and realise that Singapore has never lacked natural resources. The fact is that throughout human history, there has ever only been one natural resource, and that is human ingenuity and creativity.

Click here for more.

My own view has always been that Mother Nature gave Singapore a fair deal. We have little in terms of natural resources like water, land etc but then we are also quite free of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

The creation of fertile farmland.
Excellent, if you live to plant crops next year.

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Anonymous said...

Before I lived overseas, I thought we were indeed blessed with no natural calamities. No harsh winters, no floods and no rugged terrrain. Just a piece of flat land. So wonderfully calm and peaceful.

Having lived overeseas for some time, I have a different perspective. I have grown stronger and tougher from the harsh conditions and braver too.

I also learn to appreciate the breadth and depth of situations.

To me, these 'calamities' are not obstacles to growth. Probably catalysts.

Most people say Singapore lacks natural resources and human resources is the only thing we have.

Frankly, I think having numbers is not good enough. What is a population of 10 million if they all lack spirit, will and creativity to live and to make things happen?

Singapore reminds me of New Zealand with all its sheep grazing happily and contentedly in the fields. Unfortunately, Singapore is very small. Size matters in survival. If size is lacking, the human resources need to be much more creative and daring than what we are now.

Sadly, the environment is not very conducive for such development. Most still want to feel safe and protected.

tsw said...

From a real estate standpoint, if being situared in an area mostly free of the natural disasters stated, one of our "resources" is our excellent maritime location and we have been "resourceful" enough to exploit this advantage.

joseph said...

I agree that it’s a myth that Singapore has no natural resources. We had a lot, and we still do have some, but it’s a matter of how we choose to use or waste/abuse it. For example, look at how we wasted our precious soil by conccreting over ite soil. Today, there’s hardly any left for farming, and we have to import the soil for food and we also import soil indirectly when we import food. We always say we don’t have land, but look at how we waste it on building excessive golf courses (we have the highest density of golf courses in the world). See also www.singapore-window.org/sw00/000906bt.htm

On your point that the only natural resource is human ingenuity, I’m afraid I disagree. No amount of human ingenuity so far has involved creating food etc out of a vacuum. And let’s not forget that much of human creativity has been inspired by nature itself. So human ingenuity must be complemented by natural resources. Without theese natural resources, ingenuity alone does not take us very far. See also

Mr Wang Says So said...

It's not my point - click on link and go debate with Legal Janitor over at Singapore Angle.

My point is about the natural disasters.

John Riemann Soong said...

We have quite a fair bit of granite, ocean and high-tech agricultural space (such as fish farms). Not unique resources, but how is that NeWater coming along, ah?

Of course some of the things I was taught in primary school I am considering only now. That 100 streak for Social Studies might only have been a 100 streak for indulging in propaganda, haha.

Anonymous said...

S'pore geographical position is its asset and what propelled the island to a prominent trading hub during the 19th century and later the 20th century. This geographical advantage played a greater role than PAP's so-called "good policies" during the past 50 years and made us what we are today. The PAP simply took all the credit that's all.

W said...

There are natural geographical advantnges for Singapore but if you think that it naturally progresses without careful handling by the present powers, you would be woefully mistaken(see Colombo port or Tricomanlee or even Rangoon). As any port along the Straits of Malacca can circumvent Singapore.
Castigate if you feel necessary, but please give credit where credit is due.