Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New Singapura

Its amazing what you can fit into two days in a city.
In Singapore we went on some guided walking tours and soaked up the stories.

In Singapura
a city state misnamed
by a myopic Prince
who mistook a tiger for a lion,
wealthy wives of oil executives
lunch at Raffles
on Beach Road
now distant from
its once prime
waterfront views.

Wealthy wives
with wealthy tourists
in acres of shopping malls
sophisticated luxuries
compete with tick tack
in garish colours
all made
in factories
in the ancient homelands
of new Singapore

In new Singapore
the old has no value
locals return from sojourns abroad
to find their history
as land fill.
National Libraries
make way for million dollar tunnels,
schools relocate to ease
traffic snarls,
self congratulatory high rise buildings
rise from the ruins
of their colonial heritage.

The Singapore
of Somerset Maugham
is a story told in guide books
and on walking tours
for wealthy wives who
know too little
of Japanese invasion,
Chinese starvation or
near neighbours
once the centre of
empire and
the wealth of nations.

Old Sultanates
in the new history
fight for attention
alongside Colonial founders
and stories of
forced labour,
enterprising Armenians
and East India spice traders
in magnificent museums
built on transplanted mountains
and imported sand.

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