American Association..... 1-8 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business............... 9 Community News....... 10-12 The Early Days............ 13-25 Education........................ 26 Health & Wellness........... 27
Check Out Photos from Turkey Trot & Toys for Tots
The Key to Growing a Successful Business in Singapore
Health & Wellness 27
Why You Should Be Glad You Live in Singapore Now
The Early Days 13-25
What Was Singapore Like When Americans First Came? MCI (P) 116/04/2016
Happy Centennial, AAS! By Glenn van Zutphen
magine Singapore in 1917. Clipper ships unloading their holds onto small bumboats (in the area that’s now Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands); jostling for space up and down the bustling Singapore River at Collyer, Boat, Clark and Robertson Quays. Just look at the image above! Think of all the sights, sounds and smells (!) of a working port and all the excitement that comes with it. Picture sultry Singapore with no air conditioning; no ice (or refrigeration in the early days); frequent tropical downpours and flooded streets; kids playing among workers hauling loads of tin, rubber, gambier, pepper, tapioca or copra on their backs; trash being thrown and sewage draining into the river. It was a chaotic, booming, exciting era in our local history. Think about getting off your sailing ship or steamer at Johnston’s Pier (1856-1933) or Clifford Pier (1933-2006) after more than a month at sea, traveling from the US East Coast, through Havana, around the tip of South America and through the Pacific Ocean, stopping in Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai and other
exotic ports to finally get here. Who would be there to greet you? Who would give you “a piece of home” far away from your loved ones and the life that you knew? FH Levenhagen, AAS President in 1962, wrote, “The American Association of Singapore had its inauspicious beginning in 1917 when a handful of American businessmen met in the office of the Consul General with the vague idea that something ought to be done to organize the American community for mutual benefit.” It was felt that an American society among brotherhood lines was needed. On August 25 that same year, AAS was officially founded by a small group of Americans then stationed in Singapore, under the name “American Association of Malaya.” The constitution stipulated that only a “male American citizen of full age who is a resident of Malaya and other such countries … shall be eligible to membership.” At inauguration, the association had 30 members. The objectives of the Association were simply stated in the Preamble of the Association’s Constitution:
“… to promote good feeling between Americans and persons living in Singapore, to promote friendship among ourselves, to provide educational facilities for children and for other purposes….” Out of this mission grew a multi-faceted organization that served the community in a variety of ways. Over the decades, AAS has founded most of the American groups in Singapore (see our timeline on pages 14-15): • American Women’s Association (then American Women’s Auxiliary) (1935) • The American Club (1948) • Singapore American School (1956) • American Chamber of Commerce • (then American Business Committee) (1969) • Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC) (1973) • Boy Scouts of America Troop 07 (1986) • American Dragons dragon boat team (2005) Continues on page 19
American Association of Singapore’s Centennial Partners
2 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · January 2017
A message from the President...
SINGAPORE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
Happy New Year & Happy 100th Birthday American Association of Singapore! I hope you’re excited about our AAS 100th Celebration events this year. Imagine what Americans experienced in our Little Red Dot a century ago. It’s stunning to think about the advances that we now take for granted: air conditioning; luxury cars; immediate communication with our loved ones overseas; getting home within about 24 hours; easy regional travel and much more. In a few weeks, we’ll see President-elect Trump take the oath of office. Time will tell what that means for Americans and American businesses in our region. One thing we do know is that, shortly after the Inauguration, we will say farewell to Ambassador and Mrs. Wagar. Kirk, Crystal – thank you for doing such an amazing job of representing your country and for working so closely and cordially with AAS and all of the American groups here. A common question to me from Kirk over the past three years: “How can I help you?” We look forward to your visits back here from time to time. As we wait for our new ambassador to arrive, we look forward to working with Chargé d’affaires Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath. AAS 100th Anniversary Events: This issue of SAN is all about our centennial. I’d say we look pretty good despite our age. In these pages, read and learn how we’ve supported Americans here through the decades, while reaching out to our Singaporean hosts and other expats. From chartering the other American organizations to charity events, community outreach and fun events, we have an amazing history. This issue primarily deals with the very beginnings of our organization. Each issue of SAN in 2017 will highlight another decade. Our anniversary year will roughly follow the decades from the 1910s through this year with each major event reflecting an important period of time. Starting on January 21, the From Coast to Quay kickoff will see 200 lucky AAS members on Sentosa aboard the Royal Albatross, a tall ship not too different from the ships on which Americans would have sailed to Singapore on in 1917. On March 4th, the George Washington Centennial Ball at the Capella Singapore will be our best ever, echoing the 1920s and 30s speakeasies and cheongsams of Singapore and Shanghai. Prohibition may have been a thing in the US, but fun was certainly flowing freely here! Our 100 Acts of Charity will offer you the chance to give back to Singapore throughout the year and post your deeds on our website. By December 2017, we’ll have a great collection of charitable acts, showing just how much Americans give back. See page 8 for more details. AAS 100th Anniversary Sponsors, We Need You! We still need individual and corporate sponsors to help power our anniversary activities. Please support our mission to be “The leading non-profit organization that enhances, promotes and celebrates American culture among expats from all countries and the Singaporean community – through social events, charitable activities and career support.” Contact AAS General Manager Toni Dudsak (email@example.com) or Business Development Manager Shu Khanduja (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details on the many exciting programs and sponsorship options. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media).
On behalf of the Executive Committee and staff, Happy Birthday AAS!
The Singapore American is printed by Procomp Printset Pte Ltd, 57 Loyang Drive, Level 3 Annex Building, Singapore 508968.
Best, Glenn van Zutphen email@example.com twitter: @glennvanzutphen
Editor-in-Chief: Melinda Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak, email@example.com
DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen, firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen, email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Hazlyn Aidzil, Andrew J. Aylward, Melindah Bush, Ed Cox, Kevin Cox, Phil Diamond, Raul Guizzo, Richard Hale, Lindy Hiemstra, Jodi Jonis, Laura Schwartz, Marc Servos, Raymond Thomas For AAS: Holly Kreutter, Anne Morgan, Melinda Murphy, Glenn van Zutphen, Sarah Walston
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Michael Borchert • Secretary: Shawn Galey Directors: James Arpin, Joseph Foggiato, Mary Beth McCrory, Ana Mims and Stephanie Nash Immediate Past President: David Boden • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Tara Eastep SACAC Chair: Gregory Rutledge • SAS Chair: Anita Tan-Langlois Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud US Military: Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson
PUBLISHER - AMERICAN ASSOCIATION The American Association of Singapore (AAS) is a professional, not-for-profit organization established to enhance the well-being and living experience of Americans residing in Singapore and to promote relationships, both business and social, between Americans and those from different cultures and nationalities. 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 T: (+65) 6738 0371 • F: (+65) 6738 3648 E: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.aasingapore.com The Singapore American newspaper, a monthly publication with readership of 10,000+, has been published by the American Association of Singapore since 1958, with the purpose of enhancing the expatriate experience in Singapore.
SUBSCRIPTION A subscription to the Singapore American is complimentary with an AAS or CRCE membership. AAS annual family membership is just $70. CRCE membership is $160. To join, visit www.aasingapore.com and have the Singapore American delivered to your home. Reproduction in any manner, in English or any other language, is prohibited without written permission. The Singapore American welcomes all contributions of volunteer time or written material.
3 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · January 2017
From Coast to Quay
Toys for Tots
Help us kick off our centennial year with a journey to the past! Step back in time aboard a tall ship, the Royal Albatross, and enjoy a seaside evening, a nod to how most Americans first arrived in Singapore back in the early 1900s. Mingle under the stars, sample canapes and sip drinks while enjoying music and a special performance from mentalist Tom DeVoe. Please note: the ship will remain docked the entire evening. This is an AAS members-only event. 6-8pm Royal Albatross, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, (S)098269 $150 per person
Our sixth annual Toys for Tots event was a merry start to the holiday season! Families enjoyed festive activities and treats throughout the evening, as well as a performance by the SAS Singers and a special visit from Santa and his elves. Everyone had the chance to spread a bit of their own holiday cheer by bringing in toys for the US Marines to distribute to underprivileged children in Singapore and Southeast Asia. See pages 6 and 7 for details.
Living in Singapore Talk
New to Singapore or interested in discovering the region in a new light? Join us for this informative Living in Singapore talk, given by some of the authors of the very popular reference guide published by AAS. Don’t miss this chance to make new friends while learning all about navigating Singapore’s culture, health and wellness and regional travel. 7-9pm The American Club, 3rd Floor, 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Free for AAS Members & SAS Parents ($10 no-show fee applies); $30 Non-Members
For more info and to register for an event: www.aasingapore.com
AAS MEMBER DISCOUNTS
AAS members enjoy discounts at a range of local businesses. Present your AAS membership card at time of purchase. Please see a full list of discounts at www.aasingapore.com/member-discounts.
Two hours free handy-man service worth more than $200 when you book your move with Allied Pickfords. Call 6862 4700.
Present AAS membership card to receive 15% off total bill. Valid for dine in on a la carte menu at all Brewerkz and Cafe Iguana restaurants through January 31, 2017. Limit to one (1) redemption per bill, per table. Not valid on
concert days, eve of and on public holidays. Not valid with lunch menu, other set menus, discounts, vouchers, promotions or privileges. The management reserves the right to amend the terms & conditions without prior notice.
Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem: www.expatliving.sg/aas
FIRST DRINK FREE – every day, every visit for AAS members. Valid on house pours until January 31, 2017. Show your membership card at the bar to claim. Check out their new location at: 32 South Buona Vista
Survival Chic Discovery Dining Program 30% off the table bill (including alcohol and guests) at 50+ top restaurants around the city. $25,000+ in savings, for less than $1/day. 10% off Survival Chic Membership for AAS members! www.survivalchic.com
TURKEY TROT DASH AND DINE By Sarah Walston
2016 winners BOYS’ 2K
1st place: Scott Sheffield-Gray 2nd place: Will Smith 3rd place: Kiadan Ferrell
1st place: Anne Willems 2nd place: Sally Jeter 3rd place: Kiana Ferrell
MEN’S 5K (under 30)
1st place: Trevor Cone 2nd place: Justin Horowitz 3rd place: Sena Flores
WOMEN’S 5K (under 30)
1st place: Amber Rigdon 2nd place: Pearl Fahrney 3rd place: Katie Powell Rachid
MEN’S 5K (30 and over)
amily, feasting and a little friendly competition. What could be a more exciting way to get into the Thanksgiving holiday spirit? On November 19, more than 200 runners both young and young-at-heart registered for the American Association of Singapore’s annual Turkey Trot run, co-hosted by the US Navy Morale, Recreation and Welfare (MWR) with support from Singapore American School (SAS) and the Navy League. Families and friends from each community woke up bright and early to travel to Sembawang and take part in this festive event. The morning kicked off with a welcome by Captain Randall Martin, Commanding Officer, Navy Region Center Singapore and AAS President Glenn van Zutphen, followed by an invigorating warm up by MWR Sports Specialist Cletus Varghese to get the crowd limber and ready to race. Excitement was in the air as the group made its way to the starting line. Once everyone congregated, the whistle signaling the start of the race blew and the runners were off! The 10k and 5k runners bounded over the starting line, followed by the 2k fun run participants. With a unique course through the grounds of Sembawang, participants had the chance to enjoy beautiful views of many of the historic Black and White homes in the area.
As runners made their way through the course, AAS and MWR staff excitedly waited at the finish line. Then 1, 2, 3 …the first finishers were in sight and cheering ensued as one by one, each runner raced to the finish and winners of each category were called. Once the race was completed, it was time to indulge and enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast on the outdoor terrace of the Terror Club. From pancakes to eggs and bacon, the delicious spread helped everyone refuel and get a little pep back in their step. During breakfast, child participants also had the chance to enjoy Thanksgiving-themed crafts, including turkey headbands and magnets. The morning ended with a lively awards ceremony and the announcement of lucky draw prizes, led by Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson and Glenn van Zutphen. Whether an official award recipient or not, everyone should be congratulated for taking part in the race and spending a morning of heart-pumping action. For this, everyone is a winner in our book! Photos by Marc Ayalin, Henry Cotter, Wendy Martin and Melinda Murphy
1st place: Ronald Willems 2nd place: Jason Cone 3rd place: René Verlaak
WOMEN’S 5K (30 and over)
1st place: Anne-Marie Willems 2nd place: Kelli Buxton 3rd place: Mika Flores
1st place: Hans Akerboom 2nd place: Jorge Luque 3rd place: Marshall Horowitz
1st place: Anna Tipping 2nd place: Anne Morgan 3rd place: Joanna Fitts
Thank you for your support
Allied Pickfords · Chili’s · Citi Expat Dental · GEMS World Academy (Singapore) Hard Rock Café · Singapore Dance Theatre Singapore Repertory Theatre · Smokey’s BBQ The American Club · The Butcher · Warehouse Club
By Anne Morgan
oys for Tots was established in 1947 when the US Marines began collecting toys and distributing them as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. AAS has honored this special tradition for the last six years, making the Toys for Tots event an established highlight of the AAS calendar. This year the event was held within the beautiful space of The 2nd Floor of The American Club. Squeals of excitement filled the room as families came together to see the US Marines and enjoy a variety of festive activities, including making crafts and getting temporary holiday tattoos. Children also had fun decorating cookies made by families from the US Embassy with icing donated by Hoe Brothers Catering. AAS President Glenn van Zutphen welcomed everyone and thanked The American Club for cohosting the event, as well as General Motors (GM) for their contribution as major sponsor for the third year running and their generous collection of toys from GM staff. Crystal Wagar, wife of the US Ambassador to Singapore, spoke warmly about how much she enjoyed her Honorary Chairperson role, as Toys for Tots is particularly close to her heart.
The SAS Singers, under the direction of Nanette Devens, sang a medley of Christmas carols and songs. As “Here Comes Santa Claus” rang out, the children were delighted to see Santa making his way through the room. Each child received a General Motors goody bag filled with stationery and sweets, as well as other treats and toys donated by Expat Dental, Kids Treasures and Perfetti Van Melle. Guests were also able to take home a keepsake picture of their time with Santa and the US Marines. We would like to thank all of our members, volunteers, in-kind donors and, in particular, our major sponsor, General Motors, and our supporting sponsor, The Visiting Vets, for making this event so special. Additionally, we would like to thank the volunteer Star Wars characters, who provided much entertainment for the youngsters and our logistics partner, Allied Pickfords, for delivering the donated toys to the US Embassy.
SUPPORTING SPONSOR 19607b should never be used on actual 3D applications
Master Art No. 19607b — For Reorders Call: General Motors Media Archive, (313) 667-6141, email: email@example.com or downlad from www.gmassetcentral.com: Browswe Browse Brand Guide GM Corporate
Photos by Erick Lo and Melinda Murphy
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT Expat Dental Kids Treasures Perfetti Van Melle US Embassy US Marines
8 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · January 2017
100 Acts of Charity By Holly Kreutter
art of the American Association’s history in Singapore has been a strong commitment to charitable work. To honor that commitment during our centennial year, we are very excited to launch our “100 Acts of Charity” initiative. We hope to encourage our members, sister organizations, community partners and friends to strengthen their commitment to charitable work and to share their successes within our community. Imagine the power of all these acts and how wonderful it will be to highlight the good work that Americans and others do here in Singapore! Our Executive Board, George Washington Ball Committee and staff will be launching our first 100 Acts of Charity project on Saturday, January 14. For this project, we are liaising with Project Homeworks, a subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity, to help elderly Singaporeans. We will be cleaning, painting and decluttering their homes to help make them more liveable. AAS will be doing additional acts of charity throughout the year, supported by proceeds of the George Washington Centennial Ball, and we will reach out to our members to join us. Additionally, we hope that every time you participate in an act of charity of your own during 2017 you will share the information with us. Go onto our website and click “Tell Us about Your Act” or send a description of what you did and a photo to 100ActsofCharity@aasingapore.com. If your act is approved, we’ll transfer your information to an interactive map on both our website and
special 100 Acts of Charity Facebook page. People viewing these sites will be able to click on each pin on the map to learn more about the individual act or click on your organization/group and see all the good you’ve done in 2017. In case you’re interested, but aren’t quite sure where to begin, we’ll also be posting projects on our Facebook page. So if you have a project you’re undertaking and would like some additional volunteers, please let us know at 100ActsofCharity@aasingapore.com so we can help you get the word out. 100 Acts of Charity will be up and running at the beginning of January and we invite you to check out www.aasingapore.com throughout the year to see the charitable acts that have been completed and how you can get involved. Thank you in advance for your support. We look forward to a wonderful year ahead! Please help us get to 100 before year end! And we hope that not only will you support 100 Acts of Charity, but also invite you to attend our many fabulous, special events planned to celebrate our centennial. Artwork by Silvia Ciccola
CAREER RESOURCE CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” ROBERT KIYOSAKI
Business Start-Up, in conversation with
ell us more about your background and professional experiences. I graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and worked for Motorola and Western Digital, but realized engineering was not what I wanted to do. I returned to graduate school and completed my MBA and joined a company in a marketing, sales and operations role, working with diverse cultures in the region. I found my calling was working with people: engaging, guiding and helping people grow to their full potential. So eight years ago, I started my own company focused on providing consulting, profiling, leadership development and coaching services to clients.
You have set up your own business in Singapore. Can you share some of the resources that you used during that process? I first acquired accreditations in Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment (ACTA), allowing me to get in front of clients and demonstrate my capabilities as a facilitator, a stepping stone towards the corporate market. Carefully allocating and prioritizing my time and funds towards what would be the “biggest bang for the buck” was crucial in my success, recognizing that the resources I had were finite. I continue to prioritize time and resources on a daily basis by reading, seeking knowledge, growing and sharing via social media, my workshops and coaching sessions. Establishing an industry network was another important element to getting my personal brand out there. I networked in many like-minded communities, interest groups and associations. I was very involved with the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore (APSS), serving as the president (2014-15). The community connected me with individuals who were in a similar business as me, helping me learn and grow.
What are your key principles for creating lasting success?
CRCE WORKSHOPS Jump Start Your Job Search Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Friday, January 13 10am – 12:30pm
happiness that is shared with your loved ones. I like to share happiness with others, so that they can learn, formulate, construct and grow towards their own definition of happiness. I want to be a flaming candle that can help others light their own candle and keep it glowing brightly for others.
Building Your Brand and Engagement in a Digital World Speaker: Namita Moolani Friday, January 20 10am – 12pm
Networking is such a personal experience. What are your key strategies in being a great networker in Singapore?
Networking is about the willingness to learn from someone else and it can be done one-onone or in a room filled with a diverse community of people. Most of my network began on LinkedIn. I write to them and introduce myself, sharing my passion for adding value to my friends and inviting them for a 15-20-minute call to get to know them better in terms of what they do. I prioritize this effort on a weekly basis. From my network, I also inquire about other opportunities for networking with exclusive interests such as developing myself, learning to adapt new technologies or even attending seminars and talks organized by tertiary institutions in Singapore. I also network at organized events which give me a chance to mingle and meet with a community who may resonate with me.
Are you an employer with an opening to fill? Did you know employers can list jobs for free on the CRCE job board? Log onto www.aasingapore.com to find out more.
To me, success is about happiness, not only self-happiness, but more of a collective
LOOKING TO REINVENT YOURSELF? AAS OFFERS PERSONALIZED CAREER COUNSELING SERVICES. SIGN UP NOW FOR A PRIVATE APPOINTMENT WITH A PROFESSIONAL CAREER ADVISOR. PLEASE CONTACT CRCE.INFO@AASINGAPORE.COM
SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Volunteer Event Photographer/ Videographer A school is looking for enthusiastic event photographers/videographers to capture their monthly events (informal evenings) and a chance to meet some fabulous people, for just three hours per event. (job #3417) Admissions Officer The successful candidate will: be the first point of contact for Admission inquiries; manage the full process of admissions professionally, timely and with appropriate follow up; collaborate effectively with the admissions team which includes therapists, counsellor and academic staff; collaborate effectively with the marketing department to achieve mutual targets and the gathering of data. (job #3416) Head of Maths An international school is searching for an experienced Head of Maths to lead its Maths Department by: developing, implementing, mentoring and monitoring a math curriculum plan; developing, implementing and directing the math program based on UK curriculum; provide training sessions on implementation of new inclusions to math program; direct teaching; applying appropriate and effective teaching methodology. (job #3415) EA to Chairman Boutique advisory firm based in Singapore is looking for a part-time EA to Chairman/ author. Job requires intelligence, flexibility, organizational skills, excellent/native English and good communications skills. Job content is exceptionally broad and ranges from basic occasional expense reconciliation to travel arrangements to office administration, but also can include liaising with high-level clients, strategic partners and publishers. Time demands are variable and some/much of the work can be done from home. (job #3414) Member Relations Manager A chamber of commerce is seeking candidates for Member Relations Manager. The Member Relations Manager reports to the Head of Business Development & Operations. This candidate will support the chamber’s programs, projects and activities designed to increase and retain members. (job #3413) Vessel Registration Officer As Vessel Registration Officer you will have a leading role in the vessel transfer project team and act as first point of contact for the business as well as the ship registers in various jurisdictions. It will be your challenge and responsibility to schedule and arrange the change of flag and legal ownership of the organization’s fleet to Singapore (MPA). (job #3412) General Manager A non-profit organization is looking for a General Manager who will have overall operational responsibility for the organization and staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission. Under the direction of the Executive Committee, the General Manager will implement strategies for the year. The successful candidate will manage the non-profit organization’s core programs, operations and business plans. (job #3405)
10 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · January 2017
The Turkey Campout By Ed Cox
admit it, I was dubious. I looked at the turkey dangling on a rope below the tripod and thought, “There’s no way this thing will cook.” I was sure that we’d be ordering take away for dinner, but the Boy Scouts assured me that it would be great. We piled coals into wire mesh towers, wrapped aluminum foil to seal the corners of the reflector oven and settled down to wait. Three hours later, a perfectly roasted turkey emerged from the aluminum foil reflector oven. The Scouts made short work of the turkey and all of the trimmings. Troop 10’s November Turkey campout was a success! Troop 10 made full use of its participation in the Singapore Scout Association, which allows the troop to petition the National Park Board to camp in several national parks that are not open to public camping. For our November campout, we explored the scenic north shore of the lake in Sengkang Riverside Park. After feasting on turkey for lunch, the Scouts mounted bikes for a 15-mile bike trip around the North Eastern Riverine Loop. The Scouts slept pretty soundly on Saturday night after all that turkey and all that cycling. As the spring semester kicks off, Troop 10 Scouts are looking forward to an action-packed term. We’re planning to join the Cub Scouts for a campout at Sarimbun, participate in our own island campout on Pulau Hantu and take a high-adventure trip in May. The older Scouts are getting in shape for our 2017 trek to Philmont Scout ranch. The rest of the troop is gearing up for summer camp in Nepal. Me? I’m just glad that I have 12 months to get ready for our next turkey campout.
Photos by Ed Cox
Food and Fun! By Melindah Bush
he Scouts and families of Cub Scout Pack 3010 celebrated the end of the Fall Semester with a Father-Son Cake Bake Competition and Awards Ceremony at the Stamford American International School (SAIS). Our Cub Scouts and their creative dads spent the weekend baking and decorating cakes with a Superhero vs. Super Villain theme to enter into our annual competition. The official judges in the competition included den leaders, moms and sisters of our Scouts. While the judges examined all the cakes, the Scouts were kept busy by the Bear den, who hosted their annual Bear Carnival with games and entertainment for everyone. After the cakes were judged, awards were given to the best cakes and to cakes that showed unique creativity and design. In addition to the Cake Bake awards, each of the Scouts were recognized for all of their hard work by awarding them with the belt loops, badges and pins they have earned from their hikes and Den-related activities. Three of our Cub Scouts were also awarded the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Interpreter Strip for Mandarin by demonstrating their ability to act as an interpreter and facilitator for people who speak Mandarin. Each of the Scouts who earned the Mandarin Interpreter strip are students in the SAIS Bilingual Mandarin Program and their language abilities were assessed by the school’s Mandarin teachers to ensure they satisfied the BSA requirements. As we look forward to starting the New Year in January, our Scouts are busy preparing for our annual overnight campout and are practicing their outdoor orienteering and survival skills for this exciting adventure. We wish everyone a happy new year.
Photo credit by David Kowal and Lars Sorensen
SCOUTING IN SINGAPORE Boy Scouts Troop 07: www.bsatroop07.org Boy Scouts Troop 10: www.facebook.com/BSATroopX Cub Scouts Pack 3010: www.sgpack3010.org Cub Scouts Pack 3017: SGPack3017@gmail.com Girl Scouts: www.singaporeusagirlscouts.org
Singapore American · January 2017
The Benefits of Immersion Learning By Jodi Jonis
Immersion Classes Beginning at SAS After an extensive process of research and development in its elementary school, Singapore American School (SAS) is excited to announce the launch of its elementary Chinese language immersion classes beginning in 2017. Language immersion is the method of teaching a second language in an environment where the second language is the predominant language of instruction. In other words, in a Chinese immersion classroom, core school subjects will be taught in Chinese, not English. Students use the language for learning, rather than just learning a language.
Benefits of Immersion Data on immersion programs shows that immersion students demonstrate most of the positive benefits which are associated with early bilingualism. Specifically, enhanced cognitive skills, improved academic performance, higher proficiency in a second language and enhanced global citizenship. One question often asked about immersion is, “Can a school provide adequate English literacy by the time students start testing?” Sally Lean, director of world languages at SAS, explains that from the R&D teams’ experiences visiting schools around the world, MAP tests may be slightly lower in grade three, but by grade five, immersion students are commonly outperforming the general program students in literacy because literacy skills are transferable across languages.
What Will Immersion Look Like at SAS? Two kindergarten classes will start next school year, each with a full-time immersion teacher and an immersion-trained instructional assistant. The program will grow with additional grade levels added each year until we have a complete K-5 program. In the earliest grades, SAS will offer a one-way immersion classroom for students with little-tono Chinese language proficiency. Kids who have Chinese spoken at home need to be immersed in an English-speaking classroom. Once the two groups have a solid foundation in academics in their second language, they can be mixed into a two-way immersion environment. This will happen in grades four and five. The chart below is the expected ratio of Chinese to English instruction time for each grade level. Immersion classes will share a common curriculum with all other SAS students, but will be adapted for Chinese. Similarly, they will be taught to the same math and literacy standards as general program students. The current elementary math curriculum will be available in Chinese and the leveled readers resources will also be available. According to Ms. Lean, “As educators, we are tasked with preparing our students for the future, in a world that is morphing so quickly we don’t know what it will hold when next year’s kindergarten students graduate in 2030. Immersion students will have a foundation in learning and how to think, analyze and apply their learning from within at least two linguistic and cultural perspectives, which in itself, will be an adaptive and responsive toolkit for whatever challenges the future brings them.” For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Alex Nanton
% Language of Instruction
K-3 one-way immersion (non-heritage speakers) G4-5 can become 2-way immersion
12 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · January 2017
Crossroads By Hazlyn Aidzil
he American Chamber of Commerce Singapore (AmCham) and the US Embassy in Singapore are pleased to present the 2017 edition of Crossroads: Doing Business in Singapore & Southeast Asia. The United States recognized Singapore’s independence from Malaysia in 1965 and has had formal diplomatic relations with Singapore since 1966. The United States and Singapore have a comprehensive relationship with productive cooperation on economic, political and security issues. Singapore’s support for regional cooperation harmonizes with the US policy in the region, forming a solid basis for amicable relations between the two countries. In early 2012, the United States and Singapore held the first meeting of their Strategic Partnership Dialogue, followed by a ministerial meeting that introduced new mechanisms to further strengthen partnership and cooperation for the benefit of the Asia-Pacific region. Last year, the US and Singapore commemorated 50 years of formal bilateral relations. A partnership built on trust and a shared vision, trade between the US and Singapore has continued to expand due to one of the most successful FTAs in record, reaching US $47 billion in 2015. Crossroads is AmCham’s annual guide on where to find business opportunities, partners, suppliers and service providers in Southeast Asia. Read more about doing business in Singapore and Southeast Asia and download a copy of Crossroads 2017 on the AmCham Singapore website: www.amcham.org.sg!
Old Friends By Andrew J. Aylward
s 2017 kicks off, it’s a great time to reflect on last year’s 50th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Singapore. For 50 years, this relationship has helped foster close ties on a wide range of international priorities. From preserving stability and security in the region, to combatting climate change, to raising trade standards to ensure free, fair, and open markets and a better way of doing business, it is clear that the United States and Singapore’s interests are increasingly intertwined. While our formal diplomatic ties span the last five decades, the origins of our relationship go back nearly two centuries. US engagement in Singapore began with trade, when Singapore was an emerging trading port between East and West markets. Nearly 180 years ago, an entrepreneur from snowy Massachusetts took the risk of shipping ice half-way around the world to equatorial Singapore. Later, oil and kerosene discoveries in the region brought more traders and businessmen from the United States, leading to the first marketing of kerosene by US oil companies. We’ve come a long way from ice and kerosene. Today, approximately 3,700 US companies have operations in Singapore, many with regional headquarters here. Trade and investment between Singapore and the United States advances prosperity for our two countries and throughout the region. The United States proudly claims the title of the single largest investor in Singapore, a claim that can be traced back decades. US companies procure locally, invest locally, support education initiatives in local schools and contribute thousands of hours of community service through their commitment to corporate social responsibility. Peace, stability and security are other priorities the United States and Singapore tackle together. As part of this partnership, military-to-military exchanges between the US and Singapore have been an ongoing success. Given its strategic location, Singapore is an anchor for the US presence in the region. In addition to US military forces training locally, more than 1,000 Singaporean personnel train in the United States every year, a testament to our mutual trust and shared security commitment. Our mutual commitment to peace and stability in the region has led to expanded military, policy and strategic exchanges and includes collaboration in areas such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and cyber security. We also cooperate closely to overcome the challenges of terrorism, a global threat to peace and freedom everywhere. It’s important to mention that the partnership between Singapore and the United States goes beyond economics and security. Both countries benefit from cultural and educational exchanges. Today, more than 7,000 Singaporeans study in secondary schools, colleges and universities across the United States and more than 22% of all Americans studying in Southeast Asia study in Singapore. Singapore and the United States have a plethora of common goals, values and interests. Singapore’s modern, prosperous and harmonious nation developed despite limited resources. Its successful development was made possible because Singapore invested in its people and forged partnerships with likeminded countries, such as the United States. Over the past five decades, the United States and Singapore have created ties that have significant reach and impact in the region. Singapore has been and will continue to be one of the strongest partners in our engagement with Asia. We have come a long way over 50 years and our mutual interests, our willingness to adhere to rule of law and to establish models for inclusive growth and integration will continue to serve our countries well. As President Obama said during Prime Minister Lee’s visit to Washington in August, “I am confident that Singapore and the United States will continue to advance our shared aspirations for a better world for many years to come.” Photo by Pete Souza
Straits Times July 16 and October 1, 1859
“No nation but the American” could conceive of shipping ice 14,000 miles from a Massachusetts pond to Singapore, and place Tudor’s twenty-one-inch square, frozen blocks, “within the power of every man on the Equator to become a stranger to swimming butter, lukewarm drinking water and tough joints of beef from the slaughter house.”
13 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
What’s in a name? (Quite a bit, actually) By Raul Guizzo
he Island at the End. This is what the area now known as Singapore was first called way back in the 3rd century. Scholars generally agree that the earliest written account of the region comes from Chinese records referring to Pu Luo Zhung (蒲羅中), a transliteration of the Malay Pulau Ujong, The Island at the End. What the name lacks in creativity, it makes up for in the simplicity of its directness. It also gives us the opportunity to say that the etymological history of Singapore begins at the end. Only after a millennium did this small island at the end of the Malay peninsula receive the more imaginative and romantic name of Singapura, although it had also been previously known as Temasek, which is Old Javanese for “Sea Town.” It seems the naming of the island became a bit more creative over the years. Legend has it that Prince Sri Tri Buana (aka Sang Nila Utama, aka Sri Maharaja Sang Utama Parameswara Batara Sri Tri Buana, meaning “Central Lord of the Three Worlds”) of the ancient Malay Empire of Srivijaya first landed on the island sometime in the late 13th century. It is only to be expected that someone so plentiful in names would be able to find an adequate one for this island nation. During his exploration of this island at the end, he came across “an animal extremely swift and beautiful, its body of a red color, its head black and its breast white, extremely agile and of great strength and its size a little larger than a he-goat,” as it’s recorded in the Malay Annals. This creature (very rarely compared to a male goat since then, I would imagine) was unknown to the prince, so he had to ask one of his wise counselors, who recalled the description of such a beast in the histories of ancient times. “Tis the legendary Singa, my lord.” The prince was excited to see such a fierce, majestic creature and considered it a good omen. Upon founding a settlement there in 1299, he decided to call it Singapura. Singa for lion and Pura meaning town or city in Malay, which in turn was derived from Sanskrit and was often used as a suffix in the names of Indian villages. It turns out that lions most likely never inhabited the island, so what they probably saw was a Malayan tiger. Still fierce and majestic, without a doubt, just not a proper Singa. Although the name has been revealed to be factually inaccurate, it still serves as an apt metaphor for the strength of the people who would come to this island in the centuries to come. Whether they were explorers,
laborers or traders and whether they came from around the world or by a comparatively short jaunt across the Strait of Malacca or the South China Sea, the people who would come to arrive were not native to the island and needed to demonstrate a true lion’s strength (or a tiger’s, for that matter) to turn Singapore into the economic powerhouse that it is known as today. This island at the end has become, in modern times, more of the island on the top in many ways. That prince was really on to something, it seems.
Raul is a freelance writer and editor who has recently moved to Singapore after living several years in Spain and Portugal. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board
14 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
The American Association of Singapore is founded
Inaugural George Washington Ball held at Sea View Hotel
AAS founds the Singapore Baseball Association
The film The Road to Singapore premieres
World War I ends
Formal Tea hosted by AAS for Governor General of the Philippines Theodore Roosevelt II.
AAS starts the Singapore American newspaper
AAS starts American Women’s Auxiliary. Becomes American Women’s Association in 1981
The US Embassy opens on Hill Street
Lee Kuan Yew attends the Thanksgiving celebration at The American Club
Singapore separates from Malaysia
AAS publishes a coffee table book to celebrate its 50th Anniversary
AAS starts SACAC in a response to the rise in drug use among kids
1969 AAS starts the American Business Council (changes name to AmCham in 1993)
15 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American Âˇ January 2017
1941 World War II begins
1950 GWB is held at Raffles Hotel for the first time
Most Americans return to Singapore after WWII.
AAS publishes its first Living In Singapore Reference Guide
Singapore American School is founded by AAS
AAS starts The American Club
AAS starts the American Association Golf Championship. It becomes the Ambassadorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cup Golf Tournament in 1967
Japanese surrender Singapore to the British
AAS starts to carry the charter for the Boy Scouts of America
Singapore remembers 9/11
AAS celebrates its Centennial
Changi Airport Opens
Singapore American School relocates to Woodlands
AAS organizes the American Dragons dragon boat team
16 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
Why Americans Came to Singapore By Marc Servos
oday’s Singapore is seen as being a predominately an urban country with more than five million people residing in an area the size typical of many American counties. But despite that, plenty of pockets of nature are well-preserved and well-planned in this Garden City in the form of parks and nature reserves. As we are aware of the reality of the urban landscapes which lay in proximity to beyond the greenery, we can also think about the reality of the existence of a number of plantations that were economically vital in colonial Singapore, some existing well into the 20th century. East India Company agent Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived on this island’s jungle-covered shores in early 1819 and signed a treaty with the Malay rulers, giving birth to modern Singapore and making it into a British colony. Raffles’ objectives included extending British influence in the region, which involved competing with the Dutch who were strong in the area. To help enable this, Raffles wanted Singapore to be a free trade port. Singapore already had a population of approximately 1,000 in 1819, consisting primarily of Malays and Peranakan Chinese. Twenty gambier plantations already existed at the time. With economic opportunities plenty in this young colony, the population skyrocketed to 17,000 by 1830, attracting Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Armenians, Jews, as well as Europeans and even a small number of Americans. Most of these migrants arrived as common laborers and others as merchants. Cash crops were seen as an opportunity in Singapore and additional plantations were established beginning in the 1830s. In addition to gambier, another cash crop included pepper, which was often grown with the former. It wasn’t too long afterwards that the spice trade introduced the planting of nutmeg. More plantations were later established to cultivate other cash crops, including cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, pineapple, sugar and tapioca. One of the earliest American settlers and also later the first American consul to colonial Singapore was Joseph Balestier, who arrived in 1834 and established a sugar plantation outside of town on Serangoon Road (see page 22 for details). In addition, coconut plantations were developed on the coasts. Setting up a plantation involved clearing the jungles and facing practically constant dangers from menacing tigers, which were reported to be killing more than 300 people in some years during the mid-1800s. The use of underwater telegraph cables expanded after the first one was laid between North America and Europe in 1858 and Singapore became the link between Bombay and Australia in 1872, creating a demand for protective coating. The Gutta-percha plant was introduced in Singapore to provide for this coating. Rubber tree planting, derived from rubber seedlings, became commercially viable by the early 20th century, especially with the automobile becoming a more popular means of transportation. The first seedlings in Singapore were sent from England in 1877. Eventually, virtually all available agricultural land was utilized to grow rubber trees, including exhausted land that had been previously used to plant tapioca. Prices dipped with the Great Depression and many of the migrant workers (and even some of the land owners) repatriated, but eventually the rubber market recovered and, by the 1930s, rubber tree plantations occupied 40 percent of Singapore. The pineapple plant was also commonly found
on rubber tree plantations, growing between rubber trees. This was because pineapple continued to reap profits during the five to six years it took for the rubber trees to mature. One well-known estate was situated in the Bukit Timah area. Bukit Timah means “Tin Hill,” a misnomer as there was never any tin in Singapore, though it was mined extensively in Malaysia. The demand for both rubber and tin boomed with the advent of WWII. Little evidence exists today of the plantations from Singapore’s colonial heritage. However, some of the rubber trees, in uniform sizes, still exist among Singapore’s forests of today. This includes their continued existence among the forests of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong, the former where a small plantation stands still exist. So on the next nature outing you wish to take in the Garden City, it may interest you to seek out these plantation remnants as a reminder of that segment of Singapore’s economic history. Marc is a Hoosier in terms of his home state and alma mater. The Fort Wayne native served in the Army in Germany during the mid-80’s and later as an officer in the Indiana Army National Guard. Married to a Singaporean, Sherley, and living here for years, he has two children ages 15 and 6. He juggles family, real estate, English instruction and writing.
Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gambier Anyway?
ria Gam bi
ambier is known scientifically as uncaria gambir, a plant species found in Southeast Asia. The gambier extract is found in the leaves of this plant, which was an important plant that was grown commercially into the late 1800s. Gambier extract has been used as a tanning agent and brown dye, both of which drove Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gambier trade during the period of the 1830s-1850s to meet the demands of the tanning trade. It has been also used as a food additive and herbal medicine. The gambier is still grown in Indonesia and Malaysia.
19 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
Happy Centennial, AAS! Continued from page 1
As the American population in Singapore grew, the different AAS organizations separated into their own associations, while keeping a close relationship with AAS. Additionally, we’ve always enjoyed a close and meaningful relationship with the US Embassy and the US Navy personnel based in Singapore. Interestingly, while other countries have American Chambers of Commerce and American women’s associations, Singapore is one of the few places where you’ll find the American Association in our form and with our function. Ours is an ongoing journey of trying to bring value to our members and serve the community. Special events have always been an important way to bring the expat community together here. Living thousands of miles from home, our drive to gather and share holidays and special events has been a key part of the American fabric in Singapore. A mainstay of the annual social calendar is the George Washington Ball. The first one was held at the Sea View Hotel in 1933. This year marks the 84th year and we’ve aptly renamed it the George Washington Centennial Ball. The Fourth of July Picnic (now called the Independence Day Celebration) has been a family affair since the late 1940s. In those days, AAS members came together with their wives and children to celebrate with a game of baseball at the Thompson Road polo ground. By 1967, Independence Day was celebrated with the traditional picnic at Singapore American School. The usual games, train ride, carnival booths, hot dogs and fireworks were on offer. Today, 3,000-5,000 people attend each year, with many of the same carnival games as yesteryear along with professional entertainers, the US Navy Color Guard, food stalls, our sister organizations and, of course, fireworks. The Welcome Back Celebration is about reconnecting after a long summer break. From 1995 to 2007, this event took the form of a jazz night in Fort Canning Park and then became a music in the park night from 2008-2009. Of late, the family-focused event has been held at the Terror Club, The American Club, the Singapore Flyer, BOUNCE trampoline park and other family-friendly venues. Previously, in celebration of Thanksgiving, AAS sponsored a church service and dinner. Traditionally, it was the AAS women (and eventually the AWA) who made the event a success. We still celebrate the holiday with the annual Turkey Trot 10k, 5k and 2k fun run through the beautiful, tree-lined streets of Sembawang. It’s followed by the only community pancake breakfast in Singapore, hosted at the US Navy Terror Club. Toys for Tots is a relatively new addition to AAS’s special events calendar. Working with the US Embassy Marine Detachment, this Christmas fundraising event collects news toys as Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in Singapore and Asia.
In addition, the association runs 40-50 smaller social events each year, ranging from history talks, to food explorations, pub crawls and independent movie screenings, workshops, networking and quiz nights. Sports have always played a significant role in AAS activities. Baseball and softball competitions have been played since 1924. Since 1947, AAS has hosted a golf tournament every year, now known as the Ambassador’s Cup, one of our most popular annual events. The American Dragons began in 2005 and are now a serious presence at all major Singapore and regional dragon boat competitions. Beyond social, cultural and sporting events, AAS gives value to our members through the Career Resource Center for Excellence (CRCE), providing them with the opportunity to search for jobs advertised by potential employers, as well as attend workshops to develop themselves personally and professionally. Our excellent publications, the Singapore American newspaper and Living in Singapore reference guide (now in its 14th edition), are both valuable resources for newly-arrived and long-term residents of Singapore. AAS continues to support community programs, including Home Hospitality for men and women of the US Navy, while here on shore leave. AAS members have always given back to the Singapore community, one of the things that Americans do, wherever they are based. Over the decades, AAS has participated in the Red Cross International Bazaar, along with our “Team USA” sister organizations. We’ve given many hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless volunteer-hours over the century to local nonprofits and charities. Some of the more recent beneficiaries: Singapore International Foundation, Food from the Heart, Children’s Cancer Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities Singapore, Singapore Children’s Society and many others. Learn more about our new charitable initiative, 100 Acts of Charity, on page 8. From humble beginnings in a growing port town, to a sophisticated organization with a full-time staff of ten serving 1300 members in a world-class city, AAS has grown to meet the needs of its members over the decades. No longer a society of male-only American citizens, we embrace singles, couples and families of all nationalities, who are looking to be part of a dynamic, friendly community. Our newest mission statement say it best: “The American Association of Singapore serves as the leading non-profit organization that enhances, promotes and celebrates American culture among expats from all countries and the Singaporean community - through social events, charitable activities and career support. We also help expats achieve a sense of belonging and connection throughout all stages of their lives in Singapore.”
The American Club
Johnston’s Pier, circa 1900s
Ambassador’s Cup 1973
Share Your Life Have you lived in Singapore a long time? Have stories to tell? Photos to flaunt? Then we want to hear from you! Help our readers understand what life was like back in the old days as we go through our centennial year. Please email
20 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
The Grande Dame By Lindy Hiemstra
hen Americans first arrived, many got off the ship and headed straight to the Raffles Hotel, first opened in 1887 by the Sarkies Brothers as a beach-front, 10-room bungalow named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. Raffles entered its heyday in 1899, adding the familiar main building, complete with a French chef, fans and electric lights, the first such lights in Singapore. The hotel also sported an expansive cast iron veranda across the front, complete with stained glass, which was later replaced by an airy ballroom dubbed by newspapers as the “finest ballroom in the East.” Weary travelers could sip the hotel’s most famous concoction, The Singapore Sling, created by Hainanese bar captain Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915. So by the time the American Association was founded in 1917, the hotel was the ultimate in luxury. Guests in the 1920s might have become a character in one of Somerset Maugham’s works. The famous author reportedly worked all morning under a frangipani tree in the Palm Court, turning bits of overheard gossip and scandal into his famous stories. Maugham was one of a long line of famous guests including authors Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling and Noel Coward. Another famous guest? A tiger – the last to be killed in Singapore, shot in 1907 while cowering under the Bar & Billiard Room, then an elevated building. Years later, in 1986, Raffles Hotel celebrated its centenary a year early to coincide with the Year of the Tiger and a live tiger was photographed on top of the hotel’s billiard table. The hotel rode out its share of hard times, too. The Great Depression and slump in the Malayan rubber trade saw the hotel change hands. The hotel’s main rival, Hotel de L’Europe, didn’t fare as well and closed for good in 1933. When the Japanese bombed Singapore in 1941 and sank the Royal Navy’s Prince of Wales and Repulse off the coast of Malaya, British families made their way down the Malayan Peninsula with the Japanese in pursuit and congregated at the Raffles Hotel. A year later, when the Japanese occupied Singapore, British colonials gathered at the hotel to sing, “There Will Always Be An England.” Meanwhile, the staff reportedly buried the hotel silver (including the silver beef wagon) in the Palm Court. After Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces, the hotel became a temporary transit camp for war prisoners. Eventually, the hotel returned to tourism and the likes of Ava Gardener and Elizabeth Taylor graced its rooms in the 1950s. The Singapore government declared Raffles Hotel a National Monument in 1987. Two years later, the hotel closed for a complete restoration. The multi-million dollar project returned the grand dame to her elegant look of the 1910s and 1920s. Within its walls now are 103 suites, framed by polished teak verandas and white marble colonnades, clustered around lush tropical gardens. So if you want to relive the days of yesteryear when the American Association was first created, stroll on over to Raffles Hotel, order a Sling and let your imagination run wild.
Raffles Hotel, circa 1920s
Photos courtesy of Raffles Hotel Lindy Hiemstra is a writer and journalist who has grown awfully fond of Slings at the Long Bar during her four years in Singapore.
Ballroom Dancing at Raffles Hotel, circa 1920s
21 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
The First American Bank By Melinda Murphy
ecognizing the strategic importance of Singapore as a port of trade for American business in Asia, Citibank opened the first American bank in Singapore on July 1, 1902 located at 1 Prince Street. Back then, the bank was called the International Banking Corporation (IBC) and it was one of the earliest financial institutions in Singapore, primarily focused on financing the exports of tin and rubber from Malaysia. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, buying and selling was undertaken by a comprador, Portuguese for “buyer.” His job was to act as an intermediary between the bank and local businesses and he did so using big sums of money as collateral, earning commission off the trades. Most foreign businesses, including banks, had compradors. With money in the form of cash often exchanging hands, the comprador often hired relatives whom they could trust to handle the money. This was a practice not permitted in the US. So in 1902, Song Kim Pong became the first Singaporean comprador at IBC. He’d worked in another branch as a teller for 16 years. His promotion was the start of recognizing the importance of hiring locals here. With increasing trade and growth in the businesses, most transactions at international banks around the world involved foreign exchange trading and trade financing, but Singapore’s branch started extending loans to the big rubber companies here. While providing loans saw business grow, there was a downside to this practice. When the world economy collapsed and rubber prices plummeted in the early 1930s, the bank faced severe issues. So IBC brought Ralph Newell to Singapore, a 36year veteran of IBC who had worked in different parts of Asia, to overhaul the credit system. When anti-foreign sentiments began to sweep across Asia, the bank hired Ho Kim Seng, a local. But the Pacific War soon started and all changed again. As the official bank for the American government in various cities, the bank was obliged to remain open in many cities around Asia. The Singapore branch worked around the clock to help finance the US government’s last ditch efforts to purchase rubber and tin, both needed for the war effort. The Singapore branch operated until the very last possible minute, even as the Japanese crossed the Causeway. When Japan invaded Singapore on February 5, 1942, the Singapore branch handed
over the remaining items on the balance sheet to a British bank, reportedly making it the only bank in Singapore that lost no funds or personnel in the war. After the conflict ended, the Singapore branch reopened in 1945, but business was slow until the 1970s when Singapore began to actively develop its manufacturing sector. In 1976, the bank officially changed its name to Citibank, NA (National Association). In 1982, Citi established the Consumer Bank and it was the first bank to popularize Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). Since then, the story has really been one of investment and growth for Citi, contributing to development of Singapore as a regional financial hub. Citi became further entrenched in Singapore in 1999 when it became the first foreign bank to be awarded Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) privilege by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, allowing it to expand its presence. With the Singapore-US Free Trade Agreement coming into effect in 2004, all restrictions were lifted allowing US Banks with QFB status to have any number of customer service locations. And in 2005, Citibank Singapore Limited (CSL) was incorporated locally. With a paid-up capital of S$1.5 billion, CSL was a reaffirmation of Citi’s long-term commitment to Singapore and its customers. Prior to 2005, Citibank had four branches and one offsite ATM. Today, Citibank is accessible at more than 1,500 customer touch-points. In 2015, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) published Singapore’s framework for identifying and supervising Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) and the inaugural list of D-SIBs. Citi was identified as one of the seven designated Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) in Singapore. Today, Citi employs 9,200 operating in several office buildings across the country. As a service center for Citi in Asia Pacific, Singapore hosts a number of Citi’s state-of-the-art processing hubs and data center, serving various businesses in 30 countries around the world. Citi continues to expand in Singapore, investing in digital solutions and platform to enable customers to access solutions and services anywhere and anytime on multiple mobile platforms to provide convenience at one’s fingertips. Citi has come a long way from that first branch on Prince Street. What amazing vision those first bankers had back in 1902! Photos courtesy of Citi
IBC’s first Singapore premises: No. 1, Prince Street. In 1923 the bank moved to nearby Ocean Building.
Interior of the Singapore branch in Ocean Building, 1923.
22 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
Singapore’s First Americans By Richard Hale
ll Americans in Singapore are probably familiar with the name of the patriot Paul Revere, later made more famous by Longfellow’s poem and linked with the Revere Bell, now exhibited in the National Museum. Some will know the name Balestier from the road of that name and a few, perhaps those more sportingly inclined, will have exercised at Balestier Plain, the area where many sports clubs have their playing fields. But how many know that this was where Joseph Balestier leased 1,000 acres of wilderness to start his illfated plantation in 1835? And who was Joseph Balestier anyway? Believed to have been born on the island of Martinique in 1788, he became involved in importing sugar from the Caribbean into the United States and built up a substantial business there before facing bankruptcy in his mid-forties, through no fault of his own. Following recommendations from his business contacts, the Secretary of State offered him the effectively unpaid post of US Consul at Rhio in the Dutch East Indies (today’s Bintang Island). In desperation, he accepted, thinking that as agent for American ships, he would be able to make a living. So on Christmas Eve 1833, he and his wife Maria Revere (a daughter of the famous Paul), sailed with their 14-year-old son Revere for Rhio, using money borrowed from her brother. Arriving five months later, they found only a small village under Dutch administration, with not a single European merchant and no visits by square-rigged ships. All international trading business was done out of Singapore, but due to a quirk of history, the port was not open to American shipping. Nonetheless, he decided on the spot to go to Singapore and seek permission to live there, not as Consul, but as a merchant and shipping agent. Every day was a challenge, as the first American residents, without capital or local contacts, and having no idea of local social and business customs or the lingua franca. Commission on cargoes for occasional American ships was an unreliable source of income. So he made use of his experience and began to have ground cleared for a sugar plantation. His prospectus predicted large profits and others lent him the funds to proceed. Helped more and more by his son and relying on a mainly Indian workforce, his plantation slowly expanded, appearing to thrive. It became one of the sights of Singapore for visitors. He applied to Washington soon after his arrival to be the Consul to Singapore, but it was not until April 1837 that the he learned in a private letter that he had been so appointed. However, the announcement couldn’t be made locally until June 14 as the news had to be officially communicated via London to Calcutta and then onto Singapore.
Fate intervened in March 1844 when his 24-year-old son died suddenly. This was a major blow as Balestier had relied more and more on him. His wife doted on their son and, after he died, her health deteriorated until she also passed away in August 1847. Balestier struggled to continue, but in December, massive floods destroyed his entire crop, which led to a complete nervous breakdown in February 1848. His creditors closed in and his remaining assets were auctioned, but there were no bidders for the plantation. Still officially Consul, Balestier returned to America and, after regaining his health, was appointed in August 1849 to undertake a diplomatic and commercial mission to Southeast Asia at an annual salary of $4,500, plus travel and other expenses. Arriving in Hong Kong in late November, it was not until February that the navy ship Plymouth, assigned to take him on his mission, was available. His visits to Cochin China and Siam were a failure. The Rajah of Sarawak was not at Kuching so nothing could be done. The Sultan of Brunei was happy to sign anything, if it would produce some cash. Balestier had a difficult relationship with Philip Voorhees, Commanding Officer of the Plymouth, who insisted on returning to Macao. Balestier disembarked on July 9, expecting another naval vessel to take him back south, but the ship did not arrive and, after cooling his heels in Hong Kong and Canton, Balestier sailed for Singapore in a P&O steamer on October 30. From there, he left for Batavia with the intention of intercepting the vessel on its arrival at Anjer in the Sunda Strait. It did not arrive and months went by with no instructions from Washington until on May 10, 1851, he received a letter terminating his mission. Balestier returned to the States, resigned as Consul and remarried the next year. Upon his second wife’s death, he moved to York, Pennsylvania where he died on November 12, 1858. Editor’s Note: For more information about Balestier, pick up Richard Hale’s book The Balestiers, based largely on 160 letters written by Maria to her sister in Boston describing their life in Singapore. Richard Hale, author of The Balestiers, retired from a long career in international commercial banking in 1995. Remaining in Singapore, he then added “research into Singapore’s mercantile history in the 19 th century” to his existing insterests of ornithology and philately. Photo courtesy of National Museum of Singapore
Appointments from the President in Boston Morning Post on page 2 Boston, Massachussetts, October 22, 1833:
Approximate location of Balestier Plantasion
Fun Fact: Maria Revere Balestier donated a Revere Bell to the first St. Andrew church in 1843 on the condition that it be used to sound a curfew for five minutes at 8pm every night which continued until 1855 when the church was hit by lightning and destroyed. The ringing resume in 1861 when St. Andrew’s Cathedral was constructed in its place. Eventually, the curfew bell was discontinued in 1874, though remained in the tower. The bell was replaced in 1889 and put into storage until 1911 when it was installed in St. George’s Garrison Church in Tanglin Barracks. But like the famous Revere Bell in Philadephia, the bell became irreparably cracked and was moved to storage. Want to see it for yourself? Head over to the National Museum of Singapore, the oldest museum in the country. The bell is in the museum’s Singapore History Gallery and has been called a symbol of the friendship between the peoples of the United States and Singapore. It is the only Revere Bell located outside of the United States and the inscription reads, “Revere, Boston 1843. Presented to St. Andrew’s Church, Singapore, by Mrs. Maria Revere Balestier of Boston, United States of America.”
23 THE EARLY DAYS
Singapore American · January 2017
Century Eats By Kevin Cox
ne of the first things that come to mind when thinking of Singapore is its food, a very cornerstone of today’s culture here. But a century ago, the culinary climate was very different from what we see now. It’s hard to imagine in the food-centric Singapore of today. So let’s step back a hundred years to get of glimpse of what it was like. Old School Eating For most locals in 1917, Singapore’s food was simple and traditional, consisting largely of noodles, seafood and occasionally chicken. Pork-based protein came from wild boar, hunted locally in the island’s swampy forests and emerging rubber plantations, and beef was hard to find. The Hokkien were farmers and fishermen who ate what they produced. The Teochew were seafarers, reflected in their daily staples of seafood, fishcakes and rice porridges with vegetal accompaniments. The Hakka, originally a nomadic crowd, had a simple diet of ground yams, stewed chicken and preserved vegetables. Spices from all around the region mixed with locally-sourced ingredients and brought about the advent of such now-iconic dishes as bak kut teh (pork ribs simmered in pepper-based broth) and char kway teow, because they required little more than was available in most the villages or could be produced at home. Those techniques, combined with older recipes like fish maw soup, stir-fried anything and lots of spices to add some interest, was the name of the game in most people’s culinary lives back then. It was all about subsistence eating, easy to source. Added to the basic diet in local Singapore was the complex food of the Straits Chinese (or Peranakan) who came here from Malaya with more advanced cuisine and ingredients. Then were the Indians, who quickly dominated the textile and jewelry markets and largely built the burgeoning infrastructure. They brought with them more exotic flavors and ingredients, leading to the introduction of breads, roti prata and the many accompanying curries. Hawker History For most people in Singapore, there was no easy means of transportation, aside from walking or riding in horse-drawn
gharries and bullock carts. So the food on one part of the island remained there, with little assimilation across the land. Introduced in 1896, automobiles became popular. By 1917, they numbered nearly 1,800, but were only driven by rich Chinese or British. Still, roads were quickly being built to ease access to stately colonial buildings, businesses and estates. These arteries shortened the distances between the island’s towns for locals working in the many new industries that were emerging almost daily. And all those people working far from home had to eat. Enter the street food phenomenon in Singapore. By the turn of the century, locals had begun preparing foods to sell only within nearby kampongs and villages. But the development of new roads expanded the range of this cooking industry. Markets had begun to spring up and were becoming accessible by jinrickshaws and even a 25 kilometer electric tram system. And Singapore’s early street food grew to meet the demand, with men roaming the island with wagons and pushcarts, clanging bells or smacking wood blocks with sticks to announce the arrival of their food. They “hawked” the food that fed the rapidly-growing population, lining roadways with makeshift eateries laden with fiery cauldrons, steamers and woks. People quickly relied on the local hawkers and the practice of eating simple prepared foods outside of one’s home became firmly entrenched. Fancy Food Of course, not all of the food in Singapore was street food. By 1917, Singapore was growing exponentially each year. Buildings, roads and waterfront docks were exploding on the scene and the colony was already a well-established jewel in the British Empire’s crown. With such rapid colonialist growth came the expansion of its own lavish society and sumptuous food. Indeed, Singapore boasted several dozen major hotels by then, each catering to the gastronomic desires of “people of sophistication and means” at restaurants and grand saloons. Here, colonial ladies and gentlemen sat in elegant structures beneath the comfort of whirling fans, dining on classic European recipes and refined versions of curries, poultry and roasted meats, along with such luxuries as delicate pastries and fancy cocktails. Even the famed
An American Visit By Melinda Murphy
ook closely at this 1856 image. See the flag on the stern of the sampan? That’s right. It’s an American flag! And this image is one of the earliest illustrations of colonial-era Jurong here in Singapore. The artists Peter Berhard Wilhelm Heine and Eliphalet M. Brown were two of the official expedition artists of the Perry Expedition, an attempt by the United States to open up Bakumatsu, Japan to the world. The job of Heine and Brown was to record the expedition visually. Before reaching Japan, the fleet stopped in several locations along the way, including Singapore. Perry’s crew anchored the fleet along Selat Sembilan and Sengei Jurong. They surveyed the surroundings of the strait and the river and produced this lithograph. Post Raffles colonization in 1819, Jurong had a small population along the banks of the two rivers. The majority was made up Malays, Hokkien-speaking Chinese from Fujian China and some Teochew from Jieyan. At about the time this image was produced, Jurong Road was being paved to connect villages around the island, first starting from the seventh milestone of Bukit Timah Road and ending along the head of Sungei Jurong. Eventually, it went all the way to Tuas. Another interesting tidbit to note about this image? The fire in the background. Fires were common in Jurong back in this era.
Singapore Sling was invented just two years before (in 1915) ironically by Hainanese bar captain Ngiam Tong Boon, in the Long Bar of the elegant Raffles Hotel. As Singapore grew into an international shipping and trade center, others came to her shores to get in on the action as well. Dutch, German, French, Italian and Scandinavians brought their businesses (and their food) to this little red dot and the culture of food was set in stone. There is little question that disparity between the food of local Singaporeans and the minority population of colonialists living the good life here was vast and grim. Where one-wok meals of noodles, vegetables and fish were the principle ingredients in 1917 local fare, the privileged few ate like kings and queens. Though Singapore is a vastly different place from a hundred years ago, that disparity still exists today, though the Michelin Guide might disagree. But just a glance to back-in-the-day explains how from very early on Singapore was destined to become one of the world’s great food centers. Makes you wonder what it’ll look like a hundred years from now! Kevin is a culinary explorer and writer for magazines and websites in the US and Asia. For five years, Kevin roamed Singapore’s heartlands, making them his home and their food his obsession. After two years back in the US, he has now headed south to Santiago, Chile where he is exploring South American food from the Andes to the sea.
Singapore Ame What Was Happening in the W EXTRA! EXTRA! BREAKING NEWS!
POEM COLLECTION PUBLISHED
n the aftermath of last year’s political upsets, many people are eying 2017 with worry. Some are even going so far to declare Brexit or the Trump presidency as apocalyptic. But here’s where history can give us a bit of perspective. A hundred years ago, 1917 was also a year of upheavals and uncertainty, but when considered in retrospect, the year was also a time of discovery and progress. While most Americans remember 1917 as the year the United States’ officially declared war on Germany and entered World War I, it was also a time when Mahatma Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin and many others were busy shaping the world with their views. Here are some events from 1917 that would become historic incidents, but at the time were still hounded by an unknowable future.
TS Eliot, best known today for the concluding lines of his poem The Hollow Men (“This is the way the world ends /Not with a bang but a whimper.”) published his first collection of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, overturning the norms of poetry and offering radical new literary styles and techniques.
PAPER ON COSMOLOGY PUBLISHED IN GERMANY Albert Einstein published his first paper on cosmology, though it was not widely available outside Germany until after the end of WWI. His application of the General Theory of Relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole would lead to the formulation of the Big Bang Theory in 1922.
sox beat the giants!
In the realm of sports, the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants to take the World Series. Also in baseball, 1917 featured the first back-to-back no-hitters ever thrown in the American League.
WILSON ENTERS SECOND TERM
Woodrow Wilson began his second term as President of the United States, becoming the first Democrat in more than seventy years to be elected for two consecutive terms.
RUSSIAN EMPIRE STRUGGLES
The Russian Revolution, a pair of uprisings taking place in February and October of 1917, dismantled the autocratic Russian Empire, leading to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II and the eventual rise of communism and the Soviet Union.
US enters war
US President Wilson addresses Congress, asking to formally enter WWI. Cuba, Panama, Greece, Portugal, Siam (now Thailand), China, Liberia and Brazil all enter World War I on the side of the Allied Powers.
Although Mahatma Gandhi’s famous nonviolent protests against British rule in India wouldn’t begin until the 1930s, the first success of such mass civil disobedience was in 1917, when Gandhi assisted farmers and laborers in Champaran who were forced to grow indigo instead of the food crops necessary for their survival. In the same year, Gandhi established the Sabarmati Ashram, now a national monument.
stanley cup win to us
Seattle Metropolitans defeated Montreal to become the first United States-based team to win the Stanley Cup.
Women’s suffragists, including Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, were arrested for picketing the White House to demand the right for women to vote. Paul’s hunger strike and other negative publicity would lead to President Wilson to declare his support for the movement in January 1918, though the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution wouldn’t be ratified until 1920.
erican orld in 1917
BORN IN 1917
Jazz musicians Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, future president John F. Kennedy, novelist Carson McCullers and Arthur C. Clarke, co-author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, were all born.
By Laura Schwartz
January 17 US pays Denmark $25 million for Virgin Islands. January 28 Municipally-owned streetcars take to the streets of San Francisco, California. February 3 US liner Housatonic is sunk by German submarine, on the same day that US President Wilson breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany. March 2 Puerto Rico territory created by Jones Act and US citizenship is granted. March 3 US Congress passes first excess profits tax on corporations.
The American Association of Malaya, which was later renamed the American Association of Singapore, was formed.
March 5 US President Woodrow Wilson inaugurated for second term. April 2 Jeanette Rankin begins her term as first woman member of US House of Representatives. April 6 US declares war on Germany, enters World War I. May 18 US Congress passes Selective Service Act, authorizing compulsory enlistment for the armed forces. May 21 At least 10,000 people were displaced by The Great Fire of Atlanta, but there was only one fatality. June 4 First Pulitzer prizes awarded.
prohibition first Considered
On December 18, 1917, the US Senate proposed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting alcoholic beverages. Prior to its ratification on October 28, 1919, the US Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act. The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition on December 5, 1933.
NEW YEAR : WORLD on edge
The year ended with as much uncertainty as it began, with war devouring Europe and the Middle East, Russia in uproar and American suffragettes thrown in prison with no assurance that their demands would be met. It’s easy to look back now with confidence. Of course, women earned the right to vote. Germany 100 years later is a peaceful economic stronghold. Artists just beginning to taste success (such as TS Eliot and Charlie Chaplin) would go on to become icons. But in 1917, the future was unknowable and likely very frightening. Many people thought the end of the world as they knew it was upon them, but it wasn’t. Who knows what 2017 will look like to the people of 2117? Born in Ireland, Laura grew up in Tokyo, Singapore and New Jersey, before returning to live in Singapore with her husband in 2012. She has a BA in Japanese Language and Cultural Studies from Bard College. In addition to writing for the Singapore American newspaper, she also writes freelance for a range of other publications (including The Wall Street Journal) about travel, expat life, Singapore culture and so forth.
June 19 The British Royal Family renounces its German names and titles and adopts the Windsor name. July 28 10,000 African Americans march in Silent Parade on New York City’s 5th Avenue, protesting lynching. August 14 China declares war on Germany and Austria. August 25 The American Association of Malaya is formed. September 3 First night bombing of London by German aircraft. October 8 Leon Trotsky named chairman of the Petrograd Soviet as Bolsheviks gain control. October 15 French government executes Parisian dancer Mata Hari by firing square for passing secrets to the Germans. October 27 20,000 women march in a suffrage parade in New York City. November 1 First US soldiers killed in WWI combat. December 1 Boys Town founded by Father Edward Flanagan west of Omaha, Nebraska. December 6 Finland declares itself a republic. December 7 US becomes 13th country to declare war on Austria during WWI.
Singapore American · January 2017
The Making of a Legacy By Phil Diamond
t all began when KS and Mariama Varkey migrated from India to Dubai with their two children, Sunny and Susan, in the late 1950s. KS worked as a bank teller during the day and taught English and mathematics at night. Soon, Mariama taught as well and together they built a reputation as teachers. Within a few years, they started a private school for expatriates in Dubai. In those days they used wind tunnels to cool the school and house and slept on wet towels to stay cool on hot nights. A decade later, KS and Mariama’s son, Sunny, came back to Dubai from school to get involved with the family business. Reflecting on the Varkey family’s involvement in education, one of Sunny’s two sons, Jay Varkey, pointed out that, “Three out of four of our grandparents were teachers. It’s in our blood.” As his involvement increased, Sunny started more schools, specifically targeting low income brackets. Entering the new millennium, the vision of the Varkey family was becoming more clear so they gave it a name: GEMS Education. GEMS Education represents these ambitions: 1. To develop a vertically integrated ecosystem for K-12 education. 2. To influence the global standard of education to eliminate the disparity between low-end and high-end education and ensure employability for every child in the modern workplace. When asking Vikas Pota, the CEO of the Varkey Foundation, about the Varkeys, Mr. Pota says, “What really impresses me about the Varkey family is their commitment to making sure that the underprivileged receive a better standard of education.” 3. To improve the global perception and value placed on teachers. As Jay Varkey put it: “Shining a light on teachers is so important because without our teachers, we don’t have anything. If they don’t get supported the way they should be, that whole profession is a dying profession. Then the whole world would be in trouble.” To help achieve these ambitious goals, the Varkey family founded the not-for-profit Varkey Foundation in 2010. The Varkey Foundation strives to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. UNESCO warns the world will need more than 65 million new teachers by 2030 to provide primary and secondary education to all children. The Varkey Foundation exists to inspire new teachers every day and support others with the same mission. To that end, the Varkey Foundation established “The Global Teacher Prize” in 2014, an annual $1,000,000 prize for the best teacher of the year. Within the three years since its inception, The Global Teacher Prize has become a world-renowned international event. Two people’s passion for education in the 1950s echoed through generations and time. As Jay Varkey said, “The ingredients you need to be successful are passion, persistence and integrity.” The Varkeys certainly have those and now GEMS Education is the largest provider of K-12 education globally. Together with the Varkey Foundation, the Varkeys are changing global education for the better.
Sunny Varkey takes a hands-on approach to advancing education for all.
“The importance of empathy, respect, and good manners just doesn’t exist anymore... and those values are what we try to instill in students at all our schools around the world.” –Jay Varkey, Group Executive Director and Board Member of GEMS Education
In 1959 two teachers, KS Varkey and his wife Mariama, started their first school.
27 HEALTH & WELLNESS
Singapore American Âˇ January 2017
A Dose of Reality Dr. Sundus Hussein-Morgan
ack in 1917, people living in Singapore faced all sorts of diseases, but advances in medicine have drastically changed the health landscape here. The first vaccine for diphtheria was developed in 1923, followed by the development of the vaccine for pertussis (1926), tuberculosis and tetanus (1927) and polio (1952). These contagious illnesses were highly prevalent in Singapore 100 years ago, when inadequate housing, overcrowding and poor sanitation were the perfect breeding ground for these infections. Today, all children born in Singapore are offered vaccinations against these illnesses as part of the routine childhood immunization program. Though none of these infections have been eradicated globally, these illnesses have been drastically reduced in the Lion City. Due to the poor quality of the water supply and sanitation, water-borne illnesses such as amebic dysentery, cholera and typhoid were notorious for causing severe diarrheal illnesses, which were often fatal with an average death rate of 5 per 1,000 of the population. Typhoid was active year-round here. The prevalence of typhoid here now is very low and a vaccine is available to eliminate the risk of acquiring this illness. Good sanitation and clean water along with improved medical care has eradicated cholera in Singapore. Insect-bourne illnesses, particularly those spread by mosquitoes such as malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya were ripe back when the American Association was first formed. Malaria accounted for 11% of total deaths recorded in 1921. With stringent vector-control measures, Singapore was declared malaria-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1982. Both dengue fever and chikungunya remain prevalent,
but advances in medicine such as rapid diagnosis and improved care, means many patients can be treated as an outpatient and the number of fatal cases has been significantly reduced. The first true antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming, Professor of Bacteriology at St. Maryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital, in London in 1928. This discovery revolutionized medicine. Infections such as pneumonia, rheumatic fever and syphilis, for which there had been no cure, were finally treatable when penicillin became available by prescription in the 1940s. Advances in medicine, alongside strict disease surveillance and control, as well as significantly improved housing, sanitation and quality of water have ensured that infectious diseases in Singapore have a low prevalence and are treated effectively. Outbreaks, such as the recent Zika virus, are also quickly contained. These advances in medicine have certainly made life in Singapore much better than it was 100 years ago! Dr. Sundus Hussein-Morgan is an experienced Austrian GP who practices as Complete Healthcare International (CHI). Trained in England, her areas of interest are: women and children health, dermatology, preventative medicine and chronic disease management. www.chi-health.com.sg