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Singapore Swing: Nanny state loosens up to attract wealth

October 1, 2010

 

MOTOR-RACING/PRIX

Some assignments are tough in this business. Getting embedded in a U.S. tank in an Iraqi desert. Gulping tear gas during a  riot. Spending hours at an APEC conference desperately seeking news in the snooze-fest.

This one was fairly enjoyable to tell you the truth. Reuters Singapore Bureau Chief Raju Gopalkrishnan set out to tell the tale of how Singapore, the Southeast Asian city better known for things like banning chewing gum and canning juveniles, has been undergoing something of a transformation of late. From “nanny state” to Singapore swing.

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany powers around turn 10 in front of the Old Supreme Courthouse during the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit September 26,

The story begins in a neighbourhood of downtown Singapore that once was a warren of gambling and opium dens and cheap brothels run by Chinese triad gans. Over the last couple of years or so, fund managers,  financial consuiltants and their ilk have been movinginto the newly gentrified neighbourhood.

Our man in Singapore attended the Formula one Grand Prix on Sept 26, the only F1 race held at night, and observed the rich and near famous gathered  at the rooftop bar of Marina Sands Casino, which opened earlier this year along with the Genting casino resort in neighbouring Sentosa island, where multimillion dollar mansions are being flogged to wealthy Asians from China, Indoensia and elsewhere.    Nice work if you can get it.WEALTH-SINGAPORE/

Wealth Manager Ed Peter poses for a photo in front of gentrified shophouses in the Duxton Hill area in Singapore September 17, 2010. The city of 5.1 million is fast emerging as one of the world’s hottest destinations for wealth. REUTERS\Vivek Prakash

Singapore has seen its population grow 25 percent over the past decade, most of it from foreign residents. Now one in three people in Singapore is foreign born. We visited a  public housing complex in the heartland of the island, where concerns  about this change in demographics is not going down so well.

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