Nation-Building: gaining national image by gaining land

Nation-Building: gaining national image by gaining land

Independence has brought Singapore different inducements, one of the goal Singapore wanted to achieve is to be the “tropical city of excellence” and getting rid of the colonial image having its own nationally identity. To achieve this large amount of land is needed for developments both on urban landscape and economy however land is what Singapore lack off. Due to its limited size, to accommodate all the urban planning and territorial expansion Singapore embraced every opportunity to optimize and expand its land area.

Before independence the old town hall and other administrative offices are near the coastline but after independence the new government keen on building up new nationally identity and to mark the brand new start of Singapore new offices and places were built including the airport. Moving the offices and important places away from the old administrative region seemed to be a way to tell the world that Singapore is no longer have the dependence on UK and Malaysia. Those new offices and airport of course are built on newly reclaimed land and in terms of scale Singapore’s Changi Airport alone has the area of 20 sq km (7.7 sq mile) of reclaimed land which required 272 million cubic metres (9.6 billion cubic ft) of sand, and the sand alone would have cost at least S$1.9 billion. This act of of moving the airport to a brand new land would allow Singapore to show off its development and reinforce their airforce power.

In 2015, 25% of Singapore’s total area is reclaimed land. Southwestern coast of Singapore have now been joined together to form an offshore industrial site; northwest side is sealed off and turned to reservoirs; eastern and western side of the island has been added 25 square mile of land for industrial estates and housing. These statistics has clearly shown the high dependency of Singapore on land-making, it is not hard to understand the rationale of land-making for Singapore but is land-making the only way to solve the problem? Is it the only way to build up the national image? One day the quota for reclaiming land will be full, new financial or other districts would not be able to be place on the “newland”, by then how would Singapore does to boost up its image and identity?

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Image Reference

Noel Murphy, (2013), THE NATURE OF GROUND [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 15].


Noel Murphy. 2013. SINGAPORE GROUND GAMES. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 December 15].

Comaroff, J, 2014. Built on Sand: Singapore and the New State of Risk. Wet Matter, [Online]. No. 39. Available at: [Accessed 21 December 2015].

Olszewski, K.F. and Chia L.S. (1991). National Development, Physical Planning ant the Environment in Singapore. In Chia L.S. et al, eds., The Biophysical Environment of Singapore, 185-206. Singapore: Singapore University Press.

1 Comment on “Nation-Building: gaining national image by gaining land

  1. This argument is hard to fully comprehend. Land reclamation is carried out because of a practical need, and it’s unclear that the regime is using this aspect to bolster its national image. Propaganda about this sort of activity is usually played down, because it often leads to disputes in the region, such as disturbance of ecosystem in Malaysian waters or the supporting of corruption in the buying of Cambodian sand. These reclamation activities are in fact tarnishing the image of Singapore and the government knows it. There are too many ways to analyze topics of nationalism, and in these entries, you have included interests in city skylines, land reclamation, Marina Bay, and the military. It would have been much stronger just to delve deeper into the historical development of the Marina Bay land reclamation project. There are too many divergent topics of identity crisis understood from a contemporary analysis, which is neither urban nor historical. Please write out the bibliographic references in full, and cite sources of the images.

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