Singapore has made four decisions which have enriched the country, the importance of which some Singaporeans may have taken for granted.

“Mandai Zoo”

A world-class zoo right here on this heavily developed tiny island? Yes. Before Mandai Zoo, the nearest school holiday zoo to visit was the Johore Zoo – until the opening in 1973 of the Singapore Zoo in Mandai with a collection of 270 animals from more than 72 species. By 1990, the number was 1,600 animals from 160 species, the most famous of which was Ah Meng, the celebrity orangutan, which many Singaporeans “adopted” as their own.

Photo: Wiki/Ah Meng

The zoo is now called Mandai Wildlife Reserve, incorporating the Singapore Zoo, River Wonders, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Parks. Disney World could not have done better. Remember, this is a small island. How did we end up with a world-class zoo? Someone pressed the right button.

Science Centre

While the Zoo was a surprise, Science Centre Singapore was more in tune with the island’s ambition to be a science and knowledge hub. Opened in 1977, it is now in the midst of an expansion and will be relocated to a new venue next to the Jurong East MRT station. Completion is scheduled for 2027. The centre aims for easier accessibility, given that the original place was a bit out of the way.

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I think the Science Centre was ahead of its time, a brilliant idea waiting for validation.

Between now and 2027 is a lot of time.

It would be good to invite people who not only have an interest in science but are keen to inspire young Singaporeans in science and technology to be involved in the centre’s development.

Photo: Wiki/Science Centre Singapore

Can the Centre be anything like Epcot Centre in Disney World, Florida? Obviously, we can’t expect it to compete with the world icon. But then again, we can at least try? Look at the world-class and innovative Mandai Zoo.

Was there a plan to tear down Raffles Hotel?

If so, to even consider doing it was totally irresponsible. Had there been and it was decided to leave one of the world’s most famous hotels alone, we must thank whoever fought successfully to retain the building sitting on prime land. Money (if Raffles was torn down) and convenience (National Theatre and Adelphi Hotel) could not be everything in life.

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Photo: Wiki/Raffles Hotel Singapore

Eco Bridge aka Eco-link @ BKE Bridge

Jokes aside, our animals and other wildlife should be queuing to thank the person who suggested building the bridge.

When the Bukit Timah Expressway was built, it split Singapore’s two most important nature reserves.


The Straits Times reported: “The bridge, which began construction in 2013, connects the two nature reserves across the expressway. More than 3,000 native plants formed the foundation of the 50m-wide bridge; by 2015, it started looking like a suspended forest.

“A first of its kind in South-east Asia, the 62m-long bridge for animals was built to alleviate a major problem for native wildlife in urbanised Singapore – the fragmentation of habitats. The BKE was a physical barrier separating the two nature reserves, isolating habitats and populations of forest-dwelling animals that cannot adapt to the urban environment.”

The bridge saved animal lives. Without it, animals and other forms of wildlife would attempt to cross the BKE and get hit by speeding vehicles.

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Singapore needs more people who will think out of the box.


Tan Bah Bah, consulting editor of TheIndependent.SG, is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a magazine publishing company