Singapore is a small, resource-scarce state without a natural hinterland or a large domestic market to generate sufficient jobs and economic sustainability. Responding to these constrained circumstances, generations of policy-makers formulated and implemented economic strategies to integrate Singapore into the global economic system, and steer it towards becoming a ‘Global City’, in order to achieve long-term survival and prosperity. This case examines how Singapore’s ‘global city’ strategies affected equality outcomes in the country, and seeks to facilitate a discussion about how, or even whether, Singapore’s policy-makers should adjust these long-held strategies to safeguard equality in the country.
In Singapore, the sale of sex is tolerated in selected spaces like Geylang, as part of a wider, pragmatic policy to contain prostitution. However, over the years, illegal prostitution activities seem to have expanded beyond the boundaries of designated red light districts, and into residential and commercial neighbourhoods like Joo Chiat and Duxton Hill—a phenomenon which points to the limits of governmental efforts to contain prostitution within clear geographical boundaries. How then, should policy makers address the problems that a pure strategy of containment seems ill-equipped to handle? To facilitate a discussion about Singapore’s policy towards prostitution, the case first provides a general description of the commercial sex market in Singapore, and more specific details about the evolution of Geylang, Joo Chiat and Duxton Hill. It then identifies some of the challenges and problems that have arisen from the current approach, and provides an overview of how other countries have sought to regulate the commercial sex industry.
In Bihar, India, a women-led urban sanitation project by an NGO provided thousands of women with access to privacy or a safe environment to relieve themselves. However, it also raised serious concerns about the nature of sanitation solutions (“soak pit”) being constructed, including safety norms and the contamination of ground water. This case examines a microcosm of the sanitation landscape and related cultural complexities in India, when policies have unintended potentially hazardous outcomes and result in competing goals.Read more
In November 2013, the URA released its Draft Master Plan (DMP) 2013, earmarking a new district, Marina South, for development into a high density, mixed-use residential area. Marina South lies within Singapore’s Central Area and can be considered Singapore’s city core. It covers 11 planning areas, or about 1,650 hectares. This is in line with the Ministry of National Development’s promise to “provide more housing in and around the Central Region to enable more Singaporeans to live nearer their workplaces. How different is the city centre, and how different should it be?
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) leases out vacant state buildings, such as former schools and community centres, on a short-term basis to the public. This rental scheme had been formulated and operationalised to serve very practical, pragmatic purposes such as optimising state assets and providing additional built capacity that can be deployed quickly and flexibly to meet a variety of short-term demands for space. However, despite the scheme’s practical underpinnings, when the leases of certain developments approach expiry and when the state steps in to reclaim the state buildings, responses from tenants and the public have proved to be emotive and negative. This case provides an overview of SLA’s state properties rental scheme, and investigates how and why the implementation of the scheme has bumped up against contestations in recent years. The case also explores whether authorities should reconsider how the state properties rental scheme negotiates trade-offs between public demands and pragmatic land development needs, and if so, how.
This case explores the evolution of Singapore’s policies on public transport, starting from the landmark 1996 Land Transport White Paper and how it has shaped Singapore’s transport landscape from the 1990s to early 2000s. It then examines the challenges, such as the December 2011 train breakdowns, and corresponding policy shifts that occurred between the early 2000s and the present, which culminated in the revised Land Transport Master Plan and fare reviews released in 2013. From there, the case explores the rationale behind the shifts and the reactions to them, and highlights key considerations and tradeoffs that transport policy makers face when deciding on further policy adjustments.
The Singapore government has a well-deserved reputation for its long-term, forward looking approach to land use planning, earned largely because of its success in transforming the island-state from a chaotic ‘third-world’ country to the well-run city it is today. In recent years however, Singapore experienced rapid population growth, which threw the planning system out of gear because infrastructure growth could not catch up. In response to public concerns over the long-term viability of its population policies and the liveability of the island, in 2013, the Singapore government released a Population White Paper as well as a forward-looking Land Use Plan articulating the government’s proposed land use and infrastructure development strategy to support a population of 6.9 million by 2030. Despite best intentions, the reactions to the Population White Paper and the accompanying Land Use Plan proved negative. The events leading up to the Population White Paper, and the subsequent public uproar over the government’s proposed population policy roadmap and Land Use Plan raised key questions about the efficacy of long-term land use planning in Singapore. This case looks to examine whether Singapore’s long-term planning over the years has been effective, and also explore how and why it may have fallen short.