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When the Pearl of Orient Encounters the Lion City

ICE Graveyard 25/04/2016 Abie Chan
DEFAULT © Provided by The Huffington Post DEFAULT

Treading on the rooftop of Marina Barrage, hardly could I envisage something as mundane as a dam could be turned into a leisure spot for visitors. Not until the time I paid my first ever visit to Singapore in February did I realize how Singapore differs from Hong Kong despite constantly indubitable comparisons.
Situating across the mouth of the Marina Channel, Marina Barrage is the 15th reservoir in Singapore with size one-sixth of the Singapore. It aims to augment the lion city's water catchment area and water supply by keeping out seawater. During heavy rain, the nine crest gates of the dam would also be activated to control flooding and drain away excess storm water. While you may think a dam is nothing more than storing water, this Marina Barrage shows you how a reservoir could be a playground for citizens to enjoy kayaking and dragon boat race. The iconic rooftop also embraces you with natural breeze to enjoy the stellar view of Marina Bay and family picnics.
Yet, the significance of Marina Barrage is much more than the recreational functions. Singapore aims to be thoroughly self-sufficient to water by 2060 with vision from Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew two decades ago to create a freshwater reservoir. Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has heavy reliance on Malaysia for its fresh water supply and Malaysia constantly charged a high price on Singapore. Since the launch of the Marina Barrage, Singapore has remarkably reduced its imports of water from Malaysia which only accounted for 40% of the Singapore's water at present. Singapore endeavours to tackle water scarcity and become a sustainable city.
There is often a saying that big difference hides in little details. While the Marina Barrage may not overwhelm you, it actually gives implications to the divergence between Hong Kong and Singapore, particularly to the ruling of the government. Hong Kong relies heavily on the import of Dongjiang water in Guangdong despite evidences showing the ineffective use and high price of the imported water. Albeit the gigantic desalination plant being shut down in Lok O Pai in 1982, the government has not developed alternative ways to tackle the water scarcity issue in Hong Kong since then. This is a typical example of sitting still without solving the root cause of the problem. While I am not suggesting that we should follow the Singaporean model and develop our own dam, it is a matter whether we could manipulate our own strength and set our city apart from the rest of the world. Backed in 1980s, both Hong Kong and Singapore were the Asian four dragons who had trod through the colonial history and transformed into a prosperous city. Singaporean government has later made use of its natural edge sunlight to transform itself into a garden city by the name and by nature; whereas Hong Kong continued to foster itself as the international financial hub. Yet, ever since then, there are growing juxtapositions between Singapore and Hong Kong, and city dwellers in Hong Kong are yearning for similar housing policy as that in Singapore. Recent global research has shown that Hong Kong's competitiveness is eroding and Singapore is likely to surpass Hong Kong sooner or later in terms of economic prospects.
Next time, when you are drinking water in Singapore (water from Marina Barrage may taste a bit different), that mouthful of water actually gives implications regarding the policy administration of the Singaporean government and the blueprint of the country development.
It's the little details that are crucial. Little things make big changes.

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