RASC Conference – Singapore City Gallery

The City Gallery is a great representation of the nation of Singapore: open, forward thinking, vibrant, and democratic. In contrast to the often unknown, divisive, and fluctuating state of planning and development in the U.K. and, I’m sure other commonwealth nations, the Singaporeans are a people who know where they are and where they want to get to.

The centrepiece of the City Gallery is a scale model of the entire island, with areas marked (in a fifteen year timeline) for development, for new infrastructure, for renewal, and for reclamation. Yes, reclamation. Singapore’s landmass now stands at 719km2; a 23% increase in land area since independence in 1963. It’s a reclamation that is so effective that Singapore’s new iconic landmark, the 55-story Marina Bay Sands hotel, is built on land that was formerly sea, and new underground transport systems have been built under and through man-made lands.

The tour took in the history of Singapore from her inception, her independence, and all recent hyper-industrialisation. Our excellent guide talked through the timeline, from the depths of disaster that was the British Singaporean campaign in The Second World War (still the largest surrender of British-led forces in history) to the triumphs of post-war development from the fifties until today.

The key take-outs from this fascinating visit was that not only can well-designed skyscrapers offer an area of green space for leisure or agricultural production that is twice the footprint of the building, but that a five year plan is nowhere near sufficiently forward-looking.

We wondered whether there were applications here for our shows. Should we, as this nation demonstrates so excellently, have a detailed plan to guide development of our shows, showgrounds, and Ag societies in the coming ten to fifteen years, but also complement this with an outline plan, reviewed as the Singaporeans do every five years, and giving direction over the next forty to fifty years answering questions such as “what is our purpose?”, “what do we want our shows and public interaction to look like?”, “how do we plan to develop and steward our assets?”, and “how will we recognise success when we see it?”.

It was clear to see that with this direction, Singapore – both her government and population – shared commonality in purpose, leading to a recent poll highlighting that 85% of residents expressed confidence in the national government, and the ‘Singapore model’ being coined as a term for effective, pragmatic, and incorrupt governance. Is there a call for the Singapore model in our Agricultural Societies?

Simon Orpwood – Press Secretary 

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