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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University of Wellington. Vol. 24, No. 5. 1961

Singapore an Oasis

Singapore an Oasis

Apart from the main business of the conference there were several affairs on the side which oiled the wheels, both big and little. Lunches and dinners generously given by local bodies; there was a launch trip round Singapore harbour, and an evening lecture at which even a few conferees turned up. All these were helped along by the personality of Singapore. The island has less ground on which to work up anti-European sentiment than many other parts of the area, for after all it owes its very existence to colonialism, here to be taken to mean the conversion of a swamp into a free port with the highest standard of living in Southeast Asia. Like all immigrants, the forebears of its people did not come there because they were enthusiasts for their indigenous culture, but because the change of air offered them more hope.

Visibly, there is occurring a fusion of what came from the West with what originated in the East; not through compulsion, but just by allowing people to make their own choices, combining elements from both worlds to suit their individual convenience. Social attitudes tend to be general, and the absence of anti-European feeling seems to have led to acceptance of racial diversity, producing the Singapore atmosphere of tolerance, stability, and good government; a combination which makes the island virtually an oasis in Southeast Asia.