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Date : 23rd March, 2015
Time : 59’ 38”
Total distance run to date : 550 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/729582891
I love puzzles. Crosswords, futoshikis, cell blocks, codewords, kenkens – all good as far as I’m concerned. And no long haul flight is complete without a Mind Bending Killer Su Doku or two from my favourite puzzle site – Killersudokuonline.com
I mention this because the Singaporean ‘Cheryl’s birthday’ puzzle recently went viral. Billed as a maths puzzle, and targeted at 15 year olds, it seemed to symbolise Singapore’s impressive educational standards and all round high achiever status. It’s actually a pure logic puzzle that requires no mathematical knowledge. If you like that sort of thing, then it’s well worth doing. (It’s also very interesting to compare it to the Maths GCSE sweet problem that recently caused such a storm in the UK.)
And I think most people would agree that Lee Kuan Yew – Singapore’s Prime Minister from 1959-1990 and then Senior Minister and Minister Mentor – deserves plenty of credit for Singapore’s educational success. And for pretty much everything else that’s happened in Singapore since the Second World War.
He died, aged 91, on the day I arrived in Singapore and his death completely dominated the media and the country while I was there. Tributes flowed in from all over the world. And no wonder. He was the pivotal figure in Singapore’s post second world war history and key to the country’s extraordinary economic growth in that period. Singapore is now one of the freest, most competitive, most innovative, least corrupt and most business friendly economies in the world. It is the world’s fourth biggest financial centre, one of the world’s five busiest ports and has the third highest per capita income in the world. One in every six households apparently has assets in excess of $1 million.
But you have to go there to understand the nature of the achievement. Singapore is a small city state of 5.5 million people living on a c 700 square km island just off the south coast of Malaysia. It lies one degree north of the equator and lacks any valuable natural resource except, arguably, its geographic position which makes it a hugely busy port.
It took Lee Kuan Yew’s iron will and, of course, a talented and hard working population, for Singapore to become the country it is today.
But, for all this success, Lee and his policies have also had plenty of critics over the years. Freedom of the press was far from guaranteed. Draconian punishments were introduced for a variety of activities from drug trafficking to spitting out gum. And his proposal to favour graduate mothers – who had 3 or 4 children – with tax rebates and schooling and housing advantages was highly controversial and eventually abandoned.
Angela, my running partner in Singapore, said there was a palpable sense of sadness at his death. And the route she took me on – 10k round the marina – certainly showcased what had been achieved during his lifetime. We started at the Singapore Cricket Club and passed by the Esplanade on the Bay, the Marina Bay Sands – purportedly the second most expensive building in the world with casino that apparently takes in more than the whole of Las Vegas combined – and the Marina Bay Gardens from which we could see countless ships anchored out at sea. From there we ran on Marina East until we had the immense Sports Hub in the background – picture above. We then retraced our steps before running round the other side of the marina to the Merlion. All very impressive.
Even better – the route was flat, the weather was cool, and the company was good. The kilometres went by easily – which was a relief after some tough runs in the heat and humidity of SE Asia. Thank you Angela. And thank you Terence for the chicken and egg curry afterwards!