Saturday, November 20, 2010

Diplomacy untangle bottlenecks

The prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia had recently resolved the decades old impasse over the KTM railway running across the island of Singapore. This rail line (including 33 feet of land on both sides of the track)  literally splits Singapore in half from north to south. From the Causeway at Woodlands right into the heart of Singapore to the station at Tanjong Pagar. The land that the rail sits on belongs to Malaysia, being 'given' by the past colonial government.

This resulted in the most usual immigration clearance found no where else in the world.
By going through the Malaysian immigration point at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, you legally 'enter' Malaysia without even leaving Singapore .  What's more, technically you can 'leave'  Singapore and 're-enter' by simply getting off the train at Woodlands without ever leaving the country. What a headache for immigration authorities! Haha.

Hillview Road passing under the RTM railway track

My own personal interest on the event being that, finally after decades,  I soon won't be stuck at the bottleneck that is Hillview Road.  Hillview Road passes under the KTM railway track but as the land belongs to Malaysia,  the road has never been widened ever since it was built. 

Over the years the underpass evolved into a major choke point. The 2-lane road, fine as it was when built in the 1950s, became a constriction to the growing development in the area.  Hopefully, this will be resolved in July 2011, when the Malaysians return the land to Singapore.

I guess the same goes for 2 other bottlenecks caused by the KTM railway line that I know of. 
One is at Sunset Way at Clementi and the other at Hindhede Road near Bukit Timah Hill. 

Road constriction at Sunset Way, Clementi.

Bottleneck at its worst at Hindhede Road, 1 lane passable only.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Uniquely Singapore?

No, this is not about the recent hoopla over the Singapore Tourism Boards' change of tagline from Uniquely Singapore to Your Singapore.

My Japanese friend, Aki Fujiwara-san, the namesake of my blog, was visiting recently and our chat turned to things that we found unique to certain places. I don't mean landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty, but more like what is the one significant thing that says you are at a certain place and no where else!

She had asked what is the thing that tells me I am in Tokyo and not in another city?
It's really difficult to pinpoint... Japanese signage? love hotels? trains crisscrossing all over the place?
In the end I settled for building covered in tiles. In Japan, practically every modern building is covered with wall tiles instead of plaster, brick or other materials. It's the uniformity in the great diversity of facades in each Japanese city.

When it came for her to say what she found uniquely only in Singapore, it really surprised me because I guess Singaporeans turn a blind eye to this and it would take foreign eyes to bring this to our attention. And what might this be?

"Lamp-posts in Singapore are all covered with grafitti or marks of it's removal. Yes, EVERY lamp post bears these marks. When I see this, I know I am in Singapore."

I am embarrassed.