My recent visit to Singapore (in fact my maiden overseas tour) from December 2011 to January 2012 has exposed a new horizon ahead of myself. Therefore, I feel it necessary to share my Singapore experience so that all of us can realize where we are standing now and how far the world has actually progressed.
First of all, I have to narrate how friendly the local people are. When I landed in Changi Airport, it was 4:00am local time. I boarded a taxi and its driver was so helpful that he took me to the lift of the building where my brother dwells in. The driver even pressed the button of the lift so that I can reach the desired floor. Can we expect to return safely from the Airport at 4:00am and expect such a co-operative attitude from a taxi driver in our country?
Secondly, I have to praise the public transport system of the country. The network of public bus and MRT are so strong that you don’t have to own a car over there. The captains (i.e. drivers) of the busses drive the buses across the left lane with so much care that road accidents could never be occurred by them. Besides, the buses have reserved seats for handicapped people. Thank authorities concerned that our Dhaka city buses have got nine reserved seats for women, children and physically disabled people. Whenever, there is someone with a wheel chair to board a bus, the Captain himself gets down from the bus and pulls the wheel chair. Can we expect it from any of Bangladeshi bus drivers who are reckless enough to kill people so often? The fares of buses and MRT are all adjusted by electromagnetic cards. Hence, the hassle of paying fares as seen here is not at all present. Besides, the buses do not allow a single extra passenger. The numbers of passengers that can be accommodated are displayed in the bus digitally.
Thirdly and most importantly I have to praise the way the Singaporean authority has dealt with tourism. Singapore neither has the longest beach nor any mangrove forest. But they have maintained the balance of nature superbly. In Singapore, you will discover green forest and park on one hand and on the other hand skyscrapers. It is not that for constructing highrises and skyscrapers forest has been destroyed. But it is the proper planning that made it possible to achieve such a beautiful environment to live in. Singapore has got Zoo, Bird Park, Eco Parks, Safari Park, and Water Reservoirs. All of these have been built within a real forest but not at the expense of the reality. So, once someone is inside those places, he or she will feel to be in a forest with wildlife all around. I really wondered why the Singapore flag has not got any green colour when its surroundings are so lush green whereas we are destroying our nature when our flag is most green for the greenery we had once upon a time!
I must mention my experience of Sentosa Island. Sentosa is an island built artificially. But in fact it is an island within another island (i.e. Singapore itself). Whenever, I reached Sentosa by cable car, it seemed to me as if I was in a different world. It is not possible to depict Sentosa by few words here. But some of the attractions of Sentosa are: the Universal studio, Casino club, underwater world, Butterfly park, Fort of World War II, beautiful sea beaches etc. In the Sentosa Island there are separate Bus and MRT service with different colors for different routes. In fact it should take at least two days to hover around the whole of Sentosa.
Moreover, Singapore has developed a fascinating tourist spot around its main river Singapora. The place is popularly known as Marina Bay. At Marina Bay you will also find the Singapore flyer, Marlion, Casino and the opportunity to have a cruise by ancient boats. Our Dhaka is also beside the river Buriganga but it’s all about planning and awareness that made the difference. Today, the Buriganga is clinically dead but have a look at Singapore; they are using their main river as a reservoir to provide drinking water!
In addition, the Singaporean authorities have preserved history and historical place with immense care. For example my visit to Fort Canning Park in fact took me to those turbulent days of the Second World War. This is because they have maintained the place so delicately! The 45 feet underground bunker bears the memory of the allied forces surrendering to the Japanese Army.
In fact when I went to Malaysia from Singapore, I discovered a different picture. Kuala Lumpur was somehow like Dhaka with irregularities and untidiness all around. The transport service is also like Dhaka with taxi drivers deny to go by meters (which is not imaginable in Singapore!)
In fact it is just impossible for me to describe everything I experienced in Singapore. But at last I can only say that good leadership with foresight, commitment, discipline and patriotism are the keys to the success of the tiny island. As a whole, the whole city ranging from a walkover bridge to Government owned HDBs are so well maintained that one can only compare it with a dream city. I was just wondering when Dhaka will be like Singapore (at least the transport system). Therefore, when the Dhaka bound Singapore Airlines flight was taking off, surprisingly, I was unable to hold my tears and the only thing I was saying to myself was “Majulah Singapura” (the first line of their national anthem which means go ahead Singapore towards progress).
The writer can be reached over [email protected]