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Yes and no. But lets deal with the latter: a lot of Singaporeans (and foreigners) perceive Singapore to be extremely crowded and space-strap because of how crowded it is. Go to some far-off suburb like Tampines and be shocked by the crowd. I’ll beg to disagree: a lot of it has to do with the urban planning of the city.

Some 90% of Singaporeans live in publicly-built HDB flats – but notice how concentrated HDB flats are? I don’t have a map, but I remember during the National Day rally speech by the Prime Minister, I was beyond shock to see how small the combined total of HDB estates and towns on the Singaporean map.

A further note on urban planning: while Singapore has been attributed to have good urban planning – a lot of it is due to the fact the planning has (yet) to be disastrous. I’m of the personal pet theory that organic urban growth is much better than a command one. In other words, if I were Lee Kuan Yew, instead of HDB, I would have housing vouchers that encourages the building of low-cost housing.

Part of the problem is that urban planning in Singapore follows the goal of efficiency – in the sense that if something needs to be built, it better be in a position to serve the maximum amount of people. And when most industrial buildings, a vast majority of houses and a number of commercial buildings government-built – well, it clearly shows overcrowding being a function of urban planning.

And to the question – yes too. It is bad enough the “sprawl” (as if it is a negative thing) is severely limited in Singapore, it is also limited to Singapore. But when Singapore is merely separated by a 1km-wide body of water with a country dying to get rid of immigration controls and build thousand of bridges over – the idea of Singapore being crowded seems more and more an artificial element rather than a real one pertaining to Singaporean geography.


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