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‘From Swamp To Skyscrapers’ narrative ignores fact that S’pore still has swamps

‘From Swamp To Skyscrapers’ narrative ignores fact that S’pore still has swamps

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This false narrative gives outsiders the impression that mudskippers stay in high-rise apartments.


A BBC article framed Singapore‚Äôs journey in the last 50 years as one about going from “swamp to skyscrapers”.

A lot of Singaporeans from all walks of life are familiar with this narrative.

However, if we stopped to think, we’d realise that this narrative paints a false picture of what life is really like in Singapore.

Because, the truth is, Singapore in 2017, still has swamps.

By insisting on the “From Swamp To Skyscrapers” narrative, what we are doing is send a wrong message to outsiders beyond Singapore’s shores: We are effectively telling foreigners that the water monitor lizard, mudskipper and Great Egret do not live in the swamps here but in high-rise apartments.

When we do that, what we are doing is effectively whitewashing the biodiversity and the countless species of flora and fauna that live at the intersection of freshwater and saltwater habitats.

Have we considered what Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve would feel?

Or Pasir Ris Park? Nee Soon Swamp Forest?

How about Chek Jawa?

By continuing to perpetuate this false narrative to create a false consciousness, we will inflict symbolic violence on innocent habitats.

Therefore, we need to stick with the “From Swamps To Skyscrapers With Pockets Of Swamps” narrative for a new beginning to dawn.