Singapore is an island city-state located at the southern tip of Peninsula Malaysia; it is a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia. It is connected to Malaysia with the Johor-Singapore Causeway in the north (opened on June 28, 1924) and Tuas Second Link in the west (opened to traffic on Jan 2, 1998). Both countries are planning a third connection, which would very likely be connected to Punggol on the east side of Singapore. 

First settlement

Singapore’s original prosperity can be explained by its status as a free port and its position on the trade route to China. Before European settlement, Singapore was the site of a fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. In 1819, the British East India Company, led by Sir Stamford Raffles, established a trading port on the island. In the 1840s, the fuel for the island’s growth was immigrant labour from the southern Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong -- they were dock-hands, rickshaw pullers, cooks, porters but some were merchants and artisans. In 1880s, the Indians, mostly Muslims, started arriving in large numbers to become lightermen and conveyers of cargo on the river. 

As I have explained in the previous article, earth energy naturally flows from a higher land mass to a lower one and stops when it meets an obstacle such as a river. The energy would then either collect and pool or dissipate, depending on the curvature of the river. If the river embraces the land in a “concave” shape, then the energy will be pooled and collected. On the other hand, a “convex-shaped” river will dissipate the energy. When we study the mouth of the Singapore River and vicinity of it, there are a few concave pockets. 

When the Chinese immigrants landed they usually congregated at one of the concave pockets -- South Boat Quay. See Hoy Chan, a very successful property developer in Malaysia and the Shaw Orgnisation, a film distribution company and movie theatre chain, were among the first to start their businesses there back then. For the Indians, they were supposed have to lived near today’s Clark Quay but they eventually settled in other enclaves. Clark Quay has since been developed into an incomparable and throbbing nightlife hub but South Boat Quay retains its old facade.

Most of the property on South Boat Quay either belong to individual owners who are still running traditional businesses or have migrated overseas. In Feng Shui perspective, South Boat Quay has a bigger pool of homogenous earth energy than Clark Quay. Given time, it will become another vibrant and prosperous business district.

Mouth of Singapore River

Singapore has of course developed tremendously since the island’s founder Sir Stamford Raffles drew up plans for the city in the 19th century. Singapore’s commercial and banking centre was mainly swampland. The modern CBD stretches south from Fort Fullerton, which guards the river mouth towards Telok Ayer Street, while opposite the CBD is the government administration district called the “Raffles district”. The Raffles district runs from the Fort Canning Hill to the Rochor River and reclaimed land – Marina Bay.

Firstly, let’s study the pattern of the energy flow from Peninsula Malaysia to Singapore. As mentioned earlier, earth energy flows from a higher land mass to lower land mass, so, the earth energy supply was originally from Bukit Panjang and Bukit Timah. Before the Johor-Singapore Causeway was built, Singapore was mainly a trading port and a fishing village. After the original causeway was opened, Singapore’s economy, particularly in the manufacturing sector, started to grow. This was later complemented by the Tuas Second Link. These two links not only serve as a physical link between Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore, they are also carriages to keep earth energy flowing from the mountains of Peninsula Malaysia to Singapore. 

If you look at the map of Singapore, all the main highways lead from the Johor-Singapore Causeway and the Tuas Second Link to the CBD and Raffles district. It looks like all these roads are channeling energy from different directions to these two districts.

Now, let us look at the Singapore River and see how it could have influenced the fortunes of the CBD. The location of the CBD is exactly on the convex of the Singapore River (as mentioned earlier, this is where earth energy dissipates). In 1995, the Barings Bank scandal put Singapore’s CBD in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The oldest merchant bank in London was brought down in that year due to unauthorised trading by its head derivatives trader in Singapore – Nick Leeson

Due to commercial decisions, commercial and banking offices have no choice but to locate their offices on the convex of the river. According to Feng Shui principle, the entrance of a building should ideally face the river to tap earth energy and benefit the dweller. It looks like the offices which have their entrances facing the river are doing better than those who have their backs to the river.

Raffles district sits on the concave of the river, one of the strongest pools of homogenous earth energy. This district was used by the British as a colonial administrative centre and the settlement for the European community. It was easy to build drainage system and no landfill was required. This is the most important part of Singapore and saw tremendous changes over the years, with land reclamation pushing the sea boundary further and further out. A series of construction programmes were completed in 1990s to give the district a futuristic cityscape, such as the New Parliament House, the New Supreme Court, the Esplanade, Theatre on the Bay and the Marina. 

The energy here also has the tendency to preserve those in power. Looking back, British were in power since Sir Stamford Raffles till 1955 (rudely interrupted for only a few years when the Japanese invaded) when the colony was granted full internal self government. Meanwhile, the ruling People’s Action Party has been in power since independence in 1965, with little opposition from other parties. 

Where is The Pearl of the Dragon?

Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the mainland Singapore – shaped like lozenge; Pulau Jurong, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Pulau Sentosa are the largest of Singapore’s many smaller islands. 

Pulau Jurong is derived from the Malay word “shark”, but it was infested with only crocodiles.  It currently is home to a range industrial parks, petrochemical works, housing estates and some tourist attractions. In the previous article, we mentioned that protection from strong winds and rain can be provided by the erection of a screen or barrier in front of the opening. In this case Pulau Jurong is the screen or barrier for one of the world busiest ports – Jurong Port, situated opposite to this island. 

The boomerang-shaped Pulau Ubin is off northeastern Singapore and near Pulau Ketam and Pulau Sekudu, originally called Pulau Batu Jubin (Island of Granite Stones) for the granite hills.  There is an interesting legend about how a pig, an elephant and a frog raced to reach Johor from the island. The loser would turn into stone and the unlucky elephant and pig lost. The frog however, did not fare any better as he was turned into Pulau Sekudu (Frog Island). The granite mines that supported the settlements in the early days have left scars on the landscape but there are still many grasslands here for the nature lover.  There isn’t any high land mass to supply earth energy, but plans from the government to link it to the mainland with bridges could improve things.

Among the islands, Pulau Sentosa is the only one that benefited from an extreme makeover.  Previously known as Pulau Belakang Mati (Island of Death from the Back), no one knows the reasoning behind the old name although it is believed to have been a pirates’ camp prior to the arrival of the British. Pulau Sentosa is now being developed as the Monaco of Asia, with an integrated resort set to open next year. Residential properties here have touched a lofty S$3,000 per sq ft. Look at the shape of this island. Don’t you think it is a mini Singapore in its landform? Pulau Sentosa also serves as a screen for the Singapore Port, another super port of international standing.

In between the Keppel Harbour and Pulau Sentosa, there is an island which is used as a cargo terminal – Pulau Brani. This island is connected to mainland and Pulau Sentosa through Sentosa Avenue, and it is protected by the mainland and Pulau Sentosa. If the Singapore government builds another bridge to link this island to mainland, this is going to be a very precious island like The Pearl of the Dragon.