A Tale of Three Cities – Singapore, Penang and Hong Kong

The once mighty powerful British Empire having ruled the world for more than 300 years left behind many legacies; some are good and some are bad. Today’s geographical landscape is partly the result of the once omnipotent British Empire. Let’s look at Singapore, Hong Kong and Penang which are Great Britain’s modern creations. These three cities have lots in common. They are city harbour states created by the mighty British Empire for their own self interests; to further their strategic hold on power for their own wealth and glory.

Out of the three city states, Singapore is the only sovereign independent state. Whereas the other two cities are part of their larger hinterlands with Penang as part of Peninsula Malaysia and Hong Kong as part of China. All of them are blessed with deep sea ports for ocean going ships. They started life as sea ports in the maritime trade. Except for Singapore, their ports are situated opposite the mainland. Therein lies their individual destiny. That’s the crux of the matter.

Let’s trace their origins and their existence.

Hong Kong island was forcibly seized from the weakened Manchu dynasty after the first opium war. In the Treaty of Nanking (1842) after the first opium war, the British made China pay for the war indemnity and also ceded Hong Kong in perpetuity to them amongst other unfair terms and conditions. This was a trading post in the Far East to enable the British to further their commercial interests in the maritime trade routes.

In those days, whoever controls the sea lanes rule the world.

When they found out that Hong Kong was too small as the colony’s needs increased, they used all kinds of pretext and excuses to grab more lands from the helpless Chinese for agriculture, training grounds for troops and security buffer against attacks etc. More and more lands were subsequently seized from the weak Chinese and added to the British colony in Hong Kong. All lands acquired were rent free. The stretch of land on mainland China opposite Victoria Harbour which is on tiny Hong Kong island had to be seized for obvious security reasons. Thus, tiny Hong Kong from an initial land area of 78.59 sq km expanded to a whopping 2,754 sq km – almost 35 times!

Same as Hong Kong, Penang was only a tiny island of 293 sq km, much smaller than Singapore which is more than 700 sq km. Subsequently, the British conned the Kedah Sultan into ceding a vast swarth of territory on mainland peninsula Malaysia opposite the Penang harbour for security buffer and to facilitate the expansion of port facilities. That piece of land known as Wellesley province was a mangrove swamp infested with pirates which was not conducive to commercial activities for the Penang port. Thus from a mere 293 sq km, Penang’s territory expanded to a sizeable 1,048 sq km – more than 3.5 times.

When Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, she was the biggest of the three sea ports in terms of land area. Fast forward to today, it’s the smallest among them. Since Singapore harbour is well sheltered by the huge land mass in Sumatra and not situated directly opposite mainland Johore, the British didn’t see any need to annex any extra land in Johore. There’s no necessity to grab extra land on the opposite side on the mainland.

How I wish Singapore harbour were located somewhere along the narrow straits between Singapore and Johore like Victoria harbour! The story of Hong Kong formation would have been played out with more and more lands added to the Singapore colony. Instead, the British laid a railway line cutting across the centre of Singapore from the northern tip to the southern end up till Tanjong Pagar where our port is. This was to facilitate the exports of rubber, palm oil, tin etc from mainland Malaysia via the railway line through Singapore harbour. Singapore was part of the Straits Settlement then governed by the British. But the railway line belonged to KTM based in Malaysia.

After more than 50 yrs, the railway line was finally resolved. It defied all logic that a foreign owned railway could cut across another country from one end to the other with that entire track of land belonging to another government. Not only the British did us no favor but left us with so much shit to contend with. If the British didn’t give away Christmas Island to Australia, we would have another 135 sq km of extra island! Our sea boundary would be much larger than now. We could have used that island for our farming, holiday chalets, army training needs etc not forgetting the tons of crabs.

As a matter of fact, the British also left lots of shit all over the places when they lost the Empire. Think of India’s West and East Pakistans they created! Until today the Kashmir issue still remains unresolved despite three border wars fought between India and Pakistan.

How I wish that if only at that critical juncture of history, the British were to grab a piece of territory on the Johore side off mainland peninsular Malaysia for security reasons and further development of the Singapore colony as happened in Hong Kong and Penang. Do you think we have to face so much nonsense from them today? Like what Mr Brown says, they are “playing punks” on us. Out of nowhere, suddenly they started their nonsense again. Unwarranted provocations on the sea and in the air to play sport on us! They seem to enjoy doing it. They love to see how we react to their childish antics thinking that we are merely a helpless small fly! Link

To those who clamour for reduced defense spending, abolishment of NS and name the enemies, I say open your eyes wide to what’s happening right now! Are we so stupid as to spend billions on defense year after year for no reason? It takes 1000 days to build an army only to use it on one day. When that day of reckoning comes, there will be no regrets. The saber rattling up north is a timely wake up call indeed! Link

The other two cities are much better off than us. Fate or history has not been kind to us even though we seek to co-exit peacefully with such unfriendly neighbours making a decent living despite the fact that we are a barren island and yet having to spend tons of money on defence. Are we destined to live under their whims and fancy forever? Do we have to be at their mercy for generations to come?

When stupid narrow minded people are in power, that’s the problem. They don’t think far ahead on the mutual benefits if we co-operate together combining our weaknesses and strengths to reap tremendous benefits for our own respective citizens. As it is, there are so many of their citizens earning good money here when their own citizens could not find employment back home. If we become enemies, what about those tens of thousands earning a decent living here? I say those retards running the place up north are irresponsible and callous in their duty to their own people. Link

Remember this age old adage. Do not force a tiger (lion in our case) to the wall or it’ll be left with no choice but to retaliate to the maximum. If you want to bring us down by restricting our sea and air spaces until we can’t breathe and survive at all, what else could we do especially when we got lots of arsenal at our disposal?

Maybe, letting an nonagenarian hold the country’s destiny is not a good move after all cuz he’ll have no qualms bringing down the country together with him knowing that his days are numbered!


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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