chapter  6
14 Pages

Clean and disciplined

The garden city in Singapore
WithJesse O’Neill

The history of the garden city in Singapore and Malaysia hinges on a speech delivered on 11 May 1967. The speaker that morning was the Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who explained the moral imperative of garbage disposal to staff at the Cleansing Department. After cleaning the old city, he said, they would make it beautiful with trees and shrubbery, and he named this ambition for landscape reform a ‘garden city’ (Lee 2012, 83). By August of the same year, Lee (2012, 177) was stating the plan with greater conviction: Singapore’s garden city would be ‘the greenest and cleanest’. Long after Ebenezer Howard’s peaceful path to real reform, the garden city was inaugurated as state policy in Singapore.