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The Daily ParadoxLeadership

The Daily Paradox: How green is our city

Welcome to Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister

On 9th August 1965 Singapore became an Independent Republic with Mr Lee Kuan Yew as its first Prime Minister. In the years since then Singapore has had three Prime Ministers. Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed the reins to Mr Goh Chok Tong in 1990 and he was succeeded by Mr Lee Hsien Loong in 2004. Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister, Mr Lawrence Wong takes up the position today, 15th May 2024. He has appointed a new Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Gan Kim Yong. We wish PM Wong and his Deputy and all the Cabinet members a healthy and successful time in office. It is certainly a challenging one.

Singapore’s remarkable stability, sustained economic growth and worldwide reputation for decency and safety makes it a unique country. I have now spent half of my life here and I count myself very fortunate to have been a tiny part of the development and character of this beautiful city-state. I have been happy, cared for and given opportunities I would never have had elsewhere. Visitors from every country come through Singapore weekly and it is a privilege, and special learning curve, to meet them on their journey. They include my own UK and American family who still make the long treks from across the world. Bless them for that.

For a permanent resident foreigner to sing the praises of Lee Hsien Loong’s time in office is almost an impertinence. As a Senior Minister he will continue to help the new team for many years to come. He was a huge support to me and my business when he created Overseas Headquarters Status (OHQ) for companies like Cerebos Pacific much of whose income came from abroad and – before we IPO’d – all of whose dividend went to foreign owners. In doing so, he founded the concept of Singapore as the Hub it is today. His encouragement of the children’s books I later wrote spurred me to work in mentoring and coaching for which I am deeply thankful. He has always been a source of kindness and enthusiasm.

It is rare to bless a politician but to Lee Hsien Loong I do say “Bless you”.

In 1939 at the start of WWII, when I was seven years old, Richard Llewellyn wrote a book describing his growing up in the stunning and demanding mountains of Wales, one of Britain’s most scenic countries. His passage to youth was something I realised I was going to travel very soon. He describes the first time he experiences real joy with the memorable words “How green was my valley”.

I adopt and adapt that feeling for Singapore with deep gratitude.

How green is our city.

Good morning

John Bittleston

15 May 2024