An interesting insight from Maria Ressa, former Senior Vice-President, ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Managing Director, ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) & abs-cbnnews.com. Before joining ABS-CBN, Ms. Ressa worked for Cable News Network (CNN) for nearly two decades, serving as Manila Bureau Chief from 1988-1995 and as Jakarta Bureau Chief from 1995-2005. As CNN’s lead investigative reporter in Asia, she specialized in investigating terrorist networks.
She recently moved her base to Singapore and will be Author-in-Residence at the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research (PVTR).
Welcome to Singapore…
I sit on the bus and let my mind roam. Interesting. The city feels different.
I have been travelling in and out of Singapore for nearly two decades. I had a favorite room in my favorite hotel, a desk I always used in the airport lounge, a table at my favorite restaurant. I had habits – rituals that anchored me since news stories often pulled apart the fabric of my life.
People say Singapore is boring. For me, it was an oasis from the chaotic events of news. This was my transit stop in the early 90?s till I moved to Manila in 2005. In the last five years before I left CNN, I was in my Jakarta apartment a total of 90 days in a year. I was probably in my Singapore hotel room more days than that, but I was always caught in a flurry of activity.
Now that I’m moving here, Singapore feels different. I’m not parachuting in on a story with deadline pressures nor running around frantically contacting authorities to confirm stories here and around the region.
No longer rushing, I’m on a bus exploring a side of Singapore I was always too busy to see.
The facts I’d learned stayed with me – like authorities importing more than 600 varieties of palms as part of one of the world’s first environmental programs. Or the highway that could turn into an emergency runway for planes to evacuate its people – remnants of past conflicts.
A 600 sq km island-nation the size of Siquijor, Singapore planned its development so well that it grew upwards (and built skyscrapers) rather than kill the greenery. It brings in more than double its population in tourists annually with man-made attractions. Yet, it has trouble finding its own drinking water – it imports water from nearby Malaysia.
Now I feel the rhythm of life far from bustling central D10 or D11. I see details I’ve missed in the past, looking inside HDB apartments, visualizing one for me. (Did you know that more than 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing supplied by the government? Or that 8 in 10 Singaporeans OWN their own homes, the highest rate in the world? And that each building is mandated to have the exact proportions of ethnicity as the nation?)
I’m moving here in a few weeks, and it feels different. That’s my nugget for today.
Here’s the view from dinner – my welcome to a different Singapore marking another phase of my life.