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  • i'm in southeast asia with my 1913 bradshaw's  handbook published at the height of european  

  • imperialism my 100 year old guy book  will leave me on a railway adventure  

  • through archipelagos and peninsulas dotted  with hills forests and paddy fields i'll tour  

  • towering mega cities and magnificent mosques  i'll encounter golden buddhas and jeweled temples  

  • and experience some of the world's most  spectacular and notorious railways as i travel  

  • through the diverse nations of this vast region  i'll learn how they asserted their independence  

  • against the british french and dutch empires to  become the economic tigers and dragons of today

  • my two and a half thousand mile journey  through southeast asia concludes in singapore  

  • the only sovereign islands city state once  britain's most successful colonial invention  

  • and today one of the world's  most prosperous countries

  • i began in the central business district  before exploring the port of tuas  

  • the historic neighborhood  of chinatown and marina bay  

  • on this leg i'll travel to the district of  little india and visit the southern island of  

  • sentoza before returning to the city centre and  boat key on my travels i'll explore the world's  

  • biggest subterranean train depot this looks  like an underground city of skyscrapers enjoy  

  • the latest developments in urban farming  here's to singapore's food self-sufficiency

  • and delicious one of britain's most humiliating  military defeats they were very very experienced  

  • in jungle warfare people were called unawares  and so the city fell in just one week

  • please do not lean against

  • this morning i'm heading six miles northeast  of the center to the district of taisen i  

  • want to get the inside track on the train  network that's carried me around the island  

  • the singapore mass rapid transit is a very  extensive system i was astonished to discover  

  • that it began operations only in 1987 that's  more than 120 years later the my city london  

  • it runs partly overground partly underground  no surprise there but in a crowded and  

  • environmentally conscious island there's  no limit to the subterranean possibilities  

  • at this vast nerve center i'm meeting group  director yi boon chao good morning michael  

  • buncha welcome to the world's largest underground  depot thank you very much see you please thank you  

  • this massive operation supporting three of the  network's main lines lies 75 feet below street  

  • level puente why did you feel you needed to  build the world's largest underground depot  

  • we are a small country land is scarce so we have  to find innovative ways of making full use of  

  • our land that we have so one way is to build  infrastructure underground so that we can free  

  • up space above ground for future development what  sort of operations do you do with the trains here  

  • the size of this depot is about 17 football fields  we have a 10 maintenance tracks we do maintenance  

  • on the trains and we also check the trains  every day here before we launch the trains out  

  • and these trains are fully automated they do not  require a driver these trains are fully automated  

  • we just need to send a command from the control  center to the train remotely the train will wake  

  • up by itself check itself and prepare itself for  the launching why did you move to automated trains  

  • since 2003 we started this journey to having  fully automated lines because we anticipated  

  • there will be a manpower crunch in singapore and  we are thinking of how how to operate mrt lines  

  • with less manpower we also know that most of the  incidents that happens on the metros is because of  

  • human errors so by having fully automated  lines it's also safer for the operations  

  • so would you intend to have fully automated  trains all over the system one day in fact  

  • all our lines after 2003 is fully automated only  two lines that were still men with drivers are the  

  • north south and east west line but actually the  drivers are there more to recover the trains if  

  • there's a problem they actually don't operate  the trains anymore when it's running normally  

  • the network is already extensive stretching for  142 miles around the island with 139 stations  

  • and it continues to expand with a further  80 miles of track planned by 2030.  

  • you want to get people out of cars onto trains  yes because in singapore we started to notice  

  • the roads are getting more congested and so  by expanding our real network we can encourage  

  • people to take the trains to go to the places  they want to go instead of driving their cars  

  • this depot's driverless trains are serviced by  a giant computerized warehouse towering 75 feet  

  • above us it holds around 22 000 boxes of parts  and spares this looks like an underground city of  

  • skyscrapers what is this thing this is  our automatic storage and retrieval system  

  • is the largest underground system that we have  in singapore i can believe that hello my name's  

  • michael great pleasure to see you you just dial up  here and you get whichever part you want yes yes  

  • so now the machine is starting to  retrieve and the retriever is way up high  

  • and this rushes towards us on a kind  of monorail it's very fast isn't it

  • and here's your box ah yeshope it's the one you wanted

  • traveling back towards the city center the next  stop on my tour will be a district known as  

  • little india bradshaw's tells me that in 1911  the population of singapore included 220 000  

  • chinese 40 000 malays and more surprisingly  27 500 indians the british monarch styled  

  • himself the emperor of india and whether  his imperial subjects were flattered or not  

  • quite a large number of them have  pitched up here by one means or another

  • this neighborhood which fans out from  the main serangoon road with its temples  

  • markets and traditional craft businesses is  strongly evocative of india colours to die for

  • mr jaya selvam has been making flower  garlands here for over 30 years  

  • hello my name is michael may i join you formoment sure definitely that's beautiful work  

  • you're doing there what are these gardens used  for normally to honor people and special guests  

  • to welcome them weddings even like going  to prayers in temple everything you need  

  • flowers and at the moment you're working with  orchids yeah this is orchid our national flowers  

  • and let me see how you do your knots just one  loop on the down and the other two on the top  

  • just pull the string you got a knot once  you master the skill you are the king of it  

  • thank you very much the national flower of  singapore sure thank you sir thank you very much

  • i'd like to hear more about the history of this  community from professor brian farrell brian  

  • was a quarter within singapore for the indians  planned by the british they didn't set aside  

  • a specific community for south asians because  in the earliest years in the 1820s they were a  

  • negligible community the old guidebook tells me  that in 1911 there were 27 and a half thousand  

  • indians in singapore quite a high number why  were there so many where did they come from  

  • well i think the big influx was in the middle of  the 19th century when a lot of them were brought  

  • over as convict laborers to literally build the  place i didn't know that singapore had been used  

  • as a penal colony how did it compare for convicts  with australia these were people who were serving  

  • out sentences of finite terms so they weren't  sent here to settle in most cases it seems as  

  • if no one could be bothered to ship them home but  singapore's booming freeport attracted many more  

  • from diverse regions of india there was a fairly  steady trickle all along the way from the regions  

  • that are now bangladesh and east india a punjabi  muslim community in there as well people who  

  • came here to do business those who had already  established money lending networks international  

  • financing shipping serangoon road is one of  the major roads leading out of town along which  

  • development tended to grow and there was a drift  of the south asian community in this direction  

  • today indians are the third biggest ethnic group  here after the chinese and the indigenous malays  

  • making up nine percent of the population they  are among the most singaporean of singaporeans  

  • they remain diverse within themselves a healthy  tamil a majority to be sure but there are also  

  • muslim and sikh punjabi contingents  and they've made a disproportionate  

  • contribution in many many ways in the  police and the armed forces in government  

  • in the business community i would say that they  have done very well here and are well at home here

  • at the far south of singapore  i'm taking to the skies

  • this cable car is carrying me across the island of  sentosa which is now noted for its amusement parks  

  • but our light at celoso which at the time of  my guidebook was of great strategic importance

  • fort siloso was built in the 1880s  

  • and sits on sentosa's northwestern  tip overlooking the singapore strait

  • the harbour works says bradshaw's are defended  by several forts with some powerful guns and  

  • submarine mines although japan had been  britain's ally during the first world war  

  • defending the indian and pacific oceans against  germany when he invaded manchuria in 1931  

  • singapore feared the worst and built  bigger guns but they faced towards the  

  • sea and were of limited value when japan  overran malaya and invaded from the north  

  • singapore fell in february 1942 one of  britain's worst ever military disasters

  • to understand how events unfolded here i'm meeting  author karen hoisington karen how do the japanese  

  • forces succeed in reaching singapore i think  there's only one word for the strategy which  

  • is surprise yeah four o'clock in the morning  the japanese bombers came through to malaya and  

  • came into a brightly lit singapore bombing was so  easy and they'd catch the singaporeans unprepared

  • britain believed that her strategic possession and  foremost naval base singapore was impregnable the  

  • british of course had all the guns facing this  side but they actually were coming in from the  

  • mangrove swamps on the north west one of the  things that is hard for me to grasp is that  

  • in those days a good chunk of singapore was  actually jungle then yes it was very much so  

  • they were very very experienced in jungle warfare  people were called unawares and so the city fell  

  • in just one week what did the japanese forces do  to the population when they took over there was  

  • a tremendous massacre they were targeting  mostly the chinese people because of the  

  • animosity with china the chinese were put in  concentration camps to be massacred in mass graves  

  • karen's relative elizabeth choi was working in  a hospital along with her husband she risked her  

  • life to help the allied troops incarcerated in  singapore's changi prison she helped those pows  

  • in changi with medicines they were starving a lot  of tropical diseases every time an ambulance would  

  • come with an ailing pow when the ambulance went  back she would put a little package of medicines  

  • tucked into the ambulance later on it was  discovered that they could send cash and letters  

  • any parcels from loved ones out there  or or people wanting to help them  

  • but elizabeth was arrested by japanese military  police in 1943 she was incarcerated for 193 days  

  • there were 20 of them in one small  cell and she was the only woman there  

  • during her imprisonment was she  mistreated she was electrocuted  

  • several times she was had the water treatment  she was slapped and beaten but every time  

  • when they had finished with her she would  go back to the cell with her head held high  

  • you know keeping her dignity it's estimated  that up to 50 000 singaporeans were killed  

  • during the occupation following japan's surrender  in 1945 elizabeth received an obe for her bravery  

  • when singapore was given back to the british  she was invited by lady mountbatten to come  

  • and witness the surrender she was invited to  recuperate in london and she was even invited  

  • to the coronation of queen letters both in 1953  so i think the british showed immense gratitude  

  • it's a it's a wonderful story  thank you she's a wonderful lady

  • it's my last day in singapore and  in the heart of the financial center  

  • i'm intrigued to discover  a splendid old market hall

  • my practicals refers to perambulating restaurants  and talks about an excellent market daily for  

  • tropical fruit strange fish and green turtle  and those two ideas come together in this place  

  • which is known as a hawker center or a food  port this one actually dates from the 19th  

  • century there are lots in singapore there's common  seating in the middle and all the way around the  

  • perimeter there are competing food outlets selling  singaporean favorite dishes at modest prices is  

  • popular with everyone including city bosses i'm  meeting up with regular diner tan boon jin who's  

  • chief executive of singapore's stock exchange  regulator brunjie and i'm thinking amongst all  

  • these towering skyscrapers it is amazing that this  victorian hawk ascent has survived yes this place  

  • is called laupassad which means uh old market it's  an amazing juxtaposition as well because here you  

  • have the old physical market and just next door is  the singapore exchange where i work which is the  

  • financial marketplace um tell me about the  singapore exchange you're listing singapore  

  • equities but also forum ones that's right so we  are the most international exchange in the world  

  • 40 of our listings are actually international  listings i'm using a skype book which is 100  

  • years old and at this time the port was the source  of singapore's wealth yes indeed so we have been  

  • busy reinventing ourselves from a free port tomanufacturing hub and today a financial services  

  • center today our assets under management here in  singapore is 2 trillion us dollars and our gdp per  

  • capita back in 1965 when we first independent was  500 us dollars and today it is 55 000 us dollars  

  • 55 000 percent 5 000 yes that is impressive and  yet despite the giddy heights to which you have  

  • risen you still pop in some time to the old  hawker center nothing beats the coffee here just

  • i'm traveling eight miles north to the residential  area of angmo-kyo in this country which is less  

  • than half the size of greater london space is  at a premium could the island's future growth be  

  • up in the air i'm visiting one of a new generation  of urban farms part of a government-backed drive  

  • to feed the nation go we ho is director of food  supply strategies at the singapore food agency  

  • we have the fact that singapore imports the  vast majority of its food is that a problem  

  • um we import more than 90 percent of our food  but going forward we want to try to raise our  

  • local production very substantially recently we  announced that we're gonna try to grow as much  

  • as 30 percent of our nutritional needs uh locally  by the year 2030. how are you going to do that you  

  • don't have much land exactly so in singapore we're  a very small country so the land that we have  

  • available set aside for agriculture is actually  only less than one percent but we think it is  

  • possible using technology this being singaporeknew that technology would come into it somewhere  

  • technology already enables us to produce 10 to  15 times more compared to traditional farms today  

  • so you have indoor led lighting type vegetable  farms you have recirculating aquaculture systems  

  • top fish farms all of this can produce 10 to 15  percent more compared to conventional vegetables  

  • and vegetables and fish farms today the government  is spending 63 million singaporean dollars on  

  • advanced farming systems danielle chan of city  ponix is the co-founder of this one on a car  

  • park roof danielle this is the strangest thing  i ever saw lettuce is growing in what look like  

  • drain pipes filled with pellets what's going on  this brewing system here is actually our aqua  

  • organic system using vertical growing tubings to  grow up to 25 different types of vegetable species  

  • so currently what you see here is our geogenear  lettuces now you talked about aqua so does that  

  • mean that water is moving through these tubes yes  it's actually able to filtrate the water as well  

  • as provide nutrients this moving of water actually  has one very good effect for our growing system  

  • you want to take a guess at that you tell me okay  so this actually prevents mosquito from breeding  

  • which is very very crucial when you're  growing vegetables in an urban area like this  

  • absolutely now presumably this is much  more efficient than sticking them in the  

  • ground the amount of produce and harvest we  had is actually up to 70 percent more than  

  • uh traditional methods of growing we have  the capacity to grow up to about four tons  

  • every month four tons yes four tons of  vegetables every month that is extreme yes  

  • and why would you do it on a car park roof if you  look at singapore we are actually going car light  

  • a lot of the multi-storey carpets in singapore all  these are underutilized well i'm very impressed  

  • by the technology does it taste any good how  about you try it wow what a beautiful display  

  • okay you take a piece of green and then you take  a scoop of all this berries whatever you like  

  • a bit of yeah this is honey honey dressing wrap  it up here's to singapore's food self-sufficiency

  • delicious fresh from the farm  yes well i'm having another  

  • at the time of my guidebook just over a century  ago singapore was still a colonial outpost  

  • run for the benefit of britain its journey  to independence was both rapid and remarkable

  • in 1959 singapore had a population of about one  and a half million it was largely swamp and jungle  

  • it was plagued by poverty unemployment slums  gangs opium and racial tensions but in that year  

  • a singaporean who graduated brilliantly in law  from cambridge became prime minister his name  

  • was lee kuan yew today singapore is one of the  world's wealthiest and most orderly countries

  • to understand how this man credited as the  founder of modern singapore shaped the nation  

  • i'm meeting associate professor alan chong allen  what an enormous pleasure thank you thank you um  

  • lee kuan yew given his age must have experienced  the japanese occupation of singapore what impact  

  • did that have on him if you read his memoirs  it was a life-changing experience you might  

  • say it was even an era in which he came of age  lee kuan yew was among the privileged few with  

  • enough finance from the family office to be sent  to the uk he ended up in cambridge that's where  

  • you know his political sensitivities are further  honed in terms of his networking with like-minded  

  • fellow colonial subjects or nationalist leaders  to be you start developing your ideas as to how  

  • colonialism needs to be pushed back as singapore  with malaria is moving towards independence  

  • what role does lee kuan yew play lee kuan yew was  the agitator extraordinaire he was a first-class  

  • one-man propagandist he knew how to cut his  sentences to grab people by the college in 1954  

  • lee founded the people's action party and five  years later when the british granted singapore  

  • a large degree of self-rule he was elected its  first prime minister with a landslide victory  

  • when he became prime minister in 1959 what ideas  did he have to push the british out you have  

  • to preach some kind of gospel of equality you  have to mobilize not only different ethnicities  

  • who are pitted against one another by the japanese  but also tune to the nationalist propaganda from  

  • their respective mother countries and lee kuan  yew it had to maneuver to patch all this together  

  • into a viable notion of nationhood the idea  of one people regardless of wasteland religion  

  • singapore became an independent sovereign state  in 1965. lee began an ambitious program of  

  • industrialization offering incentives to foreign  companies and providing government subsidised