Happy 47 th Birthday Singapore! It’s an amazing achievement for a country to have come so far in such a short period of time.

The Singapore I grew up in was very different from what it is today. I remember spending time climbing in and out of the drain outside our house catching tadpoles, running around the garden creating my own adventures in my head, riding my bicycle around the house while being chased around by my grandpa.

We also went to the wet market near my place every weekend where there will be so many things to see and do. My favourite was the aquarium near canal where we would stare at the fish swimming in the glass tanks hoping that our mom would buy us a fish to bring home.

Days were spent not in front of the computer, but along the fence with neighbours playing with toy cars and plastic soldiers. We would also pretend cook outdoors and go around the garden gathering ingredients.

Today, we are surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a rapidly progressing nation. Singapore has seen a lot of growth and development especially in the last 10 years. Sometimes I feel like a tourist in my own country.

When I met people during my travels, a lot of them wouldn’t know where Singapore was. I had to explain that Singapore was “not in China”. We have also been described as a “little red dot”.

Singapore is remarkable in the sense that we do not have any natural resources to speak of. What we have is a strategic geographical position for trade due to the fact that we were previously a British colony and our people.

When we broke away from Malaysia 47 years ago and gained independence, many people said we would fail as a country. I think most of us Singaporeans were also worried about the future of Singapore. Our backs were against the wall, people waiting to see what would happen.

Our leaders decided that the survival of Singapore was of utmost importance. As such, this common consensus drove us all. As a nation, we united and did our best.

Our early laws were tough and unforgiving. We needed them in order to ensure that we stayed focussed. We didn’t have much choice in many things. Most issues were decided for us. But we persevered.

Today, Singapore is a cosmopolitan country. Most people who have visited the country say that it is “clean”, “green”, “efficient”, “safe” and “wonderful”. As a country, I don’t think we can ask for anything more.

Sure, there are issues such as immigration policies and the high cost of living. But at the end of the day, we have to give credit where it is due. Singapore has become an example of what hard work, a common vision and strength of leadership can achieve.

Happy Birthday once again Singapore.