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The Singapore case

Over the past 30 years Singapore has occupied a peculiar niche among the developing nations of Asia. It has been considered one of the models of effective development policy yet in the special setting of a city-state. In the combination of these roles Singapore is matched only by Hong Kong, and the comparison is instructive. Both of these cities, which at one point found it very advantageous to lack a rural hinterland (which might have been a drag on development), now seem ironically to be reaching out to acquire the benefits that rural industrialization and a rural hinterland can yield.3 Cities, especially world cities, seem to need hinterlands. The Hong Kong and Singapore EMRs are especially intriguing because they are instances where the mega-urbanization process is an international one.

Fig. 12.1 The Singapore-Johore-Risu Growth Triangle

In the Singapore case the extended metropolitan region encompasses areas in Indonesia and Malaysia. For this reason the extension of the urban space-economy into nearby rural areas is complicated by issues of international comparative advantage, geopolitics, and the mixing of national political economies. In what follows we try to unpack this complexity to reveal the key elements in the development of one of the most recently emergent and dynamic growth hubs in Asia - the Singapore-Johore-Riau Growth Triangle. We are arguing that this Growth Triangle can be most effectively interpreted as an EMR, though with distinct traits.

Singapore and the Growth Triangle

The "Growth Triangle," as the name implies, is based on the evocation of a triumvirate of relations. Broadly, the three corners of the triangle are Johore (southern Malaysia), Indonesia's Riau archipelago, and Singapore (fig. 12.1).

The Growth Triangle as an idea

The term "Growth Triangle" was coined in Singapore to convey the potential believed to be inherent in the synergistic interweaving of the comparative advantages of the three nations. These synergies, it is usually argued, will increase the overall well-being of the individual countries and the collective -thus, the concept of the "Growth Triangle." The Growth Triangle is usually presented as a model of international cooperation and multilateral development. However, there is much more to it than a simple mixing of comparative advantages and international cooperation.

The origins of the Growth Triangle as a concept are instructive as to its present status and nature. In the mid-1980s Singapore increasingly began to turn to Indonesia and the Riau islands as alternatives to the city's long-time dependence on Johore as an "offshore" source of low-cost land, labour, and, most critically, water (Singapore is dependent on outside sources for virtually all of its water supply). The increasing rapprochement between Jakarta and Singapore and the beginnings of joint initiatives in the Riaus in turn caused concern and some resentment in Johore. It became apparent that relations between Johore and Singapore could become threatened by the new relationship with Batam (part of Riau province). To mollify this emerging grievance and to expand the push for further cooperation, Singapore's then First Deputy Prime Minister, Goh Chock Tong, put forward the idea of a "Triangle of Growth." This idea was aimed at integrating Batam, Singapore, and Johore in a collaborative push for joint development on a regional scale.

The idea of the Growth Triangle has caught the imagination of the regional and global media, corporate communities, and those interested in the possibility of extended ASEAN cooperation. The Growth Triangle has been featured in the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Asian Wall Street Journal, as well as getting approving nods from groups of investors such as Japan's Keidanren.4 Today, it is a rare occasion to come across a government economic document from Batam, Johore, or Singapore that does not mention the Growth Triangle.

However, it is useful to look behind the marketed image of the Growth Triangle to uncover the rather more concrete reality. There are no trilateral agreements framing the specific outlines of the Growth Triangle. Only two formal documents have been concluded that relate to the Growth Triangle - both signed only by Indonesia and Singapore5 and not directly related to the Growth Triangle as a whole. This lack of formalization is, in part, because the Growth Triangle very clearly means different things to each of the participants. In many ways the strength of the Growth Triangle as a concept lies in its vagueness; it can mean all things to all sides.

Indeed, on closer examination the geometry of the concept becomes increasingly fuzzy, if not flawed. For example, the Growth Triangle is certainly not an equilateral one. Singapore is far and away the dominant player. In fact, two of the triangle's nodes have very few links. At present, there is almost no interaction between Batam and Johore. It would be more accurate to call the triangle a growth corridor. This corridor is driven by the Singaporean political economy. It represents the establishment of an extended metropolitan region girding Singapore couched in the rhetoric of international cooperation.

In the past few years, there has been a marked increase in the flows of goods, capital, information, and people between Singapore and Johore/Batam. The first waves of large-scale interaction were in the form of media outlets. Television from Johore and the "pirate" FM "Radio Zoo" from Batam crossed the national borders. Since then the volume of interaction has grown rapidly. For example, the rate of growth of population movements across the causeway between Singapore and Johore has been estimated at 17 per cent per annum (Straits Times, 24 August 1990). Some 25,000 Johoreans go into Singapore to work each day (Johore State Economic Development Corporation, personal interview). This flow is counterbalanced by some 12.2 million people who yearly go from Singapore to Johore (7.6 million of these are "day-trippers") (Straits Times, 29 October 1990:17). In 1989, these visitors spent M$1 billion on their visits (Straits Times, 21 June 1990). With regard to linkages between Batam and Singapore, the number of tourists entering Batam (mostly from Singapore) grew from 69,000 in 1980 to over 500,000 in 1985 (Batam Industrial Development Authority, 1991a).

Other indicators of the growing linkages between the three areas include:

- the rapidly growing speedboat shuttle service to the Riaus from Singapore (leaving almost every 30 minutes, for the 30 minute ride); - the development of Batam Island's international phone system, which is routed through Singapore and not Jakarta (a first);

- the upcoming development of smart cards to allow Singaporean managers quicker transit time through customs in Batam;

- the planned installation of a second causeway linking Johore and Singapore at a cost of S$1 billion;

- a possible extension of the Singapore subway or MRT into Johore Bahru.6

These developments illustrate the "reaching out" of the Singaporean space-economy into Malaysia and Indonesia. These flows of people and goods are being matched by an increasing level of cross-border capital flows.

In terms of investment, Singaporean firms and multinationals based in Singapore are the major sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) into both Batam and Johore.7 This move "offshore" has greatly affected the course of developments in Singapore (e.g. labour relations and employment structure), as discussed below, but it has had an even greater absolute impact on Johore and Batam, the other two nodes of the Growth Triangle.

Change in Johore

Johore, in southern Malaysia, was once considered to be a sleepy agricultural backwater. Johore's economic fame came from its plantation sector. Originally this sector was focused on rubber but latterly it has turned to palm oil. In more recent years (e.g. since 1988) Johore has taken to new kinds of harvest - industrial production and land development for industrial estates, recreational and commercial usages.

Johore is now Malaysia's number two investment destination. Between 1981 and 1991 Johore almost doubled its share of approved investments (from 12 per cent to 20 per cent) (Kumar and Lee, 1991:7). Between 1987 and 1989, FDI in the state tripled to US$1 billion per annum (Business Times, 17-18 November 1990). In the year and a half from 1989 FDI more than doubled to US$2.5 billion (Kumar and Lee, 1991:7). Johore is undoubtedly one of the favourite investment destinations in Asia today.

Johore is also now Malaysia's second most important industrial region after the Klang Valley. Johore's industrial output increased 25 per cent in the two years 1990-1991 and now accounts for 28 per cent of the state's GDP (up from 11 per cent in 1980) (Johore State Economic Development Corporation, 1991:6). The manufacturing sector grew at a rate of 13.8 per cent per annum between 1989 and 1990 (Johor Economic Report, 1990/91). This growth is surprisingly widely based, as it ranges from multi-billion dollar Taiwanese and Korean steel mills8 to small Singaporean textile and plastics outfits.

The physical and social impact of the "avalanche" of investment is tremendous and it is transforming the landscape. By 1995, Johore will have become home to 11 new industrial estates (making 22 in total); it will have 8-12 new golf courses, numerous resorts (including the M$2 billion Desaru projects), and countless smaller developments.

This massive infusion of capital has left the state with a critical structural labour shortage. Despite the presence of an estimated 75,000 unemployed (Business Times, 9 January 1990:18) the lack of a"semi-skilled" industrial workforce is hindering growth (Asian Wall Street Journal, 6 December 1990:6) and forcing employers further and further into the countryside.10

Fig. 12.2 The Johore growth corridor

The stress of superheated growth is also to be seen in the land market. Land prices in some areas of Johore Bahru (the capital, and just across the causeway from Singapore) jumped 400 per cent between 1989 and 1991. Prices of retail space in the Holiday Shopping Centre in the city increased 100 per cent in the two months from November to December in 1990 (Straits Times, 25 January 1991).

Further out from the city core, in Gelang Patah near the proposed second causeway, land prices increased in value from M$2,000/ha in 1970 to M$125,000/ha in 1990 (Straits Times, 14 September 1990: 21). This growth impetus is moving out from the core area and penetrating deeper and deeper into the formerly agricultural lands further into the province (see fig. 12.2) along new transportation routes, especially the new north-south superhighway. It is bringing "urbanism" to "rural" areas. This urbanism is bringing a widely divergent mix of economic activities and deep-seated change to the countryside.

Changing land valuations are transforming the previous land-use regime. The plantations are literally peeling back from the roadways as the land undergoes redevelopment into industrial or residential estates." Rural land values in some areas quadrupled during the period 1990-1991. The space-economy of Johore is being transformed, and with it the lives of its inhabitants.

Change in the Riaus

The third corner of the Growth Triangle is centred on the Indonesian island of Batam but it also encompasses the nearby islands of the Riau archipelago, especially Bintan and Bulan (see fig. 12.1). These islands have, since the colonial period, been on the periphery of Indonesian development. They are now becoming major growth centres.

Bintan is being developed as a resort island for Singaporeans. A glimpse of the scale of plans for change here can be gathered by looking at the Pasir Panjang development. This project is a joint venture involving some of the biggest economic players in the region.'2 It will occupy 19,000 ha, and will have up to 20 hotels and 10 golf courses. It will take 10 years to construct at a cost of S$3-5 billion.

The island of Bulan (population 400) is being touted as an agroprocessing centre. The scale of this development is spectacular. In 1990 there were 120,000 heads of swine on the island. This figure is expected to reach 360,000 by 1998, when the island will provide for 50 per cent of Singapore's pork demand. A farm with 5,000 crocodiles (for skin and meat) is expected to reach 55,000 by 1996. Chicken production is to start soon and should reach a production level of some 3 million/year, supplying the region's Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. The island will also hold the world's largest orchid farm at 4.8 million pots/year (Asian Wall Street Journal, 5 December 1990:10).

The developments on Bulan and Bintan are tremendous but Batam Island is at the centre of the stage in terms of changes in the Riaus. It is undergoing profound changes. The scale of the development of the island seems all the more extreme as the island was something of a tabula rasa before the investment onslaught. The island's population has grown from 7,000 (mostly fisherfolk) in the early 1970s to over 100,000 registered residents today. It is estimated that the population will reach 700,000 by 2001 (Nomura Research, 1991:3). This amounts to an average annual population increase of some 16 per cent. In more recent years this growth has accelerated to 22 per cent per annum (Pangetsu, 1991). Labour is coming to the island because, plainly put, it is where the money is.13

Batam is a very controlled space. The entire island, from the labour force selection (selected from all over Indonesia) to the land itself (by Presidential Decree), is controlled by BIDA (Batam Industrial Development Authority), the Indonesian development corporation headed by super-technocrat Professor Dr. Habbibie. This is a key to Batam; it is a controlled environment designed to optimize returns on investments. This approach is attracting a good deal of capital. Batam's share of total FDI to Indonesia grew from a minute 0.43 per cent in 1980 to 4.19 per cent in 1990 (Pangetsu, 1991). This investment is divided between industrial and residential/recreational developments. Some projects integrate these two aspects.

For example, the S$1 billion Waterfront City project was set to take 10 years to complete. It will include 16,000 condominiums, a number of marinas, theme parks, and an industrial estate for some 600 small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and prawn farms (Straits Times, 21 September 1989). It will indeed be a place that is all things to all people:

a heady mix of Florida style resort living, Bali beach casual chic, Queensland Gold Coast excitement, ancient Japanese charm and Indonesian cultural heritage. (Business Times, 23-24 June 1990)

Waterfront City is but one of 8-10 such mega-projects planned to transform the island into "another Singapore."

At present the majority of realized development on Batam is in the residential and tourist market, both focused on Singapore. Holidaying Singaporeans are flooding onto the island, so much so that Batam has actually surpassed Bali as the number two tourist entry point in Indonesia (after Jakarta) (Business Times, 29 August 1990). These tourists are there for a good time, not a long time. The average length of stay is 1.3 days and daily expenditures average US$104.2 (BIDA, 1991b: 18). The island has a number of hotels but no social services. Though there are number of top-flight resorts and industrial developments, there is but one gas station and one traffic light.

Batam is today very much a frontier place - a town on the frontier of explosive capital penetration. Between 1988 and 1990, this tiny island received over US$2 billion in investments from a wide range of sources investing in activities ranging from resorts to petrochemical plants, housing, and electronics. Today, the island is "sold out" and land prices are rising sharply. Land price averages increased from S$1.30 per ft2 in 1988 to S$5.00 per ft2 in 1991 (Business Times, 26 February 1991:22) The level of investment is literally pulverizing the previous fishing-based space-economy. At present, Batam is a landscape of construction sites and environmental and social degradation (e.g. prostitution is widespread).

Summing-up: Changes in the Riaus and Johore

Johore and Batam are being transformed. Their once fairly homogeneous economies are exploding into a frenetic multitude of new activities. The rate of growth is at or beyond the level where there can be any sense of control. This growth is spreading into nearby areas of the Riau islands and deeper into Johore. Where it will stop is far from clear.

There is more to this transformation of Johore and Batam than simple comparative advantage as the Growth Triangle's boosters would have it. These areas are being transformed as they are drawn into the whirlpool of an expanding regional economy. This economy is driven by structural changes in Singapore. The key to understanding the Growth Triangle lies in the restructuring of the Singapore economy. It is, therefore, useful to look for the sources of the changes in Batam and Johore by examining critical changes in the economy of Singapore.

Changes in the Singapore economy

Historical antecedents

In the 1960s the Singapore economy faced a number of crises. First, its secession from Malaysia cut its economy off from the hinterland on which Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew had based so much of his economic planning (see, especially, Rodan, 1989:63-84). Second, the Konfrontasi policy of Indonesia cut deeply into traditional entrepôt activities with that nation. Third, the British government announced its intention to withdraw from its naval base in Singapore and thereby Singapore faced the prospect of losing the S$500 million a year that the base brought to Singapore. In addition, Singapore would have to develop its own defence capacity.

The combination of these developments and the lack of a resource base exposed the Singapore economy as extremely vulnerable and the prospects were indeed bleak. Beginning in 1960-1961 with a UN study (the Winsemius Report), which suggested that the only suitable policy for Singapore was to engage in export-oriented industrialization (EOI), the government increasingly turned to the export route to generate economic growth. This path was made imperative by the split with Malaysia because Singapore lost much of its potential market area.

JOINING THE NEW INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOUR AS AN EXPORT PLATFORM. Singapore turned outward to the global milieu to embrace the then nascent new international division of labour (NIDL). It sought to position itself as a stable, relatively low-cost manufacturing export centre. This policy was immediately very successful and the economy began to grow at rates of over 10 per cent a year. The economy also became more focused on industrial activities. This early period of EOI has been termed Singapore's "first industrial revolution" (Rodan, 1989).

The NIDL was the expression of a new spatial fabric of economic activity on a world scale. Taking advantage of advances in communications, transport, and production technologies, the "global assembly line," as it has been called, identified production niches in various locales in a world-spanning production system. It was in this system that city-states such as Hong Kong and Singapore could thrive without close contacts with rural hinterlands. They became "production platforms." This "locally disconnected" aspect of the NIDL is reflected in the decline of indigenous capital as a player in Singapore's development.14 However, much of the logic of the NIDL was based on finding lower labour costs away from the industrial core economies. As the NIDL became more pervasive, the efficacy of Singapore competing through low wage rates came into question. For this reason it became apparent to Singapore's policy makers that they would need to establish a different niche in the NIDL.

In the 1970s the government concluded that it was necessary to move the economy into higher levels of productivity and value-addition. It sought to encourage employers to increase investment in capital goods by pushing up wage rates. Over the years the government instituted policies enforcing wage increases for workers, which led to increases in investment in machinery and resultant increases in productivity. This period has been called Singapore's "second industrial revolution." In many ways this was the hey-day of the development of Singapore as a city-state, enmeshed in the NIDL but isolated regionally. Incomes were increasing and the growth rate averaged over 8 per cent per annum.

THE NEED TO RESTRUCTURE: FINDING HIGHER VALUE-ADDITION. However, in the 1980s the logic of the Singapore model began to come apart. For example, in the mid-1980s wage increases began to surpass productivity gains in manufacturing, and investors began to look elsewhere for optimum investment locations. The nation experienced an extreme shock in the recession of 1983-1985. For the first time in 20 years Singapore actually experienced negative growth.

In response to this new "crisis," an economic commission was formed to analyse the weaknesses in the economy. It argued that Singapore needed to cut industrial labour costs across the board and to restructure the economy -moving out of low-end manufacturing activities and into areas of more value-addition such as financial and producer services (Singapore, Ministry of Trade and Industry, 1986).

Today, Singapore is moving away from its bread and butter manufacturing activities towards an increasing reliance on the tertiary and quaternary sectors, especially financial services. This change is notable in terms of both GDP and employment (see tables 12.2 and 12.3). In 1989, the combination of the financial and business services sectors overtook manufacturing as the leading vanguards of the economy. They grew by 14.6 per cent, accounting for one-third of the overall growth rate of 9.2 per cent in 1990.15

The shift of Singapore into a high value-added service economy has social as well as economic roots. Among these roots, demographics plays a critical role. For example, rapid development and secession from Malaysia limited population growth rates and the population began to age. In 1947 the dependency rate (ratio of young "earners" to older dependents) in Singapore was 34:1. It is now at approximately 7:1 and by the year 2030 this rate should reach 3:1 (Economist Intelligence Unit, 1991:7). Thus, the younger population must increase its level of value-addition to pay the bills of the elders. It is felt that these levels of value-addition may best be captured in very high-end manufacturing and business and financial services.16

Table 12.2 Structural change in Singapore, 1978-1988 (%)


Share of GDP

Average annual growth rates, real GDP









Commerce 19.6 18.4 15.9 16.5 6.3 6.1 8.3 7.8
Manufacturing 27.6 28.6 22.1 26.6 7.2 8.4 9.8 9.5
Transport and communications 16.9 11.6 12.6 13.1 13.1 7.8 9.4 8.8
Construction 7.1 6.9 10.0 5.2 17.5 8.7 1.5 7.2
Business services 13.2 12.9 13.8 12.2 10.4 3.9 7.4 7.3
Financial services 5.2 6.9 11.5 13.6 21.4 17.8 23.5 21.9

Sources: Monetary Authority of Singapore, The Financial Structure of Singapore, 1989; average annual growth rates, 1989 and 1990 - Monetary Authority of Singapore (1992).

Note: Total GDP = 100 (1985 market rates)

Table 12.3 Employment change by occupation in Singapore, 19801989

Occupation Absolute change (%)
Professionals/scientists +63.0
Administration +38.8
Sales +1.2
Service +48.0
Agriculture - 50.0
Production/labour/equipment operators - 17.8
Not classified -13.6
Labour force change +19.0

Source: Derived from ILO Annual Labour Statistics, 1989-1990.

Table 12.4 Robots in the workplace

Rank Country No. of robots Robot densitya
1 Japan 219,000 172.2
2 Sweden 3,463 62.5
3 Singapore 1,389 40.8
4 Germany 22,395 29.2
5 Italy 10,000 24.8
6 United States 37,000 18.9
7 France 7,063 16.3
8 United Kingdom 5,908 11.3

Source: Singapore Business, March 1991.
a. Number of programmable robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees.

The impact of these changes on the types of jobs Singaporeans do is striking. For example, one can note the severe decline in the grouping classified as "operators" in table 12.3. As the Singapore economy has moved up-market, these types of jobs are increasingly difficult to maintain. A reflection of this logic is the marked increase in the number of robots engaged in manufacturing: Singapore has the third-highest "robot density" in the world (see table 12.4). This shift in the industrial structure fits in with the push to develop a competitive high-value-added manufacturing base in the context of high wages. It also fits Singapore's vision of turning the island into a true high-tech centre.

The Singapore government explicitly expresses the goal of becoming an information society and/or an "intelligent island."17 BG Lee, Minister of Trade, has said, "The key enabler to the process of globalization is IT [Information Technology]" (Straits Times, 29 May 1990). The city is pushing to develop itself at the leading edge of new computer and telecommunications technologies. The state has set up the National Computer Board and is frequently ranked first globally in terms of telecommunications facilities. Singapore's expenditure on information technology per S$1,000 of GDP is extremely high; in 1986 it was twice the level found in Japan (Straits Times, 6 December 1986). Traditional industrial activities do not fit this vision of Singapore's future and are thus becoming increasingly marginalized.

Changes in values

The push to make Singapore the "intelligent island" is also expressed in the heavy emphasis on education in such documents as the People's Action Party's policy document The Next Lap. Yet, the explosive growth in education levels that has also accompanied development has led to a youth culture more interested in jobs as engineers, accountants, or lawyers than as machine shop owners - a key basis of Singapore's early industrial success. The changing employment structure and social basis of life in Singapore are also bringing about other changes, such as a growing environmental consciousness.

The young of Singapore today do not remember the squatter settlements in which their parents often once lived and as such are not as thankful for the benefits of industrialization as their parents might be but rather see its costs in terms of environmental quality. The move to make Singapore green and the emphasis on "quality of life" are part of the trend to shift smokestack industries offshore. The decline in the prestige of industry is also to be witnessed in the declining allure of manufacturing as a career path among the young.

Changing values are also reflected in the growth of leisure activities. These activities include weekend get-aways in Johore and Batam, theme parks, shopping outlets, and, above all else, golf. Singapore is about to add one more golf course (built, tellingly, by National Steel) and there does not appear to be room for others. In 1991 there were 10 golf course complexes under construction in the Growth Triangle, built as parts of projects totalling S$7.3 billion. These courses were expected to come on line around 1993. Fees range from S$40,000 to S$60,000 for individual membership. Interestingly, these courses built in Johore and Batam are targeted first at Japanese, secondly at Singaporeans and expatriates living in Singapore, and, lastly, at Malaysians and Indonesians. Part of the allure of the golf course complexes is that they offer escape to Singaporeans.

Singapore society is very controlled. The same forces that have made the streets so clean and that underpin investor confidence may also be seen as paternalistic (see, for example, Neville and Neville 1980; Quah, 1983). The regulated and controlled nature of the society has left many Singaporeans wondering if they have made their society too sterile. The control and regulation will only increase as the city moves into the information age where surveillance will increase.

It seems many Singaporeans find Batam and Johore to be escapes from their cloistered life, to which they can safely return. The weekend retreat, nightclub, and prostitution businesses are thriving in both locales. To many, for example, Johore Bahru is reminiscent of "what Singapore was like 20 years ago" (see Straits Times, 8 November 1990:17, or especially an article entitled "JBs Pleasure Dome," Straits Times, 2 March 1990:5). Singapore has come a long way since the 1970s, yet in doing so it has had to, and will have to, leave some of the old Singapore behind, or at least move it to the countryside.

Changes in the spatial niche of Singapore

It is apparent that, beyond adjusting the structure of its economy, Singapore must now also adjust its spatial niche in the fabric of global capitalism. To succeed, Singapore has needed to internationalize its economy in new ways. This is the root of the development of the "Singapore International" model that the state is currently pushing. This model is based on strengthening Singapore's economy by investing some of its reserves offshore. To date this has mainly involved portfolio investments by state enterprises in developed countries. However, in the private sector the Singapore International move ties in very closely with the development of the Growth Triangle, as it provides a kind of testing ground for internationalization. This new intergenerational approach required: (1) a deepening of Singapore's traditional entrepôt role, not only in goods but in people, capital, and information; (2) a push into global financial services and/or "world city" activities, controlling a regional market; and (3) the development of a regional production complex to enhance the viability of the city's service sector and to compete in a newer global economy characterized by growth regions or production and distribution complexes18 rather than export platforms and to act as a "vent" for the Singaporean economy and society. Attention will be focused on these one at a time, concentrating on the last.

Singapore has long been a transportation and communications hub (see Turnbull, 1972; Furber, 1976; Chaudhari, 1978). These functions have continued, but at greatly increased levels. Singapore is now a key conduit in the movement of goods, people, money, and information throughout the region and the world. For example, cargo volumes increased 55 per cent from 1986 to 1990 (Singapore, Department of Statistics, 1991:50), foreign exchange trading levels increased 200 per cent to US$80 billion per day in the same time period (Monetary Authority of Singapore, 1992), and the volume of international telephone calls was up over 80 per cent from 1986 to 1988 (Singapore, Telecoms, 1990).

The continued growth and success of Singapore's role as a hub city are important to the development of the regional economy. Singapore presents regional producers with a superb communications and transportation centre. This "uplink" to the world economy gives the region a good deal of dynamism and is the source of considerable investment. The Growth Triangle would not exist if it were not for Singapore's strategic niche in the global flow of commerce. For example, Johore's policy is explicitly one of "twinning its attractions with those of the island republic, such as first class financial and communications services and easy access to one of the world's biggest ports" (Asian Wall Street Journal, 8 December 1990:6).19


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