tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey PBS October 30, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> recently, we travel to the republic of singapore, a small, culturally diverse, and highly successful at city state. in less than 50 years, singapore has transformed itself into one of the most dynamic and productive countries in southeast asia. with limited resources, but an openness to innovation, the government has helped make singapore an ideal place to live, work, and play. "this is america" visits the
republic of singapore. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. the singapore tourism board -- th . singapore airlines, a great way to fly. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications.
>> in a country as small as singapore, it's a great surprise to find both visitors and residents have an amazing number of options for fun, recreation, and relaxation, and of course, food. why is singapore a good place to play? >> there are so many ways to describe playing. it is what you want to do and not what you have to do a trade you get excited about eating because of that kind of food you get to taste. you get excited about music and entertainment. these are all areas that have grown tremendously in singapore. i think of it as what people actually want to do because they actually like doing it. >> tourism is big business here. >> and getting bigger. >> i was here 11 years ago and
my word, this place has changed so dramatically. >> yes, indeed. just as the country is changing, tourism changes as a result. >> what top three things would you have us do or experience here in singapore? >> i would start with the bayfront as one of the highlights because when you get to the middle of marina bay, you get a very, very good sense of what the city is like. you look at the skyline and see the development of the business district and look at how has developed as a city. the life of the water has brought to us and you look at all of the developments, the esplanade is part of the
performing theater and music infrastructure we have. you see the entire civic district, the museums, the historical aspects of singapore. i recommend a nice visit to the island. it has been turned into what they call a playground for families. one that makes people feel at ease. you can hang out at the beach or hang out at one of the restaurants or hotels. you can go to resorts, but it is still very, very green. >> what is the third one? >> the third one becomes very difficult. i will give you my personal choice, which is the botanic gardens. >> why so? >> this is a place that is very
special. it has been around for 150 years. it is part of our history, but the fact -- i used to hang out there and go running the airline can. morning is a good time. evening is not so great, but mornings always. because it is so green, it's our way of saying a comfortable space, a living space that continues to grow and you feel it is part of the community. it is part of singapore. how we think about green spaces. i like how the botanic gardens have grown over the years. >> food and eating is an obsession in singapore. you will need a lawyer turned
chef, but first, i talked with a food guru about street food. street food -- what an interesting phrase. >> what is it? >> that is the question. >> as long as it is good, cheap and convenient. street food came about because of migrant culture. c. -- singapore is nothing if not folks from all over the world coming here many, many years ago. there was an interesting phenomenon. the migrants came from china and india and they did not bring their wives. so nobody cooked for them. some genius said the opportunity and fashioned a cart with a stall and they planted
themselves all over singapore they were already doing street food vendors in the '60s and '70s. somebody out there said let's get rid of them. another genius said we cannot do that. if we do that, what are they going to eat? they have become an institution that said singapore over the years. so there we have it. this is one of the larger ones. it houses 200 tiny little stalls. today, there are 110 all over
singapore. each one specializes in one dish. some sell a particular cuisine, something the family came up with that has become iconic. so naturally, this being chinatown, folks are selling chinese food, but you can find indian food and western food. >> cheap. >> convenient, iconic. there -- i think street food -- i did not bring it here. if we could superimpose the food guide here, there's about 150
different street food dishes from staples to snacks to seafood and meat. >> how about the food scene in singapore? it has got a lot of awards and people write about it all the time. >> everybody wants a piece of the culinary action. you have your michelin star chefs coming to do their stuff here. there is a class of new generation, young kids who went into the kitchen and started their own restaurants and they are feeding it. going where the beat is calling them, listening to their own beat. i celebrate that. >> i studied law in england and
practice for eight years. >> what kind of law? >> i became a corporate lawyer doing mergers. scary during it's almost unreal. >> seeing you in just like you are, it doesn't look like a lawyer to me. >> i had a bit of that identity crisis. i am a very fussy eater, had no choice but to start cooking for myself. because most of the time, i could not get the ingredients. i missed the ingredients i liked. i could get half of it from chinatown and the other half i had to improvise. the dishes could never look like what i had in singapore. but it always reminded me of home.
that is how we started our cuisine. >> when did you jump from being a lawyer to a full-time chef and running restaurants? >> in the last two years i was working as a lawyer, i became a chef for hire. if you had a dinner party at home, i would be your chef and discuss the menu with you. when my colleagues or a lawyer's, i was doing that every weekend. monday through friday i would be a lawyer and saturday and sunday i would become a chef. i did that for a few years and everyone said you should stop being a lawyer and become a chef. since no one would hire me as a chef, had to open my own restaurant. everybody said what do you cook. i cooked like to eat.
flavors i like from japan. i always said was things i like to eat until someone said you have to give me a term. i said of modern singaporean because that is what i am. it goes back to the singapore routes. you find something familiar and something i grew up with >> we have only been in singapore for a few days. i was here 10 or 11 years ago. what is there about singapore and singaporeans that food plays such a huge role? >> i don't know. we're so obsessed about food is funny. i don't think anywhere in the world you are having a meal and we will be talking about what we will have for breakfast tomorrow. we will not talk about dinner because we talked about that yesterday. we will be planning for
breakfast tomorrow. i think because of where singapore is, a meeting point for different cultures, races and nationalities. when you have different people bringing different ingredients in, it is magic waiting to happen. >> the government of singapore always seems to be attracting the best in business and entertainment. it is about planning and looking into the future. we spoke to the ceo of the marina base and to learn how i las vegas iconic company came to be in singapore. >> the key to singapore's success is to be nimble and recognize the environment is changing and there forcing authorities to change as well. the introduction of the integrated resorts is one example of how singapore has understood the importance and all you of tourism as a growth industry for this country and has acted decisively and moved
forward quickly. it has two large successful integrated resorts contributing to the economy here while all other countries are sitting back and looking at singapore as an example and being slow in about a leading the opportunity to increase their tourism. singapore's early movers that this is something that is paying significant dividends. >> i have never heard the term integrated resorts. where does that come from? >> it is a business, leisure, and entertainment complex that has more under one roof than any mixed use development. it's the most powerful tourism driver known today. aside from the very small casino, we have 2600 hotel rooms and to broadway style theaters. we have a fantastic high and luxury mall and a meeting sent convention facility that's more than 1.2 million square feet. we have a museum and the list goes on and on. there's something here for
everyone, whether you're here for leisure or business. >> a trip to singapore from the united states is a long one, but well worth the journey. everyone has heard about singapore airlines being so terrific, and it really is. the airline, on the cutting edge with an 18th hour nonstop flight from either a new work or los angeles has a history that even precedes singapore itself. >> how is it possible they can fly 18 hours? it is one of the longest flight around. >> it is the longest commercial flight. the plane we use is the airbus which has the longest range of commercial planes. >> is there any thing that could go further than that? >> you need to go halfway around the world. >> singapore airlines has a
fascinating history. >> yes. we go back a long way. 1947, we started life and we became singapore airlines in 1972. since then, we have grown and from a small airline with a couple of boeing 707s to what we have now. what countries, did they fly to? with a passenger or cargo? >> it was passenger and in southeast asia. in those days, planes did not go very far. from the region are round malaysia, we went up to hong kong and it was later and we started a venture for europe and
australia. >> as aviation developed as well, longer range -- >> that's right. you talk about singapore airlines having grown up from those early days. right now, if you look that last year or a couple of years ago, how many passengers might fly on the singapore air or the other of your subsidies? throughout the entire year? >> we carry about 16 million passengers. >> how many aircraft do have? >> just over 100. >> from the smallest, to the largest, i gather. >> the smallest plane we have is a boeing 777. >> , eight countries are you hitting? >> we have about 60 destinations. >> this is big time.
you also have tiger air, singapore cargo. >> [unintelligible] it acts as a regional feeder to the network. southeast asia, parts of india and china. the cargo deals exclusively in freight. a shareholder in tigard. >> and you have a stake in virgin? >> yes. >> it is a big stake? >> we own 49%. >> as you fly around the world yourself, as a passenger, what are the things you look for? >> i think you want to first of all make sure you travel and arrive comfortably, safely on time, which means all of the
basics much more -- all of the basics must be there, punctuality, safety, comfort. not only on the plane, but before and after you fly. we want to make sure an entire flying experience is a good one. >> a broadway production of "the lion king" and a major appearance by lady gaga shows that singapore tracks the biggest and brightest in arts and entertainment. however, the real story may be what is happening locally in arts are affecting people. >> the art scene here in singapore -- paint a picture for us. >> extremely vibrant. compared to my colleagues in many developed economies, probably one of the few cities where funding for the arts and
supports for the arts has actually grown. funding has almost doubled against a backdrop of cuts everywhere else. when we talk about the arts now, we talk about how it helps society. the intrinsic values, how it helps the individual to be a better person, to help the individual, the expression, to cope emotionally which social changes and look through different lenses. the individual as part of a community and part of society. when we talk about what is happening in the arts and singapore, aside from the trappings you find in a great global city, there is loads happening here. we're looking at how it is brought down to the man in the
street. how relevant it is to them. so lots of things happen. >> on a day-to-day level, being the person in charge of the national arts council, what is the most satisfying piece of what you're doing right now and what is the most challenging? >> let me start with the challenging. the mindset will always be to challenge, that the arts is seen as something for someone else. and it is an activity, the end of the desert that you consume, should you have that this position to do so at some point in life. and the mindset i wish to changes that art is the salt. you need it, to all stages of life.
there is attraction in working toward a change. this is where we talk about what satisfies most -- the magic moments is when i eighth lights and and hearts are relieved of the burden for the moment. we're not talking about red epiphany we're life changes, but it is the moment when you see the glitter, this part or smile, that all has been released because of an engagement of being touched. that gives me the greatest satisfaction, how it matters to people. >> what is the art scene here? >> it has taken leaps and bounds in the past five or 10 years. there is diversity.
you can at any given time, pick up a flier for a mainstream musical or a really edgy niche tight experimental production. >> that is your bag? >> that is my thing. >> experimental. our young people getting attracted to the theater quest mark >> they are. young people, our parents were the ones who killed themselves to support us. asian parents do that. we are the generation that has this -- and the generation following, this kind of freedom and this -- >> go ahead, and they'll let -- go ahead, and they'll let.
>> to float. >> ciphers started in my early teens and there has been significant changes. it creates forms of inspiration because 10 years ago, the bands he wanted to see, the ones you saw on mtv, they would pass through singapore. now even the big acts will be traveling through singapore and are our facilities to watch concerts' all year round. you can be continuously inspired by the fact all of these people are coming to singapore and you get to see them. as a person who plays or performs music, the opportunities are greater. in terms of working with corporate and getting funding from the government and going out overseas, there are more and more increasingly singapore bans doing international tours and making small ripples in the music industry overseas. while i think for me personally,
it may not be my generation of musicians that will make it for singapore, we have been building the foundations and the generations to come will be seeing more success in the future. >> special thanks to the staff of the fullerton hotel in singapore and the embassy of singapore in washington. for a information about my new book, "the chance of a lifetime"
and for online video for all this is america programs, visit our web site. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications.