Goh Keng Swee – neighbours has been seeking to bypass us since colonial times

In the postwar years … new governments would look askance at the middleman activity performed by Singapore. It was to be expected that these governments would seek to bypass Singapore, develop their own ports … But it is by no means a recent phenomenon. On the contrary, the history of Singapore abounds with examples of governments which had been doing precisely this thing. As early as 1823, four years after Singapore’s founding by Sir Stamford Raffles, the first discriminatory measures against Singapore’s trade were introduced … the Dutch imposed a special levy on piece goods imported into Java from Singapore …Trade discrimination and flag discrimination were only two of the perils that Singapore merchants had to contend with. Another took the form of the establishment of rival trading centres. In 1847, Makassar was converted into a free port by the Dutch to take away the flourishing Bugis trade from Singapore. In the next five years five more free ports were established at other places in the Netherlands East Indies. None of these measures checked the growth of Singapore …

[Singapore Economics History Collection – The Practice of Economic Growth, Goh Keng Swee, page 5]

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