Here’s The Economist’s obituary of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of Singapore.
Among a number of 20th-century luminaries asked by the Wall Street Journal in 1999 to pick the most influential invention of the millennium, he alone shunned the printing press, electricity, the internal combustion engine and the internet and chose the air-conditioner. He explained that, before air-con, people living in the tropics were at a disadvantage because the heat and humidity damaged the quality of their work.
Photographer John Clang is using projected Skype video to make portraits of Singaporean families whose members are scattered around the globe.
In Singapore, it is a common practice for entire families to gather on special occasions for a formal picture, often at a studio, with the resulting image framed and prominently displayed at home. The growing tendency of younger family members to take jobs abroad, however, has left many modern portraits missing a relation or two. So the Singaporean photographer John Clang devised a solution, piggybacking on the video-calling technology that already helps ease the dislocation of separated family members: Skype.
In Singapore, many apartment buildings have empty open-air ground floors called “void decks” that get put to a variety of uses: day-care, weddings, bicycle parking, small stores, etc.
More than 80% of Singapore’s population lives in public housing, in buildings designed to government specifications. And Singapore’s government ensures that every apartment building mirrors the country’s ethnic mix, with Chinese, Malays, and Indians living as neighbors in proportion to their share of the population — 77%, 14%, and 8% respectively. The void deck ensures that everyone gets to know each other, and each other’s cultures. As the Times puts it, its pleasures are actually “part of Singapore’s strictly enforced social policies aimed at ensuring harmony among the races in a region often torn by religious and ethnic strife.”