Building upon the economic and political foundation laid during its first few decades of independence, Singapore's political leadership has attempted to 'reinvent' Singapore in the last few years.
Today, Singapore can 'punch above its weight' in global forums mainly as a result of its economic wealth and political stability. Having achieved developed nation status, building infrastructure alone will not act as a catalyst for further improvement of living standards.
A new tack was required to keep foreign capital and tourists flowing into the country.
Policy makers adopted the mission to change the perception of Singapore as a dull, stuffy and boring city was adopted. It was believed the image was impeding the growth of Singapore as a regional hub.
Many expats preferred the vibrancy of Hong Kong which gave Hong Kong an edge in attracting regional offices. Singapore's top down approach to 'opening up' the city often manifested itself in unusual ways.
A city famed for censoring kisses from television shows suddenly had to deal with a topless French cabaret show at Crazy Horse in its midst. Several nightclubs were given permission to open for twenty-four hours.
Daring prostitutes captured turf beyond Geylang. Soliciting of customers both in the heartland and the prime districts around Orchard became more common.
Singapore's transformation into the regional Las Vegas had begun in full earnest!
The Crazy Horse cabaret show had a brief life in staid Singapore
It did not last very long.
Crazy Horse wound up its operations for lack of public interest. Twenty-four hour nightclubs, if they can still be found, only stay open night and day on weekends or public holidays.
However, prostitutes have consolidated control of many of Singapore's streets and refused to be cooped up in Geylang or Orchard Towers. Perhaps the ladies are more a symbol of ASEAN regional cooperation efforts and Singapore's wealth rather than a sign of a 'Singapore gone wild?'
Undoubtedly, a focus on Singapore's branding is critical to improving Singapore's global 'mindshare.' At the heart of Singapore's brand are values central to an open though essentially conservative Asian society. Policy makers will do well to remember that as they concentrate on managing the changes the coming casinos may bring to Singapore society.
The Republic's reputation took years to craft. It is vulnerable to dilution due to social experiments and we must take care to preserve its essence.
Singapore's brand image is not a 'Crazy Horse' show – here today and gone tomorrow – 'bare breasted and naked' in between!