Throughout Asia few problems are more acute than those created by people
flocking to cities unprepared to accept the influx. The slums that usually
result are a blot upon any civilized society and make a mockery of popular
aspirations for a better way of life.
This dilemma has been resolved in Singapore in a manner that provides a
model for much of the world. Completing construction of one new apartment
every 45 minutes, on the average, at a cost of less than US$3.00 per square
foot, the government can offer every applicant a new home within three days.
These apartments, renting for US$7.00 to US$20.00 per month, offer kitchens,
baths, electricity, gas, water and elevators. Erected in blocks rising up to
16 storeys, they are grouped into new communities complete with stores,
social centers, schools, recreation facilities and delightful landscaping.
As the person primarily responsible for this achievement, LIM KIM SAN became
Chairman of the Housing and Development Board of the Singapore Government in
1960, and in 1963 was named Minister of National Development. Upon assuming
office five years ago, he reorganized an earlier halting effort at
government-assisted housing, applying quietly and carefully a businessman's
energetic pragmatism to the construction industry. Private contractors were
encouraged to participate to the maximum, while their profits were kept
reasonable and costs of materials were stabilized. Economic activity and
employment generated by the building of some 60,000 apartments has been a
major element in Singapore's growing prosperity.
Reclamation and construction of facilities for carefully designed industrial
estates and satellite cities now promise that Singapore can "digest," in a
healthy environment, a population expected to reach two million within
another 18 months. While continuing to expand government housing for the
less fortunate citizens, LIM recently initiated the first major urban
redevelopment program in Asia to transform the old port city into a modern
metropolis. Private initiative and investment is being fostered to build
apartments for middle-class and wealthier families as part of a harmonious
commercial-residential complex on the 22 square mile island state.
Alert to human needs, LIM and the government of which he is a part are
broadening the base of private ownership by selling government-built
apartments to individual families on easy terms. Meanwhile, occupants are
learning to maintain clean premises, properly dispose of garbage, and
otherwise to be considerate of their neighbors. Furnishings and household
appliances, both tasteful and inexpensive, have been made available by
enlisting competitive participation by architects and manufacturers. The
community life that is developing in the glistening, well-managed blocks of
flats that have replaced squalid, over-crowded shacks testifies to the
concern and probity of the leaders who made this possible.
In electing LIM KIM SAN to receive the 1965 Ramon Magsaysay Award for
Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes his marshalling of
talents and resources to provide one-fifth of Singapore's burgeoning
population with decent, moderately-priced housing amidst attractive