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Eddie Cheng

Singapore Financial District (新加坡金融区) #01

*best viewed against a dark background; kindly click on the image*

There was no sunrise or sunset to glorify the sky here. Neither was this one of those long exposure “blue hour / twilight” photographs which paints the city in beautiful lights, coupled with silky smooth water cum gorgeous reflections. They are very well represented here by my fellow countrymen on 500px.

Taken sometime in the year 2005 when the regional haze situation was off its peak (i.e. clear blue skies), I present to you instead a “plain vanilla” version of the Singapore Financial District; a postcard view every tourist should have before leaving the tiny RED DOT.

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The word financial district is never loosely used. In 2005 (the context of this photograph), it spanned from the “Raffles Place / Battery Road / Chulia Street belt” all the way to the “Shenton Way / Robinson Road / Cecil Street belt”. For the record, after several mergers and acquisitions, Singapore is left with 3 local banks: DBS, OCBC and UOB. With reference to the photograph (and not in actual geographical order due to perspective) OCBC Bank is the second building from the right. UOB Bank consists of two tower blocks; one stands to the left of OCBC Bank, the other to its left separated by a little gap. This photographed was carefully framed so as to include the last important building of the financial district as it stood then. Therein stands DBS Bank (extreme left; note the little orangey-red logo at the top of the building).

The framing was tight; using just the Esplanade Bridge to anchor in the foreground (with very little of the Marina Bay showing) so as to “pull in more details” of those architecture landmarks. The clean weather on that late morning has enabled me to put a time stamp (record) of this important place as it stood on 1st December, 2005; the very financial belt where I spent 15 years (1983-1998) of a dog’s life!

Three interesting notes: (1) the low-rise white building in the mid-foreground was what used to be the General Post Office, now the Fullerton Hotel, (2) due to the proximity to an airbase, no buildings in this financial district exceed 280m (3) that little statue spouting water on the left foreground is the Merlion; the archetypal symbol of Singapore.

Since, the financial district has expanded to include “One Raffles Quay (2006)” and lately the “Marina Bay Financial Centre (2010)”. Any recent photographs should have these two additions.

The architecture landmark has not changed much since 2005 but the global financial industry certainly has. Many challenges lie ahead.

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Financial Facts as at end 2011:

(a) as a premier asset management centre in Asia: assets under management by Singapore-based managers have more than quadrupled over the last decade to reach 1 trillion US dollars in 2011

(b) as a leading insurance centre in Asia: playing host to about 190 insurance institutions meeting the protection needs of the economy and society across the region

(c) one of the most developed bond markets in Asia: total market capitalisation has grown by over 150% in the last decade, to 270 billion US dollars in 2011

(d) fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre in the world (after London, New York & Tokyo): FX and FX derivatives turnover in Singapore has more than tripled in the last decade, with an average daily traded volume of about 360 billion US dollar

(e) Asia’s leading commodity derivatives trading hub: most of the major global banks have their regional hubs in Singapore

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