200 years of nation-building: A betel nut tax, anyone?

Betel nuts were among the tax items that provided colonial-era Singapore with revenue. As Singapore commemorates its bicentenary, political correspondent Linette Lai looks back over the past 200 years at how Singapore has raised revenues and spent on essential needs for a nation in four areas: infrastructure, security, education, and health and housing.

Despite British attempts to improve infrastructure through public works projects, Singapore in the 1830s was a dismal place.

Much of the island was covered in jungle and swamp. In the town, streets were prone to flooding, littered with rubbish and lit only by coconut oil lamps.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 10, 2019, with the headline 'A betel nut tax, anyone?'. Subscribe