Singapore Budget 2019: Who is Sang Kancil, the mouse deer Singapore is likened to by Heng Swee Keat?

Local folklore has used Sang Kancil to tell of the exploits of the small but intelligent mouse deer which relies on wits to overcome challenges.
Local folklore has used Sang Kancil to tell of the exploits of the small but intelligent mouse deer which relies on wits to overcome challenges.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Republic can use its size and strategic location to take advantage of technological shifts that have made cities more important as key nodes of enterprise and innovation.

"Like Sang Kancil, the small but quick-witted mouse deer, we can make our way in the world," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget statement in Parliament on Monday (Feb 18), adding that as a city-state, Singapore is nimbler and can adapt to changes faster.

Mr Heng said the changing global and domestic landscape presents both challenges and opportunities.

But building on its distinct strengths and the Singaporean DNA, the country can continue to chart its way forward "confidently in the Singapore way".

"Technological shifts have spread economic activities more widely, and at the same time, made cities more important as key nodes of enterprise and innovation," he said.

Singapore, he explained, serves as a neutral, trusted node in key spheres of global activity.

Local folklore has used Sang Kancil to tell of the exploits of the small but intelligent mouse deer which relies on wits to overcome challenges.

 
 
 

In one story, Sang Kancil had to trick hungry crocodiles in a river that it wanted to cross because it wanted to eat the fruits on the other side of the river.

Sang Kancil told the crocodiles the king wanted to count the animals in the jungle, so they had to line up in a row in the river.

Believing the mouse deer, the crocodiles did so. But they ended up forming a bridge for Sang Kancil to cross the river.

Two species of mouse deer can be found in Singapore - the greater mouse deer and lesser mouse deer.

The Straits Times reported in 2018 that the lesser mouse deer is an endangered mammal here.

The animal inhabits primary and mature secondary rainforests, and were spotted at Lower Peirce Reservoir previously. It is the smallest of all hoofed mammals anywhere in the world.

The greater mouse deer was once thought to have vanished from Singapore, but in 2009, the National Parks Board confirmed an official sighting of the animal at Pulau Ubin - the first in more than 80 years.

 
 
 

The mouse deer resemble deer, but is distinguishable by its small size, thin legs and a triangular white pattern that extends from the chin and runs down the throat.

The colour of their coats ranges from grey to reddish-brown.

The head-to-body length of an adult greater mouse deer is about 50cm to 60cm, while that of an adult lesser mouse deer is around 40cm to 50cm.