A Chinese company is building a new city from scratch, just off the coast of Singapore. Not even the land the city will stand on was there when they started. But they’re not starting from nothing in terms of funding – the project is supposedly backed by a hundred billion dollars.
The idea is to create a private city, a city run entirely by a corporation, and entirely for profit.
The security, roads, and mass transit system will all be financed by investors and customers, not by tax payers.
I first heard of Forest City when I walked by the sales gallery in Singapore by chance.
The posters did what they were designed to do and pulled me in, where a sales agent greeted me.
He explained that the first island has been completed already, and offered to drive me there for free and give me a personal tour.
So I went there and I must admit that I’m intrigued.
Even the scale model is big enough to impress me.
Most of it is still under construction, but there’s already a little mall with some shops, an hotel, and a little park with a pool.
But for most visitors the main attraction is probably the show flats.
They market the city as a new Singapore, but it’s not going to be a mere imitation.
It is after all a unique opportunity to take it to the next level and allow chewing gum.
A real example of how they plan to impove on Singapore is the traffic problem:
The solution is simple drive it underground!
The surface level will be reserved for pedestrians, golf carts, and a monorail line between the islands.
Forest City is being built in Malaysia, where there’s a lot more crime than in Singapore. To compete the new city must be an island of security, with strictly controlled entry points.
It will almost be like a separate little country.
But it’s really more like a club than an actual country – a club for people who want to have the same lifestyle, and are willing to bet their own money on the city’s reputation.
That should go a long way to prevent conflicts from arising, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Residents could violate the rules in numerous ways: play the music too loud, sully the seats, or take a piss in the pool.
But if they do there’s a formal contract to fall back on!
I don’t know the precise details of this particular contract, but being a private community they can set their own rules, and revoke the right to access from those who break them.
They can’t lock offenders up, but they can lock them out.
It’s the other way around in ordinary cities like Stockholm.
Take the subway for instance. No matter how bad a passenger behaves, he can never be blacklisted or banned from returning.
The problem is that the rules that govern public places are set and enforced by people who haven’t invested in them.
It wasn’t an owner who wrote the code of conduct or failed to uphold it.
It was the police and the local transport authority.
But these people can’t be held accountable.
An owner would gain or lose depending on customer satisfaction, but government officials have neither customers nor owners.
The future is looking bright for private cities.
As Western Europe continues to decline, increasing numbers of Europeans will start looking around for another place to go. That’s a golden opportunity to build private cities for them, in other parts of the world.
Take a German family, for instance.
Given German language schools, plenty of German beer, and supermarkets stocked with sauerkraut, they may well prefer a private city off the coast of Thailand to the crime-ridden cities back home.
Of course, not everyone would welcome the sudden influx of far-away peoples, but these migrants would only come after having been invited, and would only stay as long as they can pay.