Global City Frontiers: Singapore’s Hinterland and the Contested Socio‐political Geographies of Bintan, Indonesia


During the 1980s, Singapore’s policy‐makers perceived that the continued expansion of the Singapore economy required more spaces and workers beyond the 680‐square‐kilometre territorial limits of the city‐state. While planning to extend these limits through further land reclamation, Singapore also began to foster economic cooperation with regional neighbours, most famously in the form of a so‐called Growth Triangle incorporating proximate areas of Malaysia and Indonesia. The empirical focus of this article is on the tourist enclave developed on the Indonesian island of Bintan, a 45‐minute ferry ride from Singapore. This enclave embodies complex re‐territorializations. We specify how, despite a decade of re‐fashioning zones of Bintan into quasi‐enclaves and the literal and metaphorical cultivation of a tourist haven, other claims on these transfrontier zones resurfaced in the form of resistances and struggles over the terms of access to land and resources. It is argued that the trajectory of Bintan is symptomatic of wider transformations and epitomizes new configurations of sovereignty, urbanity and ‘gated globalism’.