Singapore – not Thailand – could have been leading naturism in Asia

Sentosa Island. Photo: Chensiyuan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once suggested that Sentosa - an entertainment island just off the coast of Singapore city - should have a “nudist colony”. Or it could be placed on one of Singapore’s many other small islands.

The “almost-good” news for Singapore came from a side-remark in the book “Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story” written by former Straits Times journalist Peh Shing Huei and released in November 2018. The book covers Singapore’s former prime minister Goh’s life until the point he becomes the nation’s second Prime Minister in 1990.

The news generated a lot of comments on social media in Singapore, where it remains a crime if your neighbor catches a glimpse of you naked in your apartment - a law which also explains why naturist resorts in Thailand enjoy the visits of so many Singaporean naturists.

Lee Kuan Yew is not known ever to have practised naturism or nudism and Goh Chok Tong ads to his recollection of the incident, that Lee Kuan Yew was quite probably simply practical. The idea was floated in response to a declining number of tourists coming to Singapore.

Goh Chok Tong also adds that the “younger ministers vetoed him.”

Netizens responding to this news mostly with surprise. While some signalled their support for the idea, others felt relieved that the suggestion was shot down:

wixxxx“we would have been the Nudist Hub of Asia…..if they had listened to him”Apparatus“Now still not too late to start mah”focus1974 : “aiyah.. no need go to extreme.. Just allow St john island or some Ulu island to be nudist beach.. then you boost tourism.. and we can have peripheral businesses supporting the nudist island. WIN WIN !”

Konnichiwa: “Na!@# I wanna know who is the younger Minister who vetoed the decision” “Was that how we ended up with casinos instead? We don’t mind foreigners coming here to gamble and lose their shirts – but not literally.”

Another example of Lee Kuan Yew being more liberal than many realized is his well documented point of view that homosexuality is a genetic variance and therefore homosexuality should not be criminalized.


  1. Aven

    As a Naturist Singaporean, is sad that his idea didn’t materialized.
    It probably won’t in conservative Singapore despite we hv a few very least used island within easy reach of our busy shores.