SINGAPORE (June 10): The Borough Market, located a short distance from London Bridge, traces its roots as far back as 1014. The stalls at the market offer a mind-boggling range of foods — including Israeli bourekas, Belgian chocolate, Gujarati curries, Thai khanom krok, Colombian coffee, Japanese sushi and Spanish paella — reflecting the very global nature of London itself.

“It is an institution defined by its warmth and personality, a place of great diversity and openness,” describes Donald Hyslop, chair of Borough Market trustees, in the wake of the terrorist attack on June 3 that left eight people dead and 48 injured. “It is these qualities that will see us through this nightmare.”

In the hours that followed the incident, accounts began to emerge of the remarkable resilience people showed in the face of the attack: For example, a man calmly walked away from the scene with his beer in hand; a Member of Parliament rushed to the aid of a police officer who had been stabbed; and a diehard football fan took on the attackers with his bare fists, shouting, “F*** you. I’m Millwall.”

Meanwhile, newspaper headlines that included words such as “reeling” and “under siege” were met with defiant dry humour, and a scolding from author J K Rowling, who tweeted: “Don’t confuse grief with lack of courage.”

It was inspiring stuff for Singapore, an up and coming global city that has been in the cross hairs of terrorist groups.

London is the capital city of a country that once ruled half the world. It has endured plagues, fires and wars besides terrorist attacks far worse than last week’s. Through it all, it has remained open to people and ideas from around the world.

It has been a thriving centre of commerce for centuries, but it is also where Karl Marx lived and where the Communist Manifesto was published. Today, the nearly 8.7 million people of London are said to speak more than 300 different languages.

Singapore too has suffered its share of mishaps, including the 1991 hijacking of a Singapore Airlines plane, and the March 1965 bombing of the MacDonald House by Indonesia, which was then against the formation of the Malayan Federation. But Singapore is still a much smaller and less diverse city than London.

And, while it is strategically located and was once part of the British Empire, much of the “globalness” it has attained was by design. In 1972, when the recently independent nation was still grappling with the withdrawal of the British military that accounted for 20% of its GDP, then foreign minister S Rajaratnam made it clear that the government would strive to ensure that Singapore was plugged into the rest of the world. Not being part of the global economic system would mean “certain death”, Rajaratnam had said.

He addressed fears at the time of “powerful foreign concerns” possibly exploiting hapless local workers, insisting that it was a risk worth taking. “We can, if we have the will and the intelligence, create the necessary antibodies within our social system to give us immunity against the many dangers that close association with giant foreign corporations could bring,” he said.

Rajaratnam also presciently foretold in the same speech how difficult it would be to manage the global city he envisaged.

“Laying the economic infrastructure of a global city may turn out to be the easiest of the many tasks involved in creating such a city. The political, social and cultural problems, I believe, would be far more difficult to tackle. These may be the Achilles’ heel of the emerging global cities,” said Rajaratnam, who retired from the government in 1988 and died in 2006.

The government got a taste of the discontent that comes with too rapid an influx of foreigners at the 2011 general election, when its share of the popular vote dipped and foreign minister George Yeo lost his seat in parliament. With accelerated investment in infrastructure and curbs on the entry of foreign workers, however, things have since calmed down.

None of this seemed to interfere with Singapore’s progress in becoming ever more global by some measures. For instance, the 2016 DHL Global Connectedness Index rates Singapore as the No 1 “globalisation hotspot”, defined as cities with the most intense international flows of trade, capital, people and information compared with their internal activities.

Yet, Singapore still has not been tested by a serious terrorist strike. Will the people of this city state quake with fear and avoid public places? Will we turn on one another? Or, will we band together and refuse to be broken?

If the dark cloud of a terrorist event is inevitable, as some people say in The Edge Singapore’s Cover Story this week, a show of defiant resilience would be the silver lining.