As one of the most beloved icons in Singapore is the country’s famous Merlion, I assumed that this would mean there would be about a million things named after it.
I mean, it happened for Stamford Raffles, he’s got 16 landmarks, 10 schools, 9 locations and 7 species of plants and animals in his name! However, although Singapore, originally Temasek (sea town), then Singapura (lion city) has a sea-lion-y city origin, tigers have beaten merlions out in Singapore’s name-game for everything from airways, to balm, to breweries.
At first, I found it pretty strange that people would want to name everything after tigers instead of merlions. Maybe they thought tigers were tougher than merlions!?
(Why did I ask myself this question? Now I’m going to have to take a full look into this!)
First off, I think it’s far to say that a tiger would win in a completely land-based environment, and a merlion would win in a completely water-based one. So, in order to avoid a “home field advantage”, the fight would need to take place in a semi-aquatic environment. One deep enough for the merlion to manoeuvre around, but shallow enough for the tiger to keep its footing. Lets add in some deeper areas and some protruding rocks, just for fun.
Now, the tiger can use above-water vantages for surprise attacks, but the Merlion could pull the tiger underwater. It would have to come down to the tiger’s speed and agility versus the merlion’s strength.
Now, if this were a fight between a lion and tiger, apparently it’s more statistically likely for a tiger to win. I have to agree with this, tigers are just a little bit bigger and stronger than lions, and so it would make sense for them to come out on top. However, in this scenario, the tiger isn’t just fighting a lion, its fighting a merlion. Since no “official” size for a merlion exists, for argument’s sake, I’m going to say that it’s about the same size as a lion. Having a tail instead of hind legs would also increase its agility and could act as an additional weapon, dealing large blows. As long as it could bring the tiger into the water, I think it would come out on top.
So, after all that, I was back at square 1 of understanding why everything in Singapore is named after tigers. However, after some investigating, I found that tiger balm is named after its creator, “Aw Boon Haw”, whose anglicized name means tiger.
Tiger Breweries is named as such because one of its founders recently hunted down a massive tiger just around the time of the beer’s creation, and it became the talk of the town.
I still dunno about Tiger Airways though. The only thing I can find out about their name is that a lot of people have had trouble changing the name on their reservation with them. I mean, tigers don’t even fly; it doesn’t make sense – look what happened to Lion Air (I guess that just goes to prove that tigers really are better than lions though)! My best is that is has to do with Singapore being one of the 4 Asian Tigers. They don’t fly to South Korea, which is 1 of the other 3 Tigers, but its still the closest guess I can fathom..!