This is a 1920s view of Empress Place. Chun See has an Old Buildings Quiz here which shows the building in the foreground. This building has been demolished long ago. The area is now an open field where the following Carved Ceremonial Pole could be found.
The Carved Ceremonial Pole was presented by the State Government and People of Sarawak to the Government and People of Singapore, after the 'Singapore-Sarawak Link' exhibition at the old National Museum in Jan 1991. Doesn't it look taller than the skyscrapers? Of course, that is just an illusion.
You can see part of Cavenagh Bridge and Anderson Bridge at the right of the first photo. Note the background of the photo, which is the city centre, is practically devoid of tall buildings. In fact the tallest structure in the area seems to be the clock tower of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, previously called the Town Hall or the Victoria Memorial Hall.
Philip Chew said that the building in the foreground was the former Marine Police Station in Empress Place. I think he is right.