Singapore 2010-2015

Written by  //  October 13, 2015  //  Asia, Economy  //  4 Comments

Singapore on Bloomberg
Singapore on the Establishment Post
Truefitt & Hill, Singapore
Lee Kuan Yew 1923-2015

Singapore Creations Etc., a new performing arts company for young people.
Singapore Creations Etc., was founded on the belief that young people have enormous potential to affect change and to actively contribute to society in a meaningful way. Through the power of the performing arts, young people can voice their opinions, hone their natural talents and learn from each other and like-minded artists in an open professional environment. A key component of the process is the inclusion of young people from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, ages and interests. Creations is not a theatre school but a way of life where young people share their ideas, hopes and concerns thereby developing deep and meaningful connections, confidence, awareness and joy through the theatre arts. Young people are involved in every aspect of the company from sitting on the Board of Directors, to writing, composing, designing, promoting and performing in their original productions.

SingaporeThis must have annoyed a great many Singaporean authorities
(Wired Sept/Oct 1993) Disneyland with the Death Penalty
We sent William Gibson to Singapore to see whether that clean dystopia represents our techno future.

How One Of The World’s Richest Countries Is Limiting Basic Human Rights
“Why are we being singled out to be punished? Why are we seen as criminals?”
(World Post) Gay marriage is not legal in Singapore. Same-sex civil partnerships are also not recognized, and there are no laws that protect against discrimination on the grounds of gender expression or sexual orientation.
In 2007, Singapore made headlines when it struck colonial-era penal code Section 377 from its books. The statute had criminalized “carnal intercourse … against the order of nature,” which included anal and oral sex. The law, which dates back to 1860 and was exported to many British colonies, is still in place in several countries, including India, Malaysia and Myanmar. The statute has been called “England’s least lovely law export.”
Though 377 was removed, a related provision — called Section 377A — was kept intact. 377A specifically targets sexual acts between two men. Under this law, homosexuality is criminalized and punishable by imprisonment of up to two years.
26 September
Forest fires in Indonesia choke much of south-east Asia
Weeks of acrid haze have caused flight delays, school closures in Malaysia and respiratory problems for thousands
In Singapore, news websites post near-hourly updates on the danger of being outside. Some shops were providing free masks for children and elderly people.
The National Environment Agency in Singapore said Monday’s haze will enter the “unhealthy range”.
“Healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion … Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention,” it said.
Following a public outcry, ten Singaporean companies that manufacture paper products announced on Monday they do not source wood from five firms in Indonesia suspected of contributing to the haze.
Greenpeace says the fires, mostly from peatland, kill roughly 110,000 people a year in the region through associated conditions.
26 September
Recycling Hits New Heights With Entry In Singapore Book Of Records
The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and its group of environmental volunteers known as the Earth Helpers have set a new record in the Singapore Book of Records for the largest text measuring 7.3 metres by 2.4 metres formed by plastic bottle caps for a backdrop at the inaugural SEC Coca-Cola® Eco Autumn Festival 2015.
Led primarily by 300 Earth Helpers, the volunteers came together to conceptualise and execute a recycling-themed community engagement programme at City Square Mall, Singapore’s first eco mall. In total, the Earth Helpers put in about 4,516 hours over six months carrying out various activities like planning the stage props, soliciting materials for the Eco Lantern Competition, designing games for the edutainment booths and collecting 13,000 plastic bottle caps to create the stage backdrop.
13 September
Obedience and uncertainty in Singapore
The ruling People’s Action Party has won a decisive victory, but the city-state is a place of growing disquiet
(Al Jazeera opinion) The government’s 2013 Population White Paper, which envisioned a future in which citizens would comprise just 55 percent, led to widespread protests. Anxiety about the future meant that the “old habits of obedience” – as Lee Kuan Yew once described the public mind-sets – are slowly breaking down.
In language ranging from thoughtful to profane, many are expressing anger that their country is being taken from them: A loss precipitated by a global economic order in which Anglo-American and Chinese investments bring not only expertise, but a management structure that denies high-level jobs to Singaporeans. In using “foreign workers” and “foreign talent” to grow the economy, have they built their future on a bed of sand? … workers from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Nepal are constructing Singapore’s increasingly grandiose skyline, cleaning the streets, tending the lawns, and making homes and offices immaculate. Their labour allows Singaporeans to not only live in style, but to function; yet, they bear the brunt of local resentment and condescension.
11 September
Singapore election: Governing party secures decisive win
The PAP’s return to power was widely expected but its large margin was a surprise to many, not least to the main opposition Workers’ Party (WP). It campaigned on a platform of providing an effective check on the PAP, but lost a constituency and saw its winning margins reduced in the few seats it retained.
The results thus cement the PAP’s long-running political dominance in Singapore and highlight the long slog ahead for those pushing for political plurality with an electorate which, for now, appears unconvinced of its merits.
9 September
Singapore’s secretive pension fund
(Quartz) A blogger daring to question the inner workings of Singapore’s secretively managed pension fund is being sued by the prime minister. For Quartz, Gwynn Guilford takes up the examination as best she can: ‘the fact that such arcane arithmetic sleuthing is necessary to fathom the finances of an advanced economy is startling.’
… a social worker-turned-blogger, Roy Ngerng, who has been asking awkward questions about the fate of billions of dollars worth of workers’ savings in Singapore’s secretively managed investment fund. … As he and other bloggers have brought the pension fund into the spotlight, Singaporeans have started asking questions and even demonstrating. They want to know why retirement payouts are inadequate for many despite the unusually large share of their wages the government forces them to save; why their pension funds seem to get back a lower return than the state itself earns on that investment; and why the state investment fund, which the prime minister himself heads, declines to publish detailed numbers. The fund’s opacity makes it impossible to know the answers for sure. But estimates by several bloggers and economists suggest that as much as S$800 billion in reserves managed by the state investment fund may have gone missing.
The PAP will very likely win on Friday. But its inability to extinguish outrage about the pension moneys illuminates a shift now underway in Singapore. As its population ages and Singapore’s economic engines sputter, the PAP’s famed fiscal conservatism increasingly comes at the expense of its citizens’ well-being. And as Ngerng’s story shows—and as the election results may too reveal—those citizens are less and less willing to be silenced.
25 August
Singapore calls election a year early
Ruling party believed to be keen to capitalise on national pride after celebrations for city-state’s 50th birthday
Singapore will hold a general election in September, more than a year before a deadline for polls to be held expires.
11 August
(Quartz) Singapore lowered its GDP growth forecast. The city-state’s government suggested economic growth of 2% to 2.5% this year, lowering its upper limit from 4% previously. That change came after its second-quarter annual GDP growth rate came in at just 1.8%, compared with 2.3% growth a year earlier.
7 August
Singapore’s Complex Political Legacy Has an Uncertain Future
Anthony Saich, Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School
(World Post) A more secular trend is emerging in Singaporean politics that has consequences for maintenance of its governing model. There is a growing call for a change in the way government operates and how inclusive it will be, not only in its design of public policies but also in how redistributive their effects will be. The desire for a greater political opening and pluralism is strong even among the more educated and well positioned in society. Is there perhaps a yearning for a return to the PAP’s more egalitarian roots and a call for it to be a champion for social justice?
A project carried out by the Institute of Policy Studies looking at how Singapore might be governed in 2022 raised three key questions. First, can the PAP retain the trust and creditability to enable it to govern effectively? Second, how will society choose to define success — by material standards or through non-material values? Third, how will a future social compact be defined? Will it favor those high achievers who can bring other benefits to society? Or will policy shift toward a more egalitarian system in terms of redistributing rewards and support?
This suggests that the old paternalism and the reliance on economic success have run their course. The desire for greater political pluralism and a revised social compact that addresses the sense of inequality and injustice in Singaporean society appears to be growing as with a desire for “moral value.” Thus, the Singaporean model of governance seems to be one route to an outcome under which citizens eventually seek value beyond material comfort and greater input into the decision-making that influences their daily lives.
What Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore Model Can Teach American Politicians
By Ali Wyne, Associate, Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
(World Post) Singapore has emerged not only as one of the Asia-Pacific’s crucial commercial junctions, but also as one of the region’s most important centers of diplomatic activity (consider the roster of participants at its annual Shangri-La Dialogue). In the annals of nation-building, Singapore’s transformation during Lee’s tenure is one of the 20th century’s foremost achievements.
4 August
Why Singapore Is the World’s Most Successful Society
(World Post) Singapore turns 50 on Aug. 9, 2015. Is Singapore the most successful society since human history began? Or, to put it differently, did Singapore improve the living standards of its people faster and more comprehensively than any other society?
So why did Singapore succeed so comprehensively? The simple answer is exceptional leadership. Many in the world have heard of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding prime minister who passed away in March this year. Far fewer have heard of Dr. Goh Keng Swee, the architect of Singapore’s economic miracle, and Mr. S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s philosopher par excellence.
Together, they made a great team.
This exceptional team also implemented three exceptional policies: Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty. Indeed, I share this “secret” MPH formula with every foreign student at the Lee Kuan Yew School, and I assure them that if they implement it, their country will succeed as well as Singapore. Meritocracy means a country picks its best citizens, not the relatives of the ruling class, to run a country. Pragmatism means that a country does not try to reinvent the wheel. As Dr. Goh Keng Swee would say to me, “Kishore, no matter what problem Singapore encounters, somebody, somewhere, has solved it. Let us copy the solution and adapt it to Singapore.” Copying best practices is something any country can do. However, implementing “Honesty” is the hardest thing to do. Corruption is the single biggest reason why most Third World countries have failed. The greatest strength of Singapore’s founding fathers was that they were ruthlessly honest. It also helped that they were exceptionally shrewd and cunning.
25 April
Nepal quake: DPM Teo Chee Hean visits Gurkhas, thanks them for service to Singapore
“Our thoughts are with our officers and families. We thank the many generations of Gurkhas for your service to Singapore,” he said. DPM Teo, who is also the Minister for Home Affairs, added that the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Singapore Police Force the Singapore Armed Forces, and members from the Gurkha Contingent are ready to depart to Nepal to help in search and rescue operations, victim identification and medical support.”
23 April
‘Maid knows kid better than mum’ video draws flak, but some say it reflects situation
SINGAPORE – A Mums & Maids film urging employers to give their domestic workers a day off every week has been criticised by some who felt it portrayed mothers in a bad light.
But some said it reflects the sad truth of some parents relying too much on their maids to look after their children.
8 April
The Secret of Singapore’s Success
By Stavros N. Yiannouka, former Executive Vice-Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, is Chief Executive Officer of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), an initiative of the Qatar Foundation.
(Project Syndicate) Lee Kuan Yew’s achievements have been the subject of much global discussion since his recent death. But one aspect of his success has been little mentioned: the investments that he, and his successors, made in education. His strategy, he would often remark, was “to develop Singapore’s only available natural resource, its people.”  …
The elitist tendency in Singapore’s education system is tempered by the fact that quality education is available for all levels of academic aptitude. Singapore is rightly proud of its elite secondary and tertiary academic institutions, but one could argue that the hidden gems of the system are the hundreds of neighborhood schools, institutes for technical education, and polytechnics that provide high-quality education for all.
28 March
Why Singapore banned chewing gum
(BBC) When Singapore became independent in 1965 it was a tiny country with few resources, so Lee, the country’s first prime minister, hatched a survival plan. This hinged on making the city state a “first-world oasis in a third-world region”.
Before very long, Singapore was outstripping other developed countries in terms of its cleanliness, clipped lawns, and efficient transport system. The Cambridge-educated Lee, it seems, was aiming for perfection.
23 March

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister, Dead At 91: Prime Minister’s Office

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, died Monday, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. He was 91.
The news was announced in a statement from the office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of the former prime Minister. The statement was also shared via the prime minister’s official Twitter account, and stated that “Mr Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3.18 am.”
(BBC) Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman who transformed Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub, has died at the age of 91.
The city-state’s prime minister for 31 years, he was widely respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity.
18 March
Singapore tries to imagine a future without its founder, Lee Kuan Yew
(WaPost) “Just like all the great men who built Southeast Asia in the post-colonial period, Lee Kuan Yew is a presence for as long as he breathes,” said Ernest Z. Bower, an expert on Southeast Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Singapore is now looking for change and evolution,” Bower said, “but they’re not sure. I think there’s a little bit of fear and anxiety about all of this.”
Even Lee Hsien Loong acknowledges that Singapore is at an “inflection point.”
While older people here remember what life was like before the transformation and have been willing to put up with the restrictions, people in their 20s and 30s increasingly are not.
“Previous generations had all their necessities taken care of and were happy with [Lee Kuan Yew] when he was prime minister,” said Abdul Kadir bin Ibrahim, a Singaporean in his 50s who runs a clothing store in the Arab Street district.
The younger generation is more outspoken, he said. “Most of them are highly educated, and they come from families where they have not had to struggle to survive, and they have been more exposed to the outside world, so it’s inevitable that there will be some change.”
Carlton Tan, a 28-year-old commentator, is one of those younger Singaporeans who has mixed feelings.
“We simultaneously love and hate, respect and despise, cherish and abhor, the man,” he wrote in a recent column. “We are thankful for our decades of economic progress, but we wonder whether it was really necessary to sacrifice our freedoms. We are grateful for the stability and security, but we wonder whether we can maintain it without a strong civil society.”
25 February
How Singapore Became an Entrepreneurial Hub
Like Silicon Valley, Singapore has strong research institutions and limited enforcement of noncompete clauses, a condition that academics now suggest can be a major driver of innovation. Like Israel, Singapore is small, with limited natural resources, which means economic growth requires innovative macroeconomic approaches. Both Singapore and Israel have liberal immigration policies for skilled workers. Both also have mandatory military conscription for males (Israel also has mandatory conscription for females), and as Dan Senor and Saul Singer argue in Start-up Nation, the Israeli military has been a breeding ground of innovation. …
Singapore is regularly ranked as one of the easiest countries in the world in which to do business. There are rules, for sure, but they are clearly laid out and easy to follow. New companies can be set up in hours, if not minutes. Intellectual property is respected, and the rule of law is transparent. Immigration is no less a hot topic in Singapore than other countries, but Singapore makes it easy to get highly educated workers into the country, and has a specific employment pass targeting would-be entrepreneurs. The clean, efficient city has some livability advantages over Shanghai, Manila, Jakarta, or Bangkok.
Mindful of its international reputation among the creative class it’s trying to attract, the government has worked hard to address the old view that there isn’t much to do in “Singa-bore” with two casinos, a Universal Studios, Asia’s largest aquarium, a “botanic garden masquerading as a theme park” called Gardens by the Bay, a 55,000 seat multipurpose stadium, internationally acclaimed restaurants, and an efficient, modern airport that makes leaving the country a breeze.
16 February
Singapore PM’s prostate cancer surgery ‘successful’
Lee Hsien Loong expected to recover fully, but questions raised about ruling party’s public succession plan. The next election must be held by January 2017, but media and internet blogs have speculated it could come as early as this year, after celebrations in August of Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.
8 February
Drone waiters to plug Singapore’s service staff gap
In Singapore food is a national obsession. But finding enough people to bring the food to diners is increasingly becoming a problem.
One company thinks it has come up with a solution – flying robot waiters. They are sturdy, reliable, and promise never to call in sick at the last minute.
Keen on slowing down immigration and increasing efficiency, the government has put curbs on the cheap foreign labour on which the restaurant industry has long depended.
But young Singaporeans tend to shun service jobs due to their lower wages and perceived lower social status.
A number of well-known restaurants and food stalls have shut down in recent months citing the manpower shortage and high rentals, causing some handwringing over the future of Singapore’s food culture.


4 August
Singapore introduces new labour laws
(BBC) New laws have come into effect in Singapore, making it harder for foreigners to get jobs.
The government says the new laws will achieve a more level playing field for Singaporeans, but many worry it will have a negative impact on the economy.
Meanwhile, critics say it’s a big turnaround for the island nation, which is known for its open economy and regularly tops global rankings for ease of doing business.
17 July
Ikea Advertises Adoptable Dogs In Stores, Because Every Home Needs A Rescue Pup
The idea to display the pets inside the store started in Singapore as a collaboration between Ikea and two animal shelters, according to Business Insider. Together they formed the project Home for Hope.  … At least eight pups have been adopted in Singapore so far, according to the Home for Hope website.
8 May
Singapore ‘terror leader’ captured
Suspected attack plotter arrested more than a year after escape, officials say.
[Mas Selamat Kastari, a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group] the suspected leader of a southeast Asian Islamic group accused of plotting a 9/11-style attack on Singapore’s international airport has been recaptured in Malaysia, Singapore officials have confirmed.
6 March
Echoes of the Todd Shane case almost exactly a year ago? Or merely a coincidence?
CEO in apparent suicide was bitcoin fan, had other issues, too
(Reuters) – A young American CEO who apparently committed suicide in Singapore was involved in the world of the bitcoin, but was also struggling with other issues prior to her death, friends and colleagues said.
Autumn Radtke, chief executive of virtual currency exchange First Meta Pte Ltd, was found dead on February 26. Police said they were investigating her “unnatural” death, and “preliminary investigations showed no foul play is suspected.”
(Slate) Did the “Bitcoin CEO” Just Commit Suicide? Not So Fast.
Bitcoin CEO found dead in Singapore in apparent suicide
(NY Daily News) Autumn Radtke, CEO of First Meta, was found dead in her Singapore home last week. Radtke, did business with major tech companies such as Verizon and Dell.(5 March)
3 March
Singapore named the world’s most expensive city
(BBC) Singapore has topped 131 cities globally to become the world’s most expensive city to live in 2014, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The city’s strong currency combined with the high cost of running a car and soaring utility bills contributed to Singapore topping the list.
It is also the most expensive place in the world to buy clothes.
27 February
How do Singapore’s poor families get by?
(BBC) The city-state’s efficient infrastructure, relative safety and low taxes have attracted many of the world’s wealthy. It now boasts more millionaires per capita than any other country.
Its gross domestic output per individual is among the highest too, at over $51,000 (£30,600), outranking that of developed economies like Germany and even the US in some measures. But the wealth gap is the second-widest among advanced economies in Asia, next to Hong Kong.
So it comes as no surprise that the less well-off would struggle to pay for daily necessities. There is no minimum wage or poverty line set and no welfare provision along the lines of many developed Western economies.
… S$5 a day is what nearly 400,000 Singaporeans are left with after paying for utilities, school, rent, loan instalments and healthcare.
23 February
The Miracle of the Singapore Budget 2014
(The Establishment Post) The Singapore budget held many goodies. The centre piece pioneer generation healthcare benefits have been extensively revised to the tune of a S$8 (US$6.3) billion fund set aside for their healthcare needs for the rest of their lives.
MediShield for the unacquainted is the national health insurance plan for Singapore. This scheme will be extended to cover all Singaporeans and renamed MediShield Life as announced last year. While a good quarter of the older population (65 and over) had previously not been covered, this will now not just include them but also for the whole pioneer generation, outright cash subsidies to pay the premiums for the national healthcare insurance will be given and other subsidies or extensions given for outpatient treatment. This is to ensure it remains affordable. (Pioneer generation refers to Singaporeans from age 65 and above at the end of this year and having obtained citizenship from 1986 and earlier).
So the miracle of the Singapore budget 2014 is partly because this government has been efficient at making use of existing revenue and delivering a remarkably high degree of government services to Singapore’s population. The budget is therefore as much a tribute to the Singapore civil service as it is to the Minister of Finance.
The wage earning population must be heaving a sigh of relief. They must have not been the only group as as all the property owners particularly those with more than one property or luxury properties who were hit by higher property taxes must have been nervously awaiting the Singapore budget 2014 amid cries of a more inclusive society.
So perhaps this is truly a levelling up budget. Instead of taking down the wealthy or the high income earners down a peg or two or the property owners, the government has somehow pulled it off without raising income taxes for either corporates nor individuals, introducing property gains tax or other forms of wealth taxes in general thereby preserving the reward for working and husbanding one’s store of wealth, which had it been earned particularly by oneself, has already been taxed.
9 January
Children in Singapore excel at math because parents care
Singapore is an island nation of approximately the size and population of the GTA. It is a thriving and successful country despite having no natural resources other than its population. All children are required to write examinations at the end of grade 6 and their results have a significant impact on which secondary schools they can and cannot attend and the opportunities that are open to them. There is a lot of parental pressure on the students to do well and they study for these exams for months. No one worries about equality or the fact that poor children have fewer opportunities, it is believed that if they do well on the exam they have the same chances as anyone else.
If a child is not doing well in math it is not assumed to be a problem of the teacher, the school or the curriculum; rather, it is assumed to be a problem for the student and his or her parents to resolve. They may do this by hiring a tutor – tutoring is a huge business in Singapore with many teachers tutoring for a living rather than teaching in a school.
Alternatively, they may go to a local bookstore and buy a couple of books of extra practice questions from the thousands available covering all subjects and grade levels and then sit with their child to ensure that they actually do all the practice problems.
The result of this kind of behaviour is clear every time there is an international comparison of educational performance in mathematics and Singapore scores close to the top. Funnily enough, they also worry if they slip a position or two in the rankings! After spending many hours observing in Singaporean classrooms I can tell you that the performance of their students is not a result of teaching methods, curriculum or school facilities. It is a result of cultural norms and societal expectations. Trying to make subtle changes in the way we teach math or give teachers a couple of workshops is unlikely to make our Canadian children perform as well as they do in Singapore.
We need to ask ourselves whether the results on international comparisons are sufficiently important to us as a society to make us willing to behave like Singaporeans.


Asian Development Outlook 2013 – Singapore
Growth will gradually accelerate over the next 2 years, with inflation moderating but still higher than average in the past decade and the balance of payments recording large but narrowing surpluses. Prudent economic policies, a flexible labor market, a sound banking system, and substantial foreign exchange reserves will counterbalance adverse developments overseas. As the government implements its growth strategy encouraging firms away from reliance on foreign labor, it should take measures to reduce the impact on small and medium-sized enterprises. Policy challenge—supporting small and medium-sized enterprises Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—businesses with annual sales of up to S$100 million or up to 200 employees—are an integral part of the Singapore economy. SMEs account for 99% of all enterprises, more than 50% of output, and 70% of employment. Recent years have been particularly challenging for SMEs in Singapore. In addition to weak demand in the protracted global recession, SMEs face a labor supply squeeze and rising domestic costs, which are largely induced by the government’s economic restructuring policy. SMEs feel the consequences of these shocks more strongly because of their limited access to finance and their less-developed financial and management capabilities. Recent surveys indicate that profits margins have narrowed, the number of SMEs reporting losses has risen, and enterprises are less optimistic regarding sales, profits, hiring, and capital investment in the coming months. (ADB Singapore country report 20 July)

9 December
Singapore bus death triggers riot
(BBC) Police in Singapore have arrested 27 South Asian suspects after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national.
About 400 foreign workers took to the streets, hurling railings at police and torching police cars and an ambulance.
Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said it was the first rioting in Singapore in more than 30 years.
He condemned it as “intolerable, wanton violence”. “It is not the Singapore way,” he added.
9 October
Compassionate Meritocracy
More than two decades ago, political leaders in Singapore put forward the idea of “Asian values” to assert that liberal democratic principles and practices were not suited to the region, sparking an important debate that centered on the universality of human rights. But these discussions largely neglected another innovative proposal from Singapore’s leaders: modern political systems, they declared, should operate as meritocracies. …
In Singapore … political meritocracy has remained a central issue, with the country’s leaders continuing to advocate the institutionalization of mechanisms aimed at selecting the candidates who were best qualified to lead – even if doing so meant imposing constraints on the democratic process. In order to win support, they have often appealed to the Confucian tradition. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong explained, one of the many Confucian ideals that remains relevant to Singapore is “the concept of government by honorable men, who have a duty to do right for the people, and who have the trust and respect of the population.”
26 September
Singapore Looks Below for More Room
(NYT) Singapore, with a little less land mass than New York City, is running out of room for its 5.4 million people.
The city-state has built upward — with apartment buildings reaching as high as 70 stories — reclaimed underused properties for housing and pushed out coastlines for more usable land.
But as one of the world’s most crowded cities, and with projections for 1.5 million more people in the next 15 years, Singapore’s options are as limited as its space.
So Singapore is considering a novel solution: building underground to create an extensive, interconnected city, with shopping malls, transportation hubs, public spaces, pedestrian links and even cycling lanes.
20 September
Singapore has nothing to fear from the North Sea trading route, yet
(China Post) A Chinese container ship has made the news for being the first commercial vessel to go through the Arctic sea route, reviving questions over the Suez Canal’s influence, and Singapore’s position as a maritime hub.
If this new route – the Northern Sea Route (NSR) — eventually becomes commercially viable, ships may bypass Singapore, which is at present a key shipping node on the route via the Suez Canal, a 193km passage between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
The Chinese-flagged Yong Sheng skipped the Singapore route, reaching Rotterdam from Dalian via the NSR on September 10. The trip took 34 days — 11 days shorter than if the Suez Canal had been used.
The event also points to increasing interest in the NSR, as melting polar ice opens up the Arctic sea passage, enabling ships to use the route for three months during the summer.
15 August
Singapore: How to Profit From This ‘Switzerland of Asia’
Singapore is an economic juggernaut with an unmatched combination of modern comforts, sophistication, cleanliness, and an energetic enthusiasm for commerce.
(Uncommon Wisdom) With a population around 6.9 million, the country generates $60,688 in per-capita gross domestic product. That’s the third highest in Asia, behind only Hong Kong and Japan. Singapore also has a sky-high 95% literacy rate and the highest standard of living in Asia.
The World Bank calls Singapore “the world’s easiest place to do business.” The country earned that moniker by concentrating on growth industries like financial services, biomedical research, technology and oil refining.
8 July
Internet big boys take aim at Singapore’s ‘regressive’ new rules (Reuters) – Singapore’s move to tighten regulation of news web sites, already under fire from bloggers and human rights groups, has attracted criticism from an unexpected quarter – large Internet firms with a big presence in the city-state which say the new rules will hurt the industry.
Web giants Facebook Inc, eBay Inc, Google Inc and Yahoo! Inc have said the revised rules “have negatively impacted Singapore’s global image as an open and business-friendly country”.
Verdict in Singapore: U.S. engineer Shane Todd killed himself
(Reuters) – American engineer Shane Todd committed suicide in Singapore last year, a coroner’s inquiry in the city-state concluded on Monday, a verdict at odds with his family’s belief that he was murdered because of his work. Not convinced by the verdict – see background at 30 March post.
23 June
Singapore sunny, Malaysia gloomy
(The Australian) SINGAPORE has woken to clear blue skies thanks to favourable winds but Malaysia is still being suffocated by smog from forest fires in Indonesia, where cloud-seeding flights have produced little rain.
Officials in Singapore, which bore the brunt of the smog last week, warned against complacency, saying the situation could deteriorate again if monsoon winds carrying smoke and particulates from Indonesia’s Sumatra island change direction.
21 June
Smog in Singapore from Indonesia fires could last for weeks
(Planet Ark) llegal burning of forests and other land on Indonesia’s Sumatra island to clear space for palm oil plantations is a chronic problem during the June to September dry season. … “It can easily last for several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends in Sumatra,” [Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong] told a news conference, warning of action if Singapore-linked companies were behind the burning. “On the scale of it, it’s unlikely to be just small stakeholders slashing and burning.”
Smog over Singapore — Hazed and confused
(The Economist) … all outdoor activity has virtually come to a stop, and many of those who dare walk the streets are wearing surgical masks. The jogging and cycle tracks are empty, as are the famous Botanical Gardens, where I do most of my walking. Yesterday evening, eerily devoid of humans, the gardens were being reclaimed by the giant monitor lizards that normally skulk in the bushes. Restaurants have closed their al fresco dining areas and many office workers have been advised to stay home to avoid the commute. The southern part of neighbouring Malaysia has also been hit badly, with the state of Johor closing hundreds of schools on June 20th. The medical advice from the government is that the elderly, pregnant women and children, as well as those with existing heart and lung conditions, should now just stay indoors completely; all could be adversely affected when PSI levels stray into “hazardous” territory.
People are already beginning to count the financial cost of the haze as tourism drops off, some building work is halted and flights out of Changi airport start to be delayed. The government has set up a “Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee” to direct its response, but in truth there is not much it can do, apart from dispensing advice to citizens struggling to cope. After all, the root cause of the hazing lies across the straits—with the Indonesians in Sumatra. What baffles Singaporeans is why the Indonesian government has not got a grip on this problem, even after decades of seeing the same thing happen every year.
New pollution high as haze chokes Singapore
(BBC) Pollution levels reached a new record high for a third day in a row in Singapore. The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit 400 at 11:00 on Friday (03:00 GMT) – the highest in the country’s history. A PSI reading above 300 is defined as “hazardous”.
19 June
Singapore chokes on haze as Sumatran forest fires rage
(CNN) — Singapore was shrouded in haze on Wednesday as smoke from forest fires in nearby Sumatra drifted across the Malacca Strait in the city’s worst pollution crisis in more than a decade.
singapore-haze-2013Buildings in the city of 5.3 million people have been enveloped in a smoky haze since the beginning of the week as illegal burn off in nearby Indonesia and prevailing winds were causing a smoke crisis not seen since 1997. … Authorities in Singapore are anxious to avoid a repeat of the 1997 Southeast Asian haze which the government estimates cost $9 billion in health care costs and disrupted air travel and business.
17 June
Singapore gets new oil technology (video)
(BBC) In spite of having no resources of its own, Singapore relies heavily on the oil and gas sector.
That is because much of the oil produced by neighbouring Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia is processed and refined in the city state.
This week, Singapore unveiled a new technology to help safeguard the country’s oil refining sector
7 June
Online media licensing undercuts Singapore’s financial status: report
(Reuters) – Human Rights Watch said on Friday that Singapore is undercutting its status as a financial center by expanding media censorship to the web and urged the city-state’s government to withdraw the new licensing requirement for online news sites.
6 June
Singapore Needs Immigrants, Says Jim Rogers
(Forbes) For many years, Singapore’s ruling People Action’s Party (PAP) has advocated a liberal immigration policy to offset the country’s falling birth rates and support its booming economy. But with the influx of immigrants coinciding with strains on infrastructure, inflation, and rising income inequality, public opinion turned against this policy. Many citizens took to the ballots to register their growing resentment against immigration and the party suffered its worst ever showing in the 2011 parliamentary elections. In response, the government has raised barriers to restrict the inflow of immigrants. … At the root of Singapore’s immigration policy is its worrying demographic structure. With a fertility rate of only 1.2, far below the replacement rate of 2.1 and one of the lowest in the world, Singapore will face a shrinking workforce and aging population if new immigrants are not brought in. Rogers warns that if Singapore tightens its immigration policy too much, it will become “an old age home in 10 to 20 years.” Given that more resources will then have to be expended to support the elderly, he thinks Singapore will find it “very difficult” to develop and compete with its neighboring countries.
28 May
Singapore to regulate Yahoo, other online news sites
(Reuters) – Websites that regularly report on Singapore including Yahoo News will have to get a license from June 1, putting them on par with newspapers and television news outlets, in a move seen by some as a bid to rein in free-wheeling Internet news.
“Online news sites that report regularly on issues relating to Singapore and have significant reach among readers here will require an individual license,” Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) said in a statement. … Lobby group Reporters Without Borders, in its latest report, ranked Singapore 149th globally in terms of press freedom, down 14 places from 2012 and below many of its neighbors.
14 May
Singapore steps up international cooperation on tax evasion
(Reuters) – Singapore, the world’s fourth-biggest offshore financial center, said on Tuesday it will adopt new measures to make it easier to share information on potential tax evaders with other countries, including the United States.
The Southeast Asian city-state, keen to avoid the kind of onslaught on tax cheats being waged against Switzerland, said it will sign up to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) multilateral treaty on sharing tax details.
Investigation into mysterious death of Shane Todd begins in Singapore
(The Guardian) Parents suggest that 31-year-old software engineer’s apparent suicide was faked as court hears evidence from girlfriend of ‘depression’
5 May
The world’s richest city
With the rising cost of living, locals are starting to struggle to keep up, so is the party set to end?
(Al Jazeera) China may soon be the birthplace to half the world’s billionaires but Singapore – the world’s richest city – is where they go to play.
Some of the rich and famous who have moved to the tiny Southeast Asian island republic include Indian telecom tycoon Bhupendra Kumar Modi, Chinese movie superstars Gong Li and Jet Li, New Zealand billionaire Richard Chandler, and famed US investor Jim Rogers.
One in six households in Singapore have a net worth of $1m, reflecting the flow of wealth eastwards as the centre of global economic activity shifts to Asia.
With low taxes, a reliable, corruption-free government and protective private banking laws, the world’s ultra-rich are flocking to make Singapore home, giving it the highest percentage of millionaire households in the world. …
Cries for a larger social security net for the poor are getting louder but this will mean increasing taxes. So, can Singapore, the economic miracle, sustain the ultra-rich’s attention for long? Or will the party end soon?
Banks in Singapore agonize over rich clients in tax evasion clampdown
(Reuters) – Banks in Singapore are urgently scrutinizing their account holders as an imminent deadline on stricter tax evasion measures forces them to decide whether to send some of their wealthiest clients packing.
The Southeast Asian city-state has grown into the world’s fourth-biggest offshore financial center but, with U.S. and European regulators on the hunt for tax cheats, the government is clamping down to forestall the kind of onslaught from foreign authorities that is now hitting Switzerland’s banks.
Before July 1, all financial institutions in Singapore must identify accounts they strongly suspect hold proceeds of fraudulent or wilful tax evasion and, where necessary, close them. After that, handling the proceeds of tax crimes will be a criminal offence under changes to the city-state’s anti-money laundering law. …
The new measures are part of a delicate balancing act by Singapore, which by 2020 could overtake world leader Switzerland in the volume of offshore assets it manages, research firm WealthInsight forecast last month.
The authorities are keen to ensure the city-state is not seen as a tax haven for the wealthy from Europe, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere without dulling its allure as an oasis for the rich, replete with casinos, luxury properties and high-end boutiques and restaurants.
1 April
Singapore’s heritage — Elegy for an urban graveyard
… the struggle over Bukit Brown takes on a wider meaning. Among the improbable coalition of birdwatchers, conservationists and heritage buffs trying to stop the road are a few who see a broader political goal: of testing the government’s promises of a new responsiveness. In that sense, as in many, the argument over the fate of the graveyard may look like a tussle over Singapore’s past. But it is really about its future.
(The Economist) Bukit Brown is an important part of Singapore’s “heritage”. That should give it a certain protection, these days. …
[The government] has just announced free entry for Singaporeans from May 18th to all national museums; and the government is to pump more money into television programmes exploring Singapore’s history. An explicit model is this year’s “History from the Hills”, which used Bukit Brown to tell Singapore’s story.
The rekindled interest in heritage is part of a broader conversation about what it means to be Singaporean, which in turn is bound up with the biggest political issues: population and immigration. Already, probably more than half of Singapore’s people were born elsewhere. Singaporeans are having very few children—their women’s average fertility rate is among the lowest in the world.
The government argues that, if living standards are to go on rising, the population has to grow. In January a government white paper on the population projected that it would increase from 5.3m now to 6m by 2020 and to 6.5m-6.9m by 2030. But this angered many of the less well-off Singaporeans, whose main daily grouses are the unaffordability of housing and the difficulty of getting onto the underground at rush hour. Many blame both problems, as well as their low wages, in part on an influx of foreigners.
So the government also talks of the importance of keeping a “Singaporean core”. For the ethnic-Chinese that make up three-quarters of that core, Bukit Brown—until it closed in 1973, the only municipal pan-Chinese cemetery, as opposed to those dedicated to different clans or dialect groups—is a central part of their heritage.
It is also the scene of an important battle in the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Jon Cooper, a British battlefield historian, paints a vivid picture of the horrors of that struggle, as young British soldiers from the 4th Suffolk regiment, newly arrived in Singapore after the long sea voyage, took shelter from an artillery barrage in the tombs of Bukit Brown, and fled through its tangled undergrowth and scattered structures as the Japanese advanced with naked bayonets and swords, and screams of “Banzai!”. Some were never seen again.
30 March
Parents get Washington to investigate son’s death in Singapore
(LA Times) Singapore police say Montana engineer Shane Todd committed suicide. But his mother and father don’t buy it and have turned his death into an international issue.
Singapore mystery death stokes speculation
US-Singapore ties fray as parents of American engineer reportedly engaged in top-secret research reject suicide claims.
(Al Jazeera) It has been a death that continues to arouse suspicion nine months later, besides spawning tensions across oceans between the United States and Singapore.
Authorities in Singapore originally said Shane Todd – a 31-year-old engineer from the US found hanging in June 2012 – had committed suicide. But speculation that the nature of his death could have been far more sinister has continued to swirl amid talk of top-secret research, potential threats to US national security, and shadowy links between giant technology firms and the Chinese military.
22 March
Singapore uses ‘fairytales’ to remind women their biological clocks are ticking

(Globe & Mail) The image is one of 15 reprised fairytales the Singaporean government is banking on to boost fertility rates in the prized 21- to 30-year-old cohort. Although many couples in the West are also postponing marriage, Singapore in particular is facing extremely low birth rates in tandem with an aging population. And so the government has gone full hilt, funding speed-dating events, as well as “love vouchers” and silly advice columns in hopes that their young people will start procreating.
Dreamed up by four senior university students, there are 15 re-imagined fairytales in all, each with explicitly stated morals pertaining to marriage, sex and baby-making. Humpty Dumpty warns about male fertility issues. Others, like Jack and Jill and Cinderella, warn Singaporeans about the pitfalls of perfectionism – of young people foolishly hoping to conjure the ideal life before even considering children. The clock is ticking, read the cautionary tales, which are really just a cutesy, dumbed-down take on the ominous fables we all grew up with.
20 March
Truefitt & Hill opens first gentlemen’s barbershop in Singapore
The world’s oldest barbershop for men , Truefitt and Hill has opened a full service gentlemen’s barbership here in Singapore on Ang Siang Road on (sic) a beautiful old colonial shophouse.
18 March
Singapore’s Lessons for an Unequal America
(NYT) Singapore has had the distinction of having prioritized social and economic equity while achieving very high rates of growth over the past 30 years — an example par excellence that inequality is not just a matter of social justice but of economic performance. Societies with fewer economic disparities perform better — not just for those at the bottom or the middle, but over all. …
There were many things that Singapore did to become one of Asia’s economic “tigers,” and curbing inequalities was one of them. The government made sure that wages at the bottom were not beaten down to the exploitative levels they could have been.
The government mandated that individuals save into a “provident fund” — 36 percent of the wages of young workers — to be used to pay for adequate health care, housing and retirement benefits. It provided universal education, sent some of its best students abroad, and did what it could to make sure they returned. (Some of my brightest students came from Singapore.)
There are at least four distinctive aspects of the Singaporean model, and they are more applicable to the United States than a skeptical American observer might imagine.
16 March
Manscaping Club
(Singapore Business Times) DONE and dusted are the days of the feminised metrosexual, it seems.
Thanks to slickly groomed ~ yet still broodily masculine -celluloid style icons like James Bond and Don Draper, manscaping these days can be considered as essential, and definitive, for the alpha male as cigar-chuffing or whiskey-swilling.
Truefitt & Hill Business Times SINThe latest spot for the modern gentleman to get his grooming fix is Ann Siang Road barbershop, Truefitt and Hill.
Set to open on March 27, the 1,200 sq ft store will be the first Singapore outpost for the two-century-old British brand often referred to as the oldest barbershop in the world. …
Canadian Marc Nicholson, who is behind the upcoming Singapore store, is a former ad man who has lived in Singapore for a decade. He says he’s been tossing about the idea of running an upscale barbershop for about six years …
7 February
In Singapore’s Immigration Debate, Sign of Asia’s Slipping Middle Class?
(NYT) Concern over booming immigration, often focused on new arrivals from increasingly rich China, has been simmering in the nation, with many feeling that the immigrants do not play by the same rules, that their manners are poor and that they are pushing up prices. That feeling crystallized last year when a wealthy Chinese man driving a Ferrari at high speed killed three people (including himself) in a nighttime accident.
(Similar sentiments are found in Hong Kong, as my colleagues Bettina Wassener and Gerry Mullany wrote.)
Vividly illustrating the resentment, Singaporeans sometimes call the wealthy immigrants “rich Chinese locusts,” according to an article in the Economic Observer’s Worldcrunch.
So the Singapore government’s Population White Paper that passed in Parliament earlier this month, just before Chinese New Year, was bound to stir things up.
Singapore seethes over population plan
Proposal to boost city state’s population prompts rare protest, signalling growing dissent over influx of foreigners.
(Al Jazeera) Singapore’s success story is relatively well-known. Having transformed itself from a tiny island nation with no natural resources to one of the richest countries in the world, Singapore prides itself on its booming economy, sustained by encouraging foreign investment and migrant labourers.
But despite being the third-most densely populated country in the world, Singapore’s government recently announced plans to increase its total population from 5.3 million to 6.9 million by 2030. The move caused a public outcry, with thousands taking to the streets on Saturday in protest.
An aging population coupled with dwindling birth rates, escalating housing prices, overcrowding, and caving infrastructure are just some of the factors responsible for the rising dissent among Singaporeans.

In January, Singapore’s government – which has been led by the People’s Action Party since 1959 – introduced two proposals. The first was its “White Paper on Population”, which outlined a strategy to ensure sustainable population levels in the face of low birth rates and an aging society. Shortly thereafter, a plan to increase Singapore’s land area by nearly 8 per cent was announced to accommodate the new population.
In addition to the number of foreigners, an estimated 30,000 new permanent residents – a status given to foreigners who live in Singapore for long periods of time – will also be added each year.

Singaporeans have become increasingly vocal about the high influx of foreigners in recent years, demanding changes in the government’s relaxed immigration policies.
The opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) recently launched its own population policy report, calling instead for a plan for businesses to favour Singaporeans when hiring and to tighten the screening of foreign professionals to wean businesses off of cheap foreign labour.
29 January
Singapore wants to boost population to 6.9 million by 2030
(Reuters) – Asian financial center Singapore, which is already more densely populated than rival Hong Kong, wants to raise its population by as much as 30 percent in the next two decades to ensure its economy remains dynamic, the government said on Tuesday.
The growth in the population to between 6.5 and 6.9 million by 2030 – from 5.3 million now – would involve persuading citizens to have more babies and handing out citizenship to more foreign-born professionals, the government said in a white paper.
27 January
Exclusive: Bank probes find manipulation in Singapore’s offshore FX market – source
(Reuters) – Internal reviews by banks in Singapore have found evidence that traders colluded to manipulate rates in the offshore foreign exchange market, according to a source with knowledge of the inquiries. …
The Monetary Authority of Singapore told banks in the city state last July to review the way they set interbank lending rates, in the wake of the Libor scandal.
As bank officials pored over documents and communications, they came across evidence that raised alarm bells over activities in the NDF markets as well, spurring an extension of the reviews to those markets in September, the source said.
26 January
Singapore ruling party rebuked in by-election as disquiet rises
(Reuters) – Singapore’s long-dominant People’s Action Party (PAP) lost heavily in a single-seat by-election on Saturday, a barometer of how the government is dealing with discontent in the wealthy Asian country over immigration and the high cost of living.
25 January
By-election shines a light on discontented Singapore
(Reuters) – Sky-high housing prices. Train breakdowns. Foreigners stealing jobs, and a widening chasm between rich and poor.
A by-election in Singapore on Saturday is putting a spotlight on strains and discontent in one of Asia’s wealthiest countries and biggest success stories: the transformation of a post-colonial backwater into an economic powerhouse.


27 May
UK author to be jailed in Singapore after losing appeal
(Reuters) Singapore’s High Court in November sentenced Alan Shadrake, 76, to six weeks’ jail and a fine of S$20,000 ($16,090) for scandalizing the judiciary with comments in his book about the city-state’s use of the death penalty.
Shadrake had been free on bail pending the appeal and starts his jail sentence on June 1, the same day the second edition of his book, “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock,” appears in British bookstores.
24 May
LeeKuanYew-istan Forever
After more than 50 years of running Singapore, its octogenarian leader is stepping aside. Can the island nation stay prosperous and peaceful as democratic storms begin to blow?
Emerging markets around the world are searching for a new model in a post-Washington Consensus world. Some have suggested a “Beijing Consensus” of economic reform without political reform, given the Middle Kingdom’s spectacular rise to superpower status.
Yet it is in fact the Singapore Consensus, not the Beijing Consensus, that is likely to win the 21st-century competition over governance models. Unlike China, whose government has resources and rights at its disposal that no other state can match, Singapore’s ideology is non-ideology; it is pragmatism. (See Guy Stanley comment of 31 May below.)
16 May
Architect of modern Singapore steps down
(FT) Singaporeans woke up on Sunday to the prospect of a government without Lee Kuan Yew for the first time in 52 years after the country’s founding father and dominating political figure unexpectedly resigned from the cabinet
Not fade away
(The Economist/Banyan) … Within the PAP, and for many other Singaporeans, Mr Lee remains a revered figure. But it’s also clear that new generations of Singaporeans are ready to move onto a new era, and the PAP will have to reflect that or wither. It’s unclear whether a few men in white coats took MM aside to finally do some plain speaking of their own, or whether Mr Lee took the decision himself to resign from the cabinet. But the result is the same; the founding-father will continue to opine, but the PAP will have a little more room to change and adapt to a changed electoral landscape.
(Straits Times) ‘A loss for S’pore, but economy is in good hands’
11 May
A win-win election?
(The Economist/Banyan) Singaporeans, who seem still to trust the PAP to do an efficient job, in the aggregate want not an alternative government but a stronger opposition. And they have got one.
The danger for the opposition, as Cherian George, author of an excellent book on the politics of Singapore in the 1990s, pointed out (see below) having succeeded in teaching the PAP a lesson at the polls, it will now “have to face the daunting possibility that the government actually learns it.”
Singapore, Stockholm and Seoul top-ranked in Ericsson’s Networked Society City Index
The Networked Society City Index – established through a joint study conducted by Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and management consultancy Arthur D. Little and presented on May 10 at Ericsson’s Business Innovation Forum in Silicon Valley in the US – shows that cities with a high level of ICT maturity are better able to manage issues such as environmental management, infrastructure, public security, health-care quality and education.
8 May
This is the best analysis of the Singapore elections we have seen
Cherian George : GENERAL ELECTIONS 2011
… the opposition’s presence in the next Parliament still amounts to less than 7 percent of elected seats. This is at most a speed bump, not a barrier, on PAP’s road to writing or rewriting laws. Besides, life in Singapore is not just shaped by statutes. It is also governed through subsidiary regulations and administrative decisions that don’t go through Parliament.
A second dampener on the WP’s aspirations is the absence of a First World electorate …. Political reform anywhere depends … also on active citizens who participate through civil society. … Singapore society has been systematically depoliticised over the decades and is mired in apathy. …The 2011 election campaign may have energised ordinarily docile Singaporeans to share views on facebook, attend rallies, and jostle for WP umbrellas, but the sobering truth for the opposition is that the vast majority will return to their private lives tomorrow, and continue to outsource public affairs to politicians.
The Greed of Singapore’s Rulers
Singapore is at the top for salaries, and number 2 for the ratio of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person! [See Antal Deutsch comment on May 9 below]
3 May
Singapore’s general election
Repent, sinners, if thou shalt vote for the opposition
(The Economist/Banyan) The rising cost of everyday goods and services in an already expensive city is the main worry for Singaporeans, and this has become the main campaign message for many opposition politicians. Immigration has become part of the mix too; opposition candidates argue that the steady stream of low-cost workers coming to Singapore depresses wages for Singaporeans, thus adding to their worries about rising prices. Some parties argue for reductions in taxation, or special help for the elderly and other groups. The PAP argues that Singapore should stick to its traditional free-market, low-welfare policies, arguing that the best way to combat rising prices is to help the already flourishing economy grow even further. Last year Singapore achieved the second-highest growth rate in the world, after Qatar.
30 January
Thomas L. Friedman: Serious in Singapore
If Singapore has one thing to teach America, it is about getting governance right.
(NYT) If Singapore has one thing to teach America, it is about taking governing seriously, relentlessly asking: What world are we living in and how do we adapt to thrive.
… Explained Ravi Menon, the Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry: “The two ‘isms’ that perhaps best describe Singapore’s approach are: pragmatism — an emphasis on what works in practice rather than abstract theory; and eclecticism — a willingness to adapt to the local context best practices from around the world.”


Singapore infinity pool
25 June
Don’t go off the VERY deep end… Infinity pool 55 STOREYS above ground opens in Singapore in dazzling new £4bn resort
(Daily Mail) If you fancy a dip in this pool, you’ll need a head for heights – it’s 55 storeys up.
But swimming to the edge won’t be quite as risky as it looks. While the water in the infinity pool seems to end in a sheer drop, it actually spills into a catchment area where it is pumped back into the main pool. At three times the length of an Olympic pool and 650ft up, it is the largest outdoor pool in the world at that height.
It features in the impressive, boat-shaped ‘SkyPark’ perched atop the three towers that make up the world’s most expensive hotel, the £4billion Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore. … The Marina Sands resort was designed by architect Moshe Safdie who based it on a deck of cards.
19 May
The Global Governance Group (‘3G’) and Singaporean Leadership
Can Small be Significant?
The paper will seek to examine the relevance of the most recent groupings of states to contemporary international relations. This new generation of groups succeed the previous ones such as the G77, or the NAM, which still formally exist, but have mostly lost their utility. Singaporean diplomats shepherded the creation of the Global Governance Group (3G), perhaps a third generation of such groupings, open to all who are committed to its purposes, with a view to creating a ‘pressure-group’ to render the G20 process more consultative, inclusive and transparent.
English (PDF 13 pages 90 KB)
22 April
‘Be as one’ in Singapore
(UPI) As Singapore’s equivalent of the U.S. director of national intelligence who coordinates all intelligence and counter-intelligence for one of the world’s most important trade hubs, Peter Ho became the champion of “mainstreaming counter-terrorism.” This is tantamount to synergizing CT at each and every level of both the public and private sectors.
“Be as One” is the national security motto. In a recent poll, 83 percent of respondents said they were aware of security efforts but less than half said they were aware of what steps to take.
What Singapore has achieved and what is tested and retested day and night is light-years beyond what is possible in the United States without incurring the wrath of civil libertarians.
But Singaporeans, almost 5 million, are remarkably self-disciplined in a seamless cultural, ethnic and religious amalgam of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences.

5 September 2008
Two different views, both well worth reading

Pressure Builds on Singapore’s System
by Hugo Restall
(Far Eastern Economic Review) During the National Day festivities last month, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s gloomy prognosis for the economy—a “bumpy year” ahead—was overshadowed by even more dire warnings that the city state is about to start running low on its main resource, people. With an aging society and one of the lowest fertility rates in the world at 1.29, the government is pulling out all the stops, doubling the budget of baby-making incenftives to $1.13 billion. Meanwhile, in order to make Singapore a more tolerant and pluralistic place, political videos will be allowed, as well as protests in a downtown park.
It’s all straight from the ruling People’s Action Party’s standard playbook. Play up the anxiety of a small nation beset on all sides, in need of a strong government to take positive action to avert disaster. Individual citizens who are failing to live up to the expectations of society need to be brought back into line. At the same time, leaders are willing to give those citizens a few of their rights back, as long as they are not used to undermine harmony.
The PAP’s Challenge
Hugo Restall (“Pressure Builds on Singapore’s System,” Sept, 5, 2008) painted a bleak picture of a system that was losing its ability to generate economic growth and bind its people together.
Singapore faces the same challenges of globalization as other advanced economies: competition from low-cost competitors and pressures on the wages of less-skilled workers. In response, we are restructuring the economy, promoting new investments and entrepreneurship, and providing direct assistance to the poor.
Consequently, Singapore has averaged 7% economic growth and 3% productivity growth over the last five years, and has one of the lowest unemployment rates internationally. We are not doing too badly.

4 Comments on "Singapore 2010-2015"

  1. Antal (Tony) Deutsch May 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm ·

    During my year in S’pore I had to learn all this slowly. There are free elections on a first-past-the- post basis, and as we all know, the Westminster heritage does not produce seats in proportion to the popular vote. There are political parties. The PAP which has been in power since 1965, does have a few non-Chinese faces in the leadership, but in fact its rank-and-file is Chinese. The opposition, which exhibits the same token racial representation, is made up mostly of people whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent, mostly from the South. The population is about ¾ of Chinese extraction, which gives you the election results. The latter group seems to be not dissatisfied with the government, as long as the country is prosperous, and it is. Thus the PAP keeps getting re-elected.
    Freedom of public expression is not what we are accustomed to in the West, but that is freely admitted, and explained as a positive part of the neo-Confucian culture of the majority.
    Lee Kwan You, who started his public career as a radical leftist labour lawyer, wanted a corruption free S’pore, sandwiched between countries that are everything but. The means to accomplish this difficult task was to pay civil servants and politicians as well as their counterparts are compensated in private industry. Hence the high pay shown in the article. Their counterparts in Indonesia and the Philippines have lower salaries, but make much more money. By and large, S’pore is corruption free.
    Life in S’pore is efficiently planned by the government, with a very good retirement system (compulsory DC) and modern, well-functioning, and generally accessible health-care, clean water, and well-functioning public transport. It is hard on people who want to be public intellectuals.

  2. Guy Stanley May 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm ·

    Singapore is currently a poster country for what coherent public policy that makes innovation a national goal can achieve. But almost all the commentary is “supply” push rather than demand oriented. Singapore is wise enough to understand that in its position –and under the right circumstances (which it strives to produce) — it can serve as an essential base for research-and technology based industries in its region–especially as an alternative to Hong Kong–e.g. in addition to helping to tailor global products to regional needs it can also coordinate fulfillment and upstream supply chains. Ireland tried a similar strategy as an offshore assembly platform for ICT products for the EU. It was successful until the recession, and then, well, … An important difference is that Ireland did not succeed in building the research base needed to really anchor its investors before time ran out. Canada’s innovation policies are really S&T policies oriented towards university rather than commercial research. And the country has virtually no ability to coordinate supply chains anywhere but through the US.–despite its proximity to the Northern Asian tigers.

  3. Antal (Tony) Deutsch July 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm ·

    Re the ADB Singapore country outlook report
    S’pore has been run since it acquired independence along lines suggested by the standard textbooks of Economics, with some non-corrupt authoritarianism thrown in. Why are we surprised if it turns out to be a non-corrupt economic success? Tony

  4. Antal Deutsch January 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm ·

    Re Children in Singapore excel at math …
    1.incentives work.2 precisely because leveling individual outcomes is not a social objective, students and parents do what seems necessary to obtain measurable success.3.Unlike Ontario, where parents regard schools as an important baby-sitting/entertainment institution, in Singapore considerable resources flow into making sure that students use the schools to learn.4.There is some question whether this approach produces rote learners or creative thinkers.

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