Singapore Essay

The Republic of Singapore was established in 1965, and it is one of the few remaining city-states in the world. After independence, Singapore soon became a highly developed market-based economy. Singapore is the 17th-wealthiest country in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (US$39,952), and has foreign exchange reserves of US$176 billion (eighth in the world). Singapore is also the world’s fourth-largest foreign exchange trading center (after London, New York City, and Tokyo) and is the financial center of southeast Asia. Because of its superior location, historically the economic activities of Singapore revolve entrepot trade. Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world in terms of tonnage shipped (second after Shanghai). Among all the industrial goods, manufacturing goods are the most important, including biomedical sciences, chemicals, electronics, mechanical engineering, and petroleum refining. In recent years, the government has directed Singapore toward a service economy that emphasizes innovation, entrepreneurship, and cultural business. The transformation is ongoing.

Singapore is an island nation located at the southern part of the Malaysian peninsula, and is 707.1 sq. km. It is separated from Indonesia by the Singapore Strait in the south, and from Malaysia by the Johor Strait in the north. Singapore is in a tropical rainforest climate zone, so there is no clear difference in climate between the seasons. The Singaporean climate is characterized by high temperature, high humidity, and abundant rainfall.

Singapore has a population of 4,588,600, and its population density is 6,489 per sq. km, which is the fourth highest in the world. Today, 78 percent of the Singaporean population are Singaporean residents, which include Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. Among Singaporean residents, the Chinese form 75 percent, Malays form 14 percent, and Indians form 9 percent. At the time Singapore declared its independence, the government chose English as the administrative language in addition to the three official languages: Mandarin (Chinese), Malay, and Tamil. This choice proves helpful in terms of increasing the internationalization of Singapore and smoothing tension between the ethnic groups. Blended with the local dialects, the form of English most spoken by Singaporeans is a localized hybrid form known as Singlish (“Singapore English”). Most of the rest of the population is composed of foreign laborers, who are involved in both high-end and low-end economic activities, thus contributing to Singapore’s status as the financial and business center of southeast Asia.

Singapore has long been an important port because it controls the Strait of Malacca, which connects shipping between Asia and Europe. In 1819 Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed on the main island and soon realized the military and commercial potential of Singapore. He managed to sign a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on behalf of the British East India Company to develop Singapore as a British trading post and settlement, and this entails the island’s modern era. Singapore was the most important stronghold of the British Empire in southeast Asia until World War II. From 1942 to 1945, Singapore was occupied by the Japanese. Although it reverted to British rule after the war, the locals began to seek autonomy. After years of struggle, Singapore merged with Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak to form Malaysia in 1963. Because of ethnic tension, Singapore split from the federation to become an independent republic in 1965 and subsequently joined the United Nations in the same year.

Singapore is a parliamentary democracy. The cabinet, whose head is the prime minister, has the bulk of executive powers. The office of the president of Singapore has historically been a ceremonial one.

Politics in Singapore have been controlled by the People’s Action Party (PAP) since self-governance was attained. Singapore is thus criticized as a one-party state, illiberal, or procedural democracy. Nevertheless, the Singaporean government is often praised as the most efficient and incorruptible government in the world.

Lee Kwan Yew, one of the leaders in the pursuit of Singapore’s independence, became the first prime minister in 1959. During his term from 1959 to 1990, his administration successfully transformed Singapore from an island with limited natural resources to a highly developed market-based economy, and became one of the Four Asian Tigers, along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as prime minister in 1990. His administration tackled the impacts of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and terrorist threats after the 9/11 attacks.

In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kwan Yew, became the third prime minister. His notable decisions are the plan to open casinos to attract more tourists, the plan to cultivate entrepreneurship and innovative industry in Singapore, and the plan to adjust Singapore’s competitive position according to the rise of China and India.

Bibliography:

  1. Henri C. Ghesquière, Singapore’s Success: Engineering Economic Growth (Thomson, 2007);
  2. Tian Wah Goh, Handbook for Businessmen: Doing Business in Singapore (Rank Books, 2007);
  3. Huo Nig and Heng Chey, “The Making of State: Business Driven Public Spaces in Singapore,” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering (v.6/1, 2007);
  4. Hitendra Patel and Eduardo Chakarian, The State of Innovation at Firm Level in Singapore: Findings, Recommendations, and Case Studies (SNP Reference for Institute of Policy Studies, 2008);
  5. George T. L. Shenoy and Wee Ling Loo, Principles of Singapore Business Law (Cengage Learning, 2009);
  6. Pearlin Siow, Boss of Me!: The Pocketbook of Big Thinking: 20 Power Secrets to Remember as Shared by Singapore’s Movers and Shakers (Armour, 2008);
  7. Kenneth Paul Tan, Renaissance Singapore? Economy, Culture, and Politics (National University of Singapore Press, 2007);
  8. Yatila A. Wijemanne, Legal Mechanisms Most Effective in Attracting Foreign Direct Investment by Multinational Enterprises: A Comparative Case Study of Sri Lanka and Singapore (Stamford Lake, 2007);
  9. Belinda Yuen, “Sport and Urban Development in Singapore,” Cities (v.25/1, 2008).

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