Singapore

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Seminar 14, Group 1 Priscilla, Sarah, Graham, Jasdip

Contents

[edit] Introduction

[1]

Singapore, also known as the Lion City[2]is one of the largest island cities in the world. It is home to various unique characteristics, such as the economic structure, the political structure, social and cultural uniqueness is also found among residents.

There are many reasons for people to emigrate from Singapore as well as immigrate to Singapore, which creates a lot of movement within this region. There are positive and negative factors, pull and push factors, that allow for the increase movement. Internal migration also exists as people within Singapore move to popular locations and neighbourhoods.

The culture of Singapore is made through various aspects within society. The religion, neighbourhoods, popular culture, festivals, food all play a role in the cultural diversity within Singapore and to Singapore as a whole.

Singapore is a parliamentary representative democratic republic country, with the President as the Chief of State and the Prime Minister the leader of the other three branches and a multi-party system [3]. Singapore has been classified by some as a “hybrid” country, having elements of authoritarian government and democratic government [4] [5] [6].

Although Singapore is considered a materialistic[7] country by most because of their constant pursuit of success starting at a young age[8], Singapore was named the “Happiest country in Asia” [9] from a study done by ABC News. Interestingly enough the study also revealed that family is the most important thing for Singaporeans. In the 2012 Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Singapore was rated 1st in Asia for having the best quality of life to offer citizens[10].

                               [11]

[edit] Globalization

[edit] The History of Rulership in Singapore

Globalization in Singapore scopes far beyond written content. Since Singapore is an icon of Globalization, it's history shaped what it is today, and how it has went from ruler to ruler to become the unique independent sovereign city-state that it is today. From the three major stages in Singapore's history, many different cultures, empires, had taken control and brought ideas, traditions, and culture to its fronts. Although for not long, so many changes happened to Singapore in such short succession, that it made its own identity from them. From the various[2][12][13] nations that Singapore has become a part of, Singapore is an example of a world city[14].

[edit] Early Singapore

One of the earliest recorded events in Singapore dates back to 1299 when Singapore was founded as “Singapura” (the Lion City) by Sang Nila Utama[2]. It was not until 1320, a Chinese emperor had officially recognized Singapura as an established civilization[2]. In 1414, Singapore experienced a takeover where Parameswara, the founder of Malacca, had killed the ruler of Singapore[2]. Parameswara is often credited as the one who opened Singapore to the world, as he joined Singapore to Malacca, where it had become an international trade centre across India, China, and Southeast Asia[2]. In 1511, Singapore had been attacked by the Portuguese general, Alfonso de Albuquerque, and forcefully took over, stealing the spice trade. Singapore had become a trading post for the Portuguese, opening it's trade to Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and the Arabian peninsula[2]. The dispute between power with Malacca ended in 1613 when the Portuguese had torched the city[2].

[edit] The British colony

The arrival of Stamford Raffles and William Farquhar in 1819 had helped pave a pathway for Singapore as a global city state when they founded the British East India Company[2]. This opened the trade with Singapore to the Europeans. Singapore officially became apart of the British colony in 1826[2]. After being under the hierarchy of the Indian Government in 1858 (while still being apart of the British colony), Singapore officially became a crown colony of British Empire in 1867[2].

The Japanese make a fake attack
The Japanese make a fake attack[15]

[edit] World War II

World War II contributed extensively to Singapore's global image, in 1941, a Chinese Mobilization Council is setup in Singapore after an attack by The Imperial Japanese Army[2]. In 1942, Singapore is taken from the British, and is renamed to Syonan by the Japanese. In 1945, the British finally return to Singapore and take back control of the city-state[2]. Finally in 1946, the Straits Settlements (the British colony occupying Singapore) is dissolved and Singapore became an independent crown colony[2].

[edit] Economic Effect of Globalization

Singapore is the third-highest per capita income in the world[8]. For this reason, Singapore is interesting in terms of its economy. In 1869, the opening of the Suez Canal had caused such a large increase in Singapore's trade, that it had made Singapore into one of the largest ports worldwide[2]. Effectively creating a trade city[12]. Singapore moves items in and out of the city as part of regular business, with Singapore being the 14th largest exporter and 15th largest importer world wide[16] with a market share of 2.1% and 1.9% respectively[16], nearly every item in Singapore is the result of and import or export. When looking at Singapore's GDP, over 60% of all income generated is the result of services[8], with only 18% of GDP generated from manufacturing[8], Singapore's dependence on other nations becomes clear. Singapore uses export and import as its link on a commodity chain[14] for the products of the nation. Singapore is considered a market economy[12]. Singapore is built on over 22,000 businesses[8] driving the economy from various world wide super powers. Singapore's heavily dependant economy is based around the movement of goods, with its exports of goods in 2013 being $547,495.9 million[8] and its imports of $462,688.0 million[8]. Singapore receives investments from many countries worldwide. In order of magnitude, Singapore receives direct investment from the following countries: United States, Netherlands, British Virgin Islands, Japan, United Kingdom, and Cayman Islands[8].With more than 7,000 of Singapore's businesses being that of wholesale and retail trade[8], Singapore is renown as a city-state of economic movement. Singapore also harbors many FTZs (Free Trade Zones)[17], many of which are import and export zones. Singapore uses every port as a FTZ[17], furthering itself as a global city[14].

Countries by 2012 GDP (PPP) per capita
Countries by 2012 GDP (PPP) per capita[18]

[edit] Globalization and the People

Globalization in Singapore has an adverse effect on the people who live there. Singapore experienced many rulings by different cultures to get where it is today[2], and as a result, many traditions, cultures, and ethnic groups[13][2][8] have settled in Singapore.

[edit] Demographics

Globalization of Singapore has resulted in some ethnic diversity. However there is a majority ethnic group consisting of 74.3% Chinese[13]. As seen by the table below, Singapore is made up of 3 major ethnic groups[13]. Globalization plays a large factor in the population and demographic of Singapore such that the fertility rate in 2000 had spiked for each ethnic group on the Chinese Zodiac Dragon Year[13]. Effectively this means Chinese tradition has become a part of Singapore culture for all ethnic groups; a side effect of Globalization.

Ethnic Group Population from 2004 to 2014
Ethnic Group Population (2004)[13] Population (2014)[13] Change[13]
Chinese 76.2% 74.3% -1.9%
Malays 13.9% 13.3% -0.6%
Indians 8.1% 9.1% 1.0%
Others 1.7% 3.3% 1.6%

[edit] Language

Language in Singapore has become a defining part of its global image. Singapore is home to 4 official languages, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English[8][19]. Singapore is the subject of Glocalization[14], as Singapore's identity hinges on its multinational interaction[8][16]. Interestingly, although Singapore has 4 official languages, Singapore recognizes Malay as the national language[19] and requires that it is written in Roman script. Although Singapore uses English as an official language, those whose primary language is English do not comprise a large ethnic group in the nation[19][8][13]. With only 3.3% of the population's ethnic group indicated as other[13][19] , it is interesting to see the language being used officially. Singapore teaches English first in schools, and uses English dominantly in the workplace[20]. Singapore is said to have a slang language often called "Singlish"[21], named such because of the blend of the 4 official languages of Singapore in to English[21][20]. A Glocalization of traditional language[14] created due to the global presence in Singapore. 95.9% of Singapore residents above the age 15 can read and write[19], which is no wonder as is English the dominant language for casual discussion[20] and international communication is at an all time high. There is a 143.9% mobile phone penetration rate in Singapore[19], meaning there is more than enough cell coverage for the entire island. With all the international communication, there is no wonder why Singapore is a global city.

[edit] Political Geography

The Government of Singapore follows the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore; it is the supreme law [22]. It is a parliamentary representative democratic republic country, with the President as the Chief of State and the Prime Minister the leader of the other three branches and a multi-party system [23]. Singapore has been classified by some as a “hybrid” country, having elements of authoritarian government and democratic government [24] [25] [26]. The political party that is currently governing and has been governing over Singapore for the last 56 years is called the People's Action Party (PAP)[27]. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2013, Singapore is ranked fifth worldwide for the least corrupt country [28]. Singapore was also ranked in the 96.7 percentile for Political Stability and Absence of Violence/ Terrorism by the World Data Bank in 2012[29]

[edit] The Organs of State

President As of 1991 the people of Singapore vote the President of Singapore in. Before the change in the Constitution the Members of Parliament selected the President. The President is elected in office for a six year term and is able to overthrow decisions such as budgets [30]

The current President of Singapore,Tony Tan l
The current President of Singapore,Tony Tan [31]l

Executive Power- The Cabinet Policy enforcing power is given to the Cabinet, which is delegated by the President and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is chosen based on having the most seats in the General Election.The current President is Tony Tan and the presiding Prime Minister is Lee Hsien Loong. Below the Prime Minister, other ministers from the Members of Parliament are selected to join the Cabinet. The Cabinet is obligated to ensure that polices set by the government and the “day to day” [32] legislative proceedings are being followed. The cabinet includes the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, and the ministers in charge of the ministries of Communications and Information, Culture, Community and Youth, Defence, Education, the Environment and Water Resources, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Health, Home Affairs, Law, Manpower, National Development, Social and Family Development, Trade and Industry, and Transport[33].

Legislature- The Parliament

The Singaporean Parliament is designed after the Westminster system of Parliamentary Democracy, in which the members have to be voted in, and elections must take place every 5 years [34]. Members of Parliament are made up of three groups, Nominated members, Non-Constituency, and Elected. In all three MP groups, it is mandatory to have various members from different races, communities, and parties to make sure that everyone’s ideas and thoughts are being heard and represented. The present Twelfth Parliament has 99 MPs consisting of 87 elected MPs, 3 Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) and 9 Nominated MPs (NMPs)[35]. The job of the Legislature is the carry out laws.
Parliament House of Singapore
Parliament House of Singapore[36]

The Common Law Legal System is practiced in Singapore.The judicial system follows their laws and regulations in comparison to the Executive power. The President and Prime Minister select the High Court Judges and Judicial Commissioners as well as twelve other judges[37]. Because the judiciary is protected by the Constitution, the members of the Supreme Court & State Courts are able to give justice the way they see fit [38]

[edit] Political Criticism

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong [39]

Strong Arm Claims In May of 2014 the Prime Minister sued a blogger by the name of Roy Ngern, for his post about the inability of Singapore citizen to express themselves freely on a forum about human rights. He was sent a Letter of Demand ordering he to removed the post and from the site, apologize and pay for the “damages” he had caused. If Roy did not fulfill the requirements of the letter, the government would sue him for deformation of character[40]. Similarly threats of legal action have to given to three other well known socio-political bloggers.

Homosexuality

Under Section 377A men caught engaging in any sexual act, whether consensual or not , can receive up to two years in prison. Although the government has said that will not enforce this law, it has yet to be removed [41].

Human rights

Human rights defenders in Singapore have to possibility to be fined, jailed, bankrupted, and forbidden from traveling outside the country without government approval [42] Human right activists have noted that members of opposing parties offend are sued, put into prison, have their character defamed or become bankrupt.


[edit] Population

Singapore's population has continued to have a steady incline since its establishment. The current population of Singapore as of June 2014 is 5.47 million [43]. It is up 1.3 per cent from the year before, however, it is the slowest incline in the past 10 years [44] Although Singapore is small country, it has quite a diverse population. Singapore is a multi-ethnic state, this is because it is comprised of 3 major ethnic groups: Chinese, Malays, and Indians[45]. Due to its diversity, Singapore has four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil[46]. Singapore has a very high population density. There are 7,604 people per square km[47].

[edit] Demographic

Singapore has a large aging population. The average age in 2014 is 39.3 years and in 2013 it was 38.9 years[48]. The average age continues to rise over the years since the birth rate for Singapore is very low. The total number of residents that are 60 years and over are 3,870,739 [49]. This is a large portion of the population that is elderly and this number is expected to increase as the population ages. This is a major concern for Singapore, since there are a fewer working aged adults that will be able to support the aging population. Singaporean males have a life expectancy of 80.2 years, while females have a life expectancy of 84.6 years[50]. The total fertility rate in Singapore is 1.19[51]. Due to this, the average household has 3.47 people[52]. Singapore has slightly larger female population compared to males. There is a ratio of 967 males to 1000 female residents living within Singapore[53].

[54]

Singapore's population control policies are vastly different now than they were years ago. In the 1970s, the Singaporean government tried to decrease the population by having a "Stop at Two" campaign[55]. The campaign goal was to encourage the population to have no more than 2 children. During this time, the Singaporean government legalized abortion and encouraged sterilization by offering cash incentives[56]. The government also punished families by increasing hospital fees and denying maternity leave for women who were having more than two children[57]. In addition, the Singaporean government also implemented a school placement policy. Under this policy, families with more than 2 children were given lower priority schools[58]. This lead to an dramatic decrease in population. Now the government of Singapore is struggling to increase it's birth rate. They recently released a document in which they outline a plan to rise the population of Singapore to 6.9 million by 2030[59].

[edit] Languages

Although Singapore has four official languages, there are many other languages spoken in Singapore. The table below outlines the percentage of different languages spoken:

Mandarin (official) 36.3%
English (official) 29.8%
Malay (official) 11.9%
Hokkien 8.1%
Tamil (official) 4.4 %
Cantonese 4.1 %
Teochew 3.2 %
Other Indian languages 1.2%
Other Chinese Dialects 1.1%
Other 1.1%

[60]

The most common language spoken in Singapore is Mandarin. This is due to Singapore's large Chinese population. English is the second largest language spoken within Singapore. This is because English is the language that is commonly used for government, business, and for teaching in schools[61]. Malay is spoken by 11.9% of the population. It was chosen as the national language in the 1960s by the Singaporean government after it gained independence from Britain [62]. Malay is also the language that is used in Singapore's national anthem. Most of the India population speak Tamil, which is why it was chosen as an official language over other Indian languages such as Malayalam, Hindi, Punjabi or Gujarati[63][64].The majority of the Singaporean population are bilingual[65]. This is because Singaporean children grow up learning their 'mother tongue' at home and English at schools[66].

[edit] Religion

Religion in Singapore
Religion in Singapore[67]

As a result of Singapore's diversity, there are numerous religions practiced within Singapore. Most of the Chinese population are Buddhist, Taoist or Christian[68]. While most of the Malay population are Muslims and most of the Indian population are Hindus[69]. 17% of the population do not associate with any religion at all. Since Singapore is such a culturally diverse place, the Singaporean government enforces the idea of being respectful and tolerant to different ethnicities and religions into Singaporean culture[70]. Due to this, it is very common to find different religious places of worship located side by side[71]. In addition, the Singaporean government has incorporated different holidays of various ethnic groups as public holidays in order to promote closeness and respect between its people[72].

Relgion %
Buddhism 33.3
Islam 14.7
Taoism 10.9
Hinduism 5.1
Christianity 18.3
Other 0.7
None 17
[73]

[edit] Migration

Migration has always played a role in Singapore and its community and the population has fluctuated based on the movement of people in and out of Singapore. There are many prospective reasons for people to come to Singapore, but there are also changes in the city of Singapore that cause current citizens to leave.

[edit] Immigration to Singapore

In the past, people have migrated to Singapore for many different reasons and came from a variety of places. In 1819, the majority of population growth came from immigration and they were mainly labourers from China, India, Malaysia and Malay Archipelago [74]. The places they were coming from did not serve as a sufficient means of economy and work.This is considered migrant labour, where immigrants crossed borders to come to Singapore to be a Guest Worker or a non-permenent resident [75]. There were/are two types of Immigrants that travel to Singapore, there are residents and non-residents. Residents are permanent and get the same rights as all other citizens and non-residents are not entitled to everything.There are also undocumented migrant labourers in Singapore meaning there are people who enter on a tourist visa, but stay to work illegally. It was recorded that the Government arrested 12,000 illegal workers in 1990 and 3760 in 2006, thus showing that the overall problem has been decreasing.[76]. Many people also come to Singapore for educational purposes.
Singapore Protest Exposes Voter Worries About Immigration
Singapore Protest Exposes Voter Worries About Immigration [77]

Through 1942 to 1945, immigration temporarily stopped due to World War II and The Japanese Occupation, where Japan had control over many places by force, including Singapore. [74]. There was a very limited amount of people who could leave and come to the country, since Japan has superior power over what was best and what they could do. There was a continued movement of immigration into Singapore through the 1950s and 1960s because there were new oridances that limited immigration to those who would benefit Singapore as a whole; there were stricter citizenships and immigration laws implemented. [74]. An ongoing issue has been the health of Immigrants within Singapore.[76]. These issues are caused by a lack of access to health services,poor living conditions, tedious/lengthy hours of work, and psycho-social struggles.[76]. There are ongoing studies to understand why there are difficulties of immigrant health and to try to solve the problems. The lack of healthcare comes from the dependence on employer’s letter for medical treatment, Foreign Workers are often left income-less during the process of claiming money for healthcare since they can't work and Medical Expenses tend to be over $30,000 since there are no health care subsidies for non-residents. [76].

People migrate to Singapore for various reasons, either voluntarily or forced, to create a difference in their lives. There are specific factors that draw people to Singapore, like living conditions and the economy. Singapore is in the middle of Asia, so it is near some great markets on the world scale[78]. It is very diverse and there are many different opportunities for people. The education is very good and citizens of Singapore are relatively safe, when it comes to instability in the city. It is also a very beautiful, clean and appealing place to be with a lovely landscape [75].

[edit] Emigration from Singapore

Even though Singapore is often seen as a very good city and place to live, there are residents who leave and move some place else. Citizens often migrate into other places like America, Australia and Canada. Migration and movement from Singapore is very easy and common because of the many airports. There are over 2 publics airports in the region and 2 private ones, where people can travel from[79]. The main reasons people choose to leave are lack of space in Singapore and the constant construction and upbringing of new places in the city[79].

Singapore's Emigration Conundrum
Singapore's Emigration Conundrum[80]

The majority of people that emigrate from Singapore are younger adults, rather than middle-aged and older citizens. It has been recorded that 53% of young Singaporeans would like to leave permanently to study overseas and to take their talents to new places.[81]. They want to try something new and want a change from the place they have lived. Many believe that there are many different opportunities that they can experience in new places. This increasing amount of people wanting to leave causes an influx of migration agencies in Singapore. In 2002, there were roughly 5 major agencies and in 2010, there were approximately 15 agencies.[81]. Thus, showing the growing interest of leaving Singapore. Although Singapore is mainly socially stable, there are issues with the low-income/low-wager citizens. Singapore has one of the largest wealth gaps in the world and this causes some issues.[82]. Since Singapore is a wealthier city overall, lower-income people are constantly reminded of the wealth that surrounds them and that they do not have. There has been very few riots in the past, but more are starting to come to surface. [82]. As Harjani (2013) mentions, "When you have tens of thousands of people with relatively same sentiment crowded into a limited space, mass behavior should be expected anytime; the risk is perpetual". The increase in disturbances can be connected to more people leaving. They want to emigrate to a new place before instability begins to control and interfere with many things within Singapore. Furthermore, the increase of low-wage workers noticing that huge gap and unfairness in wealth can cause them to move to a new place without such a gap, where there is more equality. In general, it is very expensive to live in Singapore.

There is also a concern in Singapore for the control of free speech from opposition politicians.[83]. The freedom of speech is often prohibited because of the ability for it to cause major issues within the region.[83]. The lack in expression of voice can create reasons for people to leave Singapore. The prospect of new places where there are more options for speech is very convincing and enticing. Although, there are no major issues for Singaporeans to leave, some may be arising and taking over.

[edit] Internal Migration

Although internal migration is often considered on a larger scale, like within a country[75], people move internally within the city of Singapore. There are many places within Singapore to live, but many people move to specific locations. After being in Singapore for a period of time, citizens often find themselves wanting to relocate and belong to Orchard, Tanglin, Holland Village, Novena, Bukit Timah [84]. Many of these place are wealthy neighbourhoods, are along the coast of Singapore and have many unique attractions and infrastructure. It is the location of these five regions, the geographical situation, that bring people there [75]. Many of these five places are very similar, with small differences, thus creating placelessness, lack of uniqueness[75], as people move within these 5 regions.

[edit] Orchard

Orchard has large a mount of access to amenities and services, including public transportation and shopping malls[84]. There are also quiet and relaxed neighbourhoods and homes[84].

[edit] Tanglin

Tanglin is often viewed as an affluent area, where there are large homes and large condominiums [84]. There are also decent shopping facilities here [84], where people can buy a wide variety of things.

[edit] Holland Village

Holland Village is known for its various eateries and small shops and places to visit [84]. There are also some galleries [84] and it is a more small and relaxed region compared to the others.

[edit] Novena

Novena is often an ideal place to live because of its access to everything through the use of public transportation [84]. It is in a close distance with many other neighbourhoods, amenities, shopping & food centres, and contains a great composition of houses and condos [84].

[edit] Bukit Timah

Bukit Timah is mainly a residential area, with houses, schools and supermarkets [84]. This is often an ideal place for families to live as it is attractive, safe, and can provide a wide variety of options for families.

[edit] Social Geography

Although Singapore is considered a materialistic[85] country by most because of their constant pursuit of success starting at a young age[8], Singapore was named the “Happiest country in Asia” [86]) from a study done by ABC News. Interestingly enough the study also revealed that family is the most important thing for Singaporeans. In the 2012 Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Singapore was rated 1st in Asia for having the best quality of life to offer citizens[87].
Medisave Bill Subsidy
Medisave Bill Subsidy[88]

[edit] Education

Singapore is experiencing an evolving education system. When observing the resident education levels in Singapore, the varied change is that of age group. In Singapore, 50% of residents from age 25-39 have a University level education, as well as only 6.4% having below secondary education[8]. As the range of age increases in Singapore, the percentage of residents with higher education diminishes. This is interesting as 27.3% of all residents in Singapore have a University level education, yet only 7.9% of residents 55+ years old have University education[8]. Education in Singapore is only required for primary levels, however most current students pursue some form of post-secondary education.

[edit] Quality of Life

Five C’s In Singapore there is a common phrase used to by many called the "Five C’s", used to describe what wealth looks like.

Car, Condominium, Credit Card, Club Membership, and Career[89]

[edit] Health Care

Citizens of Singapore have access to the highest levels of health care in Asia. In fact, Singapore healthcare system was used as an example for President Obama's health care reform in the United States. Subsidized services are offered by the government in an attempt to help the less fortunate as well as the fortunate to pay fair prices for medical attention. Health care insurance, plans and benefits are given based on immigration status and whom you work for because it is not mandatory for employees to have benefits. Employees from larger companies tend to have health care coverage for their entire family.

[edit] Recreation

Many people shop and eat out as an activity in Singapore. What Singapore is really known for is the nightlife. There are many bars and nightclubs available and open until early hours in the morning. Some other recreational activities offered are festivals, concerts, and plays like Chinese New Year in Singapore, Vesak, Eid al-Fitr and Hindu Diwali, but because they are seasonal, these events are expensive to attend[90]. Singapore does not have many sports activities available.

Singapore Nightlife
Singapore Nightlife[91]

[edit] Gender Equality

[edit] Workplace

About 80% of men work in Singapore and 50% percent of women are employed[8]. Although there are a large number of women in the workforce, the glass ceiling still exists.

[edit] Marriage & Divorce

There has been a decrease in early marriages, the average age for marriage was between 15-19 in 2010, and has gone down 5% since. [92]

Singapore Women's Charter
Singapore Women's Charter[93]

The Women’s Charter allows for women to get equal divorce rights. The law states that men have to continue to provide for women and their children during marriage and all assets are divided evenly between the two during divorce.

Non-Muslims are “forbidden” from marrying more than one wife according to the Women’s Charter wife [94]

[edit] Inheritance

Based on the Civil Law, males and females have the same inheritance rights. But under the Administration of Muslim Law Act, males receive more than what two women with children would be able to inherit from parents. [95]

[edit] Domestic Abuse

The US State Department has called the domestic violence in Singapore a “significant problem” [96]. In 2013 there were a total of 3,072 personal protection orders applied for. The 2009 International Violence against Women Survey revealed that 42% of domestic violence cases in Singapore left women feeling as though their lives where in danger. 46% of Singaporean women were physically abused, and of those 46%, 28% had serious injuries and 29% needed medical assistance. Only 13% of women reported the abuse and went to an agency for help, while 71% did not[97]. During this study, they found that Malay women experienced more violence compared to Indian women [98].

[edit] Financial Services

Both men and women equally have the right to bank loans, credit and enter legal contracts. The World Bank stated that 98% of men and women have bank accounts in Singapore. Between 2010 to 2011, 13.8% of men have taken out loans, whereas women have only taken out half of that. [99]

[edit] Religion

[edit] Harmony

Singapore is one of the most religious countries in the world. The main religions in Singapore are Buddhism (33%), Christianity (18%) and Islam. The government stresses respect for different religions, so much so that Singapore has come up with a day called Racial Harmony Day on July 21 of every year. [100]

[edit] Religious Places

There are many Chinese and Indian Temples located around Singapore, as well as Malay mosques and church. These buildings are all in public areas and available for use even though most religious activities occur in the home. [101]

Masjid Abdul Gaffoor Mosque in Singapore
Masjid Abdul Gaffoor Mosque in Singapore[102]

[edit] Cultural Geography

Singapore is a very diverse city in regards to it's various cultural groups and differences. This allows for a very welcoming and safe environment, where everyone is allowed to be who they want to and express who they are.

[edit] Singlish

Singlish is language that is unique to Singapore. It is commonly used by the younger generation. It is a hybrid form of English with words from Chinese, Malay and Indian languages[103][104]. Due to Singlish's increasing popularity amongst Singaporeans, the government of Singapore launched a Speak Good English Movement in 2000[105]. The movement was introduced in order to encourage Singaporeans to speak standard English rather than Singlish. The government feared the increasing popularity of Singlish would make it difficult for Singaporeans to communicate on an international level[106]. However, some Singaporeans do not like the campaign since they believe Singlish is a big part of Singapore's culture.

[edit] Popular Culture

Popular culture is cultural traits that identify and are included in today's societies[75]. In Singapore, popular culture is seen as "acquiring skills that will help in self-advancement in social environments" [107]. Singapore has an indifference to popular culture in their society[107]. Throughout Singapore, pop music takes up major air time and most of it is local singers, rather than national artists and superstars [107]. Leslie Low is one of the most common singers within Singapore and his music is often heard on the radio and in various places[107].

Comic and fiction writing is a very popular aspect of Singapore's culture and many people use it as means of entertainment [107]. Popular artists often evolve from graphic novels to becoming filmmakers within Singapore and the surrounding regions [107]. Popular culture and the artists that encompass it often focus on past sucesses in war and crimes that have been solved or evolved within the Singapore community [107]. There are also wide recordings that state that many of television shows within Singapore are focused on family and gender roles, mainly the positive ways and disproving negative roles that do exist [107]. Cinemas and parks often play major roles in the popularity of Singapore's culture, bringing people in and creating a common place [107].

In terms of fashion in Singapore, both men and women dress very nicely and put a lot of effort into their appearance; there are many fashion shows showcasing this [108]. Uniqueness and individuality is largely emphasized through the fashion industry within Singapore[108]. A majority of the clothing is derived from Western culture societies, but it is also combined with traditional cultural attire [108]. Plus, Singapore is mainly warm weather, so there clothes are usually reflective of warmer weather and their wardrobes do not usually consist of heavy/wool clothing [108]. Fashion trends also revolve around very light-weight and flowing clothes, as it makes people appear thinner and very appealing, in the eyes of Singaporeans [108].


Food is a major contribution in Singapore and with food comes along trends, diets and exercising. Detoxes are quite popular in Singapore, as many people want to cleanse their body to lose weight and become healthy [109]. Here citizens believe it is an easy approach to lose weight, where they only consume detoxifying foods and substances. Citizens of Singapore also participate in juice cleanses, where their diets consist only of juices [109]. This type of cleanse is the rage because it is an easy way to lose weight [109]. In terms of fitness, small group training and outdoor fitness activities are very common within the Singapore community. There are also many runs and marathons that people often participate in to raise fitness levels and increase cardiovascular health, for example The Shape Run which encourages all types of people with different fitness levels to participate in. [109]. Overall, health and prolonged lifespan from being healthy seems to play a large factor in and around Singapore.

[edit] Festivals & Holidays

Singapore is a very diverse city and allows for many festivals, all throughout the year, that relate to different cultures, different people and Singapore as a whole. There are many common worldwide holidays in Singapore, but there are also unique ones.

January There are various public holidays throughout the year that begin in January with New Year's [110]. There is also a festival at the end of January called "Thaipusam" coming from Hindu culture, where people release the sins from their body[110].

February Chinese New Year begins in February, where there is a huge parade to say goodbye to the past year and to welcome in the new [110]. There is also a Chinese Festival of Arts (Huayi Festival), where citizens can participate and watch performances of dance, music and theatre[110].

March Although there are no public holidays in the month of March, there are various festivals and celebrations. Singapore International Festival for Children is one of them and this is where children of all ages partake in many fun activities, like different games, to celebrate being a child[110]. Furthermore, there is the Mosaic Music Festival, which represents all the different music cultures within Singapore, focusing on various artists and different genres of music [110].

April During April, in Singapore, the main holiday is Easter, which is one of the most common Christian holidays around the world [110]. The Singaporean International Film Festival is during April, where it honours various Asian film producers[110].

May Labour Day also known as May Day in Singapore is held to celebrate workers and the 8-hour work day [110]. Other festivals in May include the World Invitational Dragon Boat Races, Wesak Day which commemorates Buddha and Buddhism, and the Singaporean Arts Festival focusing on local culture[110].

June June is a very relaxed month, with only one festival: Beerfest Asia [110]. Beerfest Asia focuses on various Breweries and unique tastes of Singapore and Asia [110].

July The public holiday in Singapore is Hari Raya Puasa, also known as Eid, which celebrates the end of Ramadan[110]. Festivals during July include the Singapore Street Festival, the Food Festival and The Great Singapore Sale, which is the biggest sale in Singapore [110].

August Early in August, there is National Day, which celebrates the independence from Malaysia and is accompanied with a large parade [110]. There is also the Hungry Ghosts Festival, which is all about keeping negative spirits away[110].

September Hari Raya Haji is in September which is the celebration of Sacrifice for Muslims[110]. The Singapore Grand Prix and the Millennium International Open DanceSport Championships are held as well[110].

October October holds Nivarathri, a celebration for the Tamil community, and ARTSingapore, that focuses on local artists in the Singapore region[110].

November Deepavali is a Hindu festival of the lights and lights up the city[110]. There is also the Singapore Sun Festival that is a music and life-style festival[110].

December Christmas is highly celebrated in Singapore and people spend time together, share gifts and there are Yuletide festivals [110]. And of course December ends off with New Year's Eve.

[edit] Customs & Etiquette

The customs and etiquette that exist in Singapore consist of very common things and some unique ones. Altogether though they create the distinct culture within Singapore. There are different expressions of culture within Singapore, but there are common customs and etiquette.

The people of Singapore often rely on body gestures as a means of communication, including facial expression and posture[111]. However, gestures are very implicit and public affection is looked down upon [112].

Singaporeans also discourage the touching of the head, the showing of the feet, and pointing with the index finger[112]. As it is around the world, a handshake is a common way to greet people in Singapore[112].

When dining with others, it is expected that you arrive early, bring a gift that is not food, leave a little food on your plate, and rarely you use your left hand to do anything [112]. Respect should always be shown to someone with higher authority or someone who is older in Singapore: questioning someone who is above you is not allowed[112].

In terms of gift giving, a gift can be refused three times before it is accepted as to not show greediness and gifts of utensils are not recommended because they represent a ruined relationship [111].

People in Singapore are usually given 3 names. Their surname or first name, then 2 other different/private names [111] An interesting custom of the people of Singapore is the frowning down of Tipping[112]. It is not a part of the Singaporean culture and the government does not approve of it[112]. Also, chewing gum within Singapore is not allowed [112]. The selling, buying, and use of it is prohibited and can result in fines [112].

Singapore
Singapore[113]

[edit] Notes and References

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