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Country Report on
Submitted To: Submitted By-
Sanjeev Chaturvedi Harshita Baranwal (A1802011082)
Avantika Kansal( A1802011265)
Devika Goel (A1802011250)
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Table of Contents
3. Government and Politics
7. Foreign Relations
10. Business Etiquette & Protocol
11. India-Singapore Relations
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Singapore officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-
state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. An island country made up of 63
islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and
from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. Singapore is
highly urbanised but almost half of the country is covered by greenery. More land
is being created for development through land reclamation.
Singapore had been a part of various local empires since it was first inhabited in
the second century AD. Modern Singapore was founded as a trading post of
the East India Company by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 with permission from
the Sultanate of Johor. The British obtained full sovereignty over the island in
1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826.
Singapore was occupied by the Japanese in World War II and reverted to British
rule after the war. It became internally self-governing in 1959. Singapore united
with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963 and became a fully
independent state two years later after separation from Malaysia. Since then it has
had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers. The
economy depends heavily on the industry and service sectors.
Singapore is a world leader in several areas: It is the world's fourth-
leading financial centre, the world's second-biggest casino gambling market, and
the world's third-largest oil refining centre. The port of Singapore is one of the
five busiest ports in the world, most notable for being the busiest transhipment
port in the world. The country is home to more US dollar millionaire households
per capita than any other country. The World Bank notes Singapore as the easiest
place in the world to do business. The country has the world's third highest GDP
PPP per capita of US$59,936, making Singapore one of the world's wealthiest
Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster
system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People's Action
Party (PAP) has won every election since the British grant of internal self-
government in 1959. The legal system of Singapore has its foundations in
the English common law system, but modifications have been made to it over the
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years, such as the removal of trial by jury. The PAP's popular image is that of a
strong, experienced and highly qualified government, backed by a skilled Civil
Service and an education system with an emphasis on achievement and
meritocracy; but it is perceived by some voters, opposition critics and
international observers as being authoritarian and too restrictive on individual
Some 5 million people live in Singapore, of who 2.91 million were born locally.
Most are of Chinese, Malay or Indian descent. There are four official
languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. One of the five founding
members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, Singapore also hosts
the APEC Secretariat, and is a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-
Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth.
The earliest known settlement on Singapore was in the second century AD. It was
an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire, named Temasek ("sea town").
Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, it was part of the Sultanate of Johor.
In 1613, Portuguese raiders burnt down the settlement and the island sank into
obscurity for the next two centuries.
In 1819, Thomas Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore, arrived and signed a
treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on behalf of the British East India Company to
develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post. In 1824, the
entire island became a British possession under a further treaty whereby the
Sultan and the Temenggong transferred it to the British East India Company. In
1826, it became part of the British Straits Settlements, becoming its capital in
Before Raffles arrived, there were around 1,000 people living in Singapore,
mostly Malays and a few dozen Chinese. By 1869, due to migration
from Malaya and other parts of Asia, Singapore's population had reached
100,000. Many Chinese and Indian immigrants came to Singapore to work in the
rubber plantations and tin mines, and their descendents later formed the bulk of
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During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Malaya culminating
in the Battle of Singapore. The British were defeated, and surrendered on
15 February 1942. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this "the
worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history". The Sook Ching
massacre of ethnic Chinese after the fall of Singapore claimed between 5,000 and
25,000 lives. The Japanese occupied Singapore until the British repossessed it in
September 1945 after the Japanese surrender.
Singapore's first general election in 1955 was won by the pro-
independence David Marshall, leader of the Labour Front. Demanding complete
self-rule he led a delegation to London but was turned down by the British. He
resigned when he returned and was replaced by Lim Yew Hock, whose policies
convinced Britain to grant Singapore full internal self-government for all matters
except defence and foreign affairs.
During the May 1959 elections, the People's Action Party won a landslide
victory. Singapore had become an internally self-governing state within the
Commonwealth, with Lee Kuan Yew as the first Prime Minister.
Governor Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode served as the first Yang di-
Pertuan Negara, and was succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak who in 1965 became the
first President of Singapore.
During the 1950s, Singapore started to face a Communist threat which lasted till
the early 1970s. The Communists, mostly supported by the Chinese-speaking
group, with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese schools, carried out an
armed struggle against the state, resulting in the Malayan Emergency and later,
the Communist Insurgency War. The 1954 National Service Riots, Chinese
middle schools riots and Hock Lee bus riots in Singapore were all linked to the
On 31 August 1963, Singapore declared independence from Britain and joined
with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the new Federation of Malaysia as the
result of the 1962 Merger Referendum. Singaporean leaders joined Malaysia for
various reasons. Firstly, as a small country, they did not believe that the British
would find it viable for Singapore to become independent by itself. Secondly,
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they also did not believe that Singapore could survive on its own, due to scarcity
of land, water, markets and natural resources.
And lastly, the Singapore government wanted the help of the Malaysian
government to flush out the Communists. The two years that Singapore spent as
part of Malaysia were filled with strife and bitter disagreements. The Malaysians
insisted on a pro-Malay society, where Malays were given special
Bumiputera rights, which still exists to this day. The Malaysians were also
suspicious about Singapore's majority of ethnic Chinese and worried that
Singapore's economic clout would shift the centre of power from Kuala
Lumpur to Singapore.
There were also linguistic and religious issues. The Singaporeans, on the other
hand, wanted an equal and meritocratic society, where all citizens were given
equal rights. As part of Malaysia, Singapore's economic and social development
came to a halt as the Malaysian parliament blocked many bills. Race riots broke
out in Singapore in 1964. After much heated ideological conflicts between the
two governments, in 1965, the Malaysian parliament voted 126 to 0 to expel
Singapore from Malaysia.
Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within
the Commonwealth) on 9 August 1965 with Yusof bin Ishak as president and Lee
Kuan Yew as prime minister. Everyone who was present in Singapore on the date
of independence was offered Singapore citizenship. In 1967, it helped found
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in 1970 it joined the Non-aligned
In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as prime minister. During his tenure the
country faced the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak and
terrorist threats posed by Jemaah Islamiyah. In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest
son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the country's third prime minister.
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Government and Politics
Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster
system of unicameral parliamentary government representing constituencies. Its
constitution establishes representative democracy as its political system. Freedom
House ranks Singapore as "partly free" in its Freedom in the World report, and
The Economist ranks Singapore as a "hybrid regime", the third rank out of four, in
its "Democracy Index". Singapore is consistently rated one of the least corrupt
countries in the world by Transparency International.
Executive power rests with the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, and
the President. The president is elected through popular vote, and has some veto
powers for a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the
appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies a ceremonial post.
The Parliament serves as the legislative branch of government. Members of
Parliament (MPs) consist of elected, non-constituency and nominated members.
Elected MPs are voted into parliament on a "first-past-the-post" (plurality) basis
and represent either single-member or group-representation
constituencies. The People's Action Party has won control of Parliament with
large majorities in every election since self-governance was secured in
1959. However, in the most recent parliamentary elections in 2011, the
opposition, led by the Workers' Party, made significant gains and increased its
representation in the House to 6 elected MPs.
The legal system of Singapore is based on English common law, albeit with
substantial local differences. Trial by jury was entirely abolished in 1970 leaving
judicial assessment performed wholly by judgeship. Singapore has penalties that
include judicial corporal punishment in the form of caning for rioting, vandalism,
and some immigration offences. There is a mandatory death penalty for murder,
and for certain drug-trafficking and firearms offences. Amnesty International has
said that some legal provisions conflict with the right to be presumed innocent
until proven guilty and that Singapore has "possibly the highest execution rate in
the world relative to its population". The government has disputed Amnesty's
claims. In a 2008 survey, international business executives believed Singapore,
along with Hong Kong, had the best judicial system in Asia. In 2010, Singapore
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was ranked first for "access to civil justice" and "order and security" by the World
Justice Project Rule of Law Index.
In Singapore, under the Public Order Act 2009, outdoor public processions or
assemblies require police permits. Without police permits, such outdoor
assemblies are illegal Indoor assemblies, however, can be held freely without the
need to apply for police permits. The only place in Singapore where outdoor
public assemblies do not require police permits is at the Speakers' Corner which
is modelled on Hyde Park, London. However, one must still register one's
personal details with the National Parks Board online before speaking or
protesting at the Speakers' corner, and there are also many CCTVs in the park, a
situation that had some Singaporeans and Singaporean MPs complaining.
Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, widely known as
Singapore Island but also as Pulau Ujong. There are two man-made connections
to Johor, Malaysia: the Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north, and the Tuas
Second Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau
Ubinand Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's smaller islands. The highest
natural point is Bukit Timah Hill at 166 m (545 ft).
There are ongoing land reclamation projects, which have increased Singapore's
land area from 581.5 km2
(224.5 sq mi) in the 1960s to 704 km2
(272 sq mi)
today; it may grow by another 100 km2
(40 sq mi) by 2030. Some projects
involve merging smaller islands through land reclamation to form larger, more
functional islands, as with Jurong Island. About 23% of Singapore's land area
consists of forest and nature reserves.
Urbanisation has eliminated most primary rainforest, Bukit Timah Nature
Reserve being the only significant remaining forest. There are more than 300
parks and 4 nature reserves in Singapore. There are also many trees planted, and
almost fifty per cent of the country is covered by greenery. Because of this,
Singapore is also commonly known as the 'Garden City'.
Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons, uniform
temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall. Temperatures
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usually range from 23 to 32 °C (73 to 90 °F). Relative humidity averages around
79% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon. April and May are the hottest
months, with the wetter monsoon season from November to January.
From July to October, there is often haze caused by bush fires in neighbouring
Indonesia. Although Singapore does not observe daylight saving time, it follows
time zone GMT+8, one hour ahead of its geographical location.
The Singaporean military is arguably the most technologically advanced in
Southeast Asia. It comprises the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It is seen as the
guarantor of the country's independence. The nation's philosophy of defence is
one of diplomacy and deterrence. This principle translates into the culture,
involving all citizens in the country's defence. The government spends 4.9% of
the country's GDP on the military and one out of every four dollars of
government spending is spent on defence.
On independence, Singapore had two infantry regiments commanded by British
officers. This force was considered too small to provide effective security to the
new country, so the development of the military became a priority. Britain pulled
its military out of Singapore in October 1971, leaving behind only a small British,
Australian and New Zealand force as a token military presence. The last British
soldier left Singapore in March 1976. New Zealand troops were the last to leave,
The Singaporean army was initially established with help from Britain and Israel,
a country that is not recognised by neighbouring Islamic Malaysia, Indonesia or
Brunei. The main fear after independence was an invasion by Malaysia and/or
Indonesia. Israel Defence Forces commanders were tasked with creating the
Singapore Armed Forces from scratch, and Israeli instructors were brought in to
train Singaporean soldiers.
Military courses were conducted according to the Israel Defence Forces' format,
and Singapore adopted a system of conscription and reserve service based on the
Israeli and Swiss models, which remain in effect. Singapore still maintains strong
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security ties with Israel and is one of the biggest buyers of Israeli arms and
weapons systems. The MATADOR is one example of recent Singapore-Israeli
The SAF is being developed to respond to a wide range of issues, in both
conventional and unconventional warfare. The Defence Science and Technology
Agency is responsible for procuring resources for the military. The geographic
restrictions of Singapore mean that the SAF must plan to fully repulse an attack,
as they cannot fall back and re-group. The small size of the population has also
affected the way the SAF has been designed, with a small active force but a large
number of reserves.
Before independence in 1965, Singapore was the capital of the British Straits
Settlements, a Crown Colony. It was also the main British naval base in East
Asia. Because of its status as the main British naval base in the region, as well as
hosting the largest dry dock in the world at that time in the form of the Singapore
Naval Base, it was described in the press as the 'Gibraltar of the East'. The
opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 caused global trade to boom, and Singapore
became a major world trade node, and the Port of Singapore became one of the
largest and busiest ports in the world. Before independence in 1965, Singapore
had a GDP per capita of $511, then the third-highest in East Asia. After
independence, foreign direct investment and a state-led drive for industrialisation
based on plans by Goh Keng Swee and Albert Winsemius created a modern
Today, Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy, based
historically on trade. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan,
Singapore is one of the original Four Asian Tigers. The Singaporean economy is
known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, and most
business-friendly. The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Singapore as the
second freest economy in the world, behind Hong Kong. According to
the Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the
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least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the
Singapore is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world.
The country has the highest trade-to-GDP ratio in the world at 407.9 percent,
signifying the importance of trade to its economy. The country is currently the
only Asian country to have AAA credit ratings from all three major credit rating
agencies – Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch. Singapore attracts a lot of
foreign direct investment because of its location, corruption-free environment,
skilled workforce, low tax rates and advanced infrastructure. There are more than
7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in
Singapore. There are also 1,500 companies from China and 1,500 from India.
Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the economy. Singapore is also
the second largest foreign investor in India. Roughly 44 percent of the
Singaporean workforce is made up of non-Singaporeans. Over ten free trade
agreements have been signed with other countries and regions.
Singapore also possesses the world's tenth largest foreign reserves. The currency
of Singapore is the Singapore dollar, issued by the Monetary Authority of
Singapore. It is interchangeable with the Brunei dollar.
The Singaporean economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported
goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 27.2% of GDP in 2010 and
includes significant electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical
engineering and biomedical sciences sectors. In 2006 Singapore produced about
10% of the world's foundry wafer output. Despite its small size, Singapore has a
diversified economy, a strategy that the government considers vital for growth
Tourism also forms a large part of the economy, and 10.2 million tourists visited
the country in 2007. To attract more tourists, in 2005 the government legalised
gambling and allowed two casino resorts (called Integrated Resorts) to be
developed. Singapore is promoting itself as a medical tourism hub: about 200,000
foreigners seek medical care there each year, and Singapore medical services aim
to serve one million foreign patients annually by 2012 and generate USD 3 billion
in revenue. Singapore is an education hub, and many foreign students study in
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Singapore. Singapore hosted over 80,000 international students in 2006. There
are also more than 5000 Malaysians students who cross the Johor–Singapore
Causeway every morning with hopes of receiving a better education in
Singapore. In 2009, 20% of all students in Singaporean universities were
international students. The students were mainly from ASEAN, China and India.
Singapore is a world leader in several economic areas: The country is the world's
fourth leading financial centre, the world's second-biggest casino gambling
market, one of the world's top three oil refining centres, the world's largest oil-rig
producer, and a major ship-repairer. The port is one of the five busiest ports in the
world. The World Bank has named Singapore as the easiest place in the world to
do business and ranks Singapore the world's top logistics hub. It is also the
world's fourth largest foreign-exchange trading centre after London, New York
As a result of global recession and a slump in the technology sector, Singapore's
GDP contracted by 2.2% in 2001. The Economic Review Committee was set up
in December 2001 and recommended several policy changes to revitalise the
economy. Singapore has since recovered, due largely to improvements in the
world economy; the economy grew by 8.3% in 2004, 6.4% in 2005, and 7.9% in
2006. After a contraction of 0.8% in 2009, the economy recovered in 2010, with
GDP growth of 14.5%. Most work in Singapore is in the service sector, which
employed 2,151,400 people out of 3,102,500 jobs in December 2010. The
percentage of unemployed economically active people above age 15 is about 2%.
Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaire households, with 15.5
percent of all households owning at least one million US dollars. Despite its
relative economic success, Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing
that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income
inequality levels among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong
and in front of the United States.
Acute poverty is rare in Singapore; the government has rejected the idea of a
generous welfare system, stating that each generation must earn and save enough
for its entire life cycle. There are, however, numerous means-tested 'assistance
schemes' provided by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and
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Sports in Singapore for the needy, including some that pay out SGD 400 to SGD
1000 per month to each needy household, free medical care at government
hospitals, money for children's school fees, rental of studio apartments for SGD
80 a month, training grants for courses, etc.
Singapore's foreign policy is directed to maintaining a secure environment in
Southeast Asia as well as the surrounding territories. An underlying principle is
political and economic stability in the region. It has diplomatic relations with 175
other sovereign states. As one of the five founding members of the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the country is a strong supporter of
the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the ASEAN Investment Area, because
Singapore's economic growth is closely linked with the economic progress of the
region as a whole.
Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the formation of an ASEAN
Economic Community, a step beyond the current AFTA bringing it closer to
a common market. This idea was agreed to in 2007 for implementation by 2015.
Other regional organisations are also important to Singapore, and it is the host of
the APEC Secretariat. Singapore also maintains membership in other regional
organisations, such as Asia-Europe Meeting, the Forum for East Asia-Latin
American Cooperation, and the East Asia Summit. It is also a member of
the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth.
In general, bilateral relations with other ASEAN members are strong; however,
disagreements have arisen, and relations with neighbouring Malaysia and
Indonesia have historically been very strained and difficult. Malaysia has often
clashed with Singapore over the delivery of fresh water to Singapore, and the
Singaporean government has threatened to send troops into Malaysia should the
Malaysians break water contracts signed with Singapore and unilaterally cut off
the water supply to Singapore.
Conflicts have also arisen over the Singapore Armed Forces entering Malaysian
airspace, the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, the relocation of Tanjong Pagar
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railway station, and many other ideological and cultural issues. Border issues
exist with both Malaysia and Indonesia, and both have banned the sale of marine
sand to Singapore over disputes about Singapore's land reclamation. Some
previous disputes have been resolved by the International Court of Justice. Piracy
in the Malacca Strait has been a cause of concern for all three countries. Close
economic ties exist with Brunei, and the two shares a pegged currency value.
Singapore and the United States share a long-standing and strong relationship, in
particular in defence, the economy, health and education. The U.S. was
Singapore's third largest trading partner in 2010, behind the People's Republic of
China and the European Union. The two countries have a free-trade agreement
signed in 2003.
Singapore routinely hosts American ships and American fighter aircraft. More
than 100 American Navy warships call at Singapore annually and there is a
modest presence of less than 200 US military personnel based permanently in
Singapore. Several naval bases in Singapore were built to US specifications, so as
to allow American ships, especially carriers, to dock. In 2011, the US Navy
announced plans to station several of its new Littoral combat ships in Singapore
The Singapore government believes that regional security, and by extension
Singapore's security, will be affected if the United States loses its resolve in Iraq.
Singapore faces the threat of terrorism itself, as evidenced by the Singapore
embassies attack plot.
Singapore has pushed regional counter-terrorism initiatives, with a strong resolve
to deal with terrorists inside its borders. To this end it has given support to the
US-led coalition to fight terrorism, with bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism
and counter-proliferation initiatives, and joint military exercises.
Relations with the United States have expanded in other areas, and the two
countries take part in joint policy dialogues.
Relations with the People's Republic of China were established in the 1970s, and
since then the two countries have enjoyed a strong relationship, being major
players in strengthening the ASEAN–China relationship.
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Singapore has also co-created the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city and Suzhou
Industrial Park in China. Singapore sees the United States as a counterweight to
balance China's rise in the region, and has encouraged more American
involvement and presence in the region to maintain peace and security.
As of 2011, the population of Singapore is 5.18 million people, of whom
3.25 million (63%) are citizens while the rest (37%) are permanent residents or
foreign workers. Twenty-three percent of Singaporean citizens were born outside
Singapore i.e. foreign born citizens. There are half a million permanent residents
in Singapore in 2011. The resident population does not take into account the
11 million transient visitors who visit Singapore annually.
The median age of Singaporeans is 37 years old and the average household size is
3.5 persons. Due to scarcity of land, four out of five Singaporeans live
in subsidised, high-rise, public housing apartments known as HDB (Housing and
Development Board) flats, after the board responsible for public housing in the
In 2010, three quarters of Singaporean residents live in properties that are equal to
or larger than a four room HDB flat or in private housing. House ownership rate
is at 87.2%. Mobile phone penetration rate is extremely high at 1,400 mobile
phone subscribers per 1000 people. Around 1 in 10 residents owns a car.
In 2010, the total fertility rate was 1.1 children per woman, the third-lowest in the
world and well below the 2.1 needed to replace the population. To overcome this
problem, the Singapore government has been encouraging foreigners to
immigrate to Singapore for the past few decades.
The large number of immigrants has kept Singapore's population from
declining. Singapore traditionally has one of the lowest unemployment rates
among developed countries. Singaporean unemployment rate has not exceeded
4% in the past decade, hitting a high of 3% during the 2009 global financial
crises and falling to 1.9% in 2011.
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As of 2009, about 40% of Singapore's residents were foreigners, one of the
highest percentages in the world. The government is considering capping these
workers, although it is recognised that they are crucial to the country's economy,
as foreign workers make up 80% of the construction industry and up to 50% in
the service industry.
In 2009, the government census reports that 74.2% of residents were of Chinese,
13.4% of Malay, and 9.2% of Indian descent, while Eurasians and other groups
form 3.2%. Prior to 2010, each person could register as a member of only one
race, by default that of his or her father, therefore, mixed-race persons were solely
grouped under their father's race in government censuses. From 2010 onward,
people may register using a "double-barrelled" classification, in which they may
choose one primary race and one secondary race, but no more than two.
Buddhism is the most widely practised religion in Singapore, with 33% of the
resident population declaring them adherents at the most recent census. The next
largest religious demographics, in order of size, are Christianity, non-
religious, Islam, Taoism and Hinduism. The proportion of Christians, Taoists and
non-religious people increased between 2000 and 2010 by about 3% each, while
the proportion of Buddhists decreased. Other faiths remained largely stable in
their share of the population.
There are monasteries and Dharma centres from all three major traditions of
Buddhism in Singapore: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Most Buddhists
in Singapore are Chinese and are of the Mahayana tradition. Chinese Mahayana is
the most predominant form of Buddhism in Singapore, with missionaries from
Taiwan and China for several decades. However, Thailand's Theravada
Buddhism has seen growing popularity among the people (not only the Chinese)
in the past decade. Soka Gakkai International, a Japanese Buddhist organisation,
is practised by many people in Singapore, but by mostly those of Chinese
descent. Tibetan Buddhism has also made slow inroads into the country in recent
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Singapore has four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.
English is the common language of the nation and is the language of business,
government and medium of instruction in schools.
Public bodies in Singapore conduct their businesses in English, and official
documents written in a non-English official language such as Chinese, Malay or
Tamil typically have to be translated into English to be accepted for submission.
The Singapore Constitution and all laws are written in English, and translators are
also required if one wishes to address the Singaporean Courts in a language other
However, English is the native tongue for only one-third of all Singaporeans, with
roughly a third of all Singaporean Chinese, a quarter of all Singaporean Malays
and half of all Singaporean Indians speaking it as their native tongue. Twenty
percent of Singaporeans, or one out of every five, are illiterate in English.
Many, but not all, Singaporeans are bilingual in English and another official
language, with vastly varying degrees of fluency. The various official languages
ranked in terms of literacy amongst Singaporeans are: English (80% literacy),
Mandarin Chinese (65% literacy), Malay (17% literacy) and Tamil (4% literacy).
Singaporean English is based on British English, and forms of English spoken
range from Standard English known as "Singlish". Singlish is heavily
discouraged by the government.
Chinese is the language which is spoken by most Singaporeans as their native
tongue—half of all Singaporeans speak it as their native tongue. Singaporean
Mandarin is the most common version of Chinese in the country, with 1.2 million
using it as their home language. Nearly half a million speak other Chinese
languages (which the government describes as "dialects"), mainly Hokkien,
Teochew, and Cantonese, as their home language, although the use of these is
declining in favour of Mandarin and English.
Malay is the "national language", a ceremonial rather than functional designation
to reflect the country's history. It is used in the national anthem "Majulah
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Singapura" and in military commands. Today, in general Malay is spoken within
the Singaporean Malay community, with only 16.8% of all Singaporeans literate
in Malay and only 12% using it as their native language. Around 100,000 or 3%
of Singaporeans speak Tamil as their native language. Even though only Tamil
has official status, there have been no attempts to discourage the use or spread of
other Indian languages.
Education for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is mostly supported by the
state. All institutions, private and public, must be registered with the Ministry of
Education. English is the language of instruction in all public schools and all
subjects are taught and examined in English except for the "Mother Tongue"
language paper. While "Mother Tongue" in general refers to the first language
internationally; in Singapore's education system, it is used to refer to the second
language, as English is the first language. Students who have been abroad for a
while or who struggle with their "Mother Tongue" language are allowed to take a
simpler syllabus or drop the subject.
Education takes place in three stages: "Primary education", "Secondary
education", and "Pre-university education", of which only the Primary level is
compulsory. Students begin with six years of primary school, which is made up
of a four-year foundation course and a two-year orientation stage. The curriculum
is focused on the development of English, the mother tongue, and maths. There
are four standard subjects taught to all students: English, the mother tongue,
mathematics, and science. Secondary school lasts from four to five years, and is
divided between "Special", "Express", "Normal (Academic)", and "Normal
(Technical)" streams within each school, depending on a student's ability level.
The basic coursework breakdown is the same as in the primary level, although
classes are much more specialised. Pre-university education takes place over two
to three years at senior schools mostly called Junior Colleges. Some schools have
a degree of freedom in their curriculum, and are known as autonomous schools.
These exist from the secondary education level.
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National examinations are standardised across all schools, with a test taken after
each stage of school. After the first six years of education, students take
the Primary School Leaving Examination, which determines their placement at
secondary school. At the end of the secondary stage, GCE 'O' Level exams are
taken; at the end of the following pre-university stage, the GCE 'A' Level exams
are taken. Of all non-student Singaporeans aged 15 and above, 18% have no
educational qualifications at all while 45% have the Primary School Leaving
Examination as their highest qualification. 15% have the GCE 'O' Level as their
highest qualification and 14% have a degree.
Singaporean students consistently rank top five in the world in the two major
international assessments of mathematics and science knowledge. Singaporean
students were ranked first in the latest Trends in International Mathematics and
Science Study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of
Educational Achievement and have been ranked top three every year since 1995.
Singaporean students were also ranked top five in the world in terms of
mathematics, science and reading in the 2009 Programme for International
Student Assessment conducted by the OECD. The country's two main public
universities – the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological
University – are among the top 100 universities in the world.
Singapore has a generally efficient healthcare system, even with health
expenditure relatively low for developed countries. The World Health
Organization ranks Singapore's healthcare system as 6th overall in the world in
its World Health Report. In general, Singapore has the lowest infant mortality rate
in the world for the past two decades. Life expectancy in Singapore is 79 for
males and 83 for females, placing the country 15th in the world for life
expectancy. Almost the whole population has access to improved water and
sanitation facilities. There are fewer than 10 annual deaths from HIV per 100,000
people. There is a high level of immunisation. Adult obesity is below 10%.
The government's healthcare system is based upon the "3M" framework. This has
three components: Medifund, which provides a safety net for those not able to
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otherwise afford healthcare, Medisave, a compulsory health savings scheme
covering about 85% of the population, and Medishield, a government-funded
health insurance scheme. Public hospitals in Singapore have autonomy in their
management decisions, and compete for patients. A subsidy scheme exists for
those on low income. In 2008, 31.9% of healthcare was funded by the
government. It accounts for approximately 3.5% of Singapore's GDP.
Singapore is a very diverse and young country. It has many languages, cultures
and religions for a country its size. Due to the many different languages and
cultures in the country, there is no single set of culturally acceptable behaviours.
When Singapore became independent from the United Kingdom in 1963, most of
the newly minted Singaporean citizens were uneducated labourers from China,
Malaysia and India. Many of them were transient labourers who were seeking to
make some money in Singapore and they had no intentions of staying for good. A
sizeable minority of middle-class, local-born people, known as the
Peranakans also existed. With the exception of the Peranakans who pledged their
loyalties to Singapore, most of the labourers' loyalties lie with their respective
homelands of China, Malaysia and India. For instance, the Chinese wore pigtails
to signify their loyalty to the Chinese emperor and remitted money to China.
After independence, the process of crafting a Singaporean identity and culture
began. Both the former Prime Ministers of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh
Chok Tong, have stated that Singapore does not fit the traditional description of
a nation, calling it a society in transition, pointing out the fact that Singaporeans
do not all speak the same language, share the same religion or have the same
customs. Even though English is the first language of the nation, according to the
government's 2010 census 20% of Singaporeans, or one in five, are illiterate in
English. This is a marked improvement from 1990 where 40% of Singaporeans
were illiterate in English.
Unlike many other countries, languages, religions and cultures among
Singaporeans are not delineated according to skin colour or ancestry.
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Among Singaporean Chinese, one in five is Christian, another one in five
is atheist, and the rest are mostly Buddhists or Taoists. One-third speak English as
their home language, while half speak Mandarin Chinese as their home language.
The rest speak other mutually unintelligible Chinese languages at home.
Singaporean Indians are much more religious. Only 1% of them are atheists. Six
in ten are Hindus, two in ten Muslims, and the rest mostly Christians. Four in ten
speak English as their home language, three in ten Tamil, one in ten Malay, and
the rest other Indian languages as their home language.
Each Singaporean's behaviours and attitudes would therefore be influenced by,
among many other things, his or her home language and his religion.
Singaporeans who speak English as their native language tend to lean
toward Western Culture. While those who speak Chinese languages as their
native language tend to lean toward Chinese culture and Confucianism. Malay-
speaking Singaporeans tend to lean toward Malay culture, which itself is closely
linked to Islamic culture. Those who speak Indian languages as their native
language would probably lean toward Indian culture.
Singapore, as a country, in general is conservative socially, but some
liberalisation has occurred. At the national level, meritocracy, where one is
judged based on one's ability, is heavily emphasised. Racial and religious
harmony is regarded by the government as a crucial part of Singapore's success
and played a part in building a Singaporean identity.
Singapore has a reputation as a nanny state. The national flower of Singapore is
the Vanda Miss Joaquim. Many national symbols such as the National Coat of
Arms and the Lion Head symbol make use of the lion, as Singapore is known as
the 'Lion City'. Public holidays in Singapore cover major Chinese, Western,
Malay and Indian festivals.
Due to scarcity of land, four out of five Singaporeans live in subsidised, high-rise,
public housing apartments known as HDB (for Housing and Development Board)
flats. Singaporeans generally take off their shoes before entering their
homes. Live-in domestic helpers are quite common in Singapore and there are
nearly 200,000 domestic helpers there. As with most Commonwealth countries,
vehicles on the road and people walking on the streets keep to the left. Unlike
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some Western countries and ASEAN countries in the Golden Triangle, Singapore
does not have a culture of recreational drug use. The country has strict laws
against drug use and has one of the lowest rates of drug use in the
world. Singaporean employees work an average of around 45 hours weekly,
relatively long compared to many other nations. Three in four Singaporean
employees surveyed stated that they take pride in doing their work well, and that
doing so helps their self-confidence.
Foreigners also make up 42% of the population and have a strong influence on
Singaporean culture. A.T. Kearney named Singapore the most globalised country
in the world in 2006 in its Globalization Index. The Economist Intelligence
Unit in its "Quality-of-Life Index" ranks Singapore as having the best quality of
life in Asia and eleventh overall in the world.
Dining, along with shopping, is said to be the country's national pastime. The
diversity of food is touted as a reason to visit the country, and the variety of food
representing different ethnicities is seen by the government as a symbol of its
multiculturalism. The "national fruit" of Singapore is the durian. In popular
culture, food items belong to a particular ethnicity, with Chinese, Indian, and
Malay food clearly defined. The diversity of cuisine has been increased further by
the "hybridization" of different styles, e.g. the Peranakan style, a mix of Chinese
and Malay cuisine.
The durian-shaped Esplanade, performing arts centre, stands out in front of the
Marina Square area. Since the 1990s, the government has been promoting
Singapore as a centre for arts and culture, in particular the performing arts, and to
transform the country into a cosmopolitan "gateway between the East and West".
One highlight was the construction of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, a
performing arts centre opened in October 2002. The national orchestra, Singapore
Symphony Orchestra, plays at the Esplanade. The annual Singapore Arts
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Festival is organised by the National Arts Council. The stand-up comedy scene
has been growing, with a weekly open mic. Singapore hosted the 2009 Genee
International Ballet Competition, a classical ballet competition promoted by
London's Royal Academy of Dance.
Sport and recreation
Popular sports include football, basketball, cricket, swimming, sailing, table
tennis and badminton. Most Singaporeans live in public residential areas near
amenities such as public swimming pools, outdoor basketball courts and indoor
sport complexes. Water sports are popular, including sailing, kayaking and water
skiing. Scuba diving is another popular recreational sport. The Southern island
of Pulau Hantu, particularly, is known for its rich coral reefs.
Singapore's football (soccer) league, the S-League, formed in 1994, currently
comprises 12 clubs including foreign teams. The Singapore Slingers, formerly in
the Australian National Basketball League, is one of the inaugural teams in
the ASEAN Basketball League, founded in October 2009. Singapore began
hosting a round of the Formula One World Championship, the Singapore Grand
Prix, in 2008. The race was staged at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and became
the first night race on the F1 circuit and the first street circuit in Asia. Singapore
hosted the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.
Companies linked to the government control much of the domestic media in
Singapore. Media Corp operates most free-to-air television channels and free-to-
air radio stations in Singapore. There are a total of seven free-to-air TV channels
offered by Mediacorp. The channels are Channel 5 (English channel), Channel
News Asia (English channel), Okto (English channel), Channel 8 (Chinese
channel), Channel U (Chinese channel), Suria (Malay channel) and Vasantham
(Indian channel). Starhub Cable Vision (SCV) also offers cable television with
channels from all around the world and Singtel's MioTV provides
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an IPTV service. Singapore Press Holdings, a body with close links to the
government, controls most of the newspaper industry.
Singapore's media industry has sometimes been criticised for being too regulated
and lacking in freedom by human rights groups such as Freedom House. In
2010, Reporters Without Borders, a France-based international non-governmental
organisation, ranked Singapore 136 out of 178 in its Press Freedom Index, just
The Media Development Authority regulates Singaporean media, claiming to
balance the demand for choice and protection against offensive and harmful
material. Private ownership of TV satellite dishes is banned. There are 3.4 million
users of the internet in Singapore, one of the highest internet penetration rates in
the world. The Singapore government does not engage in widespread censoring
of the internet, but it maintains a list of one hundred websites (mostly
pornographic) that it blocks as a 'symbolic statement of the Singaporean
community's stand on harmful and undesirable content on the Internet'. As the
block covers only home internet access, users may still visit the blocked websites
from their office computers.
Business Etiquette and Protocol
Business in Singapore is more formal than in many western countries.
There are strict rules of protocol that must be observed.
The group (company or department) is viewed as more important than the
People observe a strict chain of command, which comes with expectations on
In order to keep others from losing face, much communication will be non-verbal
and you must closely watch the facial expressions and body language of people
you work with.
Building Relationships & Communication
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Personal relationships are the cornerstone of all business relationships.
Business is a matter of being tied into the proper network, which is the result of
long- standing personal relationships or the proper introductions.
This is a group-oriented culture, so links are often based on ethnicity, education
or working for the same company.
Once you are recognized as part of the group, you will be accepted and expected
to obey the unwritten rules of the group.
Relationships take time to develop.
You must be patient as this indicates that your organization is here for the long-
term and is not looking only for short- term gains.
Always be respectful and courteous when dealing with others as this leads to the
harmonious relationships necessary within business.
Rank is always respected. The eldest person in the group is revered.
Most Singaporeans are soft-spoken and believe a calm demeanour is superior to
a more aggressive style.
Watch your body language and facial expressions.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are necessary and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance,
The most formal way to schedule a meeting is to write to the person concerned,
although most Singaporeans will schedule an appointment by telephone, fax, or e-
Do not try to schedule meetings during Chinese New Year (late January/early
February), since many businesses close for the entire week.
You should arrive at meetings on time. Punctuality is a virtue.
There will be period of small talk before getting down to business
discussions. Since questioning authority is a taboo, it is important to encourage
questions when after making a presentation and then smile when a question is
Presentations should be accompanied by backup material, including charts and
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Never disagree or criticize someone who is senior to you in rank as it will cause
both of you to lose face and may destroy the business relationship.
Pay attention to non-verbal communication.
Always send a list of people who will be attending the negotiations and their title
well in advance. Always wait to be told where to sit.
There is a strict hierarchy that must be followed.
Business negotiations happen at a slow pace. Singaporeans are non-
They will not overtly say 'no'; likewise, their 'yes' does not always signify
Singaporeans give a respectful pause of up to 15 seconds before answering a
Do not start speaking too quickly or you will miss the answer.
Be prepared with a mental list of concessions you would be willing to make that
would not injure your own business.
Singaporeans are tough negotiators on price and deadlines.
Decisions are consensus driven. Avoid losing your temper or you will lose face
and damage your relationship.
If you are signing a contract with ethnic Chinese, the signing date may be
determined by an astrologer or a geomancer (feng shui man).
Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions. Business cards are
exchanged using both hands. If you will be meeting ethnic Chinese, it is a good
idea to have one side of your card translated into Mandarin.
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Have the Chinese characters printed in gold, as this is an auspicious colour. Hand
your card so the typeface faces the recipient.
Examine business cards carefully before putting them in a business card case.
Treat business cards with respect. This is indicative of how you will treat the
Your own business cards should be maintained in pristine condition. Never give
someone a tattered card.
The bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of
Singapore have been traditionally strong, with both nations enjoying extensive
cultural and commercial relations. In recent years, India and Singapore have
signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement(CECA) to increase
trade, investments and economic cooperation and expanded bilateral cooperation
on maritime security, training forces, conducting joint exercises, developing
military technology and fighting terrorism.
India and Singapore share long-standing cultural, commercial and strategic
relations, with Singapore being a part of the "Greater India" cultural and
commercial region. More than 300,000 people of Indian origin live in Singapore.
Following its independence in 1965, Singapore was concerned with China-
backed communist threats as well as domination
from Malaysia and Indonesia and sought a close strategic relationship with India,
which it saw as a counter-balance to Chinese influence and a partner in achieving
Singapore had always been an important strategic trading post, giving India trade
access to the Malay archipelago and the Far East. Although the rival positions of
both nations over the Vietnam War and the Cold War caused consternation
between India and Singapore, their relationship expanded significantly in the
1990s; Singapore was one of the first to respond to India's "Look East" Policy of
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expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen
its standing as a regional power.
Development of Bilateral Relations
Ever since Singapore's independence, both nations have maintained high-level
contacts. Between 1966 and 1971 the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan
Yew visited India three times (1966, 1970 and 1971). The then-Indian Prime
Minister Indira Gandhi visited Singapore in 1968, as did Indian leader Morarji
Desai. Singapore supported India's bid to become a permanent member of the
U.N. Security Council and expand its role and influence in the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Singapore also supported India in its war
against Pakistan in 1965 and the Kashmir conflict.
Military cooperation between the two nations had been hampered by their policy
differences in the Cold War era. In 2003, India and Singapore signed a bilateral
agreement on expanding military cooperation, conducting joint military training,
developing military technology and achieving maritime security.
The Singaporean Navy and the Indian Navy have conducted joint naval exercises
and training since 1993 such as SIMBEX and MILAN near India's Andaman and
Nicobar Islands. India and Singapore have also expanded their cooperation in
Singapore is the 8th largest source of investment in India and the largest amongst
ASEAN member nations. It is also India's 9th biggest trading partner as of 2005-
06. Its cumulative investment in India totals USD 3 billion as of 2006 and is
expected to rise to US 5 billion by 2010 and US 10 billion by 2015. India's
economic liberalisation and its "Look East" policy have led to a major expansion
in bilateral trade, which grew from USD 2.2 billion in 2001 to US 9-10 billion in
2006 - a 400% growth in span of five years - and to USD 50 billion by
2010. Singapore accounts for 38% of India's trade with ASEAN member nations
and 3.4% of its total foreign trade.
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India’s main exports to Singapore in 2005 included petroleum, gemstones,
jewellery, machinery and its imports from Singapore included electronic goods,
organic chemicals and metals. More than half of Singapore’s exports to India are
basically "re-exports" - items that had been imported from India.
In 2005, both nations signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation
Agreement (CECA) and have organised the India-Singapore Parliamentary
Forum and the Singapore-India Partnership foundation with active support from
the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICC),
the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Singapore Business Federation
to promote trade, economic development and partnerships.
The CECA eliminated tariff barriers, double taxation, duplicate processes and
regulations and provided unhindered access and cooperation between the banks
and financial institutions of Singapore and India. The CECA also advanced
bilateral cooperation over education, science and technology, intellectual
property, aviation and relaxed visa regulations for Indian professionals
in information technology, medicine, engineering and financial fields to emigrate
and work in Singapore.
Singapore has invested in projects to upgrade India's ports, airports and
developing information technology parks and a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
India has become Singapore's 4th biggest tourist destination and more than
650,000 Indians visited Singapore in 2006. Both nations have worked to
collaborate on aviation, aerospace engineering, space programmes, information
technology, biotechnology and energy.