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15 Things Singapore Got Right (And Others Should Copy)

23 March 2021

It’s No Secret That Singapore Is Gaining Success Rapidly and Constantly. Find Out What Singapore Is Doing Right.

Singapore celebrated 55 years of independence in 2020, and when you hear what it has achieved in such a short space of time, it’s no wonder other countries look to this small sovereign island for inspiration.

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1

Great Leadership

Singapore as we know it is credited to Lee Kuan Yew. Lee Kuan Yew is considered one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century and lived to the ripe old age of 91.

Often referred to as LKY, this Singaporean leader was strong, intelligent and had incredible foresight into what Singapore could achieve.

He lifted millions out of poverty with his style of leading, deemed authoritarianism lite. And in order to get Singapore to where it is now, he had some pretty stringent rules and regulations in place. But as he once said, “I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today.

And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”

2

Doing Business in Singapore Is Not Challenging

Ease of doing business was one of the focus areas for LKY. He didn’t want business interests to consider Singapore and then go elsewhere when government made it near impossible for good trade.

When it comes to business, there is far less red tape than other countries, making Singapore a lucrative option.

Fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, Josh Kurlantzick confirmed this by stating, “They have very, very free trade, very low tariffs [and] very few non-tariff barriers. They’ll boast about how you can start your own company in Singapore in three hours.”

Aluxers, we’re never tried to open a business in Singapore in 3 hours, but it does sound like a place where good business happens easily.

If you like to keep up to speed with good business practice, be sure to subscribe to our channel for many business videos to help you along your journey.

3

The Laws Are Constant

Aluxers, we all know that one law in Singapore, whether we’ve been there or not… Chewing bubble-gum is banned.

That’s the thing with Singapore. When a rule is in place, it’s not there to be interpreted and picked apart until the rule is more along the lines of what you’d like to follow. It’s set in stone and citizens respect it and abide by it.

And that’s another reason why business dealings do well in Singapore. The law doesn’t constantly change. Investors can feel secure investing in Singapore, knowing that the rules are constant.

Since we’re talking about laws, check out 15 Most Important Laws of Power and learn how to be powerful.

4

Meritocracy

There are 3 words that are often used to describe Singapore – Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty, and we believe each needs clarity.

If every country in the world would take this word to heart, we would see huge improvements in leadership. It means that a country picks the best person for the job and not friends and family who are unqualified.

Of late, the term has had negative connotations in Singapore. As straitstimes.com reported, “In the last few years, meritocracy in Singapore has taken on negative overtones due to its association with elitism and there has been an ongoing debate over social inequality and stratification in society.”

However, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung says the idea will still be a key factor when recognising individuals in Singapore.

5

Pragmatism

LKY called himself pragmatic. He said that he was “prepared to look at the problem and say, all right, what is the best way to solve it that will produce the maximum happiness and well-being for the maximum number of people.”

This approach is not often seen in leaders who often function on the “what’s best for me and my needs?”

Singapore’s leadership is the opposite of cronyism, and it serves most citizens well.

6

Honesty

Aluxers, when was the last time you heard of an honest government? Right now, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo faces sexual harassment charges, Congressman Madison Cawthorn is also facing sexual harassment charges and a Tennessee mayor resigned after being caught stealing!

Let’s not even get into corruption, which could fill up several articles. And it’s hard to imagine that Singapore struggled with corruption, crime and disorder.

Government was consistent and intolerant when it came to corruption.

In Singapore, no one is above the law and those that have been involved in crime or corruption have been punished swiftly, seriously, and publicly.

Here are some of Singapore’s ratings:

6th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The least corrupt country in Asia, in the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy’s 2017 Report on Corruption in Asia

4th for Absence of Corruption.

Next is one of the big reasons politics works in Singapore.

7

Religion Doesn’t Drive Politics

Singaporeans are very spiritual, with 70% stating their spirituality forms a part of their daily lives. But when it comes to politics, religion is not the main focus but rather economic growth.

Singapore introduced the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, which provides details on how and why the government has advocated an institutional separation between religion and politics. As the Act explains, “The social fabric of Singapore will … be threatened if religious groups venture into politics, or if political parties use religious sentiments to garner support.”

The Act encourages religious leaders to not use their authority to, “sway their followers, much less actively incite them to oppose the Government.”

We highly recommend you take a listen to Singapore in Transition, which goes into a lot more depth of this exact point. You can claim your free book by heading to Alux.com/freebook.

8

Singapore Welcomes and Accepts All Races and Religions

Singapore is a multi-cultural hub, comprised of all races and religions living harmoniously. Described as an area, “where cultures come together,” by National Geographic, Singapore is a colourful mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and various other ethnicities.

There are also traditional ethnic enclaves, like Little India, Kampong Glam, Katong/Joo Chiat, and Chinatown. And as published on VisitingSingapore.com, “These ethnicities have their own mother tongues that most Singaporeans still speak today; yet we aren’t divided by them.”

9

The Education System Is One of the Best in the World

For years, the education system in Singapore has been considered one of the best in the world. The University of Singapore is considered the best Uni in Asia and has the highest achieving students in international rankings, according to the OECD’s Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).

The reason schooling is successful in Singapore, is to do with forward thinking. We mentioned earlier that LKY had great foresight, and one of the things he believed in was that if one educates children well, they grow up to be great leaders and it serves the country in so many ways. So, they invest in their education system.

Students are taught problem-solving and practical skills. The country also introduced a Teach Less, Learn More strategy, which has been instrumental in teachers focusing more on quality as opposed to quantity.

10

Transportation Is Affordable and Works Efficiently

Aluxers, in any city, it is important to be able to get from A to B efficiently and cost effectively.

As described on transport geography.org, “When transport systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive multiplier effects such as better accessibility to markets, employment, and additional investments.

When transport systems are deficient in terms of capacity or reliability, they can have an economic cost such as reduced or missed opportunities and lower quality of life.”

Getting around in Singapore is super easy. Consulting firm McKinsey confirmed that “Singapore has one of the best and most affordable public transport systems compared with 24 major cities around the world.”

11

World Class Healthcare

Singapore’s healthcare system is so good that Barack Obama’s health team studied it to possibly use as a benchmark. The World Health Organization has voted it the best in Asia and the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranked it 3rd best in the world.

In its basic form, citizens and permanent residents receive government-subsidized health services through a national savings plan that is obligatory. Foreigners usually get covered by the company they work for.

Interesting to note, public spending on the health sector is roughly 33% in Singapore compared to Western European countries where it’s around 75%.

12

Singapore Is Clean and Safe

Singapore is renowned for being safe and clean.

The country is so safe that government had to remind people that although the crime rate was low, didn’t mean there was zero crime!

Getting to this point takes a lot of work, which is often why Singapore is dubbed the “Fine City.” And that’s not because it’s a fine city, but because fines are dispensed often. But the laws are not over the top and should be respected whether you live in Singapore or not. No littering. No chewing gum. No Jaywalking. No drugs… we think you’ll manage!  

13

A Continuous Pursuit to Ensure the Basic Needs of All Citizens Are Met

Aluxers, we won’t sugar coat it. Singapore does have a massive problem with poverty and thousands of families are living in cramped dwellings, with no furniture and not enough financial assistance from the government.

It’s expensive to live in Singapore, and with the allure of more millionaires, the wealth divide increases dramatically.

Currently, more Singaporeans are getting assistance under ComCare, which was established in 2005 to provide assistance for needy families.

There are other initiatives in place, like exempting lower income families from paying taxes, cash contributions and assistance in schooling.

In 2019, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that the Government would increase it’s annual funding of S$123 million by S$44 million which means that undergrads from low-income households would receive subsidies of more than S$2,000 a year.

14

90.4% of Singaporeans Owning Their Own Property

Homelessness in Singapore is not that rife with an estimated 900 to 1,000 homeless people.

Singapore takes pride in having one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. The Housing Development Board sold apartments to roughly 90% of citizens in 2018 at affordable prices.

There are also temporary accommodation facilities available, as well as 11 MSF-funded Welfare Homes which provide long term care to cover basic physical needs and improve emotional well-being.

Singapore may not be where they’d like to be, but they’re a da*n side further than most countries.

15

Despite Being a Concrete Jungle, You’re in Nature

Singapore has been known as the garden city, ever since LKY became the first prime minister. He wanted to envelop the entire country with lush foliage that would make it cleaner and calmer.

Over the past 40-years, over 1.4 million trees have been planted, buildings have been covered in greenery and vertical gardens.

The vision to have Singapore be both sustainable and liveable has been credited to Cheong Koon Hean, Singapore’s first woman to lead the urban development agency.

Their big goal, and they’re well on their way to achieving it, is to become the world’s greenest city.

Question:

Aluxers, have you been to Singapore? What did you love most about your time there?