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Why is Singapore So Successful?

Singapore went from a third world nation to first world in a span of less than fifty years. Without any natural resources and land space, Singapore has become the only Asian country to achieve a higher per capita gross domestic product than the United States of America. 

In a bid to transform the tiny country into a Smart Nation, it has topped numerous rankings worldwide in recent years including:

  • 1st Most Competitive Economy in Asia (2022)
  • 1st in the world for Best global smart city (2021)
  • 1st in the world Best in attracting talent for 7 years in a row (2020)
  • 1st in Asia for Innovation (2019)
  • 1st in Asia for Best digital transformation environment (2018)

Strategic Governance

On 16 September 1963, Singapore became part of Malaysia but was kicked out on 9 August 1965 as a result of deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore’s independence began in turmoil, chaos, and uncertainty. Unemployment was at high levels between 10 – 12%; housing, education, and the lack of natural resources and land immediately became pressing concerns for the government. 

Because of Singapore’s difficult start, its founding fathers not only strategised rapid solutions to counter its economic and social issues but also anticipate future challenges. This practice is still at work today. The government has been embracing change to adapt to the future. 

This can be seen in its aforementioned initiative to make Singapore a Smart Nation. Infrastructure such as sea ports are being expanded to accommodate bigger vessels, thus creating more opportunities for world trade. Digital automation is also implemented in the business environment and government agencies to increase productivity, efficiency and grow the economy as a whole. Cybersecurity is being developed to make Singapore a safe environment for technology growth. Singapore is already on its way to the future!

Anti-Corruption Laws

Before any development can happen, Singapore understands that corruption should be made illegal. Corruption is known to cause economic impediment, political downfall, increase inequality and poverty, and lack of transparency, accountability and consistency in business and other institutions. After Singapore’s independence, with all the political, economic, and social chaos, Singapore could not afford to allow corruption to run rampant. Therefore, Singapore quickly set up the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), an independent agency, responsible for the investigation and prevention of corruption in Singapore. 

Harsh penalties are meted out to the perpetrators. No one is exempt from the law whether they are in the private or public sector, and regardless of the perpetrator’s rank, seniority and political affiliations, within or across borders. To ensure corruption is being rooted out more efficiently, an informer’s identity is confidential and is not disclosed. Perpetrators will be liable to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both, for each count of corruption. 

Anti-Drugs Laws

Singapore has been maintaining its tough stance against drugs amidst human rights activism to abolish the capital punishment for drug traffickers. Singapore is strongly against the profiteering from human misery that these drug traffickers help create. Apart from drug trafficking, it is also an offence for Singapore citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents to consume drugs in Singapore and overseas. Anyone caught for the offence will face an imprisonment of a minimum of 1 year and up to 10 years, or a fine not exceeding S$20,000, or both.

Drug consumption has been shown to cause permanent physical and emotional damage to users and negatively impacting their own lives, families, and coworkers. Violence and crimes are often common consequences as well. With so much social instability and unrest during Singapore’s independence, being soft on drugs was not an option. This is not just to protect its people from harmful substances that would cause social instability and diseases but also because Singapore’s only resource is its people. Due to its small size and location, Singapore has no natural resources to depend on to support its economy. 

World Class Education

Since its independence, Singapore has been preaching meritocracy in its education system, thus, giving the opportunity to succeed to every student, regardless of financial and societal status, ethnicity, age, gender, or national origin. Societies with high rates of education have lower crime, better overall health, and civic involvement and this is evident in Singapore. 

In 2016, Singapore topped the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) organised by the OECD where 15-year old students worldwide were assessed on their maths, science, and reading skills. In 2021, the literacy rate for people aged 15 years and older in Singapore was 97.6 percent. 

However, today, Singapore is not combating the same societal pressures as it did in 1965. The aim now is not just to maintain its education achievements but to get even better. It has been debated for years about the impact of meritocracy on students’ ability to solve problems. Because being good academically is the main indicator of success, Singaporean parents put additional pressure on their children to perform exceptionally well in examinations while foregoing other aspects of learning such as life skills and emotional intelligence. The government has been updating the school syllabus to include critical thinking skills and examinations have been cut down. 

Financial Hub

Although Singapore has no natural resources, it sits on strategic location along trade lines and is protected geographically. Even before colonial rule, Singapore has always attracted traders to settle on the island. Economic activities flourished because of its location to this day, attracting financial services such as insurance and banking. With more than 150 full banks, wholesale banks, merchant banks and finance companies and almost USD 2 trillion of total asset size, Singapore is one of the most attractive and competitive markets in the world.

Due to the recent impact of Covid-19 and Hong Kong civil chaos, Singapore is taking the opportunity to position itself as the unrivalled financial hub in the region. Singapore acts as a gateway for international businesses to access the booming Southeast Asian and China market and it also hosts 4,000 companies from mainland China who use Singapore as a launching pad for their Southeast Asian trade. Singapore is also an increasingly prominent wholesale funding centre in both the debt and equity markets for the wider Asia region. 

Unlike other countries, big name manufacturing companies like Pfizer, came to Singapore to build their Asian headquarters during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

By employing a progressive taxation policy, high net worth individuals, business owners, and investors flock to Singapore to take advantage of more opportunities to grow their wealth and manage their finances. As of 2021, there are 700 Single Family Offices (SFO) in Singapore with Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoon joining the ranks. Deloitte ranked Singapore as the 6th in the top wealth management centres in the world. 

Setting up businesses in Singapore is also extremely easy and with 24 Free Trade Agreements, businesses can have access to preferential markets as well as free or reduced import tariffs. The Singapore government introduced the Global Investor Programme (GIP) to allow investors with a minimum of $2.5 million in investable funds to invest in Singapore companies, ensuring a robust start-up environment. 

With such a robust financial environment, thousands of jobs are created, growing the economy and Singapore’s position as a chosen financial hub.

The Reason why Singapore is So Successful

The Singapore government has shown how smart, strategic planning of the island state produces great results. After 58 years of independence, Singapore now has the best public housing system, world class education system, leading healthcare system, and with a low 3% unemployment rate, it has people from all over the world coming to look for job opportunities in the country. 

Singapore has not just thought out the macro factors when it comes to running a country but they also paid attention to detail. With a tropical climate and high humidity, it would be unbearable to live in the country. To be able to attract people to come to work and live in Singapore, they planted trees all over the country and branded itself as “The City in a Garden”. The trees provide shade during hot noon and lower its overall temperature. Today, millions of foreigners call this island city their home. 

Foreign business owners who want to live in Singapore can obtain a valid Employment Pass (EP) by setting up their businesses in Singapore. The Employment Pass (EP) would put the business owner as an employee of their own company, thus, allowing him/her to be able to live in Singapore. 

Foreign investors may get the coveted Singapore Permanent Residence (PR) by investing in Singapore via the Global Investor Programme (GIP)

Immigration@SG can help foreign business owners and investors to immigrate to Singapore via these routes. Contact them for more details.

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