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State

Capital

Singapore

Singapore

Currency unit

Singapore dollar

Connections

Empire

Malaysia

Population

SEA

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

A City State occupying an island about the size of the British Isle of Wight. The population is a mixture of ethnic groups but Chinese predominate. Others are Malays and Indians.

Like Calcutta and Hong Kong, Singapore is a modern city formed by the trading needs of the British Empire. It was founded by Stamford Raffles, a British merchant in 1819 in the East India Company on what had been an agricultural island. It became first a trading base for the Company, then the metropolis of British settlers, mostly rubber planters, in the Malayan peninsula. It was ruled as part of the colony and protectorate of Malaya. It was also an important naval base for the British Navy in the south east Asian area. Its fall during the war with Japan in 1942 was one of the greatest British military disasters.

Now it is one of the Asian "Tigers" (Japan, Korea, Taiwan) - successful manufacturing and trading economies. What cut it off from Malaysia, of which it is a natural part, is that the population is predominantly Chinese. But this may be the main reason for its economic success. The Malays in Malaysia did not want to be dominated by the Chinese. Singapore joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but left in 1965 and declared a republic the same year. British troops left in 1971. Will the model conquer China? If so, the West faces formidable competition.

In the ten years since this was written China has boomed and does indeed show the west a serious competition.

Languages

Chinese

Tamil

Malay

English (the language of government)

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

Since independence only one party, the People's Action Party, has formed the government. Elections are held but opposition candidates seldom win. It is a de facto one-party state with censorship of the local press and restrictions on the international press. Nevertheless there are good communications (necessary for business) with the rest of the world and a well-educated populace.

The previous Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew, who ruled from independence until 1990, has resigned. He is believed to wish to hand the state on to his son, Brig Lee Hsien-Loong. Thus Singapore would seem to be a dynastic rather than a democratic state, like North Korea and Romania before December 1989. As in China, Lee Kwan Yew may well still be the real ruler: as an Emperor figure.

Some observers have speculated that a tendency to dynasties is a characteristic of "Confucian" political culture, but it is also characteristic of all authoritarian systems. The Singapore dictatorship is probably acquiesced in by the majority, as the state is economically very successful.

"Elections" were held in January 1997. A majority of seats were unopposed. The opposition won no seats.

Dynastic succession blog

Interesting reading

John Keay - History of the Honourable East India Company


 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

A modern trading and manufacturing center. Singapore was originally the main port for the Malay States (West Malaysia) with its rail connection to Malaya. Now it is an entrepot center, with banking. It may well attract business from Hong Kong as China takes over. It has a high rate of investment and very good education and training - better in fact than the former colonial power. It is exporting its model to China - new city near Shanghai. Will this be the wave of the future?

Member ASEAN.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Government wants to raise birth rate, especially of the educated, after a successful campaign to reduce it. However, probably in reality governments have little influence on birthrate anywhere.

Car restraint by road pricing and limited rights to own a car - very expensive - may be a model to control car pollution. But the state is small and has good public transport.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Press censorship. Imprisonment without trial. Very high rate of hanging. The one party state is maintained by unofficial threats as well as the law.

Society of duties rather than rights. Not the western model, but the government points to very low crime rate, no vandalism and safe streets. New Yorkers might think of it as heaven. Will western individualism give way to this model as a more successful political and economic type? Probably not as its lack of creativity might handicap it in the long run - if that is true.

Climate effects

Much of the land is liable to flooding on sea level rise.

Last revised 12/04/10


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