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Singapore Administration and Government

General Information

Thirty-six years down the path of independence the Republic of Singapore - measuring a mere 580 square kilometres - has turned from a colonial backwater to a fast-paced ultra-modern city.

It is proudly one of Southeast Asia's most easily accessible cities, with its downtown areas carefully crafted with towering skyscrapers, gleaming shopping malls and well-planned facilities. Today, Singapore's multicultural population numbers 2.8 million, consisting of 76 percent Chinese, 15 percent Malay, and 6.5 percent Indian.

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Singapore Administration and Government

The administrative government of Singapore has initiated considerable change and development over the years. Interestingly however, the forces governing Singapore have made sure that the island is not overwhelmed by its vast developments. The abundance of nature reserves, parks and green lungs are immediately apparent.

The efforts put into the administration and development of Singapore over the past thirty years have been remarkable, considering the Republic's lack of any noteworthy natural resources. Its early prosperity was based on a policy of intense free trade, established in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles founded the island as a British trading post.

The government has been able to channel the mass industrialization to bolster its economy, and today Singapore is the world's busiest port, second only to Rotterdam. Singapore's government has also cleverly steered it out of inflation, with only minimal unemployment; equipped it with a super-efficient infrastructure, and an average per capita income of over US$ 12,000.

Nevertheless, this feat was and is not achieved without some considerable compromise. There is an unwritten understanding between its government and people that stipulates the loss of a certain amount of personal freedom, in return for the comfort and affluence that would have been unimaginable thirty years ago.

Singapore's former prime minister and now senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew, has been known to voice the sentiment that, "When you are hungry, when you lack basic services, freedom, human rights and democracy do not add up to much."

Indeed Singaporeans rarely go hungry and cold, yet neglecting to flush a public toilet, chewing gum, jaywalking, eating on the subway, and vandalism really do carry sizeable fines and heavy punishments. Regardless, the government of Singapore rarely has the need to mete out these punishments and fines, as Singaporeans have learned not to break the law.

This alone obviously shows the population's trust in the leadership and wisdom of its government, and people appear content to be under the rule of a paternalistic form of government often described as soft authoritarianism. Hence, Singaporeans have come to be known for their unquestioning subservience to their government.

This statement does indeed hold its truth, as the past has shown Singaporeans that following their government's lead, brings certain bountiful benefits. They take great pride in their country, a clean, safe place to visit, with amenities second to none and smoke-free and hygienic public places.

The nation's youth hardly remember a time before the comforts of Singapore's advanced improvements. But as they in turn grow, public life should become increasingly, more liberal and democratic. But whatever the view or opinion on Singapore's government, Singaporeans today feel that there is more economic relevance in the seven million annual visitors to Singapore, than the opinions of others.

Singapore's government is strict on drug laws, with the death penalty applied for drug trafficking. It is also against the entry of firearms, controlled drugs, endangered species of wildlife, chewing gum and cigarette lighters in the shape of a firearm. Smoking in public buses, the MRT, taxis, lifts and air-conditioned places is also deemed against the law; with fines up to SG$ 1,000. The government is also adamant that littering is an offence and carries penalties of a fine of SG$ 1,000 or more; and also a stint of corrective work order.

Whatever steps the government takes to uphold security and boost morality, Singapore is indeed a safe city and country, even for roaming about in the day or at night.

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