Lifestyle And Work Culture Of Singapore Cultural Studies Essay

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A 3-bedroom private condo apartment with the size of around 1300 square feet close to city-centre can fetch an average monthly rent of S$7,000-S$10,000. A similar private condo property outside the central business district will cost you around S$2,500-S$5000 per month. A 3-bedroom government housing flat (also called HDB flat) costs from S$1000 to S$2,000 per month. A typical HDB flat rented would include the basic household appliances such as a bed, television, sofa, refrigerator, washing machine, oven, etc.

Business interaction is more formal in Singapore. It follows rules of protocol and a strict chain of command. In Singapore personal relationships are the cornerstone of all business relationships. Singapore is a group-oriented culture, so associations are often based on ethnicity, education or workplace. Once you are established as part of the group, you are expected to obey its unwritten rules. You should always be respectful and courteous when dealing with others; direct confrontation and loud personalities are not appreciated, in general. Moreover, rank is always respected in Singapore. Thus, the eldest person in the group is revered and given priority in social interactions.

When it comes to business meetings or visits, appointments should be made in advance through writing, telephone, fax or e-mail. Punctuality is considered a strong virtue.

.Business Communities

The dominant business community in Singapore is the Chinese, who, at the beginning of the last century, began trading companies, became financiers or went into food processing and distribution. They emerged against the backdrop of Singapore as a colonial city: its ruling elite and commercial core was British. There has also been a thriving Indian business community and many Indians worked in the public sector as clerks, teachers and policemen.

Unfortunately, the distribution of various ethnic communities in various professional jobs is not uniform.  Chinese are most dominant in professional, technical, administrative and managerial jobs, whereas Malays are the least dominant in these highly-skilled jobs. Indians are somewhere in the middle. Majority of the foreign professionals in Singapore work in hi-tech, finance, and research & development fields.

Working Singaporean Way

Large western MNCs located in Singapore will often exhibit predominantly western-style work culture whereas majority of the local government and private companies will have greater influence of traditional Asian culture in their work environment. Local firms are mainly influenced by cultural characteristics: high power distance, collectivism, high-uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation.

Singaporeans have a predominantly strict attitude to life, marked by clear authority structures and distinct social status lines.

Hierarchical Relationships

Treat employers and superiors with utmost respect.

Refrain from calling their employers by first names - preferring instead to call them "Mr./Mrs./Miss" and followed with their surname/personal name or simply "Sir/Madam/Boss".

Practice the "arrive before the boss, leave after the boss" working hours.


Speaking up about individual efforts to complete a task - even if you did complete the task on your own. It is advisable to say "Mr. Pang, I have managed to draft out a comprehensive business proposal with the help of my team".

Disagreeing with group decisions - even if you did have sound reasons for your decision. It is advisable to adhere to (and practice!) the common "majority wins" approach when trying to reach a consensus.


Do not correct your employer/superior's mistakes in public.

Do not question your employer/superior in public.

Do not disagree with their employer/superior in public.

Do not refuse your employer/superior outright. Employees may publicly comply to unreasonable demands with an agreeable "yes" but the "yes" is often accompanied with signs of non-compliance ("it might be difficult…").

Do not engage in public display of anger or confrontation against your employer/superiors.

Working hours

Many companies in Singapore have moved from 6 days to 5 days per week schedule. This is especially true for MNCs and companies engaged in white collar work. Normal working hours are 40-45 hours per week. However depending on the workload you may end up spending more hours per week. Normally there is half-an-hour to one-hour lunch break. Over-time is not applicable to most of the professional and managerial jobs.

If overtime is applicable to your job, it's one-and-a-half times the basic hourly rate. Pay for time worked on holidays and normal days off is two-and-a-half times the normal rate. If you job is covered under the employment act, an employee cannot be asked to work for more than 12 hours in a day under the Employment Act. Overtime work is limited to 72 hours a month. 

A look at Singapore's economy


Singapore's 2007 GDP is at US$161,348.8 million with a per capita income of US$35,163. To put into perspective, Singapore has twice the GDP per capita of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines - combined. Singapore's GDP is growing at an annual rate of 7.7% while the annual inflation rate remains low at 2.1%. Since the 1980, the economy experienced two minor slow downs, the first was in 1998 and another in 2001. However, with the restructuring of Wall Street in September 2008, Singapore cut its growth forecast significantly. 



Sources of Inflation


Singapore's GDP is dominated by its services sector contributing about US$110,448 million. The goods-producing sector (manufacturing, construction, utilities) during the same period contributed about US$49,352 million while minor activities like agriculture, fishing, quarrying, and ownership of dwellings sum up to SS$7,014 million. Finally, taxes on products account for around US$11,558 million in GDP. 

Public Debt

Since 1995, the Singapore government has maintained zero foreign debt while its current domestic debt amounts to about US$175,500 million. This includes registered stocks and bonds, treasury bills, and advanced payments for its operations. However, for a government whose total revenue in 2007 was close to US$28 billion, Singapore is one of the few countries that do not have to worry about their public debt.

Inward and Outward FDI

Currency Strength

About US$13,890 million approx SG$19,733 million worth of paper money, coins, and demand deposits is circulating in the economy. The Singapore dollar has been consistently appreciating against major currencies including the US dollar, British pound, and Japanese yen.

In Malaysia, the language is officially known as Bahasa Malaysia, which translates as the "Malaysian language". The term, which was introduced by the National Language Act 1967, was predominant until the 1990s, when most academics and government officials reverted to "Bahasa Melayu," which is used in the Malay version of the Federal Constitution.

Malay Culture and Society

Family and relations

The family is considered the centre of the social structure. As a result there is a great emphasis on unity, loyalty and respect for the elderly. The family is the place where the individual can be guaranteed both emotional and financial support. When one member of the family suffers a financial setback, the rest of the family will contribute what they can to help out. Families tend to be extended, although in the larger cities this will naturally differ.

The Concept of Face

Malays, Chinese and Indians all strive to maintain face and avoid shame both in public and private. Face is a personal concept that embraces qualities such as a good name, good character, and being held in esteem by one's peers. Face is considered a commodity that can be given, lost, taken away, or earned. On top of this face also extends to the family, school, company, and even the nation itself.

The desire to maintain face makes Malaysians strive for harmonious relationships.

Lost of face

Face can be lost by openly criticizing, insulting, or putting someone on the spot; doing something that brings shame to the group; challenging someone in authority, especially if this is done in public; showing anger at another person; refusing a request; not keeping a promise; or disagreeing with someone publicly.

Saving the face

Conversely, face can be saved by remaining calm and courteous; discussing errors or transgressions in private; speaking about problems without blaming anyone; using non-verbal communication to say "no"; and allowing the other person to get out of the situation with their pride intact.

Etiquette and Customs in Malaysia


Many Malays do not have surnames. Instead, men add their father's name to their own name with the term "bin" (meaning 'son of'). So Rosli bin Suleiman, would be Rosli the son of Suleiman. 

 Women use the term "binti", so Aysha bint Suleiman is Aysha the daughter of Suleiman.

Gift Giving Etiquette

If invited to someone's home for dinner, bring the hostess pastries or good quality chocolates.

Never give alcohol.

Do not give toy dogs or pigs to children.

 Do not give anything made of pigskin.

 Avoid white wrapping paper as it symbolizes death and mourning.

 Avoid yellow wrapping paper, as it is the color of royalty.

 If you give food, it must be "halal" (meaning permissible for Muslims).

Offer gifts with the right hand only or both hands if the item is large.

 Gifts are generally not opened when received.

Business Etiquette and Protocol in Malaysia


Initial greetings should be formal and denote proper respect.

If in a team, introduce the most important person first.

 Many Malays and Indians are uncomfortable shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex.

 Foreign men should always wait for a Malaysian woman to extend her hand. Foreign women should also wait for a Malaysian man to extend his hand.

 To demonstrate respect Chinese may look downwards rather than at the person they are meeting.

 It is important that professional titles (professor, doctor, engineer) and honorific titles are used in business. Malays and Indians use titles with their first name while Chinese use titles with their surname.

The most important person to the lower ranking person.

The older person to the younger person.

Women to men.

Business Card Etiquette

Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions.

 If you will be meeting Chinese, have one side of your card translated into Chinese, with the Chinese characters printed in gold.

If you will be meeting government officials, have one side of your card translated into Bahasa Malaysia.

 Use two hands or the right hand only to exchange business cards.

Examine any business card you receive before putting it in your business card case.

The respect you show someone's business card is indicative of the respect you will show the individual in business. Act accordingly.

Never write on someone's card in their presence.


As an extension to the need to maintain harmonious relations, Malaysians rely on non-verbal communication (i.e. facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc). Such a communication style tends to be subtle, indirect and. Malays may hint at a point rather than making a direct statement, since that might cause the other person to lose face. Rather than say "no", they might say, "I will try", or "I'll see what I can do". This allows the person making the request and the person turning it down to save face and maintains harmony in their relationship.

Silence is an important element of Malaysian communication. Pausing before responding to a question indicates that they have given the question appropriate thought and considered their response carefully. Many Malaysians do not understand the Western propensity to respond to a question hastily and can consider such behavior thoughtless and rude.

Malaysians may laugh at what may appear to outsiders as inappropriate moments. This device is used to conceal uneasiness.

Do not show anger in public as it makes Malaysians uncomfortable and creates a feeling of powerlessness. There is a greater chance of achieving a good outcome id you are calm, whereas little is resolved by shouting.

Business Meetings

It is a good idea for the most senior person on your team to enter first so that he or she is the first to greet the most senior Malaysian. 

 This gives face to both parties as it demonstrates respect towards the Malaysian and shows that you respect hierarchy within your company. 

 It is customary for leaders to sit opposite each other around the table. 

 Many companies will have their team seated in descending rank, although this is not always the case.

 Expect the most senior Malaysian to give a brief welcoming speech. You need not reciprocate.

There will be a period of small talk, which will end when the most senior Malaysian is comfortable moving to the business discussion.

 Meetings may be conducted or continue over lunch and dinner. 

 Meetings, especially initial ones, are generally somewhat formal. Treat all Malaysian participants with respect and be cautious not to lose your temper or appear irritated.

At the first meeting between two companies, Malaysians will generally not get into in-depth discussions. They prefer to use the first meeting as an opportunity to get to know the other side and build a rapport, which is essential in this consensus-driven culture.

The economy of Thailand is an emerging economy which is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two thirds of gross domestic product (GDP) The exchange rate is Baht 31.00/USD.

Thailand has a GDP worth 8.5 trillion Baht (on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis), or US$627 billion (PPP). This classifies Thailand as the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Despite this, Thailand ranks midway in the wealth spread in Southeast Asia as it is the 4th richest nation according to GDP per capita, after Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. Thailand's nominal economic output is 9.728 trillion baht as of June 2010 ($313.8 billion USD)[2], while holding some $153 billion in foreign exchange assets.

It functions as an anchor economy for the neighboring developing economies of Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Thailand's recovery from the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis depended mainly on exports, among various other factors. Thailand ranks high among the world's automotive export industries along with manufacturing of electronic goods.

Most of Thailand's labor force is working in agriculture. However, the relative contribution of agriculture to GDP has declined while exports of goods and services have increased.

Tourism revenues are on the rise. With the instability surrounding the recent coup and the military rule, however, the GDP growth of Thailand has settled at around 4-5% from previous highs of 5-7% under the previous civilian administration, as investor and consumer confidence has been degraded somewhat due to political uncertainty.

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Thailand at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Thai Baht.

Thailand gdp growth