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- Country researched:
Singapore is a small and young island nation which attained independence in 1965. Singapore is an island nation with over 4.2 million people and a land area of only 685 square km. Singapore attained self-government in 1959 from Britain, joined Malaysia in 1963 and became an independent city-state in 1965. (Kim-Sung, 2005)
- Changes to politics
Globalization has shaped Singapore political make up through colonialism by the British. Upon attaining full independence, the Singaporean government was shaped after the British system of Government with a head of state and Government. It has also borrowed some government ideals from the United States and adopted the separation of powers principle (Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary).The Constitution of Singapore is the country’s supreme law and has been in effect since its enactment on December 22nd, 1965. It provides for the various powers in all the arms of Government.
The executive branch is modeled after the British system of Government with a Head of Government and a Head of state. The Head of Government carries out administrative functions while the Head of State carries out mostly ceremonial functions but with slight variations. “The Constitution of Singapore defines the Government of Singapore as the executive branch and is composed of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet. The President is the head of state but is not the head of government and hence is primarily ceremonial. The President is vested with limited power of veto in financial matters, public appointments, detention for reasons of national security as well as the approval of financial budgets to be used by statutory boards” (Pak Kwan, 2000). This is similar to the British system which also has the Head of Government as the Prime Minister and the Head of State as the Queen of England. The election of the President by popular vote was borrowed from the US system of Government. Also, fundamental constitutional changes to the Constitution was made in 1991 granting the president veto powers over the government which the President can exercise with discretion in certain circumstances. The Multi-Party system is also adopted in Singapore which is similar to those of the British and American systems.
The legislature is directly modeled after the British parliament. The parliament is tasked with the passing of bills into law as well as some secondary functions including oversight over the executive. The members of the executive are chosen from the parliament. “In relation to the executive-legislative relationship, the British style of ministerial responsibility is generally adopted in Singapore. Bills may be introduced by the government and by private members of the Parliament. Private Member Bills are rare in Singapore. The Parliament uses a variety of means to monitor the executive, which include question time, debates, and select committee. The Parliament has the power to control taxation and public expenditures. The President has the power to refuse his assent to any government expenditure if he is of the opinion that the expenditure will be drawing on funds not accumulated during its current term of office” (Pak Kwan, 2000).
The judicial system is also modelled after the British system with court hierarchy and judicial precedence. The Supreme Court of Singapore is the highest court of land followed by the court of Appeal. The President appoints the Chief Justice upon recommendation by the Prime Minister. The chief justice is the head of judiciary. The constitution provides for the criteria for eligibility for the chief justice and other judges.
- Changes to the economy
The economy of Singapore has grown to be one of the best in the world with tremendous and unprecedented growth. This is primarily down to the fact that Singapore implemented and open economy soon after their independence. They tried to provide a safe and rich environment for all sorts of investments from foreign countries. They opened their ports for business and sold their tourists sites to the world. This openness to foreign direct investment has profited their economy tremendously. “The government of Singapore adopted a national development strategy that was dependent on FDI soon after political independence in 1965. The Singapore government designated the whole island as an ‘export processing zone’, introduced favorable tax incentives to transnational corporations involved in industrial production, and offered prepared industrial infrastructure, providing ready-built factories, telecommunications, transportation links and utilities.All these policies combined to create a cheap, disciplined and ‘pro-business’ location that would be attractive to transnational corporations.” (Denis &Kalekin-Fishman, 2009). In essence, their global handshake has helped to promote their locally manufactured products as well as inviting investment and technology from the world into their economy.
However, this global receptiveness is not all rosy. Due to its dependency on the global economy, any changes could also have a ripple effect on their economy which could easily be unfavorable. Thus, any unfavorable change in the world economy could also affect the Singaporean economy. “Because its own domestic market is very small, the growth of the Singapore economy has been highly dependent on the demand for its products in the world market. It has been forced to pursue world’s best practice since 1965. Changes in the global economic environment have had implications for the Singapore economy” (Lee Lai-To, 2000)
The effects of globalization on the economy appears to be good overall and it has really helped the economy grow. “Today, there are over 5,000 foreign companies located in Singapore and many multinational corporations and foreign financial institutions have established regional operating and manufacturing bases on the island. (Kim-Sung, 2005). Singapore’s port has grown to become one of the world’s busiest in terms of shipping tonnage, especially in container handling and bunkering facilities. Changi Airport in 2002 handled 29 million passengers, 1.64 million tonnes of cargo and 174,820 aircraft movements. Also, as at early 2008, the airport had the capacity to serve 64 million passengers a year.” (Kim-Sung, 2005). Singapore’s economic achievements have indeed appeared to be unassailable and this is majorly down to its connection with the world.
- Changes to culture
Due to its tight connection with the global economy, Singapore has benefitted greatly in all respects. However, it’s not only global goods, services or investment that is being imported but also the global culture and ideas. The exposure of Singaporeans to the world influences their culture and Singaporeans ultimately begin to emulate some of these cultures and ideas. The Asian conservatism shared by the Singaporeans have slowly diminished with liberalism on the rise. This conservatism was one of the shared ideas of the Singaporeans right from the days of their first leader, Lee Kwan Yew. However, research has shown that the liberalism seen in many countries of the world is now more adopted. “On the one hand, globalization introduces innovations and deep level societal transformations in highly connected countries. On the other hand, it also ushers in differences and invites tensions because cultural values and social visions are processed and appropriated differently. It brings with it forces of cultural heterogenization and tension which must be recognized and taken into account. The Singapore experience is evidenced in the observable changes encountered in its material and non-material cultures. On the matter of mores and mind-sets for example, while Singapore’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious population has co-existed since the birth of the nation, differences have been tempered by a shared sense of Asian conservatism. With increasing secularization of society and an expanding global reach, there is now a noticeable movement from Asian conservatism toward a form of post conservative liberalism” (Chong, 2013).
Chua (2011) argues the inevitability of this movement toward liberalism in Singapore society and notes that “while there are signs of increasing religiosity in all religions practiced by the multiracial populations,… there is however, concurrently, an increasing secularization of mind-sets … and the continuing expansion of consumerism” (Chua, 2011, p. 68). Chua reasons that the logic of consumerism entails freedom to exercise choice-the greater the level of consumption, the greater the demand for options and autonomy. Consumption, however, is not limited to just goods and services, but also experiences, lifestyles, ideologies, and political allegiances-hence the inevitable consequence of liberalization (Chua, 2011, p. 65-72). “This momentum toward liberalism has been growing and sustained over several decades. It has been nourished by an open global exchange of ideas, accelerated by active participation in digital spaces, and energized by an increased willingness to exercise as well as defend this freedom in academic and public discourse.” (Chong, 2013).
This global receptiveness in culture and ideas has caused some dismay in the Singapore Government and has led them to create initiatives to draw Singaporeans to National ideas and to remind them of their culture. These initiatives are aimed at encouraging globalization but asks that Singaporeans remain rooted to national ideas and culture. “In efforts to prevent Singaporeans from being displaced by the current tide of globalization, the resonance of “Go global, but stay local” has become something like a national imperative in the local mediascape and ideoscape to encourage Singaporeans to venture forth to find new economic opportunities in the world but remain emotionally rooted to Singapore. This slogan is also a direct admission of Singapore’s paradoxical response to globalization, which is a subliminal anxiety and fear that globalization, may lead to a condition of rootlessness and homelessness should those who have ventured forth decide not to return.” (Aaron Koh, 2010)
Who are the “winners” who have benefitted from globalization in this country?
A) THE ECONOMY
The Economy is definitely going to be a winner for Singapore given its extensive growth since the independence of the island nation. Singapore has shocked the world with the rate of its economic growth and this is majorly down to its ability to exploit the world economy for its benefit. Its strategy of providing the perfect environment for foreign direct investment has benefited Singaporeans. As stated earlier, the Singapore Government made the island an export processing zone, trained its workforce to provide disciplined and technical labour and invited multi-national companies into its borders. The Singapore economy now has one of the best GDP ratios in the world, has one of the busiest ports in the world and its citizens don’t need a visa to visit over 189 countries in the world. “The impact of globalization on Singapore’s economic achievements have indeed appeared to be unassailable. The economic upturn has been due to the promotion of foreign investments in Singapore and the continuation of a free trade policy that would enable liberal import and export of goods and services. From 1960 to 2000, the city-state experienced the highest national-income growth in the world. As a result, in 1997 Singapore’s GDP per capita (GDPpc) ranked eighth in the world, ahead even of its former colonial ruler, the United Kingdom. Furthermore, there are over 5,000 foreign companies located in Singapore and many multinational corporations and foreign financial institutions have established regional operating and manufacturing bases on the island. Singapore’s port has also grown to become one of the world’s busiest in terms of shipping tonnage, especially in container handling and bunkering facilities. Today, with a per capita income of over US$30,000, Singapore is a developed country possessing most of the characteristics and qualities of life in the democratic world, often described as the First World.” (Kim-Sung, 2005) (Lee Lai-To, 2000).
Despite Singapore’s tremendous growth, it will be almost virtually impossible for citizens to benefit from it if they are not equipped to be competent labour for the Foreign Investment and multi-national companies. The global world is highly competitive and global curriculum education is essential to ensure that Singaporeans can provide top professionals and technical labour to take those jobs. Thus, the global need for competent labour has influenced the Singapore educational system. Singapore has continually adjusted its educational curriculum to keep up with the changing patterns of the world and to ensure Singaporeans Students remain relevant in this environment. “Singapore first used a colonial curriculum, then a nation-centric curriculum, and is now beginning to address issues for twenty-first century competencies. Since the mid-1990s, Singapore has been at the forefront of reforming the curriculum in response to the perceived challenges of globalization. A plethora of educational and curricular initiatives have been introduced to schools including: the critical thinking initiative (1997), the IT-Masterplans (1998–2002; 2003–2008; 2009–2014), National Education (a form of citizenship education) (1998), Innovation and Enterprise (2004), Teach Less Learn More (TLLM) (2004), and more recently, changes to primary and secondary schooling. These initiatives represent prototypical attempts to address the new conditions of nationhood and globalization, calling for the cultivation of critical thinking, creativity, innovation, life-long learning, positive attitudes and values, and national identity. Most recently, the Ministry has developed a new vision for the national curriculum, Curriculum 2015 (C2015), which enumerates a set of broad learning outcomes centered on twenty first century competencies. Further, the locus of management has shifted from a directive Ministry of Education to the hands of school leaders and classroom teachers.” (Deng & Kim-Eng Lee, 2013). All these have helped Singaporean students to have a competitive edge with professionals both home and abroad.
Who are the “losers” who have been harmed by globalization in this country?
A) THE AVERAGE CITIZENS
Research has shown that despite Singaporeans embrace of globalization and its tremendous growth, the spoils are not as evenly distributed among all Singaporeans. It has been shown by Newsweek International (2007) that the lower classes of Singaporeans are not benefitting from the tremendous growth of the economy. This is partly down to the fact that they might not be adequately trained to work in this highly globalized economy. The research by Newsweek International shows that the benefits of the economy are not trickling down to the poorer people in the country allowing the rich to get richer and the poorer to get poorer. “Average citizens have yet to reap the benefits. New statistics reveal that middle-class households have tasted none of Singapore’s spectacular growth, and that the island’s poorest 30 percent are worse off than they were five years ago. The country has been unable to prevent the gains of globalization from flowing mostly to rich individuals and multinational corporations. In its bid to adapt Singapore’s economy to international competition, the government has tried hard to reduce business costs. This has meant slashing labour prices, which has helped push wages down. According to official figures, over the past five years Singapore’s wealthiest 10 percent have seen their income rise by 2.3 percent annually (and that doesn’t include nonwage earnings such as capital gains or dividends). At the same time, the poorest 10 percent have suffered a staggering 4.3 percent drop in their salaries each year” (Newsweek International, 2007). The average citizens are definitely the biggest losers as without exposure to the gains of globalization, they are left to cope with a higher cost of living with money that they don’t have. It is clear that the Singapore government needs to work towards reducing the cost of living for these group of people and giving the opportunity to get the adequate training to enable to work in a technical environment.
B) CONSERVATISM AND CULTURE
As has been stated earlier, Singapore’s global link is advantageous but has affected its culture and ideas. It is not only global goods, services and investment entering the country but also global culture and ideas. Thus, the shared conservatism of Singaporeans is quickly dissipating with liberalism on the rise. This has affected the institutions in Singapore as people now have different ideas coming from the world. “The effects of globalization in Singapore is evidenced in the observable changes encountered in its material and non-material cultures. With increasing secularization of society and an expanding global reach, there is now a noticeable movement from Asian conservatism toward a form of post conservative liberalism” (Chong, 2013). Chua (2011) argues the inevitability of this movement toward liberalism in Singapore society and notes that consumerism in the global market is not limited to just goods and services, but also experiences, lifestyles, ideologies, and political allegiances-hence the inevitable consequence of liberalization (Chua, 2011, p. 65-72). “This momentum toward liberalism has been growing and sustained over several decades. It has been nourished by an open global exchange of ideas, accelerated by active participation in digital spaces, and energized by an increased willingness to exercise as well as defend this freedom in academic and public discourse” (Chong, 2013).
This has also affected the institutions of marriage and family. Research shows that divorces are on the rise while marriage and birth rates are declining. This has been put down to the inequality and frustrations by female spouses in division of domestic responsibilities and more time spent at work than at home with each other among other reasons (Straughan, 2009). “It points to “signs that families continue to be under stress, with emerging trends such as declining marriage and birth rates, as well as increasing number of divorces”. According to the report, “the number of divorces has been rising, although at a more moderate pace in the last 5 years” (Straughan, 2009). The impact of globalization has led the government to implement initiatives that promote globalization but encourages Singaporeans to keep their national ideas and culture. One of such initiatives is the “Go global, Stay local” initiative (Aaron Koh, 2010).
- Overall, do you believe that globalization has had a more positive or negative impact on this country, and why? (1-2 paragraph answer; 20% of grade)
In my view, globalization has had a positive impact on Singapore. Singapore opened its economy to the world and encouraged direct foreign investment and cut free trade deals with several countries. It made its island an export processing zone and created the perfect environment for Multi-national companies. It also trained its citizens to take advantage of it connectedness with the world as well as making its country attractive for immigrants and tourists. These policies paid off big for Singapore with the country experiencing growth many top countries will be envious of. “Between 1965 and 1991, the tiny city-state grew at an astonishing compound annual growth rate of nearly 14 percent. The country maintained strong growth throughout the 1990s, stumbling only slightly during the 1997-1998 Asian economic crisis and achieving levels of per capita income that approached those of the industrialized West. Even in the early years of the 21st century, as Lee Kuan Yew, its leader slipped from politics, Singapore maintained an average annual growth rate of around 5 percent” (Lee Lai-To, 2000).
This growth has spread to other sectors and has led to unprecedented success for this island nation. The country now ranks one of the best in almost all respects and this has boosted national pride and patriotism among its citizens. “The materiality of Singapore’s success and wealth, through its engagement with global capitalism, is evident in the list of accolades that Singapore has attained, such as having the world’s best airport, its world class transport, the most competitive workforce, the cleanest city, and its top rank in international mathematics and science Olympiads. All these economic and material achievements have taken on symbolic values as they are used as “a system of cultural representation” to anchor and construct Singapore’s national identity to the global world.” (Aaron Koh, 2007). Today, with a per capita income of US$30,000, Singapore has grown to be one of the foremost countries in the world.
- Works Cited
- Kim-Song Tan ([email protected]) and Sock-Yong Phang ([email protected]); From Efficiency-Driven to Innovation-Driven Economic Growth: Perspectives from Singapore; Singapore Management University, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3569, April 2005
- MrChau Pak Kwan; Systems of Government in Some Foreign Countries: Singapore (11 April 2000); Research and Library Services Division Legislative Council Secretariat, RP03/99-00
- Lee Lai-To; SINGAPORE’S GLOBALIZATION STRATEGY; East Asia: An International Quarterly. 18.2 (Summer 2000): p36. http://www.springer.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/social+sciences/political+science/journal/12140
- Ann Denis (Editor) &Kalekin-Fishman (Editor); Economic Globalization and Singapore’s Development Policies: Competition, Cooperation and Conflict (2009); DevorahThe ISA Handbook in Contemporary Sociology: Conflict, Competition, Cooperation, p.384
- Chua, B. H. (2011). Liberalisation is inevitable. In W. Lim, S. Siddique, & D. F. Tan (Eds.), Singapore shifting boundaries: Social change in the early 21st century (pp. 65-72). Singapore: Asian Urban Lab
- Chong, Calvin; Christian education encounters 21st century globalization: the singapore experience; Christian Education Journal, suppl. Special Supplement; Glen Ellyn Vol. 10, (Fall 2013): S204-S219
- Zongyi Deng, S. and Christine Kim-Eng Lee (Editors); Globalization and the Singapore Curriculum: From Policy to Classroom (2013); For further volumes: http://www.springer.com/series/10092
- Newsweek International, “Singapore Swing; The island’s economy is booming. So why are so many citizens worse off than they were 10 years ago?” 29 Jan. 2007. Expanded AcademicASAP, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A158175123/EAIM?u=ureginalib&sid=EAIM&xid=79bad06d Accessed 19 Oct. 2018
- Straughan, P. T. (2009). Marriage dissolution in Singapore: Revisiting family values and ideology in marriage. Leiden, Holland: Brill.
- Aaron Koh; Living with Globalization Tactically:TheMetapragmatics of Globalization in Singapore; Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Volume 22, Number 2, October 2007, ISEAS–YusofIshak Institute
- Aaron Koh; Tactical globalization: learning from the Singapore experiment, 2010, Bern, Peter Lang, 222 pp., US$69.95 (paperback), ISBN 978-3-03910-591-5
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