Today I’m going to pen my thoughts about the most requested post on this blog– Where and what is Singapore?
I write this post with a mixed sense of irony and excitement:
- Irony, because I always assumed that Singapore is so well-known in the world that I’d never have to write such an informational post about my own country;
- Excitement, because I don’t have to repeat anything to curious Finns anymore! The next time someone asks me this question, I can just refer them to this blog post ^_^.
Saves a lot of time.
Anyway, this piece is what I think of Singapore. So without further ado, here’s the informational piece from my perspective:
:: Introduction to Singapore. ::
Singapore is a sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia. We are neither part of China nor Africa.
We are famous for these things:
- Racial harmony, or at least racial tolerance. Different races–Malay, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, “others”– stay in one small country. Just for comparison, Singapore is only slightly smaller the than Helsinki Region (up to Ring III). Singapore is like a melting-pot of different religions and cultures, and we do cherish this immensely.
- Really high GDP per capita at 51,709.45 USD in 2012. Finland’s GDP/capita in the same year is 45,723.49 USD.
- Food. Because of our cosmopolitan background, we have food from all over the world. “Western” food, Malay food, Indian food, Chinese food, Japanese food, Korean food, etcetc.
- Competitive tax rates (especially vis-à-vis European nations). Singapore is an extremely competitive and pro-business country.
- Contrary to what most people believe, according to the latest 2014 PISA test, Singapore actually ranks No. 1, not Finland. Finland used to rank No. 1, now it isn’t even in top 10. However, in Singapore/Korea/Japan, there are extremely lucrative private education markets known as the “private tuition industries”. And this hidden private market across the three Asian countries are never taken into account when the kids do PISA tests.
- Rich person’s playgound. Well in Singapore, an average house on Sentosa Cove costs USD20 million.
- Summer all-year-round. Which is why I hate summer in Finland.
- Efficiency. This is one of the reason why I am slightly irritated by summer in Finland–everyone goes on summer vacations! In Singapore, most of us tend to be swamped by work and have little time for personal life. Which perhaps put into perspective why I’m always slightly irritated (perhaps even jealous, whatever) when people go on vacations, because they are delaying my work! 😛 But it is–without a doubt–a happy form of irritation.
- Most expensive cars in the world. Check this article out.
- Clean, safe, beautiful city that bans chewing gum.
Oh yes, because of Singapore’s high GINI coefficient ( greater than 0.4)–meaning that income gap is super high– there are two categories of Singaporeans in general–the “Cosmopolitan” and the “heartland-ers”. They live in different Singaporean cultures, but they do co-exist rather harmoniously. This categorization is not unlike the Swedish-speaking Finns and the Finnish-speaking Finns categorization. “Neither is better than the other–they are just different”, or so people officially say.
By the same virtue, a Chinese person (race) can be Singaporean (nationality) too. Don’t confuse the two!
Oh yes…Singaporeans speak English with an accent, but our first language is English! And by the way, due to the colonial backgrounds, the first language of India and the Philippines is also English too. #justsaying.
Also… just for the fun of it, I created a table comparing the two countries to illustrate one point– Singapore and Finland are actually really similar, especially in population, natural resources and relationship with neighbors.
|GDP per capita (2012)
World Bank’s Record
|45,723.49 USD||51,709.45 USD|
|Population||5,268,799 (July 2014 est.)||5,567,301 (July 2014 est.)|
|Ethnic Groups||Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.6%, Russian 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Roma (Gypsy) 0.1%, Sami 0.1% (2006)||Chinese 74.2%, Malay 13.3%, Indian 9.2%, others 3.3% (2013 est.)|
|Natural Resources||Brains and Wood.||Brains.|
|Love-hate relationship with…||Sweden and Russia.This is one of the main reasons why Finland joined EU…yes?||Malaysia and Indonesia.This is why Singapore spams “Free trade agreements” with the entire world, and is a leading member of the regional bloc ASEAN.|
|Land Area||338,145 sq km||697 sq km|
|Languages||Most Finns are at least billingual.
Finnish + English + something else.Erm…yes Swedish is compulsory but I think most Finns don’t care.
|Most Singaporeans are at least billingual.
English + Mother Tongue + something else.Most “heartlander” Singaporeans do speak a local dialect.
|History||Used to be ruled by Sweden, then Russia, then fought for independence.||Used to be ruled by the British, then Japanese, then fought for independence.|
|Key Value||“Equality”– No matter who you are, you deserve an equal chance in life. Smart or silly, hardworking or lazy, everyone should have an equal range of opportunities.||“Meritocracy”– No matter who you are, as long as you work hard, you get to keep your money.|
|Personal and Corporate Taxes||Welfare state– taxes are one of the highest in the world.||Business-orientated state: Taxes are one of the most competitive in the world, if you disregard countries with tax rates of 0%.|
|Working style||Emphasis on accuracy and quality.
Engineering mentality– Actions speaks louder than words.
|Emphasis on speed.
Generally efficient; get things done fast.
|Government support for entrepreneurship||Well there is a very strong labour union relative to Singapore’s in Finland, so wages and benefits are good if you work for a big company as opposed to if you work for yourself.However, you get unemployment benefits should your company fail.||Tons of incentive to encourage entrepreneurship in Singapore, especially via government grants. Low corporate taxes.However, if your company fails, you’re pretty screwed!|
|Spoken English||Speed: Slower than half of the world.
Quantity: Less than half the world.
“R” pronounced as “RRRR”
“W” pronounced as “V”.
|Speed: Faster than half of the world.
Quantity: More than half the world.
Funny accent peppered with strange endings.(I’d write a blog post on “Handy Singlish” some day.)
|Attitude towards foreigners||On the societal and local levels, the emphasis is on treating the foreigner equally.But the popular perception is that a foreigner can’t really get a job unless he or she speaks finnish fluently. And even then, he might still not get a job due to recession.||The Singaporean government embraces diversity and strongly encourages foreigners to work in Singapore.On a local level, the emphasis is on the foreigner’s openness to integrate into the society, and the foreigner’s level of humility.|
|Purpose of Life||“To experience and enjoy”.||“To survive and be financially rich”.|
|Seasons||In general two– Summer and winter.||Summer throughout the year.|
|Single known-famous figure to each country.||Kimi Räikkönen. <3 <3 <3 Super famous in Singapore!||Lee Kuan Yew.Super famous in Finland amongst Finns who know Singapore!|
|Soft spots||Salmiakki, Long Drink, Vodka.||Any sort of yummy food.
Chicken rice, bak kut teh, rojak, laksa, roti prata, mee siam.
|Education focuses on…||Thinking.||Remembering.|
|Best||Education, Passport to have, place to be a mummy.||Education, airport, financial services.|
Okay, I’m ending this short informational piece with a National Day Proposal from Singapore, to Finland. Now this is REAL, made last year, this IS a love confession from Singapore to Finland! Watch!
Bye! World cup watching time. Leave a comment, but be kind!
I’d also love to connect with you, especially since it’s summer vacations now, so feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 🙂 Stay cool and sunny 😉