Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, also known as Temasek is an island country, located off the southern end of the Malay Peninsula. It is home to a population of about 5.2 million people, of whom 3.3 million are Singapore citizens. Singapore is a very special country and is unlike any other in the world. Singapore, once an anonymous island swamped by trees and mangroves is today one of Asia’s leading economies. She may be young, but she has already gained the reputation and respect of a fully developed nation today; quality of living, infrastructure, education standards, you name it, Singapore has it. The word globalization has become synonymous with this tiny, yet influential country. Personally, I believe that Singapore is one of the few countries out there which brings out the best in mankind, not necessarily just that of her citizens. For this reason, Singapore ranks high on my list of most respected countries.
Full name : Republic of Singapore
Capital : Downtown Core, Central
Official Languages : English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil
Area : 710 square kilometres
Population : 5, 183, 700 (2011 census)
Status : Developed country
Today, I will be talking about several things which make Singapore special and unique. I wrote a similar article about Singapore on my previous, now non- existent website in 2010. For those of you who missed it, or didn’t read it, don’t worry, I hereby present a remastered and improved version of the same article, with additional knowledge gained in 2011. I hope you guys will enjoy reading it !
Singapore’s Success Story
It was only in the early 19th century that Stamford Raffles, the founding father of Singapore had placed his foot on the tiny island we now know as Singapore. It was a densely populated island of not people, but trees, and mangrove swamps. Only a thousand or so people called Singapore home, then better known as Temasek, which translates into Sea Town. Raffles had ambitious plans for his little island. He wanted it to grow into one of the world’s greatest port cities, a major commercial hub for the trading of goods between the East and West….. and his dreams were realized only 150 or so years later ( it’s a shame he didn’t live to see it through though ).
Of course, not everything was smooth sailing in little Singapore. World War II came knocking on Singapore’s back door in 1941. The country plunged into chaos and turmoil for several years. At the end of the war, even more problems emerged. Communism threatened to destroy the very foundations of the country and her population, both physically and mentally. But Singapore and her citizens persevered through it all. On the 31st of August 1963, Singapore became an independent nation, and together with her northern and eastern neighbours, Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah, formed the Federation of Malaysia. However, only 2 years later, Singapore was expelled from the Federation of Malaysia, for better or worse, due to political instability between the governing parties of the federation. This was a sad and difficult moment in the history of Singapore. Every Singaporean knew that the burden of an entire country lay on their weathered and weak shoulders.
But Singapore didn’t give up. Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister of the new Republic of Singapore led his people through the dark, depressing years following independence. His method of rule is questionable, but there’s no doubting the quantum leap experienced by the nation under his governing party. By the 1980s, Singapore was at the top of the world. In spite of the insurmountable odds, Singapore succeeded. All that blood, sweat and tears were not shed in vain. The determination and desire of the Singaporean people for change and continuous improvement has propelled the country all the way up the food chain. Today, Singapore is the 27th most developed country in the world ( based on HDI ), and the 5th most developed in the Asia Pacific region, after Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Singaporeans are among the richest people in the world as well, with a Gross Domestic Product per capita ( nominal value ) of USD$ 50, 714, based on estimates from the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ), slightly richer than the average Japanese citizen, twice as rich as the average South Korean and more than six times richer than the average Malaysian. Plus, living standards are extremely high ( and expensive ) in Singapore, on par or superior to most countries in the Western hemisphere.
I am impressed at how Singapore managed to develop from almost nothing into one of the world’s leading countries in such a short span of time. I may not know all the details, or exactly how such a miracle could have been made possible, but I do know that good things come to people who work for it… and everyone knows exactly how hard working and disciplined Singaporeans are. Ultimately, the Singaporean people are the real heroes of Singapore’s success story. Period.
Singlish is an abbreviation for Colloquial Singaporean English. Now, if you do not already know what Singlish is, you must be thinking ” Oh, this must be something like the British English, American English, Australian English etc. accent and slang thing ” … well, not really I’m afraid. Singlish is much more than that. It’s a combination of languages or accents, or as the Singaporeans call it, a ” rojak language ”, which translates as a ” mixture or mixed language ”. Singlish vocabulary contains elements or words borrowed from Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Mandarin, Punjabi, Bengali and Tamil languages, with English acting as the ” base platform ”. The slang in which it is spoken differs from person to person. Singlish is almost identical to Manglish ( Malaysian English ), which is in turn spoken by a large majority of Malaysians, especially those in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca. It’s estimated that there are up to 25 million people in the world who can speak and understand basic Singlish and Manglish.
However, the usage of Singlish is heavily discouraged and criticised in Singapore. The government and the bourgeoisie of Singapore regard Singlish with low prestige, and favour Standard Singaporean English. Thus, the usage of Singlish is prohibited in formal conversations. Although Singlish is spoken and understood by a large majority of Singaporeans, it is not viewed as a legit language in its own right. Most consider it as a form of broken English. Surveys of the Singaporean society have proven that individuals from the lower- classes tend to speak more Singlish than those in the upper- classes. The usage of Singlish has declined greatly in the past few decades, and continues to do so as the Singaporean society matures and develops.
Personally, I think Singlish is one of the few things that makes Singapore unique. I do not wish for this unique language to disappear from Singapore ( or Malaysia ) because it is synonymous with the culture and society of the country. Singapore without Singlish wouldn’t be the same, there’s no doubt about that. However, all is not lost yet. So long as Singaporeans continue to speak a little Singlish here and there, behind closed doors and at the mamak and kopitiam restaurants for example, it will continue to survive into the distant future.
Here is an example of a ( hilarious ) conversation in Singlish. Enjoy !
If you live to eat, Singapore should be on your menu. This little place is full of mouth- watering, lust- inducing and mind- boggling food. All kinds of dishes from all corners of the globe can be found here. There is the highly famous nasi lemak and nasi goreng from Malaysia. Plus, the legendary Kway Teow and countless noodle dishes from China. Not to forget, the yummy roti canai and thosai from India. And if you ever get bored of the local dishes ( which is extremely unlikely ), there is always Western fast food on offer too; McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, you name it, Singapore’s got it. That’s not all, we’re barely scratching the surface here ! Did I mention the delicious sushi and kimchi ? What about the awesome tacos ? Fish and chips anyone ?
… Alright, you must have gotten the full picture by now. Singapore offers anything and everything for anyone and everyone. You will be spoilt for choice here ! What more can I say ? You gotta eat it to believe it.
That is all for today guys. I hope you enjoyed reading the article. As for our conclusion ? I think Singapore is a unique country which demands respect and admiration from all of us. Singapore is an excellent example of a country which truly brings out the best in mankind. Race, religion, colour, none of that matters here. If you got the brains, the skills, and the talent, Singapore will welcome you with open arms. My only wish is that the political situation in Singapore were to improve. It’s no secret that Singapore suffers from a hybrid- regime, which hampers the democratic nature of this great nation. I wish all Singaporeans good luck in that, and believe me when I say, justice will always prevail !
Thank you for reading !
- Various websites for the photos
- My supportive friends and readers