Santa Clara University


Major Takeaways

Strong presence of the Singaporean government
"They are watching you"…and with the Singaporean government – it’s true! The government has a strong presence and is involved in everything from the airline that flies you into the country (Singapore Airlines) to the tourist activities (the Singapore Zoo) to levying hefty “sin taxes” on activities that it deems harmful to your health (smoking and drinking). The government is heavily involved in both business (i.e., Temasek Holdings, an investment fund that manages assets of the government of Singapore) and everyday life. What is so surprising is that it works! Singapore runs like a well-oiled machine, with the Prime Minister acting as the CEO of the country, working to grow and develop the Singaporean economy for residents and visitors alike.


A contradictory picture of a conservative and not-so-conservative country
Singapore is famous for being a “fine” country, that is to say a country that has a fine or penalty associated with nearly every activity from bringing durian fruit onto a subway (S$500) to jaywalking across a street (repeat offenders can face a S$2,000 fine or six months in jail). Despite this highly regulatory and rather conservative facade, Singapore is actually a very liberal and westernized nation. In walking the local streets, you will see numerous shops that would be at home on 5th Avenue or the Champs-Elysee, and elaborate complexes devoted to bars, clubs and late night activities. The Singaporean people appreciate and cater to those who like to have a little fun.


A country without a dominant national identity
Singapore’s current population is approximately one-fourth foreigners, which leads to a remarkable level of openness and tolerance. However, the flip side is that there does not appear to be strong sense of nationalism among its inhabitants. While Koreans take pride in buying Korean, Singaporeans do not seem to exhibit such loyalty. Singaporeans look for the latest and greatest with little regard for the country of origin. As such, international companies can successfully sell in Singapore on the basis of the strength of their products.


Posted by S. Bigdeli & A. Shyr

Singapore has an abundance of signs declaring what is and is not permissible.


Downtown Singapore compares well to many other international cities.
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