Living in Singapore – Let’s talk about the Singapore Government – Post 17

In my attempt to give you a sneak preview of my life here I have listed a few pointers about the functioning of the government in this country. It’s purely from a layman’s perspective though!

  • Government is involved in almost all spheres of life here. It owns companies that build houses, roads and bridges, run retail stores chain, provide insurance and investment opportunities, provides healthcare services and this list goes on and on.
  • Singapore is a democratic country. We just got a flavor of national elections here (General Elections got concluded this month only). The election campaigning scene is quite similar to that in India, add a little bit of sophistication here and there – autos get replaced by nice vans, decibel levels are under control and party symbols are respect worthy.
  • Government is efficient and hard working – I know it sounds difficult to believe – but they work hard and smart like any private organization employees!! They respect your time, maximum waiting time won’t be more than 15 minutes (on the maximum side) in any government office
  • The way government shares information, about its decisions, with general public is exemplary. Press releases, hoardings, emails, etc are used to ensure that all and sundry get to hear from the government. I don’t think anybody will get up and say ‘Oh crap when did this rule came into place, I have no idea’
  • Use of technology by Singapore Government takes you by surprise. E mail communication prior to any appointment, online appointment fixing, finger print scanners, bio metric cards, face recognition, etc
  • Security is one area because of which Singapore ranks very high in quality of life indices –Credit goes to the government here – strict rules which are never bent for anyone, transparency and much more
  • Government also at times, I think, crosses its areas of jurisdiction. A case in point is special fees that has to be paid only by Singaporeans should they wish to go to the casinos – foreigners, expats, tourists can walk into these casinos without paying anything!! Although such examples are far and few in between!
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19 Responses to Living in Singapore – Let’s talk about the Singapore Government – Post 17

  1. Neha says:

    Hey Iya …

    Have been reading your posts for quite some time now… Like the way you write… You have a way of expressing things which is honest and natural.. Keep up the good work…

    I have also been living in Singapore for last 2 years.. You didnt mention somethings about the Sg government… :

    1. There is not much freedom of speech as its like its in India. All the media (News Channel, Newspaper, Radio) is monitored by gov. (which is good in way that we dont get any crappy news as we get in Indian news channel) but then no one can speak much against gov.
    2. Nobody can arrange for a rally or a group meeting of more than 5-10 people in a public place without permission of Gov.
    3. I think there is restriction on blogging against gov too… (but not very sure of this one) …

    Anyways, the Government is very very efficient. So we dont feel the pinch of any of the limitations… Its because of them that Singapore is a part of developed nations just after 45 years of becoming a country…

    Also I feel that its good gov has put a restriction on citizen going to casino… have you gone inside and seen how many Singaporeans are still there in-spite of restriction…
    At least some check against Singaporeans loosing all their money in gambling…

    Regards,
    Neha

    • Iya Bhatia Malhotra says:

      Thanks Neha, for your kind words.
      Yes, i didn’t talk about the media bit, because i wanted to keep that out.

      About your second point on rallies – isn’t it a good thing. BTW, even in India, all public gathering, roadshows, runs etc have to be done only after approvals from concerned authorities.

      And casinos, ppl will go if they want!!

  2. intersting post and intersting additions by neha too

  3. Bharti says:

    Nice to know all this. The way govt functions makes a lot of difference to the country’s growth and how the world percieves a nation. Good to know all that.Here In Netherlands also technology is used to its best. Quite helpful – must say

    Looking fwd to more posts like this….gives good insight into daily life in a country.

  4. Anita Menon says:

    A great post. Very informative. It comes as no wonder that Singapore comes across as such a sophisticated democracy.

    • Iya Bhatia Malhotra says:

      Thanks Annie. I can confidently say that the govt here functions like any private organisation.

  5. Swaram says:

    Hmm. Nice to know more abt another country 🙂

  6. SupMM says:

    The Singapore Government seems a bit like staying in the Big Boss House going by Neha’s comment 😛

    But I totally appreciate that they respect people’s time and work hard. That’s so unheard of in India, that when someone actually does his work we get very pleasantly surprised

    • Neha says:

      Hey…

      Did I make it sound sooo bad…. 😦
      Actually you wont even realize all the points that I have mentioned until you actually start staying here… However, it doesnt make much difference here in normal public.

      The best part about the gov here is that their main aim is welfare of the people staying in this country…

      Like let me give you an example…
      I faced eve teasing here around a year back.. (Its very very rare in Singapore). When I mentioned this to my husband, he immediately called the Police as this is a big offense here… Police came within 10 mins and took action… Do you think anybody would have cared if this had happened to me in India or any other country? …

      This single incident shows how efficient all the Government bodies are here and how much they care… So if there are any limitations we just let it go off … because there is good and bad in everything.. And its all a matter of perspective …

      Regards,
      Neha

    • Iya Bhatia Malhotra says:

      Not really Sup. There is freedom of speech, this is no China!

  7. anu says:

    Hmm.. i want to know about their festivals also. and holidays.. tell me more..
    Also, great going bud.. NaBloPoMo is looking like a cakewalk for you this time.. good going!

  8. Informative post, Iya. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I agree with you totally that govt offices are really efficient here and they know the meaning of serving the people. Most of government work one can do online or by visiting offices by taking appointments. Also, officers are not corrupt in general.

    However your observation on political system here may need some refinements. Singapore has a democracy in place but it’s pseudo democracy. Since 1959, (even before Singapore become Republic after separating from Malaysia) Lee Kuan Yew (known as MM Lee here) and his men are ruling the nation. He is very shrewed man. Since beginning everything has been tightly under his control. He and his men has never allowed opposition voice to grow. He had sued many of his opponents to bankruptcy or forced them to flee Singapore in order to escape the legal actions. In his book also he has defended his policy of suing the people and strangling the opposition voice. (Anyone interested here can consider reading a book “The Singapore Story” written by the man himself. Book is available for loan in National library) You know in just concluded General Election many Singaporeans even in their 30-40s cast their vote for the very first time because before 2011 election most of the PAP MPs were getting nominated without even fighting election.

    Regarding government sharing information with public, it is only the information which government wants to share that only comes into the public domain. (During the recession time, unconfirmed reports indicate that GIC (Government of Singapore Investment Corporation where government parks his surplus reserves) made huge losses but government didn’t made any statement on this. So Government filters the information to be passed to the public according to their wish.)

    Everything here is tightly controlled by government. Be it Media, Housing, Transport, Infrastructure, Communication, everything….. All the big listed companies also mostly have government’s holding through GIC or Temasak. Even companies like Starthub n M1 also have indirect control of government.

    Neha’s comment above also are on dot. I think rallies are strictly prohibited. Government has nominated Hong Lim Park near Chinatown to hold small gathering with prior permission. Anti government voice is not at all acceptable. Regarding Casinos, they started it because they saw money from Singapore drifting to Malaysia and Macau. 100S$ they charge for Singaporeans and PRs to enter in Casino but for die hard gamblers this 100S$ hardly matters. If I’m not wrong then Casinos also issues yearly entry pass for 2000+ S$ so that die hard gamblers can continue gambling and make government earn. Irony is if someone opens his own little casino or gambling shop, government will not allow that and person will be charged for encouraging people for gambling but government can open the big gambling dens. Personally I’m against such gambling dens and in my view it corrupts the social and family life of person.

    But having said this still situation is not so bad. From the hungry dirty port state of 1965, Singapore has made his way into the first world nation. So overall over a period of time government has successfully transformed the life of the people for the good. But in recent time, I can see government is trying to form the capitalist society and which is not good for the Singapore and Singaporeans. I hope loosing the GRC in recent election to opposition will make government to think about their policies. Government should think not only about the economic growth but they should think about whether growth is distributed evenly amongst it’s citizens and whether this growth is affecting their live positively or not.

    • Iya Bhatia Malhotra says:

      Hi, Thanks for such a long comment. I will not touch upon controversial issues. But lets talk about govt controlling housing, transport etc – i feel its for the good. They are doing a splendid job. The amenities here are second to none. Singapore ranks extremely high on standard of life index and its all thanks to the govt.

      On public gathering and rallies – isn’t that a good thing too. How else will u maintain law and order. Even in india, to hold a public gathering one needs prior approvals from the authorities.

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