Singapore’s policy

The country's politics are officially determined by a parliamentary, democratically elected government, but unofficially the country has been reacted to by the People's Action Party (PAP) since independence in 1959. For many years, their history was determined by Lee Kuan Yew. Opposition members also criticize Singapore as a "one-party state" and the PAP is repeatedly accused of censorship and the unjustified persecution of opposition members.

On the other hand, the country can boast of being the least corrupt in Asia and, according to Transparency International, is among the ten "cleanest" countries in the world. This may also be related to the earning potential here: The island nation's ministers treated themselves to a 60% salary increase in 2007 and are now the highest-paid politicians in the world. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong alone cuts the equivalent of nearly 750.000 euros and lets Angela Merkel& Co. turn green with envy.

The development of politics

The policy is inextricably linked to Lee Kuan Yew, the "Father of Singapore" as the former head of state, born in 1923, is often referred to. After Singapore left the union with Malaysia in 1965, as prime minister of the newly independent Republic of Singapore, he faced the Herculean task of ensuring the survival of the small island nation, which had no mineral resources or other important assets.

Trained u.a. in Cambridge, Lee initially wanted to work as a lawyer before becoming involved in local politics and being elected to Singapore's fledgling parliament for the first time in 1955. Herewith began his career in politics. In 1959, he became the first prime minister of independent Singapore and endured the brief period of union with Malaysia that ended with Singapore being "kicked out" in 1964. Despite his strong doubts that Singapore could survive on its own, he continued to serve as prime minister of the island nation, and his policies created a politically neutral state along the lines of Switzerland.

Other aspects of his administration included the creation of a "Singaporean identity" under the umbrella of multiculturalism, in which Chinese, Malays, Indians and other groups would live together as equals. At the same time, his policy focused early on a strong economy, on the banking sector and the service industry. Far less well known is that he effectively protected the small island from overpopulation in the 1960s by running a rigorous "stop at two" campaign urging parents to have no more than two children.

Singapore's policy

The rigorous penalties in Singapore

In the West, the country was notorious until recently for the countless penalties that resulted from any misconduct. For example, it is a punishable offense not to flush the toilet after doing business, to simply throw away trash or to run a red light. It is sad that such meticulous punishments are necessary at all, because common sense dictates that people should not throw cigarette butts into the landscape or simply spit on the pavement.

More serious are the harsh penalties handed out for more serious misconduct. For example, drug smuggling is still punishable by death, and the country has one of the highest execution rates in the world relative to its population. Other crimes such as theft, assault or rape are punishable by caning. Homosexual acts – including kissing in public – are also still punishable, but will no longer be prosecuted.

The period after Lee Kuan Yew

When Lee stepped down as the world's longest-serving prime minister in 1990, he had turned the destitute island south of Malaysia into one of the world's most successful nations. He handed over the reins of government to Goh Chok Tong and then passed the time by acting as a mentor to younger politicians and publishing several books. In 2004, his son Lee Hsien Loong followed in his outsized footsteps and has since become Singapore's third prime minister.

The opposition is having a hard time against the overpowering PAP, and women are also underrepresented in parliament. Among the few successful women were Lim Hwee Hua and Kanwaljit Soin, who were the first to address uncomfortable issues such as violence against women.

Foreign policy

The city-state is a member of the United Nations, the Southeast Asian economic alliance ASEAN, the British Commonwealth, and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an association that formed in 1961 to express that it was not part of either Western NATO or the Soviet Warsaw Pact. Since the end of the Cold War, the NAM has lost much of its importance.

Its most important trading partners are its two neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the Asian economies of ASEAN and APEC. An important role is also played by the former colonial power Great Britain, which forms the "Five Power Defence Arrangements" with Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

With the U.S. is linked by a free trade agreement agreed in 2004. Trouble came only once briefly, when U.S.-born Michael Fay was sentenced to six strokes of the cane for vandalism in 1994 at the age of 18.

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