Singapore As A Country Of Globalization
Every year the world is getting more globalized because of various economic, cultural and social processes. The most obvious reasons for globalization are intense immigration, integration of economies and international trade. Undoubtedly, the majority of people would admit that globalization has a great number of positive sides, benefits and advantages. It gives more freedom in terms of traveling, employment opportunities, and challenging a person within the new environment. Globalization allows peoples to find themselves in completely different circumstances, which influence their personal development and growth. Irrespective of positive impact, globalization may also bring some difficulties and troubling conflicts in the global context. The current paper has two primary objectives that should be reviewed. The first one is the analysis of the influence that Singapore has on the world while being the giant of globalization, while the second objective is answering the question of whether Singapore government has to worry about the collision of “globalization” and its traditional “conservatism”.
Generally speaking, globalization is a highly disputable issue, the progress of which may lead to various pressures between the dominant societies and economies. Even today, people may observe the so-called battles for the first and foremost place on the world arena. It is scarcely believed that globalization can be observed in countries, where not only economy is strong, but also the nation is characterized by firmness and unity. Globalization is a constant movement forward and integration of new customs along with the old ones. It is an unending process that has considerable impact on the society as a whole.
Undoubtedly, Singapore is one of the most prominent examples of a globalized country. Regardless of its size and population, Singapore has been successful enough to transform itself into the educational and financial hub and a dreamlike destination. It is hard to imagine how such a small and unrecognizable place on the map has become the popular meeting place of prosperous businesses, industries and wealthy people. The question of globalization is a very controversial one and the case of Singapore proves this fact. It has no significant natural resources, no particular economical value, no outstanding cultural importance like it is in European countries and yet, Singapore is an example every state wishes to follow.
It cannot be denied that Singapore has an improbable influence on other countries and the rest of the world. It built indestructible connections with the outer world, which only strengthen and empower its national identity. According to some researchers and historians, the overall staggering progress can be explained by the Singapore’s origin and identity. Even the name itself shows that Singapore is born to be the leading society. Its name comes from the Malaysian language, where “singa” means “lion” and “pura” – “city”. Though Singapore had never been inhabited by lions, it was the fishing village for Malay people who were called Orang Laut people.
Many scientists say that the advancement of Singapore began since Sir Stamford Raffles was appointed as the head of the city by the British governor and General of India, Lord Hastings. Despite poor natural resources, Singapore has a favorable geographical position, which used to be extremely useful for international trade, mainly between China and India. Being a colony, the British Empire tried to take everything possible out of this country. The current UK has three settlements – Malacca, Penang and the major one Singapore. It has become the primary trading strategic position that was ruled by the Colonial Office in London.
However, during the Second World War the British Empire lost its former power over Singapore, as the Japanese took a step to invade the country. Unfortunately, during the years of deterioration, there was noticeable economic or labor market recession, social disturbances or riots. However, it only helped people to wake up and take the responsibility for national enlightenment. In 1959, Singapore became a self-governed state within the boundaries of the British Empire, but a couple of years later, in 1963, there took place the unification of Singapore with the Federation of Malaysia. Sadly, this union did not exist for a long time because of some political and ideological divergences between the Singaporean political forces and Kuala Lumpur government. In 1965, Singapore finally gained its independence and sovereignty and was given a chance to choose its own path towards prosperity and blossoming.
From that moment, Singapore opened a new page in its history of development. Undoubtedly, the country had lost its major supporter, Malaysia, but it did not stop the nation from starting a newly formed history. Lee Kuan Yew was the person who set the vision and strategy for future advancement. It is known that Singapore had nothing at its disposal except for the location as a strategic harbor. That is why the government was determined to concentrate their attention on their main resources, people. At that time, the Singaporean government created favorable environment for foreign investments and financial assistance. By the 1960-1970s, the labor market had experienced its awakening, and a vast number of jobs appeared. A couple of years later, Singapore already stood in the same row with such industrial giant as Hong Kong.
Nevertheless, Singapore undoubtedly faces a lot of challenges. According to Khanna, a regional strategist and a research fellow at the National University of Singapore, despite being a young country Singapore has already gained significant reputation. Still, he is sure that the case of globalization causes much confusion. Singapore evolves gradually, but there is a threat that it may take the wrong turn as it happened to the United States of America. The USA possesses great potential, but Singapore has even greater one. The point is that the first objective of Singapore as a sovereign country has been to educate its people and make them ready for innovations and rapid changes. Khanna (2014) says that Singapore should turn into a democratic state, but not like European countries or the USA.
The reason of why Singapore became globalized so fast lies in its educational, people-oriented and technology-based policy. The great emphasis is put on the education at all levels – from the primary school to higher educational establishments. As a city with meager natural resources, the Singaporean government has always taken the qualification of its human resources very seriously. Creativity, flexibility and vision are the three main aspects that the Singaporean government takes into the consideration. Education in Singapore can be compared with a prosperous corporation that teaches students not merely to acquire knowledge, but also to effectively employ it in future occupation.
In an attempt to get more globalized in the modern world, the institutions strived for a greater mobility and flow of international students who would be able to increase the popularity of Singapore and expand the multinational job market. Some historians also believe that globalization depends on the ethnic roots and origins. In general, ethnicity is a unique feature of any nation. It definitely must be taken into account, because it defines people’s traditions, customs, behavior, beliefs and outlook. From an ethnical perspective, Singapore is a diverse country that includes three main ethnic groups, Chinese who count for 74.2%, Malays – 13.3% and Indians – 9.2%. To discover all the talents and potentials of its people, the government emphasized the importance of conservation of each group’s ancestor roots. At present, Singapore is a multinational country inhabited by a wide range of nationalities, including European, Asian and American. In terms of population, Singapore is a tiny country, which contains over 5.28 million people. Singapore experiences now a flow of immigrants, therefore 1.46 out of this number are employment pass holders. With regard to statistics, currently there is a vast array of international marriages with foreign spouses, consequently the bulk of nationalities will multiply.
The question is what it means for the Singaporean society to be globalized. Singapore is undoubtedly recognized as a global giant city and state due to its financial independence, flexible economy, telecommunications, educational mobility and migration. To be global requires being recognized by the international community. In spite of all benefits people have, they are forced to obey certain rules and laws, so that Singapore may stand out as a global country. It is supposed that Singapore is so enormously powerful and influential due to its national identity that is characterized by strong will and hard work. The ability to join mutual efforts with the aim to grow as one nation makes Singapore one of the most struggling states in the world.
Being globally open and locally closed is the paradox, by which Singapore can be described. The thing is that Singaporean government, huge corporations and developmental organizations invite international strategists, anthropologists and investigators to expand different industries. Undoubtedly, the foreign policymaking demands the obedience and compromise of the national government to certain innovations; otherwise there would be no pioneering strategies and businesses.
Besides, there is a risk that being “global” that is “recognized and integrated” will not bring benefit. Few decades ago, approximately starting from the 1950s, people began to immigrate looking for a better place to settle down. Retaining identity has not been the main task. People aimed at finding their true place they belonged to, the place they could discover themselves to the fullest and the one where they could realize their authentic mission. But such mindset required not only moving to another country or city, but first of all, a desire to adapt to a new culture, behavior and philosophy. In this regard, many people have lost their identity because of industrialization, economic growth and globalization. Correspondingly, Singapore now faces the same problem – the loss of true identity and ancestry. Globalization and development was taken as a primary mission, which led to certain misconception as for what the globalized country actually is.
Integration is the main factor which makes the country a globalized one. The integration within the cultural, economical and social environment at the global level without losing real identity is probably the most important thing about being a global society. Apart from developing the economy, it is also necessary to carefully operate and manage the economy while cooperating with other countries, which are also interested in developing their own economies. Initially, it was mentioned that the government wanted to invest in nation’s cultivation through close collaboration and co-living with their Western counterparts. The Singaporean government was sure that such step would help Asian people evolve in terms of their identity. However, counterintuitively, in the following years, the leaders of the country expressed their fears regarding a complete loss of native “Asian” identity, and acquisition if the “Western” one.
To overcome this problem, people oriented themselves on the Confucian’s doctrine and Asian religion to keep their identity and basic moral compasses as their life-long core values. Creative and pioneering thinking, global economy and traditional Asian religion are the three aspects that define Singaporean identity.
A lot of questions arise and it is logical to ask how Singapore managed to carve out the path from the third to the first world country, where everyone is happy and satisfied. Singapore is considered to be one of the dominant and most stable societies in the world. Many people admit that this happened because of its rich and tragic history. When Singapore was a colony, the nation suffered from humiliation and offence. People were obliged to work for other countries, particularly the British Empire, in order to survive. No equality, no rights, no tolerance were the tools that the British wished to treat them with. The constant and endless battle for freedom, liberty and independence helped to find the strong leaders and fighters within the country.
Other historians are certain that Singapore gained its success and prosperity due to the geographical position, which appeared to be truly a valuable asset for the economy. As it was stated in “Forbes”, in future Singapore will be full of young Mark Zuckerbergs and Larry Pages that will take to a new higher level of technology-based society. People feel a strong need for inspiration and motivation, and such people will serve as a perfect example to follow. It is paramount not only to form efficient leadership, but also to make favorable connections with those who are engaged in entrepreneurship and business management.
Generally speaking, the geographical strategic position helps to promote business with the main Asian countries such China, Hong Kong, Japan and India. Moreover, Singapore comprises a small territory standing among the giants that can threaten its safety. However, due to the successful collaboration on the basis of incorporating new unprecedented entrepreneurial ideas, Singapore has gained well-respected attitude. Such position is definitely an advantage rather than disadvantage.
It is a long-held belief that Asian people pay much attention to personal historical values, such as respect, dignity, liberty and loyalty. That is why according to the speech of the current Prime Minister, Mr Lee, social stability is the main objective the government has to fulfill. The government strives for overall equality and provision of necessary services for all citizens without exception. Regardless of a person’s race, religion and gender, everyone must be treated according to the same equal laws, because every citizen has such a right.
Probably, this is one of the main reasons why Singapore is now so popular and broadly developed. The government tries to provide equal funding and investment for talented and creative children and adults who feel lack of financial means. Except this, the government brings forward policies, which are aimed to encourage everyone to improve their lives, including young leaders in decision-making processes, because it guarantees the purification of a dirty environment we live in, so that the quality of life on the whole would completely change.
In such a way, it is certain that the main reason lies in the actions, which have been taken by the government. It is not easy to develop passion, commitment and capacity of people, especially when there is nothing except people, as some would say. However, it is more than possible to foster their self-confidence and self-esteem for them to strive for leadership and hard work. Singapore is an exemplary state, which proved that everything can be achieved after a long time of hard work, even when there seems to be no sign of improvement.
It is a complicated task to draw a definite line, which would single out a particular reason for globalization. There are too many aspects, including cultural, geographical and ethnical. Throughout the history each aspect played its remarkable role in the establishment of the present-day Singapore. Firstly, it was history, secondly, the geographical status and ethnical conservation of beliefs, and finally, today people pay more attention to building a thinking society through technology-based and people-oriented vision.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that still Singapore has a long way to go. Today countries fight over the first place on the world arena to be held in high regard by the rest of the countries. Globalization is too entangled and intricate to serve as an incentive for the future endeavors and achievements. As globalization is a continuous process, with its potential and power Singapore should use the main resources to achieve even more. As it was mentioned earlier, this refers to human resources. People are the first and foremost treasure any country will ever have.