In some emails to people I have often given the example of Singapore as showing how a nation can even today be close to the way ancient Israel was under God, in ways of physical living that produce a near zero crime rate. Of course our Western nations would think it crazy to pattern ourselves after Singapore. This is only a small segment from Wikipedia's very long article, well worth the full reading, and as a reading assignment for your children - Keith Hunt
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the city-state. For other uses, see Singapore (disambiguation).
Singapore (i// or //), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the equator. The country's territory consists of the lozenge-shaped main island, commonly referred to asSingapore Island in English and Pulau Ujong in Malay, and more than 60 significantly smaller islets. Singapore is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to the north, and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south. The country is highly urbanised, and little of the original vegetation remains. The country's territory has consistently expanded through land reclamation.
The islands were settled in the second century AD and subsequently belonged to a series of local empires. Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the East India Company with permission from the Johor Sultanate. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824, and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese during World War II, Singapore declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1963 and united with other former British territories to form Malaysia, from which it was expelled two years later through a unanimous act of parliament. Since then, Singapore has developed rapidly, earning recognition as one of the Four Asian Tigers.
Singapore is one of the world's major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports. Its globalised and diversified economy depends heavily on trade, especially manufacturing, which represented 26 percent of Singapore's GDP in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has thethird-highest per capita income in the world but one of the world's highest income inequalities. It places highly in international rankings with regard to education, healthcare, and economic competitiveness. Just over five million people live in Singapore, of which approximately two million are foreign-born. While Singapore is diverse, ethnic Asians predominate: 75 percent of the population is Chinese, with significant minorities of Malays, Indians, and Eurasians. There are four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil, and the country promotes multiculturalism through a range of official policies.
Singapore is a unitary multiparty parliamentary republic, with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People's Action Party has won every election since self-government began in 1959. The dominance of the PAP has led to Singapore being classified as a semi-authoritarian regime with a low level of press freedom and suppressed civil liberties and political rights. One of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is also the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, and a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth. Singapore's rapid development has given it significant influence in global affairs, leading some analysts to identify it as a middle power.
Main article: Names of Singapore
The English name of Singapore is derived from the Malay word Singapura (Sanskrit: सिंहपुर, literally Lion City), hence the customary reference to the nation as the Lion City. However, it is most likely that lions never lived on the island, and the beast seen by Sang Nila Utama, who founded and named Singapore, was a tiger.
Main article: History of Singapore
Temasek ('sea town'), a second century outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire, is the earliest known settlement on Singapore. The island was part of the Sri Vijaya Empire until it was invaded by the south Indian Emperor Rajendra Chola I, of the Chola Empire, in the 11th century. In 1613, Portuguese raiders burned down the settlement and the island sank into obscurity for the next two centuries. Nominally, it belonged to the Johor Sultanate during this period.
In 1819, Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived and signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor, on behalf of the British East India Company, to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post. In 1824, the entire island became a British possession under a further treaty with the Sultan, as well as the Temenggong. In 1826, Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements, under the jurisdiction of British India, becoming the regional capital in 1836. Prior to Raffles' arrival, there were approximately 1,000 people living on the island, mostly indigenous Malays along with a handful of Chinese. By 1860, the population exceeded 80,000 and more than half were Chinese. Many immigrants came to work at rubber plantations and, after the 1870s, the island became a global centre for rubber exports.
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded British Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The British were defeated, surrendering on 15 February 1942. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this "... the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history". The Sook Ching massacre of ethnic Chinese after the fall of Singapore claimed between 5,000 and 25,000 lives. The Japanese occupied Singapore until the British repossessed it in September 1945, after the Surrender of Japan.
Singapore's first general election in 1955 was won by David Marshall, the pro-independence leader of the Labour Front. He led a delegation to London to demand complete self-rule but was turned down by the British. He subsequently resigned and was replaced by Lim Yew Hock, whose policies convinced Britain to grant Singapore full internal self-government for all matters except defence and foreign affairs.
During the May 1959 elections, the People's Action Party won a landslide victory. Singapore became an internally self-governing state within the Commonwealth and Lee Kuan Yewbecame the country's first Prime Minister. Governor Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode served as the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State), and was succeeded byYusof bin Ishak, who became the first President of Singapore in 1965. During the 1950s, Chinese Communists with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese schools carried out an armed uprising against the government, leading to the Malayan Emergency and later, the Communist Insurgency War. The 1954 National Service Riots, Chinese middle schools riots, and Hock Lee bus riots in Singapore were all linked to these events.
On 31 August 1963, Singapore declared independence from the United Kingdom, and joined with the Federation of Malaya, the Crown Colony of Sarawak and British North Borneo to form the new Federation of Malaysia as the result of the 1962 Merger Referendum. Singaporean leaders chose to join Malaysia primarily due to concerns regarding their limited land size and scarcity of land, water, markets and natural resources. They also were hoping to enlist the help of the Malaysian government to combat the internal Communist threat.
However, the two years that Singapore spent as part of Malaysia were filled with strife and bitter disagreements. The Malaysians insisted on a pro-Bumiputera (Malay for indigenous) society, where indigenous Malays and tribes were given special rights. The Malaysians were also suspicious of Singapore's ethnic Chinese population, and worried that Singapore's economic clout would shift the centre of power from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. There were also linguistic and religious issues. The Singaporeans, on the other hand, wanted an equal and meritocratic society, a Malaysian Malaysia where all citizens were given equal rights without regard to indigenous or tribal affiliation or ancestry.
The Malaysian parliament blocked many progressive bills, bringing Singapore's economic and social development to a halt. Race riots broke out in Singapore in 1964. After much heated ideological conflicts between the two governments, in 1965, the Malaysian parliament voted 126 to 0 to expel Singapore from Malaysia (the Singaporean delegates were not present and did not vote). Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the Commonwealth) on 9 August 1965, with Yusof bin Ishak as President and Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister. Everyone who was living in Singapore on the date of independence was offered Singapore citizenship. Race riots broke out once more in 1969. In 1967, the country co-founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in 1970 it joined the Non-Aligned Movement.
In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as Prime Minister. During his tenure, the country faced the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak and terrorist threats posed by Jemaah Islamiyah. In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the country's third Prime Minister.
Government and politics
Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government representing constituencies. The country's constitution establishes arepresentative democracy as the political system. Freedom House ranks Singapore as "partly free" in its Freedom in the World report, and The Economist ranks Singapore as a "hybrid regime", the third best rank of four, in its "Democracy Index".
Executive power rests with the Cabinet of Singapore, led by the Prime Minister and, to a much lesser extent, the President. The President is elected through a popular vote, and has veto powers over a specific set of executive decisions, such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies a largely ceremonial post.
The Parliament serves as the legislative branch of the government. Members of Parliament (MPs) consist of elected, non-constituency and nominated members. Elected MPs are voted into the Parliament on a "first-past-the-post" (plurality) basis and represent either single-member or group-representation constituencies. The People's Action Party has won control of Parliament with large majorities in every election since self-governance was secured in 1959. Although the elections are clean, there is no independent electoral authority and the political process is dominated by the PAP, which has strong influence on the media and the courts hampering opposition campaigning. This has led Freedom House to regard Singapore as not a proper electoral democracy. Despite this, in the most recent Parliamentary elections in 2011, the opposition, led by the Workers' Party, increased its representation to six elected MPs.
The legal system of Singapore is based on English common law, but with substantial local differences. Trial by jury was abolished in 1970 so that judicial decisions would rest entirely in the hands of appointed judges. Singapore has penalties that include judicial corporal punishment in the form of caning, which may be imposed for such offenses as rape, rioting, vandalism, and certain immigration offenses. There is a mandatory death penalty for murder, as well as certain aggravated drug-trafficking and firearms offenses. Amnesty International has said that some legal provisions of the Singapore system conflict with the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that Singapore has "... possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population". The government has disputed Amnesty's claims. In a 2008 survey of international business executives, Singapore and Hong Kong received the top ranking with regard to judicial system quality in Asia. Singapore has been consistently rated among the least corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International.
In 2011, the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index ranked Singapore among the top countries surveyed with regard to "Order and Security", "Absence of Corruption", and "Effective Criminal Justice". However, the country received a much lower ranking for "Freedom of Speech" and "Freedom of Assembly". All public gatherings of five or more people require police permits, and protests may legally be held only at the Speakers' Corner.