About Singapore

About Singapore

Introduction of Singapore

Singapore is an island city state often regarded as the bridge between the East and the West. In many ways, the business environment in Singapore exemplifies this East meets West culture.

Business transactions are generally conducted according to the practices of the West, but certain Eastern values are still very much entrenched in the society.

Government and Economy

Singapore is a Republic with an elected President. She has a parliamentary system based on the British model, a colonial legacy.

Singapore is social-democratic country. The Government takes an active role in setting the economic direction without stifling the spirit of free economy.

Absolute Political Stability

The Singapore government is known for conducting open and fair policy towards constantly introducing new laws, tax relieves, and regulations to enhance the country’s growth, security, etc. With the People Action’s Party forming the majority in Parliament since attaining independence in 1965, Singapore has a very stable and orderly government indeed.

Success Of Singapore

Singapore is a source of solutions to many of the problems faced by the developing countries in the world. Singapore takes pride in its diversity, openness and self-determination – values that shape the modern nation today. Here are some major challenges Singapore has faced in the past.

  • Cultural
  • Economic
  • Educational
  • Environmental
  • Foreign Policy
  • Immigration Policy
  • Infrastructural
  • Individual well-being
  • Law & Order
  • National Security
  • Social

Legal Framework

The Singapore legal system is largely based on the English common law system. Being a former British colony, Singapore received her laws from Britain. The influence of English law has decreased over the years as the judiciary and legal profession of Singapore mature.

Generally speaking, there are two major sources of law in Singapore: legislation and case law. There are also conventions binding on Singapore concerning some international matters such as air transport or sea shipment.

The courts in Singapore comprise the Supreme Court and the Subordinate Courts. The Supreme Court comprises the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Court of Appeal is Singapore’s highest judicial tribunal. The Subordinate Courts comprises the District Courts, Magistrate Courts, Juvenile Courts, Coroners’ Courts and Small Claims Tribunals.

Apart from the Supreme Court and the Subordinate Courts, there are some other tribunals set up to hear disputes on specific areas of law in Singapore, notably the Syariah Court, Industrial Arbitration Court and Military Court.

Business Organisation Structures

A person who wishes to do business in Singapore may choose to operate the business through any one of the following business organisation structures:-

Company

A company incorporated under the Companies Act (Cap. 50) is a separate legal entity from its owners. Several consequences flow from this separate legal personality. For example, a company may sue and be sued in its own name, own property in its own name and the owners of the company are generally not liable for the debts of the company.

There are various types of companies under the Companies Act (Cap. 50) and they may be categorised according to different characteristics (e.g. public companies versus private companies).

By far, the most common type of company to be incorporated under the Companies Act (Cap. 50) is the private company limited by shares.

Private companies may be incorporated with one director and one shareholder, and are exempted from appointing professionally qualified secretaries. The single director and shareholder can be the same person, but a sole director also may not concurrently be the company secretary. At least one director must be ordinarily resident in Singapore.

The private exempt company may dispense with holding its AGM for any year, if this is unanimously agreed to by its shareholders voting at a meeting called to decide on such dispensation.

Variable Capital Companies (VCC)

The Variable Capital Company (VCC) complements current unit trusts and investment companies, which are the two commonly used investment fund structures in Singapore, while bringing it with greater operational flexibility, cost efficiencies and tax benefits.

Director

A director is the person responsible for managing the affairs of the company and providing it with directions. A director must make decisions objectively, act in the best interest of the company, and be honest and diligent in carrying out his duties.

Under the Companies Act, the minimum number of directors required is one.

A company must have at least one director who is ordinarily resident in Singapore.

Being “ordinarily resident in Singapore” means the director’s usual place of residence is in Singapore. A Singapore Citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or an EntrePass holder can be accepted as a person who is ordinarily resident here. Subject to compliance with prevailing laws and regulations on employment of foreign manpower, an Employment Pass holder may be accepted as a director who is ordinarily resident here. EP holders who wish to undertake a secondary directorship position in another company (apart from the company his EP is approved for), will have to apply for and be granted a Letter of Consent (LOC) before registering their directorship positions with ACRA.

Any person above the age of 18 years old can be a director of a company. There is no maximum age limit for a director. However, certain individuals (e.g. bankrupts and persons convicted of offences involving fraud or dishonesty) are disqualified from holding director positions.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

“Chief Executive Officer”, in relation to a company, means any one or more persons, by whatever name described, who —

(a) is in direct employment of, or acting for or by arrangement with, the company; and

(b) is principally responsible for the management and conduct of the business of the company, or part of the business of the company, as the case may be.

It is not compulsory for a company to appoint a CEO. It is the company’s discretion to decide whether to appoint a CEO. Such a person may be appointed as both a director as well as a CEO. The officers of the company will be the director, secretary and the CEO, if the CEO is employed in an executive capacity.

The role of the managing director may or may not be the same as the role of the CEO, and it will also depend on the designations used within a particular company. A managing director may be appointed separately from the appointment of a CEO.

Secretary

Every company must appoint a secretary within 6 months from the date of its incorporation.

The company secretary must be residing locally in Singapore and he/she must not be the sole director of the company.

The Secretary may also be held liable for the company’s failure to comply with the law in certain situations.

The secretary of a public company must comply with section 171(1AA) of the Companies Act i.e. must possess at least one of the following qualifications:

Been a secretary of a company for at least 3 of the 5 years immediately before his appointment as secretary of the public company.

  • Qualified person under the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161).
  • Public accountant registered under the Accountants Act (Cap. 2).
  • Member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore.
  • Member of the Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.
  • Member of the Association of International Accountants (Singapore Branch).
  • Member of the Institute of Company Accountants, Singapore.

Auditor

A company shall appoint an auditor within 3 months from the date of its incorporation, unless it is exempted from audit requirements under Section 205B, or 205C, of the Companies Act.

Audit Exemption

A Singapore Company must have an auditor appointed within three months of its incorporation. However, this requirement is not essential for Companies exempted under audit requirements. Dormant companies (i.e. those which have not had any significant accounting transactions in a financial year) and small exempt private companies (i.e. private companies in the shares of which no beneficial interest is directly or indirectly held by any corporation and which has not more than 20 shareholders and which annual revenue is below SGD10 million) will not be required to have their accounts audited by an external auditor.

Branch of Foreign Company

Instead of incorporating a local company to conduct business, some foreign companies may choose to register a Singapore branch under the Companies Act (Cap. 50). A Singapore branch of a foreign company is part of the same legal entity as the foreign company at its head office and branches of the foreign company in other parts of the world.

Setting up a branch in Singapore may allow taking advantage of certain benefits in international tax planning. A foreign company incorporating a branch need not have any directors resident in Singapore but it must appoint at least 2 local residents (includes expatriates with employment passes) as its agents under a Memorandum of Appointment or power of attorney.

Once registered, the branch of the foreign company is subject to filing and reporting requirements under the Companies Act (Cap. 50). In addition to the audited accounts of its Singapore branch, the foreign company will usually also be required to file the accounts of its head office with the Registrar of Companies and Businesses annually. For this reason, not many foreign companies choose to register a branch. However, foreign banks and financial institutions may need to register branches to do business in Singapore in order to comply with capital adequacy requirements imposed by the relevant authority in Singapore.

Representative Office

Foreign companies in the manufacturing, trading, trade logistics and trade-related services sectors may establish a representative office in Singapore to undertake promotional and liaison activities on behalf of its head office or overseas branches.

A representative office may not engage in any trading or business, lease any warehousing facilities, conclude contracts, issue invoices/receipts, open/receive letters of credit or provide services for a fee.

It is supposed to be a temporary establishment for foreign companies to assess the business environment in Singapore before making investment decisions.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is an individual carrying on business on his own behalf. In order to carry out business as a sole proprietor, one needs to register the business under the Business Registration Act (Cap. 32).

Sole-traders are self-employed and pay income tax as well as Medisave on the profits made by the business. Sole Proprietorship is suitable option for any small business. After appointing Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident as the manager, a foreign company or a foreign individual can also be registered as a Sole Proprietor in Singapore.

There are exceptions to registration, for example licensed hawkers and taxi drivers are exempt from registration.

Certain professions such as lawyers, accountants, doctors and architects are governed by other statutes and are therefore exempt from registration under the Business Registration Act (Cap. 32).

The sole proprietorship is not a separate legal entity. As such, the sole proprietor is personally liable for the debts of the business.

Partnership (General)

infographic of general PartnershipA partnership is defined under the Partnership Act (Cap. 391) as a relationship that subsists between persons carrying on business in common with a view of profit. The Act also sets out some rules for determining the existence of a partnership.

Like a sole proprietorship, the business of the partnership has to be registered under the Business Registration Act (Cap. 32). The minimum number of partners in a partnership is 2 and the maximum number is generally 20.

As a partnership is not a person in law, the income derived from a partnership cannot be assessed under the partnership’s name. The share of adjusted profit/loss from the partnership will be assessed under the individual partners’ names and taxes will be levied accordingly.

As far as third parties are concerned, each partner is jointly and severally liable for the debts of the partnership although the partners may agree among themselves on apportionment of liability.

Limited Partnership (LP)

A Limited Partnership is not a separate legal entity. A Limited Partnership has 2 types of partners viz. general partners and limited partners. The former are liable for all debts and obligations of the firm whilst the latter (who contributed capital or property at the time of entering into the partnership) would not be liable for the debts or obligations of the firm beyond their contribution. The limited partners do not take part in the management of the firm and have no authority to bind the firm.

This structure may appeal to passive investors who want limited liability and do not wish to play an active role in the management of the firm. It can be used for private equity and fund investment businesses.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A Limited Liability Partnership is a separate legal entity. It has characteristics of a partnership and a company. Like a company, the Limited Liability Partnership has perpetual succession and it can own property in its own name. The LLP is a body corporate and has legal personality separate from its partners. Any change in the partners of a LLP does not affect its existence, rights or liabilities.

Any individual or body corporate may be a partner in a LLP. This includes a natural person, company, foreign company or another LLP. Members of a Limited Liability Partnership are also generally not personally liable for the debts of the Limited Liability Partnership.

The members may agree on how profits and losses are to be shared as well as how the business is to be run. In this respect, it resembles a partnership.

This structure may appeal to professionals who wish to enjoy the benefit of limited liability whilst organised as partnerships.

Approvals, Licences and Permits

Apart from registration with the Registry of Companies and Businesses, certain businesses are subject to further regulatory control by other government agencies in Singapore. Special approvals or licences may have to be obtained before the relevant business activity can commence. Some of the businesses which require special approval or licence include finance companies, insurance companies, travel agents and private schools.

Dispute Resolution

There are several options available for resolving civil disputes in Singapore including:-

Litigation

Going to trial at a court of law has been the traditional dispute resolution mechanism. These days, getting a trial date in Singapore is relatively fast. The Singapore Courts have also embraced technological advancement by introducing a slew of information technology initiatives such as electronic filing and videoconferencing facilities to allow witnesses outside Singapore to testify in court. The vision is to develop a paperless litigation system and to achieve a more efficient way of presenting cases in court.

One important consideration here is that a judgement of the Singapore Court is only enforceable in Singapore and in countries with which Singapore has entered into bilateral or multilateral treaties for reciprocal enforcement of judgements. A Singapore Court judgement would not be enforceable, for example, in the United States of America.

Arbitration

This is basically a consensual process by which parties to a dispute submit their differences to one or more impartial persons known as arbitrators for a final and binding decision. It is less formal than a trial and hearings are conducted in private, therefore ensuring confidentiality.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre provides facilities for international and domestic commercial arbitration and its rules are based largely on the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules and the Rules of the London Court of International Arbitration with some modifications.

One main advantage of this dispute resolution mechanism is that an arbitral award may be enforced domestically and internationally in over 120 countries (including the United States of America) as a judgement of the courts in the enforcement country.

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral party known as the mediator helps the parties to negotiate with each other to resolve their dispute amicably. To a certain extent, the success of this dispute resolution mechanism hinges on the desire of the parties to reach an amicable settlement.

This dispute resolution mechanism may therefore be ideal for parties who wish to maintain their business relationship. The mediator will not impose his views on the parties, and it is up to the parties whether they wish to come to a settlement.

The Singapore Mediation Centre provides mediation and other alternative dispute resolution services. The suite of services currently available on the website include:-

  • E-settlement
  • Mediation
  • Neutral Evaluation
  • Singapore Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy

Foreign Investment

Some of the government agencies and bodies responsible for promoting foreign investment and administering incentives to investors include:-

Economic Development Board

The Economic Development Board is the lead national agency responsible for planning and executing strategies to sustain Singapore’s attractiveness as a global hub for business and investment. It administers a number of incentive schemes such as the Pioneer Incentive scheme and the Development and Expansion Incentive scheme.

It works closely with other agencies to promote innovation and develop human, intellectual, financial and cultural capital in Singapore.

Enterprise Singapore

Formerly the Singapore Trade Development Board and International Enterprise Singapore, Enterprise Singapore is the national agency to help Singapore-based companies who are willing and able to grow and internationalise successfully, and to encourage the growth of Singapore’s external economy.

It also promotes Singapore as a hub for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) by attracting enterprises from other countries to be based here, so that they can collaborate with International Singapore Companies (ISCs) to venture into the region.

Grants & Business Supports For Small Medium Enterprises (SME) In Singapore

Various Funding for SME (Small Medium Business Entities in Singapore)

Definition of SME: Small Medium Enterprises (SME) in Singapore are defined as companies with at least 30% local shareholding, group annual sales turnover of less than SGD100 million or group. employment size of not more than 200 workers.

Singapore Government is providing many types of grants or funding for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

 SME Loans under Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) in Singapore

Whether you are planning to develop new capabilities, create new products or expand your business footprint overseas, having access to the right financing is crucial to realise your growth ambitions.

With effect from 29 Oct 2019, Enterprise Singapore’s existing financing schemes have been streamlined into one umbrella scheme known as the Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS). EFS will enable Singapore enterprises to access financing more readily throughout their various stages of growth.

It covers six areas to address enterprises’ financing needs. Enterprise Singapore will share the loan default risk in the event of enterprise insolvency with the Participating Financial Institutions.

Monetary Authority of Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore regulates all elements of monetary, banking and financial aspects of Singapore. It oversees a wide range of tax incentives specifically for the financial sector. Tax under the Income Tax Act (Cap. 134), tax will be imposed on the income of any person accruing in or derived from Singapore or received in Singapore from outside Singapore. Hence, there are 2 bases of taxation in Singapore viz. territorial and remittance.

Under the territorial basis, income is liable to Singapore tax if the source of the income is in Singapore whilst under the remittance basis, income having a source outside Singapore is liable to Singapore tax only if it is received in Singapore, unless specifically exempt from tax.

Income tax is levied on the income of companies based on the prevailing corporate rate whilst income tax is levied on the income of individuals based on a progressive scale of rates.

Exchange Rate Used As Main Tool

Rather than raising or cutting interest rates like most countries, including the United States and China, Singapore’s central bank i.e., Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) uses the exchange rate as its main monetary policy tool to strike a balance between inflation from overseas and economic growth.

The exchange rate is managed against a basket of currencies of its major trading partners, and is allowed to float within a band that can be adjusted when monetary policy is reviewed. During reviews, the slope, width and centre of this band can be changed, adjusting the pace of appreciation or depreciation of the Singdollar.

A stronger currency, which corresponds to tighter monetary policy, counters inflation by making imports cheaper in Singdollar terms, while a weaker Singdollar helps lift growth by making exports cheaper abroad.

Corporate Income Tax

The corporate tax rate is at 17% currently. Tax will only be imposed at the corporate level and Singapore dividends in the hands of the company’s shareholders are tax exempt.

The Net Profit up to SGD100,000/- each year for the first three consecutive years are 100% exempted and a further 50% exemption on the next SGD200,000 of normal chargeable income which translates into a huge savings of SGD51,000/- in the first 3 years while establishing the businesses in Singapore till the Year of Assessment 2019 i.e., till the date 31-December-2018.

From the Year of Assessment 2020: Exemption at 75% on the first SGD100,000 of  normal chargeable income; and a further 50% exemption on the next SGD100,000 of normal chargeable income for the first three years from the date of incorporation.

After completion of first three years, from the fourth year onward, the company is entitled with partial tax exemption.

1)  Tax Exemption Scheme for New Start-Up Companies:
Under the scheme, qualifying new companies are given the following tax exemption for the first three consecutive YAs (Year of Assessment) where the YA falls in
Year of Assessment (YA) Exemption on normal chargeable income
YA 2020 onwards 75% exemption on the first $100,000
YA 2010 to 2019 Full exemption on the first $100,000
A further 50% exemption on the next $200,000
2)  Partial Tax Exemption for all companies:
All companies including companies limited by guarantee can enjoy the following tax exemption:
Year of Assessment (YA) Exemption on normal chargeable income
YA 2020 onwards 75% exemption on the first $10,000
A further 50% exemption on the next $190,000
YA 2010 to 2019 75% tax exemption on the first $10,000
A further 50% exemption on the next $290,000

Goods and Services Tax

A person who makes a taxable supply of goods and services in Singapore in the course or furtherance of his business is required to register himself as a GST-registered trader if the taxable supplies exceed S$1 million in a period of 12 months. The GST-registered trader has to charge GST on goods and service provided by him (i.e. output) and pay GST on raw materials, machinery and equipment and services purchased by the business (i.e. input). GST charged on output is known as output tax while GST paid on input is known as input tax. Where the output exceeds the input tax, the GST-registered trader will have to pay the difference to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

Where the input tax exceeds the output tax, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will refund the difference to the registered business. With effect from 1 July 2007, the GST rate is  7% on domestic consumption.

Labour and Employment

The duties of an employer in Singapore are found in legislation and case law. Some of the main statutes that impose duties on the employer include:-

The Employment Act(Cap. 91)

This Act protects certain classes of employees (as defined in section 2 of this Act) by providing minimum terms of service that cannot be contracted out or diluted to the detriment of these employees.

Whilst this Act covers the classes of employees referred to above, Part IV of this Act which deals with more basic terms of service such as rest days, shift work, holidays, retrenchment benefits, leave and hours of work only applies to workmen (as defined under this Act) and other employees whose monthly salaries do not exceed S$4,500.

Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act (Cap. 104)

“Factory” is defined in this Act. The WSH Act is the key legislation to effect the principles of the new Occupational Safety and Health framework. It replaces the Factories Act, with effect from 1 March 2006. There are various obligations on a person who uses or occupies a factory. These include observing obligations relating to registration, cleanliness, overcrowding, ventilation, lighting, drainage, sanitary conveniences and so forth.

Certain requirements under this Act have recently been extended to non-industrial buildings such as canteens, hotels, restaurants, laboratories and medical and veterinary centres.

Workmen’s Compensation Act (Cap. 354)

An employer is liable to pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of this Act if a workman under its employment is accidentally injured in the course of employment. “Workman” is a defined term under this Act.

This Act imposes other duties on the employer including compulsory insurance. Certain categories of employers are such as companies fully owned by the government, international shipping lines, international oil companies, banks and finance companies and employers of all persons employed otherwise than by way of manual labour are exempted from the requirement to take up compulsory insurance.

The Central Provident Fund Act (Cap. 36)

Employers are required by law to contribute to the Central Provident Fund (“CPF”). The CPF was essentially set up as an old-age savings scheme for employees. With time, the scheme has evolved into a comprehensive social security savings system providing financial security in old age in meeting the needs of its members in retirement, healthcare, home-ownership, family protection and asset enhancement.

Under the scheme, employers are to ensure that CPF contributions are paid monthly for its employees at the rates set out in the Central Provident Fund Act (Cap. 36). The employer is entitled to recover a percentage of that contribution from the employee through deductions from the employee’s wages. This occurs when wages are paid out.

For illustration purpose, the contribution rate applicable to an employee who is 50 years and below is currently 37% of the employee’s wages for the month (up to an ordinary wage ceiling as stipulated from time to time). The employer is entitled to recover from the employee an amount equivalent to 20% of the employee’s wages for the month (subject to caps stipulated from time to time).

Other relevant legislation

The employer will also have to be mindful of other relevant legislation such as the Retirement and Re-employment Act (RRA) (Cap. 274A) because an employer who dismisses any employee (who is below the prescribed retirement age under the Retirement Age Act (Cap. 274A)) on the ground of age would be guilty of an offence under that Act. Currently, the prescribed retirement age in Singapore is 62 years. There are exceptions such as in the case of police officers, cabin crew and teaching staff of universities and polytechnics.

There are a number of other legislation affecting employment relations including those relating to employment of foreign workers, immigration, industrial relation, trade union and national service.

Intellectual Property Regime

Singapore is one of the best intellectual property regimes in the Asia-Pacific region. It has an established legal system for protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, and has been constantly ranked amongst the top most IP-protective country in Asia.

Singapore is also a member of various intellectual property treaties, conventions and organisations such as the Paris Convention, Berne Convention, Madrid Protocol, Nice Agreement, Patent Cooperation Treaty, Budapest Treaty, Agreement on Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Initiatives to encourage greater commercialisation of intellectual property rights include the Patent Application Fund Plus (PAF PLUS) scheme administered by the Economic Development Board. aimed at encouraging inventors to patent their inventions and promoting innovation amongst inventors, start-ups and SMEs.

Business Etiquette

Singaporeans are generally quite accustomed to the Western style of doing business. For foreigners doing business in Singapore, it might be useful to know that:-

  • Due to the high humidity and heat, jackets are generally not required for men at business meetings.
  • One should avoid touching, hugging or kissing a member of the opposite sex at business meetings as the act might be misconstrued as a form of harassment. Handshake is a better option.
  • When making introduction for the first time to members of some major ethnic groups in Singapore such as the Chinese, Malay and Indians, do note that:-
  • The Chinese place their family name first followed by their personal name (e.g. Lim Lee Huang ).
  • The Malays do not use a family name. They use their personal name followed by bin (son of) or binti (daughter of) before their father’s personal name (e.g. Mohamed bin Husain).
  • The Indians use their personal name followed by s/o (son of) or d/o (daughter of) and the father’s personal name (e.g. Meena d/o Karthi).

Latest Singapore Rankings

Singapore ranked top in Financial Stewardship, Attractive Marketplace and third overall in new Government Effectiveness Index (GEI)

A new league table evaluating the effectiveness of government has Singapore in the top spot for financial stewardship and marketplace attractiveness, and overall third in the global index.

The ranking comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has revealed strengths and weaknesses in institutions, laws, and leadership, said the Chandler Institute of Governance, which added that governance is the deciding factor in whether countries succeed.

The non-profit organisation works with governments to build capabilities and is headquartered in Singapore. The Chandler Good Government Index 2021 report is the first edition of an annual stock-take of government effectiveness in 104 countries.

The index focuses on seven pillars, namely: Leadership & Foresight; Robust Laws & Policies; Strong Institutions; Financial Stewardship; Attractive Marketplace; Global Influence & Reputation; and Helping People Rise. The Index utilises a rigorous methodology developed in consultation with government practitioners, leaders, index experts and researchers in governance.

Source: The Chandler Good Government Index 2021 (News & FB – 26-Apr-2021)

Singapore ranked 5th spot in the world’s competitive economy & tops in Asia

Singapore is holding the 5th spot as the world’s competitive economy in the latest edition of the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking. The Republic has slipped from the top spot to 5th spot in the annual list of 64 economies, which analyses their ability to generate prosperity. The Republic remains top in Asia for the most competitive economy.

IMD noted that Singapore managed to top the economic performance factor, one of four factors in the ranking, but fell to ninth in global business efficiency and 11th in global infrastructure. It ran into problems with job losses, lack of productivity and economic impact of the pandemic. But Singapore did well with international trade and technological infrastructure, ranking first in both.

IMD said: The global trends seen in the rankings show the importance of innovation, digitalisation of the economy, welfare benefits and social cohesion.

Source: World Competitiveness Yearbook by the International Institute for Management Development which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland & Singapore. (17-June-2021).

Singapore remains the second-most competitive economy in the world after U.S.

The Global Competitiveness Index 4.0 assesses the microeconomic and macroeconomic foundations of national competitiveness, which is defined as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The new index measures 140 economies against 98 indicators, organized into 12 ‘pillars’ or drivers of productivity, to determine how close the economy is to the ideal state or ‘frontier’ of competitiveness.

Source: World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Index 2018 Rankings.

Singapore ranked world’s second-most connected country in DHL index

Despite the CV-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the disruption in trade and capital flows and economic downturn it caused in 2020, Singapore has been ranked the world’s second-most connected country.

Singapore was ranked first for the size of its international flows in goods, capital, information and people relative to its domestic economy, in the 2020 edition of the DHL Global Connectedness Index (GCI).  But Singapore missed out on the top spot in the overall GCI ranking to the Netherlands, which scored a total of 91 points, by just 2 points. Both the countries maintained their positions on the list from the previous edition.

The GCI – compiled every alternative year by Deutsche Post DHL Group in collaboration with the New York University Leonard N Stern School of Business (NYU Stern) – is a detailed analysis based on more than 3.5 million data points that track the globalisation of 169 countries in the world.

Source: DHL Global Connectedness Index 2020

Singapore is ranked second among 190 economies in the Ease of Doing Business.

Source: World Bank, Doing Business 2018 Report

Singapore’s economy has been ranked the freest in the world again in 2021

Singapore’s economic freedom score is 89.7, making its economy the freest in the 2021 Index. Its overall score has increased by 0.3 point, primarily because of an improvement in the score for government spending. Singapore is ranked 1st among 40 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is well above the regional and world averages.

Singapore’s economy has been ranked the freest in the world again this year (2021) for the second year in a row. Singapore remains the only country in the world that is considered economically free in every Index category, although its indicator scores for fiscal health and financial freedom just barely make it over the threshold into the highest category.

IMPACT OF COVID-19: As of December 1, 2020, 29 deaths had been attributed to the pandemic in Singapore, and the economy was forecast to contract by 6.0 percent for the year.

Source: 2021 Index of Economic Freedom by The Heritage Foundation

Singapore is second-easiest place in Asia to do business

Singapore is in second place in a league table of ranking Asian economies on how easy it is to conduct business, but fares less well on a global scale. A study of 77 jurisdictions across the world looked at indicators such as legislation, accounting procedures, tax regimes and human resource rules.

Source: Study by TMF Group (Ref: The Straits Times Report: 18-Jun-2020)

Singapore is the least corrupt nation in Asia and ranked 3rd in the world.

Singapore has again made it to the top ranks of the least corrupt countries in the world based on a global survey released annually.

The Republic along with Finland, Switzerland and Sweden scored 85 points each, tying for third place in the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index released by the global anti-graft movement, Transparency International (TI), on Thursday (Jan 28).

Denmark and New Zealand earned 88 points each to tie for top spot among the 180 countries and territories surveyed.

Singapore took top spot in Asia, and was the only Asian country to make it to the top 10.

The situation in Singapore remains well under control with corruption-related reports on a downward trend, and public sector cases remaining low over the years, said the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in a statement on 28-Jan-2021.

Source: Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2020

Singapore is the least corrupt nation in Asia since 1995.

Other international indices have also ranked Singapore highly. The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranked Singapore the least corrupt country in its 2019 Report On Corruption In Asia, and in the World Justice Project Rule Of Law Index 2019, Singapore was ranked third for absence of corruption.

Source: The Political & Economic Risk Consultancy’s 2019 Report on corruption in Asia.

Singapore is ranked top in Asia for having the best protection of intellectual property.

Source: World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2015/2016

International surveys consistently rank Singapore’s IP regime as one of the best in the world.

Singapore is ranked second in the world and top in Asia for having the best IP protection in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019. Overall, Singapore is ranked first as the world’s most competitive country.

Singapore is ranked fourth on the International Property Rights Index 2019, which measures the strength of a country’s property rights regime, including both intellectual and physical property rights.

The U.S. Chamber International IP Index 2019 ranked Singapore tenth in the world based on 45 indicators that look at patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets protection.

The 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies, ranked Singapore third in the world.

The Global Innovation Index 2020, which ranks countries’ innovation performance, ranked Singapore as the eighth most innovative nation in the world and top in Asia. Singapore maintains its lead as first in the world on the Innovation Input Sub-Index of the Global Innovation Index 2019, which gauges elements in the national economy that enable innovation activities.

Source: IPOS

Singapore is ranked top in South-east Asia, East Asia and Oceania and 5th in the world for innovation

Singapore remained top of the class for government effectiveness, regulatory quality and foreign direct investment outflows. Singapore was also the best performer for political stability and safety, market capitalisation, foreign direct investment inflows, high and medium-high tech manufacturing and high-tech net exports.

Source: Global Innovation Index 2018

Singapore is the top investment destination in the world by retaining its 1st position amongst the world

Singapore will remain the best country in the world to do business in 2018-22. The overall business environment outlook score improves on the back of continued government efforts to improve the business environment. The country remains politically stable, with a technocratic approach to economic management that has a long track record of effective implementation. In particular, the government will focus on helping local private-sector companies to upgrade technologically and operate on an international scale.

Source: Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI) Report 2018

Singapore is the #1 seat of ICC Arbitration in Asia for the last 5 years and 4th most preferred seat of ICC Arbitration in the world

Source: 2015 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics

Singapore is one of the five most preferred and widely used seats of arbitration

Source: Queen Mary University of London – White & Case, 2015 International Arbitration Survey: Improvements and Innovations in International Arbitration

Singapore is 8th best country to relocate for work

It enters global study’s top 10 list for first time as Covid-19 measures become a priority.

  • Singapore is now the eighth most attractive country to relocate to among workers; it was ranked 18th in 2018 and 24th in 2014.
  • Other countries in the top 10 are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The survey also found that much fewer Singaporeans (44 per cent) want to work overseas, down from 70 per cent in 2018 and 79 per cent in 2014.

Due to its management of the Covid-19 situation, Singapore has leapt into a top 10 spot for the first time as a desirable place to work, a study showed. It also found that fewer Singaporeans want to work abroad now than before the pandemic.

These findings were released on 15-March-2021 as part of a survey on workforce mobility around the world, done by employment matching firm Seek Asia and job marketplace JobStreet. With the help of recruitment company The Network and management consulting company Boston Consulting Group, a total of 208,807 people were polled across more than 190 countries.

Source: Seek Asia-Boston Consulting Group-Media Reports.

Singapore emerged for the fourth year in a row as the best place for expatriates to live and work.

Salaries for expats in Singapore are more than 30 per cent above the global average, according to the survey. Many said they moved to Singapore to advance their careers (45 per cent) and improve their earnings (38 per cent).
Source: HSBC survey – Oct-2018.

Singapore moves up to rank 9th in world talent ranking

Singapore has moved one place up to rank ninth in this year’s list of the most competitive places for talent in the world. Singapore is the only Asian country to make the it to the top 10 in the latest ranking, with Switzerland at No. 1 followed by Denmark and Luxembourg.
The report and ranking, released by Swiss business school IMD, captures the capacity of an economy to develop and attract talent to strengthen its competitiveness. The report evaluates the development, attraction and retention of human capital in 63 economies. It measures three factors – investment and development, appeal, and readiness.

Source: Swiss Business School IMD, 12-Nov-2020.

Singapore ranked best country in the world for children to grow up in

For the second year in a row, Singapore has been ranked the top country in the world for a child to live in.
Singapore scored 989 out of 1,000 in the End of Childhood Index, reigning at the top in all eight categories – child death, malnutrition, access to education, child labour, child marriage, teen pregnancy, displacement due to conflicts and child homicide.

Source: The annual Global Childhood Report – 2019 released by non-governmental organisation Save The Children (29-May-2019).

Asian economies led by Hong Kong and Singapore topped a ranking of most-efficient health care systems

The Bloomberg Health-Efficiency Index, first conducted in 2013, tracks life expectancy and medical spending to determine which health-care systems have the best outcomes. This year’s results include the impact of Covid-19 on mortality and gross domestic product in 57 of the world’s largest economies.

Using the formula adjusted for the pandemic, eight of the world’s 10 most-efficient health systems are in Asia Pacific. Singapore and Hong Kong top the list, while Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand leapfrogged many territories based on their Covid-19 statistics.

Source: Report by Bloomberg dated 18-Dec-2020.

Singapore is the best country for developing human capital.

It ranked first out of 157 economies, beating South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong into second, third and fourth positions, respectively.

Singapore’s effort to invest in its human capital will allow children born today to fulfill 88 per cent of their potential to be productive when they grow up, given that they get a full education and enjoy good health.

Source: Report released by the World Bank on 11-Oct-2018.

Singapore most liveable city in the world for 15th year in a row

Singapore has retained its top spot as the most liveable city in the world for East Asian expatriates for the 15th year in a row, while many European cities tumbled down the annual rankings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Updated annually, ECA International’s Location Ratings system measures the quality of expatriate living conditions in over 490 locations around the world to arrive at a fair and consistent assessment of the level of difficulty the expatriate will experience in adapting to a new location. Factors evaluated include climate; availability of health services; housing and utilities; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions and air quality.

Source: A Study (Jan-2021) by: ECA International

Singapore is sixth in world digital quality of life Index 2021

The 2021 edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index is a second, improved iteration of Surfshark’s previous research. This year, the DQL Index is statistically more complex, analytically vigorous, and includes 14 different factors that directly influence the digital quality of life in any given country.

The DQL Index 2021 analyzes 110 countries (as compared to 85 in 2020) around the world in terms of five core pillars: internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government. Underpinning these pillars are 14 indicators that are interrelated and work together to provide a measure of overall digital quality of life.

The Republic of Singapore ranked sixth globally in the digital quality of life index, with Internet access and stability, and digital government services among the best provided in the world,

Five pillars that determine the digital quality of life (DQL):

  1. Internet affordability: How much time people have to work to afford the internet connection.
  2. Internet quality: How fast and stable is the internet connectivity in a country.
  3. Electronic infrastructure: How developed and inclusive is the existing electronic infrastructure.
  4. Electronic government: How advanced and digitzed are country’s governmental services.
  5. Electronic security: How safe and protected can people feel in a country.

Source: Virtual Private Network (VPN) Service Provider: Surfshark, 15-Sep-2021.

Singapore ranked 3rd position in the latest EIU ranking of the world’s safest cities

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by NEC, has released the Safe Cities Index 2021 on 23-August-2021, covering 60 major urban areas. In its fourth edition, the Index consists of 76 sub indicators grouped under 5 domains.

The five criteria used to rank the 60 cities were: environmental security, digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.

The EIU states the change in rankings this year did not indicate a “tectonic shift” but rather a reordering of cities which have always been near the top of the ranking.

Singapore ranked second for the digital security, health security and infrastructure security pillars, and 13th for the personal security pillar. For environmental security, Singapore ranked 37th.

Source: Report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), on 23-August-2021.

 

Historical Summit in Singapore

Singapore was chosen to hold the historical summit. Singapore is a neutral player in the region and both the United States and North Korea have embassies here. Singapore’s diplomatic relations with North Korea stretch back four decades. American diplomats also work closely with Singapore on many strategic issues, and it has been a long time United States trading partner and ally. Singapore has also played host to many other bilateral meetings, and is increasingly becoming a hub for regional diplomacy in Asia.

The United States President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea’s State Affairs Commission held historic talks on 12-Jun-2018 in Singapore and signed a joint declaration in which Pyongyang vowed complete denuclearisation in return for security guarantees from Washington. The two sides also agreed to establish new bilateral relations and build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

Living in Singapore

Suffice to say that living conditions in Singapore are among the best in Asia and inflation rate in Singapore is also comparatively lower than most other countries. The standard of hygiene is high while the crime rate is low.

Some Best Reasons to LIVE in Singapore [Click here to watch a short Video]

  • Singapore Airlines is voted one of the top 20 safest airlines
  • Singapore is the best country in the world for children to grow up in
  • Singapore has the best education system in the world
  • Singaporean dishes are included in the ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)’
  • The highest paid citizens in the world live in Singapore
  • Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world
  • Singapore is listed as one of the top tourist destinations
  • Singapore is providing a convenient transport system
  • Singapore makes sure with relatively safe environment
  • Singapore is clean and orderly
  • Singapore provides easy access to the outdoors (eg. Parks and Beach)
  • Singapore is providing with great public libraries

 

REGARDLESS OF RACE: ONE NATION, MANY FESTIVALS

Singapore is one united people celebrating the diverse, unique, individual cultures and faiths through different festivals. We explore the various festive occasions generally celebrated in Singapore.

  • Pongal
  • Hari Raya Puasa
  • Mid-Autumn Festival
  • Thaipusam
  • Tamil New Year
  • Maulidur Rasul
  • Chinese New Year
  • Vesak Day
  • Deepavali
  • Holi
  • Dragon Boat Festival
  • Christmas
  • Qing Ming Festival
  • Hari Raya Haji
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Good Friday
  • Hungry Ghost Festival
  • Vaisakhi
  • National Day

What is Pongal?

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. Celebrated over four days, Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month. It usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year.

Pongal is also the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of sweet boiled rice like rice porridge. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means “to boil over”.

What is Thaipusam?

While it is a thanksgiving festival, its name doesn’t really translate to mean ‘thanksgiving’. Instead, the word ‘Thaipusam’ is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ which coincides with the timing of when the Pusam star is at its highest.

Thaipusam falls around in the last week of every January or first week February based on Hindu calendar. One common misconception is that the festival marks Lord Murugan’s birthday. However, the date actually honours his brave act of vanquishing the demon Soorapadman. The festival also generally lasts for two days, and actually begins on the eve of the day itself. Prior to the festival, worshippers usually spend a month spiritually preparing themselves for the big day, and this includes following a strict month-long vegetarian diet.

What is Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year?

Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. It’s tied to the Chinese lunar calendar every year, the holiday was traditionally a time to honour household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors. It was also a time to bring family together for feasting.

It is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of 12 animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

So the animals will have a year dedicated to them once every 12 years, in a cycle.

What is Holi festival?

Holi has been celebrated in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, with poems documenting celebrations dating back to the 4th century CE. It marks the beginning of spring after a long winter, symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. It is celebrated in March, corresponding to the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna.

On the eve of the festival, large pyres are lit in many parts of India to signify the burning of evil spirits. People often throw wood, dried leaves and twigs into bonfires.

On the day of Holi, entire streets and towns turn red, green and yellow as people throw coloured powder into the air and splash them on others. Each colour carries a meaning. Red, for example, symbolizes love and fertility while green stands for new beginnings. People also splash water on each other in celebration. Water guns are used to squirt water, while balloons filled with coloured water are also flung from rooftops. Later in the day, families gather together for festive meals. It is also common to distribute sweets among neighbours and friends.

What is Qing Ming festival?

The Qingming (Pure Brightness) Festival is one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6 each year. After the festival, the temperature will rise up and rainfall increases. It is the high time for spring ploughing and sowing. But the Qingming Festival is not only a seasonal point to guide farm work, it is more a festival of commemoration.

The Qingming Festival sees a combination of sadness and happiness.

This is the most important day of sacrifice. Both the Han and minority ethnic groups at this time offer sacrifices to their ancestors and sweep the tombs of the deceased. Also, they will not cook on this day and only cold food is served.

What is Good Friday?

Jesus went through so much for each of us to become heirs of heaven. He became the bridge when there was no bridge. Good Friday is celebrated because deep down, we know the darkness within ourselves. We’re aware of the sins we’ve committed, and we know just how dark our actions and thoughts can be. As we think about the things that have stained our hands, we know deep down, the things we’ve done are worthy of punishment. Especially when we understand God’s holy standards.

Even though the Bible doesn’t tell us to celebrate Good Friday, we observe it and call it Good Friday because it was a good day for humankind! God demonstrated his love for us through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

What is Vaisakhi Festival?

Though Vaisakhi is celebrated with vigour in many North Indian states (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), it holds special significance for Punjabis and Sikhs, primarily for four reasons. First, it marks the beginning of their solar year and the harvest of rabi crops. Since Punjab is primarily an agrarian state, this day holds greater importance as farmers thank their gods for good harvest and hope for another good year.

Second, it was on this day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru, founded the Khalsa Panth and famously evoked nationalism and unity among his people at a meeting in Anandpur Sahib.

What is Ramadan & Hari Raya Puasa?

The Muslim community all over the world celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, or also known as Hari Raya Puasa, to conclude the Ramadan holy month of fasting. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is regarded as a merry celebration as it marks a person’s triumph and success on discipline and self-resistance which symbolizes refinement and rebirth.

It is necessary for Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan, where they have to maintain their self-resistance in satisfying their basic needs and urges between sunrise till sunset. They abstain from food and drinks, as well as from smoking and sexual relations. It is also important that they keep their minds pure and not harbor any ill thoughts or intentions during this holy month.

What’s the difference between Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji?

Puasa vs. Haji: “Hari Raya” directly translates to “Great Day” in English. “Haji” means “pilgrim to Mecca”, while “Puasa” means “fasting”.

Celebration and pilgrimage:

Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated at the end of the Ramadan fasting month to celebrate, well, the end of the fasting month.

Hari Raya Haji is celebrated at the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) 70 days after the Ramadan – every able-bodied and financially able Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once in their life.

What is Tamil Puthandu (Tamil New Year)?

Tamil New Year, also known as Puthuvarusham and Puthandu, is the very first day in the Tamil calendar and therefore is celebrated nothing less than a festival. Its date is set according to the Hindu calendar’s solar cycle and every year, it falls in April, mostly on the 14th.

In the Hindu community, the same day is celebrated as the traditional new year and is known by different names in different regions. For example, it is called Vishu in Kerala and Baisakhi in central and northern India.

The Tamil New Year is celebrated with great joy with people greeting one another with Puthaaṇdu vaazhthugal or Iṉiya puthaandu nalvazhthugal which translates to Happy New Year.

The day is mainly celebrated as an excuse to spend quality family time. People clean their house; decorate a tray with flowers, fruits, and other auspicious items.  They also visit local temples and light up their family Puja altars. This is also the day to wear new clothes and seek blessings from elders. People also cook a complete vegetarian feast on this day.

What is Vesak Day?

Vesak Day, is an annual religious festival celebrated by the major Buddhist denominations in Singapore. While it is often referred to as “Buddha’s Birthday”, its actual significance is to mark the birth, enlightenment, and passing of Gautama Buddha, and is considered one of the most significant occasions in Buddhism

Vesak Day is usually celebrated on the first full-moon day of the Vaisakha month in the lunar calendar and typically lasts for a full day. This translates to April or May in the Gregorian calendar.

What is Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the fifth month the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Because of this, the holiday is often called the ‘double fifth’ festival. It is not a public holiday in Singapore but it is nevertheless a widely observed cultural event.

In Singapore, you know you’re in the thick of Dragon Boat Festival when Chinese relatives start preparing rice dumplings. This is also the time when dragon boaters take to our rivers and channels for epic races set to the beat of drums. Dragon Boat Festival will likely be a more muted affair once again this year, but we take the time to look back on its origins and traditions.

What is Hari Raya Haji?

Hari Raya Haji, also known as Aidiladha and alternatively spelt as Eid al-Adha or Eid Adha (Great Day of Sacrifice), is a festival observed by Muslims. It falls on the 10th day of Zulhijjah (the 12th month in the Islamic calendar). Hari Raya Haji is celebrated to mark the end of the haj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are encouraged to make at least once in their lifetime. It is one of two major Muslim festivals in Singapore that is celebrated as a public holiday, the other being Hari Raya Puasa.

What is Hungry Ghost Festival (Zhong Yuan Jie)?

Zhong Yuan Jie takes place on the seventh month of the Lunar calendar. It is mostly observed by Chinese Buddhists and Taoists who believe that during this time, colloquially known as “seventh month” (“seventh month” in Chinese), the gates of Hell are opened, releasing spirits who roam the earth.

The period is also commonly referred to as “Hungry Ghost Festival”, with reference to the belief that spirits are hungry because they do not have descendants to make offerings to them. However, it is not just mischievous spirits who roam the earth during the seventh month – it is also believed that dead ancestors may come back to observe the living.

Hence, there are various practices associated with entertaining and appeasing these spirits. For instance, believers will burn joss sticks, paper offerings and make food offerings. There will also be large-scale performances called getai which provide entertainment to both the spirits and the living.

What is the National Day of Singapore?

National Day of Singapore is celebrated every year on August 9, in commemoration of Singapore’s independence from Malaysia in 1965. This holiday features a National Day Parade, an address by the Prime Minister of Singapore, and fireworks celebrations.

Audience members sit back to enjoy a stunning spectacle of military parades, multicultural song-and-dance performances and aerial high jinks capped by a breathtaking firework extravaganza set against the stunning cityscape framed by the Marina Waterfront.

While National Day officially falls on the 9th of August, rehearsals for the occasion begin three to four months in advance, with preview shows on the two weekends leading to the celebration.

If you’re in the vicinity on a Saturday, be sure to stick around for the chance to witness the fireworks. While timings tend to vary, you’ll be able to witness this spectacular display from around 8pm.

What is Mid-Autumn Festival?

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Mooncake Festival as it is commonly known in Singapore, is celebrated by Chinese communities all around the world. It falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, when the moon is believed to be at its fullest. The festival is a time for families to bond together while consuming mooncakes, pomelos, and tea, while children often play with lanterns.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is likely to have origins in ancient worship practices of the moon, and served as a harvest festival to express gratitude to the gods. There are many myths surrounding the origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the most common one is the story of Chang E, the wife of Hou Yi. Several versions of this myth exists, and in a commonly cited version, she drinks the elixir of immortality to save her people from the eternal tyranny of an immortal Hou Yi, who had become an arrogant and domineering ruler. When Chang E drank the elixir, she found herself transported to the heavens. Chang E has been traditionally worshipped by the Chinese community as the Moon Goddess. Other myths associated with the festival include the pounding of medicine by the Jade Rabbit and Wu Gang, the woodcutter.

The festival is also linked to the war between the Han Chinese resistance army and the Yuan Dynasty in the mid-14th century. According to folklore, the rebellion used mooncakes to hide messages that called for an uprising on the night of mid-autumn.

What is Prophet Muhammad’s birthday aka Maulidur Rasul or Mawlid?

This illuminated manuscript contains texts that are recited or sung during the celebrations to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (mawlid). The Prophet’s birthday (12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’-ul Awwal) is marked in many Muslim communities with religious sermons, and the recitation of stories on the Prophet’s life. The Prophet’s name Muhammad is written in a large bold style in various places, possibly to emphasise that he is the subject of the book.

What is Deepavali?

Deepavali, or Diwali, is a festival that falls between October and November of the Gregorian calendar, and in the Tamil month of Aipasi. Known as the “festival of lights”, the myths and origins of Deepavali differ among North and South Indians but celebrate a common theme of good over evil or light over darkness.

Deepavali is celebrated by Hindus, and also Indians of other religions such as the Sikhs and the Jains. The significance of certain rituals or practices varies amongst the different religious communities.

During Deepavali, the doorways of homes are decorated with diyas (small clay oil lamps) and rangoli (also known as kolam)—intricate patterns made from coloured rice powder or rice grains.  Lighted diyas are placed at doorways to draw auspicious energies into the home. The lighting of oil lamps also signifies the triumph of good over evil.

Traditionally, Deepavali is celebrated in many parts of India with prayers, food and the lighting of firecrackers. This is, however, not practised in Singapore, due to safety issues, as well as the need to reduce noise pollution. Instead, kids and adults alike have their fun lighting dozens of sparklers.

What is Christmas (X’Mas)?

Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.

In Singapore, Christmas celebrations are not unique. Christmas in Singapore is like that in any cosmopolitan city – malls are decked with glittery tinsel, twinkling fairy lights, Nativity scenes and other lavish decorations. The trend for buildings and malls dressing up in festive finery started in the early 1980s. The Christmas light-up along Orchard Road has become a tourist attraction.

What is New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations because it marks the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, December 31, before the New Year. Count down to the New Year no matter where you are in the world.

New Year’s Eve is a day of mixed feelings for many people. On one hand, it is a time to celebrate the end of the year gone by and welcome what is in store in the New Year. On the other hand, some people experience a sense of nostalgia as they reflect on the events that took place in their lives in the past 12 months. Many people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions at this time of the year.

Some people celebrate New Year’s Eve by attending midnight church or temple services, while others gather around in public venues for entertainments such as lighting of firecrackers, etc.

 

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