It is common for AQ to ask you to contextualize the issues to Singapore’s society. As such, there is a need for you to be familiar with certain features in Singapore. Listed below are just some features for you to brainstorm. They are not exhaustive.
Singaporean’s behaviour (positive): Hardworking, ambitious, have high expectations, obedient, law-abiding, willing to upgrade skills and take pay cut, non-violent.
Singaporean’s behaviour (negative): Kiasu, elitist, materialistic, overly pragmatic, non-gracious, self-centered/selfish, overly competitive, not innovative, conservative and afraid of changes.
*Behaviour generally tends to be tolerant of new trends rather than accepting (esp LGBT).
Political culture: Conservative, but generally opening up to more opposition voices and increased numbers of opposition in parliament. Dual-party system in the near future? A more educated populace that is more vocal and critical towards the ruling party PAP. Party whip to organize and keep the party in check. Party likes to use carrot and stick approach to control the populace, but this approach could be increasingly irrelevant as the population becomes richer and more critical to be swayed so easily. Common issues at present: rising housing prices, increasing foreigners, transport and lack of places in university for the locals.
Education culture: Kiasu; a highly vibrant tuition industry (seen to be a necessity to supplement skills and teaching rather than for weaker students only); heavy emphasis of academic results. Society is moving towards a more broad-based education through SOTA, Sports school etc. Government’s emphasis on the multiple paths to success, and increasing emphasis on liberal arts education as seen in Yale-NUS. Education system still largely driven by exams/assessment, but measures have been put in place to reduce this exam stress. Primary 1 and 2 students no longer have examinations.
Media/Arts culture: High censorship. Presence of the OB markers. Diminishing traditional arts and local culture. Increasing home grown arts culture as seen through movies and theatre plays. Most of the art influence is largely global currently. Singapore aims to be part of the Renaissance City. Freedom of speech on the media is one of the lowest in the world. Media is a vehicle of the PAP, could be used as a propaganda vehicle for them.
Science and Technology: Research in S&T and focus on biotechnology is the key pillar of the Singapore’s economy. Strong emphasis on the info-communication research here, IDA. Aims to be a smart nation. Presence of ethical regulatory bodies in research such as the Bioethics Advisory Committee.
Society: Pragmatic and highly focused on the Singapore’s Dream. Focus on the ‘5Cs’. Multi-racial; multi-lingual; multi-religious society. Tension between an economically progressive society vs an all inclusive society. Increasing income inequality in Singapore, though there are “social safety nets” to ensure that no one is being left behind. Materialistic culture has bred a generation of politically apathetic youths, but there is increasing number of youths who are socially aware and responsible, seen in community outreach programs. Young society that is still grappling how to define her identity.
Economics: Focus on FDI in the past, now trying to focus on growing the local industry. Focus on entrepreneurship, especially since now the economy is getting more and more volatile and complex. There is a need to learn soft skills, cater to the economy and create a job for yourself. Very open market that is highly reliant on trade and economic fluctuations overseas. Seen to be an economic miracle with no natural resources yet being able to transform itself into a first world economy.
These are just some main characteristics of Singapore. You would need to know how to apply them in your AQ. Knowing them is not enough. Please also apply the modern day characteristics to your AQ.