Singaporean society as described

Singaporean society as described

“Recently I read about somebody who made a post on her blog poking fun at an older man who had a hole in his shirt. I think that is wrong because an old or torn shirt does not mean he deserves less respect…. These are not essential to who you are, what you stand for, what people should think of you. It has to manifest in the way we interact with one another. “

Lee Hsien Loong is the Prime Minister of Singapore. Here he discusses how important it is for Singaporeans not to look down on those who have less, materially, even though the economy is booming and business is good.

“When society's brightest and most able think that they made good because they are inherently superior and entitled to their success; when they do not credit their good fortune also to birth and circumstance; when economic inequality gives rise to social immobility and a growing social distance between the winners of meritocracy and the masses; and when the winners seek to cement their membership of a social class that is distinct from, exclusive, and not representative of Singapore society – that is elitism.”

Goh Chok Tong was the Prime Minister of Singapore between 1990 and 2004.

“Never forget we're servants of the people, not their masters. Always maintain a sense of humility and service. Never lord it over the people we're looking after and serving. Be as strict with ourselves as we are with others.”

Lee Hsien Loong again, this time describing how Singaporean's see the role of politicians.

“In the early pioneering days, we do first and talk later. Today some of us talk first and don't do.”

Ngiam Tong Dow was once one of Singapore's most important and influential civil servants. Now he is one of the country's most outspoken opinion formers, often voicing strong dissenting ideas.

“While Singaporeans are fully aware of potential trade-offs in policy, we should also be on guard against viewing trade-offs only from the Government's perspective….. It seems to me that more often than not, the policy trade-off was biased against the people, especially those who are adversely affected.”

Low Thia Khiang was the opposition leader in 2011 when he made this criticism of certain policies.

“The most important thing is that you have to respect an individual, whether he's got six Cs or six As and whether he's a brain surgeon or a dustman. I think we should give him the same respect. If you don't give respect to your own citizens, I think you condemn them forever.”

Chiam See Tong was another opposition leader, here he re-iterates Lee Hsien Loong's earlier point about the importance of respecting all the state's citizens regardless of their wealth or status.

Singapore Tourist Survival Guide

Singapore Tourist Survival Guide

With a varied cultural mixture of entertainment, cuisine and shopping, Singapore stands out as one of the most travel-friendly Asian countries. Whether you travel in August or January, the city-island has warm weather all year round. Besides, tourists also love Singapore because it is easy to get around the island, as it has an extensive and easy-to-use public transport system.

Another reason why Singapore is so attractive for tourists is that one of the spoken languages is English, but they also speak Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Malay and Tamil. Therefore, the language barrier in Singapore is almost anecdotic.

If you are travelling there, it might be useful to know that in terms of electricity, in Singapore they 230 Volts and 50 Hertz. Also, the phone code is +65.

Also, the official currency of the country is Singapore dollar. In comparison with American currency, US$1 equals SGD1.25. You can find many money exchanges throughout the city, particularly in the CBD and other tourist hotspots. You can always exchange money at major hotels and local banks, although the exchange rate will not be favourable for you. You can also withdraw money from the ATM machines scattered throughout the state.

Make sure you carry cash if you are thinking of making small purchases or buying goods from the markets and street vendors. However, you only need your credit card in major shopping centres.

Although Singapore is highly tolerant of Western behaviour, there are certain local customs and laws that differ from those in the West. For instance, it might strike you that chewing gum is strictly prohibited for sale, import and personal use. But what might surprise you even more is that spitting is against the law. Besides, littering is not tolerated and offenders can get a tough fine for doing it.

From luxury hotels like the Raffles Hotel to the five-star Shangri-La Hotel Singapore to budget accommodations like the Fragance Hotels and Value Hotels, there is a large array of accommodations to choose from in Singapore.

As Singapore experiences a tropical climate that is hot and humid all year round, make sure you carry sunblock and drink enough water, especially from March to June when the weather is particularly hot.

As to transportation, whether visitors choose to travel by standard trains or by light rail services, they can get anywhere on the island within a short timeframe. Also, buses connect most destinations on the island and a plethora of metered taxis can be found at any time.

Located approximately 20 minutes' drive from the CBD of Singapore, Changi International Airport (SIN) is well connected with the city by rail service as well as by express bus shuttles and metered taxis.

Some of the most important events that take place in Singapore include the World Gourmet Summig (three-week fine food festival), Singapore International Film Festival (featuring a mix of up to 300 international documentaries, animation, shots and retrospectives), Singapore Airlines International Cup, Vesak Day (devotees flock to Buddhist temples where they make offerings, eat vegetarian food and even release captive animals), Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore Dragon Boat Festival, and the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts with celebration dinners, loud auctions and outdoor street performances of Chinese opera, puppetry, singing and comedy.

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class

Customers are now able to book premium economy tickets from Singapore Airlines for the first time. The new class of ticket will first be available on August 9th flights to Sydney, which went on sale recently. Though prices will vary depending on flight times and travel dates, generally a premium economy ticket will cost you about 15% - 20% more than its economy equivalent.

So, what will that extra 15% get you? Well, there's more legroom for start, wider seats and generally superior amenities and facilities. Also, you will have a longer menu to choose your refreshments from, with more meal options.

A premium economy seat on an SIA airplane will pack a calf rest and a footbar, with a width between 18.5 inches and 19.5 inches, while the chair itself will recline a full eight inches. This means a more comfortable seating arrangement a more flexibility in terms of how each individual customer decides to spend their flight. Champagne is available for those looking to travel in style, as are an extensive list of wines.

Flight entertainment is similarly more varied and more luxurious. You can expect a 13.3 inch full high definition in-flight monitor, equipped with headphones that prevent outside noise seeping in to break your concentration, and two USB ports powered by your very own in-seat power supply. A Premium Economy Class Ticket also entitles you to greater storage space, including dedicated spaces for your phone, water, laptop and tablet.

Yet SIA's commitment to giving Premium Economy customers a higher class of trip extends beyond the flight itself. In fact, from the moment you arrive at your departure airport to the moment you leave your destination airport, the entire experience is maximise for simplicity, convenience and comfort.

Yet SIA's commitment to giving Premium Economy customers a higher class of trip extends beyond the flight itself. In fact, from the moment you arrive at your departure airport to the moment you leave your destination airport, the entire experience is maximise for simplicity, convenience and comfort.

Existing members of SIA's KrisFlyer scheme, who can already take advantage of special promotions and air miles from the company and its partners, have even more reasons to go Premium Economy. They receive 10% extra in miles every time they buy this type of ticket.

SIA plans to roll out the availability of Premium Economy tickets soon, with flights to Beijing, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Zurich all slated to be equipped for this class of customer by next year.

According to SIA Chief Executive Office Goh Choon Phong, the new class was created to match the demands of the airline's huge customer base. He says, “Many of our customers' suggestions have been incorporated into the new product, and we are confident it will be well received by travellers who are looking for more features - in the seat design, in-flight offerings and exclusive privileges - all underpinned by the exceptional service that SIA is well known for, both on the ground and in the air."

Singapore's most influential people

Singapore’s most influential people

Any list of people claiming to be this or that is bound to be fairly subjective. This is particularly the case when considering those people who have been most influential on the development of Singapore. After all, this tally is potentially very long and open to a great deal of personal bias. However, it is safe to say there are certain names that would be fairly universal.

One name that should feature is Dr Kanwaljit Soin, who became a much-needed female member of parliament when she was nominated in 1992. After holding her political position for four years, she has since continued to work tirelessly to raise awareness of female issues. While serving as president of the Association of Women for Action and Research in the 1990s she became one of Singapore's most widely-respected commentators on women's issues.

Two individuals who have certainly left a permanent mark on Singapore's landscape are Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell. These Singapore-based architects are known for a variety of eye-catching designs, ranging from tall, ultra-contemporary condominium buildings, to a grandiose churches. Equally at home when designing properties for railway stations or for holiday resorts, this dynamic duo's work features in Singapore, Bali, Bangkok and China.

The arts have flourished in this particular corner of South East Asia for a considerable time. Foremost amongst the influential Singaporeans who have focused on local tastes is Philip Cheah. In the 1980s, Singapore was regarded as something of a cultural backwater, with little to inspire the creatively-minded. Together with his brother Michael, Philip embarked on creating the ‘BigO', a magazine that championed local talent amongst musicians and artists of all shades. While he was director of the Singapore International film Festival in the 1990s, Cheah placed the spotlight on dynamic young Singaporean filmmakers, single-handedly rejuvenating the local movie industry.

Prior to his death in 2008 at the grand old age of 82, J B Jeyaretnam (or JBJ as he was affectionately nicknamed) was a tireless campaigner for Singapore democracy. His son Kenneth said: “My father demonstrated that democracy means the right to change government if you are not satisfied with it”. His dignified approach to the city state's politics won him the respect of colleagues and political opponents in equal measures.