Singapore must be doing everything right.
No less than the World Bank, in its Doing Business 2007 report, said the Lion City is the prime choice for establishing business headquarters. For a country with a limited land area and a teeming population, Singapore has emerged as the business center of Asia.
“We make our country very conducive to business,” said Desmond Ng, Singapore’s delegate to the recently concluded Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21) plenary meeting held in the Philippines. In an exclusive interview with ChinaBusiness-Philippines, Mr. Ng said his government has been implementing long-range business and economic plans geared for both local and foreign investors.
Several surveys validate this. Among them is the Opacity Index, a yearly survey conducted by the renowned US-based consultancy service and advisory firm Kurtzman group. The index examines the business climate of countries with regards to capital risks. In 2004, Singapore ranked 12th among 48 nations and outperformed Netherlands, Japan, Germany, and France.
Singapore is made up of 63 islands with a total land area of 647.5 square kilometers. Forested areas comprise approximately 28.6 square kilometers while farms occupy only 10.8 square kilometers. Inland waters, buildings, parks, other structures, and unused land sit on 271 square kilometers. With a population of more than 3 million people, Singapore has to squeeze in 4, 702 citizens in every square kilometer of land.
Because Singapore lies roughly 137 kilometers north of the equator, it enjoys abundant rainfall and high humidity throughout the year. It has no distinct wet or dry season.
Peace and Order
The island city-state enjoys the lowest crime rate in the world. “We enact tough laws and implement them. Our government is a stickler for discipline,” said Ng.
“Other countries consider our punishment for violators as severe but that is the only way we can think of to encourage our citizens to follow the laws. It’s an effective measure to maintain peace and order in our country,” he added.
High-tech Traffic Management
Singapore has an excellent traffic management system. It’s a bustling city with an elaborate network of road cameras, which constantly monitor and analyze vehicle flow. Motorists can choose the best route and avoid traffic jams because real-time traffic conditions like volume, speed, and queue of vehicles are flashed through giant roadside electronic billboards.
But it is very hard to get a driver’s license in Singapore. And as if that isn’t enough to keep people away from cars, the government also imposes stiff taxes for the use of roads.
To further discourage commuters from using their private vehicles, the Singaporean government built an efficient and convenient public transport system. The extensive network of their mass rapid transport (MRT) rail takes the riding public practically anywhere.
Most developing Asian countries suffer from poor garbage collection and disposal issues. Trash accumulates on the streets and become eyesores. Their brimming landfills are badly-managed.
These do not happen in Singapore because it has a comprehensive recycling program. “The Cleanest Country in the World,” has embarked on a well- planned trash management program that is the envy of its neighbors. City officials strictly enforce harsh laws against littering by promptly slapping violators with stiff fines and providing garbage bins every 50 yards or so.
When asked what advice he could give to other countries, Ng replied: “Discipline is the crucial key to progress. If a government can effectively instill discipline [among] its constituents, then it would also enjoy economic progress and become a major business hub just like Singapore.
print ed: 01/08