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Asean Affairs    19  August  2011

Singapore faces challenges

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     19  August 2011

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Since 1959, Singapore has achieved great economic success. It has become the world’s second-busiest container port and fourth-largest financial center. Three of the world’s six strongest banks are based in Singapore, according to recent surveys.

During a 50-year period 1960 to 2010 GDP increased 41-fold, to US$285 billion.

In May, however, the ruling People’s Action Party achieved its lowest victory margin (60 percent) as the Workers’ Party picked up six seats in Parliament. The cause of the discontent is the increasing income gap between the richest and the poorest. In 2010, Singapore had more millionaire households (in US$) per capita than any other country.

Part of this may be because of the influx of wealthy expatriates who obtain employment in the financial or technical field. Singapore has been judged the easiest country in the world to do business and this is an increasing attraction worldwide.

This stream of non-Singaporeans drives up housing costs, while the large number of immigrant manual laborers, usually from South Asia, drives down wages.

To help rectify the situation, permanent resident and citizenship applications declined by 40 percent last year. A recent initiative is to reduce the cost of preschools. Singapore has one of the world’s lowest birth rates-1.2 births per woman and economics plays a significant role in that.

In the city-state of Singapore, other then financial news, it’s a rather quiet news scene.

However, as Singapore tries to deal with the problems of its success, that could easily change .

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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