We visited the Australian embassy today to meet the High Commissioner. Unfortunately due to illness she was unable to meet with us. Instead we got to have an in depth conversation with two ladies who also worked there. They provided us all with great insight into the political world of Singapore as well as Australia’s relationship with it.
The current political party in Singapore has been in power since the country gained independence 49 years ago and has run pretty much unopposed until recent times. This is in no way due to riggings of elections or the persecution of opposing parties as one may expect but because they genuinely trusted and liked their government. Lee Kuan Yew, as in power for 31 years and guided and shaped the country Singapore into what it is today, a prosperous and clean country that is second in the world for private wealth among its citizens (first is Switzerland). For a small island with no land or natural resources this is an interesting occurrence that can be attributed to the government’s actions in attracting large businesses to Singapore. By providing large international companies with lower tax’s many have flocked to Singapore to set up factories for high end electronics and more recently, pharmaceuticals. Singapore’s greatest income however comes from its oil refining rigs they have offshore that they use to generate large amounts of money that they can then funnel back into the country.
Australia has had a long standing relationship with Singapore which has resulted in a free trade agreement between the two countries which has lent itself to larger investments from Singapore into Australia. Singapore is the fourth biggest foreign investor in the Australian market which is amazing considering its size, it has a population smaller than that of Melbourne! Due to land constraints in Singapore and its insistence that all men join the army after they turn 18 for 2 years, they run many joint training exercises with Australian troops, not to mention that their air force pilots HAVE to be trained in Australia due to a severe lack of runways for their entire air force. All this interaction with Singapore helps bring our two cultures closer together so we both flourish.