• Junwen Chen

How You Can Apply In Your Life: The 7 Systems In Singapore

Happy birthday, Singapore! 

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, let us also look at what makes Singapore today.

Singapore has come a long way since gaining independence and there are many lessons we can apply in our lives from Singapore’s various systems which can benefit ourselves.

1) Education System

Singapore did not have many natural resources. Our first prime minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, strategized to nurture the nation’s only natural resource – its people, in his efforts to develop the country into the metropolis it is today.

Through decades of continuous improvements and refinements, Singapore’s education system has been consistently recognized as among the best in the world. With capable school leaders, teachers and top-notch facilities that provide students in Singapore with a highly comfortable and conducive learning environment, it comes as no surprise that our education system is lauded globally.

Here’s what Singapore’s prestigious education system has achieved:

  • Consistently ranking at the top of OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

  • In mathematics, Singaporean pupils are estimated to be three years ahead of their American peers.

  • Graduates from Singapore’s best schools across the world’s finest universities.

  • Just as Singapore has so successfully developed its people in terms of education and skills, we should nurture our “natural resources”, ie. our natural abilities as well.

We all possess unique gifts and talents. How will you discover and develop yours?

2) Legal System

Singapore’s legal system is recognized for its fairness, integrity, and efficiency.

Singapore is the least corrupt nation in Asia, being the 2nd least risky country in Asia in 2020. The country’s substantial growth can be fundamentally attributed to its sound and transparent legal system.

While many of us think of Singapore as a “fine city” bounded by rules and regulations, we often overlook that the nation’s impermeable legal system and rules have allowed for Singapore’s crime rates to be among the lowest in the world. It also because of the strict rules and legal system that Singapore is a safe and conducive place to work, live and run businesses in, attracting many multinational companies and expatriates around the world.

Singapore’s own set of rules and values have enabled the nation to achieve exponential growth. What rules and values do you live by, that will drive you to achieve success?

3) Healthcare System

Supervised by the Ministry of Health of the Singapore government, Singapore’s healthcare system has been ranked at the top in 2014 and 2017 for Bloomberg’s index of the world’s most efficient healthcare systems.

Although Singapore has a reliable and sophisticated healthcare system in place, one of the five objectives of our government’s healthcare philosophy emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility for one’s own health and advises against over-reliance on welfare or medical insurance. 

Another objective outlines the significance of competition and the private market to improve efficiency and services provided.

In a similar manner, taking more responsibility and actively deciding to make wiser decisions across different aspects of our lives can lead us to accomplish more. We should also not be afraid to embrace competition and challenges which can groom and improve ourselves.

4) Transport System

Singapore has invested large amounts of time, money, and manpower to build and improve the public transport system.

In comparison to 24 major cities around the world, Singapore’s public transport system is regarded to be among the best and most affordable

Furthermore, our esteemed transport system is efficient, accessible, convenient and sustainable.

Having reliable and efficient public transport in Singapore is important for the economy as it allows people to commute to work on a daily basis.

Just as Singapore is so invested in its public transport system, which indirectly sustains and allows our economy to flourish, it is also necessary for us to invest time, energy and even money in the things that are essential in contributing to our personal “economy”, in other words, our livelihood, and our holistic development and well-being. It could be taking up a class to learn new skills, choosing to invest our money wisely, starting a new hobby, finding ways to improve our own working efficiency, or even simply becoming a better person through little ways of putting others’ comfort before yours - like giving up a seat on the train!

5) Tax System

Extending on our point earlier on that many expatriates and multinational corporations are attracted to work, run businesses and invest in Singapore, this can also be attributed to how Singapore’s prudent fiscal policy and attractive tax policy. These have led Singapore to be recognized as an essential commerce, finance and trading hub of Asia.

Residents and those who relocate to the country enjoy incentives thanks to socially progressive policies.

Companies and entrepreneurs also enjoy various benefits exclusive in Singapore:

  • Single-tier taxation system

  • No dividend income tax

  • No capital gains tax

  • No tax on assets acquired in inheritance or as gifts

  • No tax on overseas income

  • Streamlined and simple tax filing procedures

Individuals and company who have sources of income or hold assets from abroad can also avoid double taxation thanks to an extensive network of bilateral treaties.

Here is further information on the progressive tax system in Singapore:

  • Bottom 20 percent of Singaporeans in income pay less than 10 percent of all taxes and receive more than a quarter of all benefits

  • Richest 20 percent pay more than half of all taxes and receive only 12 percent of the benefits

In summary, taxes refer to the revenue collected by the government on behalf of the country. Put simply, if a country does not collect taxes, it would not be able to pay for public services, spend on securing and improving the country’s future or even afford its government.

Just as a country has its revenue and expenses and costs, we also have our income and expense. And we must learn to manage our cash flow properly for various aspects of our lives, such as paying our bills, spending on things that improve our quality of life and afford a sustainable lifestyle.

6) CPF System

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a comprehensive social security system that enables working Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents to set aside funds for retirement. Under CPF, healthcare, family protection, asset enhancement and home ownership are also addressed.

Both employees and employers make monthly CPF contributions.

As one of the most developed pension schemes in Asia, Singapore has continued to make improvements through CPF in providing more flexibility to its members.

As Singaporeans live longer, we will need a steady stream of income to meet our living expenses. Statistics have shown that today, 1 in 2 Singaporeans aged 65 is going to live to age 85 and 1 in 3 is going to live to age 90 and beyond.

In short, CPF is a mandatory savings scheme for long term planning. 

The key lesson we can take away from the CPF scheme is that it is important to be far-sighted and start planning for the long term and future early. The earlier we embark on setting aside savings for our retirement, the easier our futures will be.

While the CPF scheme by the Singapore government is undoubtedly a reliable system, it is imperative to ask ourselves whether our own CPF will suffice for our retirement.

Besides CPF, do you have other options that are able to sustain a comfortable retirement for yourself?

7) Defense System

The defense budget in Singapore was announced to be 15.5 billion SGD, which is about 19% of our government’s total expenditures and roughly 3.3 percent of the national GDP. 

Singapore is spending $22.7 billion on Defense, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries, which is 28.3% of the $80.3 billion total budgeted expenditure.

Singapore knows the importance of having a good defense system and spent billions on it. Similarly, as we are working hard and building for our future, do we have a good defense system and safety net in place?

Singapore may be a 'little red dot' but we have transited into a successful modern city state that was given much international attention, due to the many little things that we have done.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were big things.

May we continue to achieve happiness, prosperity, and progress for our nation, and for ourselves!






This article was first published here.

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