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Singapore - Government and Economy
The country is a parliamentary republic and has a Westminster system with a representative democracy. It is even rated as one of the “least corrupt” countries in the world. The Cabinet has the executive power and this is led by the President and the Prime Minister. Popular vote elects the President. Although the President does have some veto powers, his post is, for the most part, a ceremonial one.
The highest branch of government is Parliament. The members are nominated, elected, and non-constituency. Since 1959, the People's Action Party has won control of Parliament in every election. In 2011, however, the Workers' Party made gains. The People's Action Party has been the dominant force since the country gained its independence from Malaysia in 1965. They generally receive more than 65% of the vote.
After thirty years of leading Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew was replaced yet still continued to be a big presence in Singapore, helping to lend to the national identity. In 2001, however, an anti-government rally erupted and this was the first legal demonstration to take place out of an election. J.B. Jeyaretnam, who faced expulsion from parliament, had hundreds of supporters gather to support him in an unprecedented measure. During this same year, Malaysia and Singapore ended their dispute and agreed to construct a bridge and tunnel together.
Japan and Singapore signed a free trade agreement in 2002 and in 2003, Singapore became the first Asian nation to sign a similar deal with the United States. In 2005, the government approved a plan to legalize casino gambling. This allowed two large multi-billion dollar casino resorts to be constructed. In 2009, Singapore emerged from its recession and expanded at an annualized rate of 20.4%.
Today, Singapore’s market-based economy is strong and poverty is rare. The economy is currently being driven by electronics manufacturing and financial services. Known as one of the Four Asian Tigers (along with Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea), it is well known for being business friendly and innovative. It is the 14th biggest exporter in the world and has a high trade-to-GDP ratio.
More than 7,000 multinational corporations from Europe, the United States, and Japan are currently represented in the country and there are even companies from India and China. Almost half of the country’s workforce is made up of foreigners. The economy relies on its manufacturing which includes chemicals, biomedical sciences, petroleum refining, and electronics. Tourism also plays a big part in the economy and every year more than 10 million tourists visit. Medical tourism is becoming increasingly popular, with more than 200,000 tourists visiting each year to enjoy expensive medical procedures that can be found at low costs.
It has had several economic setbacks in the past few years. Still, it weathered quite a few crises including the 1997 Asian markets slump, 2003 SARS virus outbreak and the 2009 world banking crisis. According to a World Bank report in 2010, Singapore is the best country in which to run a business.
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