Faculty of Computing, Health & Science
The Faculty Office of the Faculty of Computing, Health & Science is pleased to provide
you with this information. Comments or changes may be advised to 6304 3453
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The following Background, Historical, Political, Economic and General Information has
been sourced and combined, from the following Web Sites:
Reference: Austrade Web Online - www.austrade.gov.au
Aust. Dept of Foreign Affairs - www.dfat.gov.au
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It pays dividends to do some background reading to gain an understanding of where Singapore
fits in a South East Asian business context, and to its long-term trading role in the region. This
will assist you to evaluate a Singaporean's views, possibly help determine where his/her company
fits in a broader market context, and enable you at least to ask some of the right questions in order
to assess whether the company would represent a good business fit for you.
Singapore society is a highly diverse racial mix. Some 77% of the total population of 3 million
are of Chinese origin, 14% Malay, and 8% Indian. Foreign permanent residents represent some
6% of the population, and comprise a broad spectrum of executive, professional and technical
personnel through to low-paid construction and maintenance workers.
Singapore is one of the best wired sites on the Internet. A surf of the web will provide a wealth of
data on Singapore, Singaporean companies and business opportunities. Austrade Singapore has
compiled a list of some useful web sites.
The Republic of Singapore consists of Singapore Island, where Singapore City is
located, and 57 smaller islands. One of these, Pedra Branca (Batu Putih), is claimed by
1959 Singapore, a former British colony, achieved internal self-government.
People's Action Party (PAP) won the election, and Lee Kuan Yew became prime
1963 Singapore became a state of the Federation of Malaysia.
1965 The Republic of Singapore was legally declared an independent, sovereign
state in December, retroactive to the previous August when the prime ministers of
Malaysia and Singapore had concluded an agreement on the separation of Singapore
1990 Goh Chok Tong took over as prime minister from Lee Kuan Yew.
1993 In the first direct presidential election, the PAP candidate, Ong Teng Cheong,
secured the post with only 58.7 per cent of the vote.
1997 PAP was re-elected in general elections held in January.
1999 In August, Sellapan Ramanathan (S R Nathan) was declared president.
2001 In April, parliamentarian J B Jeyaretnam of the Worker's Party of Singapore
(WPS) held a political rally which was allowed to take place by the government, the
first time outside an election period.
Singapore is a Republic with a parliamentary system of Government and an elected
President as the Head of State. The present Parliament, elected on 6 May 2006, has 84
elected members, one Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) and nine Nominated MPs who
represent various professional and business sectors. The judiciary administers the law
independently of the Executive.
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The political scene in Singapore has been dominated by the People's Action Party (PAP)
since 1959. The party has won eleven general elections in succession. There are only
three opposition members in the current Parliament.
Singapore is an important hub for the South-East Asian region. It has a dynamic
economy, and strong service and manufacturing sectors. Its port, airport and road
systems are among the best in the world.
Singapore's economy has always depended on international trade and on the sale of
services. Its merchandise trade is three times its gross domestic product (GDP). This
includes a large volume of re-exports, reflecting Singapore’s position as a trans-
shipment hub. Its major industries include petroleum refining, electronics, oil drilling
equipment, rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, financial
services and pharmaceutical manufacturing. It is moving to reduce its reliance on the
manufacture and export of electronics by developing its services sector, as well as its
chemical, petrochemical and biotechnology industries.
Singapore's small population and dependence on external markets and suppliers has
pushed Singapore toward economic openness, free trade, and free markets. This and
government policies that foster economic development have been key factors in
Singapore's historically strong economic performance. The Singapore Government has
continued to pursue an outward-looking, export-oriented economic policy that
encourages two-way flows of trade and investment. It has adopted a three-pronged
approach to trade policy, by supporting the multilateral trading system particularly
through the World Trade Organization (WTO), but also through such regional trading
groups as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and through
bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with a range of trading partners, including
Singapore has also sought to position itself as a regional hub and regional pace-setter in
economic development and reform. In particular, the Government has introduced
measures to enhance Singapore's position as a regional hub for financial, education and
transport services. In the 2006 budget the Prime Minister announced measures that
would be introduced for the education and training of Singaporeans, with a focus on the
Accelerating globalisation and growing competition from fast-growing lower-cost
producers like China and India have presented Singapore with continuing challenges.
In recent years, Singapore has had to adapt to several additional challenges subsequent
to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, including the global economic slowdown in 2001, the
war in Iraq, and the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003.
Singapore had negative growth for the first time in 2001 and growth in Singapore’s
economy was sluggish in 2002 and 2003.
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ASEAN remains the centre-piece of Singapore's foreign policy. Through ASEAN,
Singapore has been able to build up a position for itself as an economic and commercial
hub of the region and to develop a regional political influence of considerable weight.
Singapore is keen to ensure that ASEAN remains a vibrant and relevant force for
regional stability and economic progress. ASEAN also provides a useful mechanism for
Singapore in its sometimes complex relations with neighbouring countries.
Following his appointment in August 2004, Prime Minister Lee reaffirmed that
maintaining good relations with Singapore's immediate neighbours and the major
powers was one of Singapore's priorities. He acknowledged that Indonesia and
Malaysia would always be of special importance to Singapore.
Outside ASEAN, Singapore is continuing to strengthen its links in the Asia-Pacific
region and beyond. It has a strong relationship with the United States. A Singapore-
United States Strategic Framework Agreement was concluded in July 2005. Singapore
has always been an active participant in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) and views it as an important regional forum. Singapore has an interest in
building links between East Asia and Latin America, and instigated the Forum for East
Asia and Latin American Co-operation (FEALAC). Contacts are increasing between
Singapore and Europe bilaterally and through the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a
Singaporean initiative. Recently Singapore has also been concentrating on its relations
with the Middle East – it is negotiating a free trade agreement with the Gulf
Cooperation Council and has established an Asia-Middle East Dialogue, with the
inaugural meeting held in Singapore in June 2005.
Singapore supports a strong United Nations in its efforts to preserve international law
and order and to settle disputes peacefully. It completed its two-year term as a Non-
Permanent Member of the UN Security Council in December 2002.
In January 1991 the Constitution was amended to provide for an elected President (the
President had previously been appointed) with powers to review Government decisions
in a number of areas, including the disposition of state reserves and senior Government
appointments. Singapore's first presidential election was held on 28 August 1993. The
first elected President was HE Mr Ong Teng Cheong. The current (and second elected)
President, HE Mr Sellapan Rama (S R) Nathan, was re-elected unopposed in August
2005 to serve a second six year term.
On 28 November 1990, Lee Kuan Yew formally stepped down after having served as Prime
Minister since 1959. He was succeeded by Mr Goh Chok Tong. However, Mr Lee has remained
in Cabinet as Senior Minister without portfolio. Mr Goh initially sought to adopt a more open and
consultative style of Government - but not at the expense of stability, national unity and
economic development, which remain the prime goals of the Singapore Government.
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The election campaign in late 1996 and early 1997 saw a changed style of Government, with Mr
Goh and the PAP returning to the PAPs traditionally firm mode of operation. Singapore's current
Prime Minister is Mr Lee Hsien Loong who assumed the post in August 2004 and was re-elected
While it has been extremely successful in the development of capital-intensive, export-oriented
manufacturing industries, the Singapore Government recognises that, with no natural resources
other than its port, Singapore risks losing its current comparative economic advantages as
neighbouring countries develop. In recent years Singapore has been active in encouraging
domestic companies to work and invest abroad, drawing on Singapore's large stock of capital
from high domestic savings. Singapore has worked to position itself as a regional hub and
regional pace-setter in economic development and reform. In particular, the Government is
urging businesses to look to Singapore's neighbours, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam,
China, India and Burma, for investment opportunities in manufacturing, tourism and large scale
infrastructure projects, and for the advantages offered by low-cost labour and abundant natural
The Government encourages Singaporean business people to take advantage of cultural and
social links in Asia and the country's reputation for efficiency and reliability and has introduced
new tax incentives and will increase public sector support for local companies seeking to "go
regional". In addition, the Government itself has been investing carefully and steadily in a
number of projects in higher growth countries in east Asia, starting with 2-3 percent of its
reserves which is expected eventually to reach a much higher figure.
Australia's cultural relations program in Singapore is focused on developing commercial
opportunities for Australia's cultural product, particularly in the visual and performing arts. A
new cultural consciousness has emerged as Singapore has positioned itself as a regional arts
centre and aims to become "a global city for the arts". A number of high quality performing and
visual arts events have been planned to showcase Australian artistic talent and excellence in
Cooperative links have been established between the National Arts Council of Singapore and the
Australia Council, Australian State Government arts departments/agencies and the Adelaide and
Perth Arts Festivals. Singapore was one of the focus countries for the cultural exchange program
of the Victorian Government's "Arts 21 Strategy". Projects under this program included a jointly
curated exhibition between the Singapore Art Museum and the Monash Gallery, which opened in
Singapore during the Singapore Festival of the Arts in June 1996. Extensive connections have
also been established between Singapore's Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts and RMIT in
Melbourne, the Queensland University of Technology, the Canberra School of Art and the
Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane.
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Singapore and Australia have a strong and productive bilateral relationship based on
long-standing political, defence, educational, trade, tourism and Commonwealth links
and a shared strategic outlook. Our projected future relationship is one of close
cooperation, especially in economic and business affairs. Australia and Singapore are
engaged in significant cooperation and dialogue on major regional and global economic,
political and security issues, including APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the
ASEAN Post-Ministerial Consultations, AFTA-CER and the Indian Ocean Rim
Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). Australia has also had effective
links with Singapore in the areas of narcotics control, the environment and
The Australian and Singaporean Governments have worked closely together to enhance
the strong relationship between the two countries. A Joint Declaration by Australia and
Singapore's respective Prime Ministers in January 1996, entitled `A New Partnership,'
established a biennial Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (SAJMC). The
Committee is led by foreign ministers and attended by ministers responsible for other
areas of bilateral cooperation (notably trade and defence). The inaugural SAJMC was
held in Canberra in October 1996, and attended by three Singaporean Ministers, giving
clear expression to the importance which both countries attach to the bilateral
relationship and the commitment to strengthening links at senior political levels. The
second SAJMC was held in Singapore in February 1999. The third SAJMC was held in
Australia in June 2001. The fifth and most recent SAJMC meeting was held in Perth,
Western Australia, on 22-23 August 2005.
Singapore is our largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN, and our seventh
largest trading partner overall (reflecting Singapore's role in entrepot trade, rather than
its size as a domestic market). In 2002, Australian merchandise exports to Singapore
were A$4.94 billion (our seventh largest export market) and our imports from Singapore
were valued at A$4.28 billion (ninth largest source). Services are a key part of our
exports to Singapore, particularly in education. In 2001 Singapore was our largest
source of overseas students to both on and off shore Australian educational institutions
(20,908 students). In 2002 Singapore was our largest tourist market in Asia after Japan
and our fifth largest source of short term visitors (286,900) overall. Two-way
investment continues to grow, with the level of Australian investment in Singapore
recorded at A$13.9 billion, and total Singaporean investment in Australia recorded at
A$25 billion (as at 30 June 2001). Although Singaporean investment has traditionally
been concentrated in real estate, diversification is taking place. An investment highlight
is the Singtel acquisition of Optus in 2001.
Australia and Singapore have developed a strong bilateral defence relationship covering
a comprehensive range of activities, including high level policy dialogue, combined
exercises, personnel exchanges and training. A major feature of the relationship is the
access each country has to defence training facilities in the other, particularly the
Singapore Air Force's access in Australia. Both countries are also members of the Five
Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), a joint defence arrangement between Malaysia,
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Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom which contributes to
regional security. 2001 marked the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of the FPDA,
with celebrations at Butterworth Air Force Base in Malaysia on 1 November 2001,
attended by the then Defence Minister Peter Reith.
ESTABLISHING A RELATIONSHIP
Although Singapore is one of the most Western countries in Asia, and one of the most open in
terms of international business practice, there are still some cultural differences that Australians
should note to assist in establishing good business relationships.
No less than other parts of Asia, in Singapore sound business is generally relationship-based.
First impressions are of lasting importance, especially when building trust and understanding.
As Australians may make broad generalisations about Singaporeans - perhaps as hard-working
and possibly, a little formal and reserved at first, Singaporeans may also hold certain stereotype
views of Australians - ie. as casual and open. Sometimes, however, the Australian's direct
approach may be taken as a lack of awareness of local business practice.
Some Australians, when overseas sometimes play to perceived national characteristics and
perhaps confirm broad preconceptions. In business, however, it is well to bear in mind that
Singaporeans may be judging you in terms of preconceived national stereotypes, not all of which
It is therefore useful to consciously project an image of yourself, as an Australian, as friendly and
approachable, but also demonstrate as early as possible an attention to detail and a genuine intent
to building a long-term business relationship. It is also valuable on first meeting to demonstrate
some awareness of Singapore and the way it works.
Some tips for better business relations:
Singaporeans, like other Asians, tend to place more store on outward displays of respect than
do Australians. Being more consciously polite on first meeting than one would perhaps be in
an Australian context will help create a more favourable impression.
Be very careful to make sure the person you are speaking with actually understands what you
are saying. A Singaporean generally has good spoken English, but his/her comprehension
may differ from your own, and the Australian accent and/or idiom may be difficult to
understand. Ask questions to confirm you have a common understanding of what is being
It is important to be sensitive to 'Yes' - it does not necessarily mean "Yes, I agree." It may
simply mean "Yes, I hear you." Do take time to ensure you understand the response being
conveyed. It is frequently being delivered in a more subtle manner than it would be in
Australia. Many Singaporeans may also avoid saying "No" as openly as in Australia. Again
be sensitive of any unspoken signals being given.
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Most important of all, listen and observe. Use silences to your advantage, to draw the other
person. Don't be embarrassed by silence. Don't try to fill a silence with unnecessary words -
you may end up being the one who gives away more than intended.
When inviting Singaporeans to lunch or dinner, consider their ethnic origins. If you are
entertaining a mixed group of Chinese, Malay and/or Indian Singaporeans, who you do not
know well, it is best to choose a western restaurant. You will be more at ease, as probably
they will also.
Malays and some Indians are Muslim, and are not always comfortable in Chinese restaurants
where pork is served. Not all Chinese like Malay or Indian food – but western cuisine is a
safe bet. Remember some Indians may be Hindu and will not touch beef, and are often
vegetarian. Chinese Buddhists similarly may not eat beef. As an option, you may find it easier
to ask your guests to recommend the restaurant.
Avoid visiting Singapore (Brunei, Malaysia or Indonesia) around Chinese New Year or Hari
Raya (at the end of the Muslim fasting month). These two holidays usually fall some time in
February. Many business people are out of town at this time, or like Australians at Christmas,
prefer to spend this holiday with their families.
For many non-Asians, Chinese names can present a little difficulty. There are, however, some
very simple rules to observe: the surname comes first; next is the generation name, and then the
For example, Tan Choon Keng - the first name, Tan, is the surname or family name. Hence a
person by that name would be Mr Tan. Choon is the generation name - which means that all Mr
Tan's brothers and male cousins of the Tan family may have "Choon" after the surname. This
makes it easier to identify a direct family lineage. Keng is Mr Tan's own given name.
However, frequently people use their last two names, and hence Mr Tan's friends and family may
refer to him as either "Choon Keng" or "Keng." With a new acquaintance, unlike in Australia,
please do not presume familiarity. Continue to address your contact as Mr Tan, as a mark of
respect, and wait to be invited to use a more familiar form of address.
With women, the same structure of name applies, although males and females of the same
generation usually do not have the same generation names as their brothers or male cousins, but
rather have the same generation names as their sisters and female cousins.
Married women do not necessarily take their husband's surname when they marry. They
sometimes keep their maiden name, but add the title "Madam." Married women can be addressed
by their husband's name - ie Mr Tan's wife, who was before she married known as Teo Guek
Hong, may be referred to as Mrs Tan Guek Hong or Madam Teo.
It is also common in Singapore to adopt a western name as well as one's Chinese name. In this
case, if Mr Tan's given western name is Christopher, he would be known as Mr Christopher Tan,
but could still write his name as Mr Tan Choon Keng. It is the same with women.
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Malays do not have surnames. They often introduce themselves by their first name - ie Ali, and
add their father's name, Ali Sulaiman. They could also say Ali bin Sulaiman, which means Ali
son of Sulaiman.
It is polite to address a Malay as Encik Ali (pronounced En-chek), which means Mr Ali. A
women is either Cik, if she is a Miss, or Puan if she is married - ie Cik Fatimah or Puan Fatimah.
A Malay woman also may not necessarily take her husband's name, but often retains her father's
name – ie she may be Cik or Puan Fatimah binte (daughter of) Sulaiman.
If a Malay Muslim has made the pilgrimage to Mecca (the Haj), he or she may be known as Haji
or Hajjah, depending on whether they are male of female. Hence you would refer to Haji Ali or
Hajjah Fatimah, not Encik Ali or Puan Fatimah.
In Malaysia there are also a number of honorary titles, such as Tan Sri or Puan Sri and Datuk or
Datin. It is important to be aware of these titles. Like titles in the UK, much store is set by them.
Many Indians, especially those from south India, also do not use surnames. Often the initial of
their father's name is placed in front of their own name. For example A. Sivam, the A is the initial
of the father's name, which might be Arun. This person can be referred to as Mr Sivam. An
Indian woman generally takes her husband's name on marriage. Hence a Miss R. Selvarajan,
could become Mrs A. Sivam or Mrs Sivam Selvarajan.
Sikhs, who can generally be identified by their turbans, will use the suffix "Singh" (lion) for
males, and "Kaur" (princess) for females. For example, Joginder Singh s/o (son of) Balwant
Singh, would e addressed as Mr Jogindar Singh. Jaspal Kaur d/o (daughter of) Harbans Singh,
married to ogindar Singh, would be referred most often as Mrs Jogindar Singh, although she
could still, quite correctly, be referred to Jaspal Kaur.
DO'S" AND "DON'TS"
With Chinese, when giving or receiving an item, like a business card, a drink or plate etc., it
is polite to offer it with both hands.
Avoid pointing or touching another person. Head touching of children is not good form. A
slap on the back is also seldom appreciated.
Do not sit until your host/hostess invites you to do so.
Avoid subjects of sex, politics or religion with someone you do not know well. Food is a safe
subject - as are sports and movies.
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Taboo gifts include knives, scissors, clocks, handkerchiefs, shoes and items in sombre
colours. Don't give white flowers as a gift. Red is a good colour, as is pink, orange or yellow.
A gift that is all white or all black is generally not auspicious. 6 is good number, 8 is better
and 88 represents double prosperity. 4 is not a good number. Odd numbers are not well
With Malays, do not show the soles of your feet to someone when seated opposite them. That
is regarded as very impolite. It is better to keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid the
temptation of crossing your legs and hence inadvertently exposing the soles of your feet.
When giving or receiving use your right hand at all times - supported by the left, if necessary.
Avoid putting your hands on your hips.
Avoid touching and pointing. If you need to point - never point at people, but use the thumb
of your right hand with your other fingers clenched. Never point with your foot.
Similarly avoid conversations concerning sex, religion or politics. If your Malay host raises
the subject of religion, exercise great tact in response. Home, children, sports and movies are
Don't offer alcohol or cigarettes as presents, or wine glasses or knives. Don't serve pork.
With Indians, avoid using your left hand. Use your right hand, supported by your left where
Avoid body touching. Australians are seldom aware that they are unconsciously "touching"
people, and this can easily cause offence or embarrassment.
Don't point with a finger, use your whole hand.
Indians may be Muslim, and hence do not eat pork, or they may be Hindu and not eat beet.
Many Indians are vegetarian.
As a general rule if we make a special effort to understand and appreciate another's beliefs
and customs, this will be appreciated, and it will help to build better business relationships.
Citizens of the Commonwealth, the USA and Western Europe do not need visas
providing passport has 6 months validity and visitor has a confirmed return ticket. Other
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visitors are usually granted a 14-day Visit Pass if they meet the entry requirements. It is
necessary to keep the stub of your immigration card until you leave.
Nationals of China on a group tour can be granted a 96-hour visitor's visa. The travel
agent can obtain the visas from Singapore Immigration, Singapore Embassy in Beijing
or consulates in Shanghai or Xiamen and commission in Hong Kong. A security deposit
per tourist must be furnished and a security bond signed.
Entry may be refused to male visitors whose hair reaches below the collar or extends
over the ears or eyebrows.
Vaccination certificates are required for travellers who, within the preceding six days, have been
in or passed through any country in which yellow fever is prevalent.
Singapore has few health hazards for the foreign visitor. The Singapore Medical Centre, on the
sixth floor of Tanglin shopping centre, houses a large community of specialist doctors.
Pharmaceuticals are available from numerous outlets including supermarkets, department stores,
hotels and shopping centres. Registered pharmacists work from 9am to 6pm with some shops
open until 10pm. Most hotels have an in-house doctor on 24 hour call.
Drinking water in Singapore is clean and safe to drink from the tap and need not be boiled.
Airport – International
Changi International Airport is located at the far east end of the island, approximately
20 kms from the central business district (CBD). It consists of Terminal 1 and Terminal
2. The two terminals adjoin each other and are linked by light rail. Airlines located at
Terminal 1 include Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Garuda, Gulf Air,
Air New Zealand, United Airlines etc., and at Terminal 2, is Singapore
Airlines,Malaysia Airlines, Air France, Swissair etc. Departure tax is included in the
cost of the air ticket.
Qantas Airways’ Singapore office may be contacted on: Tel: 65 839 7788 / Fax 65 734
The trip from the airport to the major city hotels generally takes about 25 minutes,
except during peak hours (7.30am-9.30am and 5-7.30 pm) when the trip may take up to
Taxis are readily available from the airport and the fare to the city is approximately
S$18.00. It should be noted that there is an additional S$3 charge, on top of the meter
charge, for taxi trips to and from Changi airport. There are also many bus services
available from the airport.
Singapore has an excellent public transport system, which is extremely efficient and cheap to use.
Singapore has a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) passenger train system, which is convenient and fast
and stations serving the city area and some tourist attractions. Fares range from S$0.60 to
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S$1.60, with tickets purchased from vending machines at the stations. Trains generally run from
around 5.30am to 12.15pm.
Taxis are available from hotels and taxi stands, or may be hailed in the street, if there is
no taxi stand nearby and no disruption to traffic. Taxis are relatively inexpensive. Trips
between midnight and 6am are subject to a surcharge of half the metered fare.
A Tourist Day Ticket can be purchased for use on the MRT and buses. It can be
obtained up to seven days in advance, at MRT stations. The Transit Link Farecard can
be purchased at MRT stations and bus interchanges. Visitors can get the remaining card
value refunded before they leave Singapore, at any sales counters.
Taxis: Metered taxis are widely available from taxi pick-up points (they cannot be
flagged in the street). Before undertaking a journey, make sure the driver knows the
destination; check that the meter is flagged. Taxi companies are allowed to set their own
fares. The basic meter fare is displayed on the window of the rear door and details of
other surcharges are displayed on the fare card in all taxis. There is a 50 per cent
surcharge of the metered fare from 2400-0600, a surcharge for taxis travelling from (but
not to) Changi Airport and a surcharge for each adult in excess of two passengers. Taxis
can also be hired by the hour. The six-seater Maxicab shuttle service plies between the
Singapore Changi Airport and most hotels.
Buses/trams: There are easy-to-use bus services. Bus tickets are from S$0.60 to S$1.10
for non air-conditioned buses and S$0.60 to S$11.40 for air-conditioned buses. The
correct fare must be paid as bus drivers do not give change.
Metro: A 67 km Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) consists of two lines running
north-south and east-west, with 42 stations (15 of them underground, 26 elevated, one
ground level). It is fast, clean and efficient.
Car hire: An international driving licence is required for car hire. Driving is on the left.
Coupons for use of the public car parks managed by the Urban Redevelopment
Authority (URA) or Housing & Development Board (HBD) can be purchased at post
offices, URA parking kiosks and some gas/petrol stations. Car hire companies are listed
in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory.
Most banks are open 9.30am to 3.00pm or 4.00pm, on weekdays, and 9.30am to 11.00am on
Saturdays. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) are readily found in most large shopping centres
and allow for cash withdrawals for many popular cards such as Maestro, Cirrus, VISA and
The climate is equatorial, with uniformly high temperatures, high humidity and mean
annual rainfall of 2,463mm with no defined wet or dry season. Mean daily temperatures
range from a minimum 24 degrees C to a maximum 31 degrees C. The hottest month is
May. The driest month is July, with an average rainfall of 70mm. November to January
are generally the cooler and wetter months.
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Sometimes it rains for several days continuously and there may be serious flooding.
Between monsoons, from April to November, there are regular pre-dawn thunderstorms,
known as Sumatras. Singapore has an average of 180 lightning days a year.
Dress is generally informal, with light summer clothing the norm. A shirt and tie, or a
safari suit, is the usual office dress for men, although jackets may be required in some
restaurants for dinner; women should also dress smartly for business. Singapore's
predominantly Chinese population follows Western fashion, although a small section
among the minority Indian and Malay communities wear traditional dress.
Singapore’s official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the language
of administration and commerce and is widely spoken by most Singaporeans.
There are strict laws against littering. First-time offenders may be fined up to S$1000. For repeat
offenders, there is a fine of up to S$2 000 and a stint of corrective work cleaning public places.
As an extension of the anti-littering law, the import, sale and possession of chewing gum are
Samples/give aways arriving in Singapore by air or parcel post and valued above S$400 (value
includes cost, insurance & freight) are subject to 3% GST. Items of a total value less than S$400
are GST exempt.
Smoking is banned in public buses, taxis, lifts, theatres, cinemas, government offices, air-
conditioned eating-places and shopping centres. First time offenders may be fined up to a
maximum of S$1000. Also, if there are more than two people in a queue (eg taxi stand) in a
public space/outdoors, smoking is prohibited. Smoking is allowed in air-conditioned pubs, discos,
karaoke bars and nightspots.
There is only one time zone in Singapore. Singapore is in the same time zone as Perth.
Tipping is not expected in Singapore. It is prohibited at the airport and discouraged in hotels and
restaurants where there is a 10% service charge.
VHS in PAL format is the most commonly used video system in Singapore. It should also
be noted that videos are a controlled/restricted item in Singapore. The following items can
only be brought into Singapore with an import permit or a letter of authorisation from
Films, Video tapes and disks Board of Film Censors,
Tel: 65 339 0610
Cartridges, cassettes (pre-recorded), Ministry of Information & Fine Arts
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Newspapers, books & magazines Tel: 65 375 7080
Enquiries can also be made with the Customs Duty Officer: Terminal 1, Changi Airport
Tel: 65 542 7058; Terminal 2, Changi Airport Tel: 65 543 0755.
Business offices are open from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5.00pm on weekdays.
Government offices are open from 8.00am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm on weekdays. Most
shopping centres, department stores and supermarkets are open seven days a week from
10.00am to 9.30pm.
The local currency is the Singapore dollar, denominated in dollar and cents. Banks and
hotels provide money changing services and most shopping complexes have licensed
Singapore has very strict drug laws. The death penalty is mandatory for those convicted
of trafficking, manufacturing, importing or exporting illegal drugs above a certain
weight. For example, more than 15g of heroin, 30g of morphine, 30g of cocaine, 500g of
cannabis, 200g of cannabis resin and 1.2kg of opium. Possession of such quantities is
deemed as prima facie evidence of trafficking. For unauthorised consumption, there is a
maximum of 10 years imprisonment or a fine of $20 000, or both.
Singapore’s voltage is 220-240 volts AC, 50 cycles per second. Most hotels can provide visitors
with a transformer to convert the voltage to 110-120 volts, 60 cycles per second.
Australian High Commission (Austrade)
25 Napier Road
Phone: (65) 836 4167
Fax: (65) 734 4265
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A 10% service charge and 5% tax is added to all hotel bills.
The following hotels are listed on the National University Travel Consortium web site
(www.nutc.com.au). University rates have been negotiated with these hotels and are
inclusive of all charges and taxes.
Name Rating $ Min room Approx Location
Carlton Hotel 4 SGD 138.00 121.05 Close to financial &
M Hotel Singapore 4 SGD 140.00 122.81 Business district & Govt
Novotel Apollo 4 SGD 125.00 109.65 Close - upper end of Orchard Rd
Orchard Hotel Orchard 4 SGD 130.00 114.04 Upper end of Orchard Road
Mandarin Marina 5 SGD 160.00 140.35 Close to Singapore River
Orchard Hotel Claymore 5 SGD 150.00 131.85 Upper end of Orchard Road
Pan Pacific Hotel 5 SGD 170.00 149.12 Close to Singapore River
Royal Plaza on Scotts 5 SGD 145.00 127.19 Mid Orchard Road area
FCHS I & C staff stay at the Grand Plaza Hotel, 10 Coleman Street, Singapore (Tel: 65
336 34356 / Fax: 65 334 2062). ECU has a corporate rate of $170(S) for their Orchard
Club Rooms (which provide breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails).
Reference: Austrade Web Online - www.austrade.gov.au
Aust. Dept of Foreign Affairs - www.dfat.gov.au
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