Culture

Singapore's cultural wealth is due to its diversity, with its very important population of chinese origin and large malayan and indian communities.

For the expatriate, Singapore is also remarkable for the its large western expatriates communities: more than 20000 British, 14000 Americans and 10000 Australians. The French community includes 5000 people, tantamount to the german one. Italians, Swedish, Russians and new Zealanders represent each a community with more than a thousand members. Belgians are 700 and Spanish 500.

Main communitiess

  • Chinese (76,8%)
  • Malays (13,9%)
  • Indians (7,9%)
  • Others (1,4%)

Festivals

  • Chinese: Chinese New Year, Spring Festival (Where ancestors are honored), Vesak day, dragon boats festival, ghosts festival, Moon festival.
  • Hindus: Thaipusam, Navarathri, Deepavali (light festival), Thimithi (stepping on embers)
  • Muslims: Hari Raya Pusa (end of Ramadan), Hari Raya Haji (pilgrimage to Mecqua)
  • Christians: Easter, Christmas
  • National day: 9th of August, indépendance day celebration

Ceremonies

Weddings, births and burials are celebrated according to each community's traditions.

Cooking

Peranakan food (nonya), brought by first chinese immigrants in the straits of Penang, Malacca and Singapore: a mix of chinese and Malayan culture.

Hawkers, are open food courts with lots of little shops where one can choose between chinese, indian and malayan food specialties. A way of having lunch outdoor much appreciated by singaporeans.

Singapoureans love to eat outdoor: many have breakfast on their way to the office, have lunch with colleagues and dine, along with their extended family, in hawkers or with take away food. Singaporeans appreciate these lunch places as opportunities to eat well and exchange with each others

Singapore's great men

  • Sir Stamford Raffles, who, in 1819, established the first settlement on behalf of the East India British Company.
  • Lee Kwan Yew, the founding father. He created the PAP, People's Action Party,drove his country to independence and became the first Singapore Prime Minister. He remained in this function until 1990, when he passed on the reins to Goh Chok Tong, while remaining very influent in his quality of Minister Mentor. Since 2004, it is Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kwan Yew's eldest son, who has been Singapore's Prime Minister.

Values

  • The nation, a cement for the singaporean society: tolerance, integration policy.
  • Strong family and cross generational cohesion
  • Respect for authority
  • Superstition

Communication

Non verbal communication

Social rules: give and receive with both hands, especially when exchanging business cards. Business cards (mingpian) are a must in Singapore. Il is essential to pay them careful attention. Take off your shoes when entering in private homes.

Gestures to avoid: finger pointing, showing the back of one's shoes, touching chidren's head.

Loosing face

An essential concept in Asia. Avoid to provoke somme one loose face by openly over-challenging him or putting him in a humiliating position. You would be cause of his losing face and would lose your own credibility and consideration.

Icons and tabous

Sensitive subjects: political system and death penalty.

The flag: composed of 2 horizontal sections. red is a symbol for universal fraternity ; white stands for purity and virtue. the moon and the stars represent the emrgence of a young nation.

The Merlion: associating a lion head and a mermaid body. the Merlion statue, overseeing the bay, is a symbol of the City State.

More information on etiquette and business culture:

the HSBC guide Country files- Singapore offers very interesting snapshots:

  • etiquette: meeting people, gift giving, entertaining & dining, tipping, faux pas
  • Doing business: hours of business, business cards & attires, entertaining, business gifts, business meetings, negotiating, employment law.

 

Reading

  • Tanamera- Noel Barber
  • Singapore swing- John Malathronas

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