Singapore is Asia's "soft landing." It's in Asia, but it's very orderly. There are no cows in the street, public services are reliable, the bureaucracy is razor-thin, the economy is massively liberalized, corruption is virtually unheard of, and it's more English-friendly than many cosmopolitan European cities.
|Singapore Skyline at Night|
Copyright 2011 by chensiyuan, CC 3.0 license
Coming into prominence as a British colony and entrepot, it is a historical rarity as a country thrust into independence against its will. In 1965, secession was forced upon it by greater Malaysia, and its relations with its neighbors remain prickly to this day.
Public services are top-notch, and match or beat any modern city's. By 2020, Singapore plans to have as many kilometers of metro rail as the London Underground, and expansion plans are aggressive. Chronically short of water, it has inherited some fresh water reservoirs from the British era that it has maintained, but it has also begun a project to make a fresh water reservoir out of what used to be a salt-water bay in what is called the Marina Barrage.
The average Singaporean worker is many times more productive (as calculated by per-capita GDP) than any of its neighbors in South-East Asia. An intensely hard-working, Confucianist ethic is pervasive in the island-state, with extremely low unemployment. It is a regional financial hub, as well as one of the world's leaders in offshore oil technology, and after New York and London, is one of the main centers for the trade of oil futures.
|Wet Singaporean Streets|
Photo by Jason Anfinsen
Singapore has a very liberal foreign labor policy. Foreigners with an appropriate skillset and a job offer promptly receive their paperwork in good order. Companies rarely discriminate on the basis of nationality, although the recent financial crisis in 2008 hit Singapore's economy hard (it clocked in significant GDP shrinkage post-crisis, though it has since begun to recover), and an increasingly politically aware and nativist reactionary voice has emerged in Singapore calling for locals to get priority over foreigners. This has resulted in some constriction in the local job market for some commoditized skillsets, but the island-state has begun a robust recovery post-crisis, and continues to import foreign labor to drive its economy.
|Chinatown Train Station, Singapore|
Photo by Khalzuri
Despite this, the ICA (Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority) has a special class in its "social visit" category, as a social visitor "seeking employment." Providing the government sufficient proof of one's qualifications, the government can grant a foreigner a visa that gives them a year to live in Singapore, to seek employment. So despite tightening its grip on permanent residency and citizenship, the policy of bringing in foreign skillsets through an employment pass program, remains firmly in place.