Latest news, in-depth features and opinion on Singapore, covering politics, economy, society and the city state’s relationships with China, Malaysia, and other Southeast Asian countries.

This tycoon is making a billion dollars a month from coronavirus
Singapore’s wealthiest man is getting richer to the tune of more than $1 billion a month this year, as the stock price of his medical devices company soared by almost 50% amid the coronavirus pandemic. The fortunes of Li Xiting, the co-founder and chairman of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, have risen by $4.3 billion this year to $13.5 billion, according to Bloomberg data, or an average of $37.7 million every 24 hours. That makes Li, born in eastern China’s Anhui province, the wealthiest man in Singapore. He has been a citizen of the city-state since at least 2018. Mindray’s shares have jumped since the coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in central China’s Hubei provinc
Why few Singapore health workers have caught the coronavirus
Uncooperative patients, long hours and a lack of protective equipment are hampering health care workers across the world as they take the fight to the coronavirus. Many health workers have fallen sick themselves, and a fair number have died. In Malaysia, a pregnant woman who did not disclose that her father was infected tested positive after giving birth, leading to the shutdown of the entire hospital for cleaning. In the Philippines, nine doctors have died, two of whom had dealt with a patient who lied about her travel history. In Spain, where more than 5,400 health care workers have been infected, accounting for about 14% of the country’s patients, there are no longer enough workers to ca
It’s time to have an honest discussion about prejudice in Singapore
Two years ago, I was invited to a public panel to discuss writing about minority characters in Singapore fiction. “We can’t talk honestly about race though. How to fill the time?” I asked another writer. He replied, “We’ll just get the conversation started and then the race riots will take over.” The race riots: Singapore’s biggest bogeyman. Growing up, we were taught that the island state’s success depended on peace between ethnic groups. From race-based housing quotas to prevent ghettoization to annual Racial Harmony Day celebrations in schools, the government promotes the coexistence of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others (this is an official category). If you believe the rhetoric about s
‘Brownface’ ad stirs racism debate in Singapore
Singapore’s national news agency has joined the government in condemning two ethnic Indian celebrities who produced a vulgarity-laced rap in response to a “brownface” campaign that had featured a Chinese man darkening himself to appear Indian. On social media, however, fans of siblings Preeti and Subhas Nair expressed support for the duo and disagreed strongly with the government’s claim that their spoof video could potentially fan ethnic tensions in the multiracial state. Singapore is a city-state with more than 75% ethnic Chinese, 15% ethnic Malays and 7% ethnic Indians. The government is known for its assiduous management of race relations, but non-Chinese groups have complained of instit
Meet the father-son ghostbusting duo
Anderson Lim clasped his hands tightly in a praying position as a spirit medium paced back and forth in front of him. Lim then chanted indistinctly as the medium set a paper doll, known as a “substitute,” on fire. The doll, dressed in a blue shirt that belonged to Lim’s brother, was part of a Taoist ritual performed in Singapore to ward off bad luck.  “Recently [my brother] had a very bad fall. He missed a step and his ankle was badly fractured. He was hospitalized for two weeks,” said Lim, a 41-year-old businessman. “I hope that after this ritual he will be well. I have seen too many things that cannot be explained, so there are some things we have to believe.” Like Lim, many Singaporeans i
Matchmaking in Singapore
Little India is a district in Singapore popular with Indian immigrants. K. Sajeev Lal owns a photo booth there and helps his customers, largely migrant workers from India, look for brides. He takes portraits of his customers. Then they send the pictures to their families, who help them find brides in their hometowns. Over the years, Sajeev has helped hundreds of migrant workers find partners. Watch the video, above, to see why and how he does it.
How China’s trash ban may disrupt Singapore’s plans for a zero-waste year
China’s ban on waste imports in 2018 has sent some nations, including the United States, scrambling for somewhere else to send their trash. Malaysia soon became the top alternative destination for plastics, but it has begun sending waste back to its country of origin, refusing to be a “dumping ground” for developed countries. Now Singapore may be affected too. The Lion City’s recyclables are currently shipped to countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, which are then processed and sold to manufacturers. If those countries stop importing trash, Singapore will be forced to fast-track its efforts to clean up the city’s waste systems. Singapore, lauded as business friendly, clean and gr
Step aside, America. Singapore is now the world’s most competitive economy
Singapore has overtaken the United States to become the world’s most competitive economy, according to Switzerland’s IMD Business School’s annual rankings. It regained a spot it last claimed in 2010, an accolade that means it came up tops among the 63 economies assessed for sustainable growth, job generation and welfare for its citizens. The US was knocked off its perch at the top, slipping to third as the confidence boost from tax cuts faded and high-technology exports weakened. The competitiveness of the world’s biggest economy was also hit by higher fuel prices, weaker high-tech exports and fluctuations in the value of the dollar. “In a year of high uncertainty in global markets due to r
Singapore makes it illegal to send unwanted nudes
Singapore has become one of the first countries to outlaw the sending of unsolicited lewd photos, or “cyber flashing,” as governments and companies around the world seek to curb new forms of harassment enabled by technology. The city state passed a bill on Monday that makes unwanted sexual exposure through images a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine. While public nudity is considered illegal in many jurisdictions, few laws exist that address the use of technology, such as Apple’s AirDrop, to beam unwanted nudes to strangers. A YouGov poll conducted in 2017 suggests that 41% of women between the ages of 18 and 36 have received an unwanted “dick pic.” New York and Texas have
Do ethnic Chinese have a moral obligation to know their language?
A young Chinese Singaporean recently posted on social media that a mainland Chinese tourist he was trying to help in Singapore verbally shamed him for not being able to speak Mandarin properly. In retaliation for her rudeness, he gave her the wrong directions, which isn’t a nice thing to do to a guest, no matter how nasty she was. The attitude that informed her scolding of the young man is typical of many Chinese, as well as a segment of Chinese Singaporeans: that people of Chinese ancestry have a moral obligation to know the language. Even though the argument isn’t very convincing (we don’t expect Irish-Americans to know Irish, for example, nor British people of German ancestry the German