S$500 payment to Singaporean civil servants to celebrate 50 years of independence

By on 19/06/2015

A one-off payment of 500 Singapore dollars (374 US dollars) will be handed to all civil servants on the Asian city state to celebrate 50 years of independence.

The Public Service Division of the Singapore Government announced on 17 June that the payment would be made next month to all 82,000 civil servants to recognise their “contribution towards nation building” and to celebrate SG50 – a government initiative to promote the 50-year anniversary.

The government launched SG50 last year to encourage celebrations across the island. It put together the SG50 committee which is led by education minister Heng Swee Keat and the SG50 Programme Office, led by minister of culture, community and youth Lawrence Wong.

The government also created a special SG50 celebration fund to pay for celebration projects organised by groups and individuals.

Each successful applicant can receive up to 90% of the project expenditure, capped at S$50,000 per project.

Singapore has been independent since August 1965 when it exited a previous union with Malaysia.

After being granted a large degree of self-rule in 1959 by Britain, which had made Singapore a colony as part of the ‘Straits Settlements’ in the region, the late Lee Kuan Yew, leader of the People’s Action Party, became prime minister after a landslide election victory.

Singapore’s new leadership thought the island’s interests would be best served by uniting with the neighbouring Federation of Malaya, a confection of sultanates which had recently shrugged off British rule. Singapore joined the federation in 1963, which from then on was called Malaysia.

However, Singaporean politicians chafed at provisions written into Malaysia’s constitution, which granted the federation’s ethnic-Malay majority special privileges. Malaysian leaders, on the other hand, felt that Singapore’s predominantly Chinese populace threatened their country’s Malay heritage, and feared the new state would suck wealth from the mainland.

So Malaysia’s parliament voted to expel Singapore in 1965.

Following its unusual birth, Singapore has become enormously successful. The government capitalised on Singapore’s strategic location at the entrance to the Strait of Malacca and invested in its port, now one of the world’s busiest.

And to make up for its lack of other natural resources, the country opened its doors to foreign businesses, which brought skills and riches – today about 30% of Singapore’s 5.5m inhabitants are on temporary work permits.

Mr Lee died in the early hours of 23 March prompting countless tributes and a seven-day period of national mourning.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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