Risk Assessment of Singapore

Assessing the risk of living in Singapore from the perspectives of Economy, Politics, Health, Environment and Crime.

Economic Information

  Dedicated to free-market principles, and with its first class infrastructure and skilled labor force, Singapore is hailed by many as the "Geneva of Asia". A major center of business and commerce, Singapore's main industries are electronics, banking, shipping, shipbuilding and ship repair, tourism and petroleum refining, petrochemicals and machinery. It is dependent on international trade, sale of services and export of manufactures, and its major trading partners are Malaysia, USA and Japan. Singapore is ranking among the top places in the world to do Business. It ranks second best for ease of doing business and established entrepreneurs find it easy to raise fund for their business. It also ranks second in being the freest economy in a study of 161 countries of the Wall Street Journal. When it comes to business cost Singapore beats the G-7 nations and cost are 22% below the US.  

Political Information

The Republic of Singapore has a parliamentary system with a written constitution modeled after the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy and a British influenced judiciary.   The People's Action Party (PAP) has won every election since 1959. The president is the ceremonial head of state.  Singapore has enjoyed decades of stable political environment that is conducive for expatriates to work or set up businesses.  

Laws/ Crime and Sentencing

  Singapore has very low crime rate.  Singapore has very strict laws and foreigners need to make themselves familiar with their responsibilities. Consequences of breaking laws due to lack of knowledge can be tough as the Government treats its foreign residents no differently than locals when it comes to punishment.   The death penalty and caning are existing penalties and intervention by foreign governments on behalf of convicted foreigners is seen as interference.  It is very important to constantly update one's knowledge of Singapore laws as to avoid accidental violations and we suggest you make yourself familiar with the Penal Code.     Overstaying Visa Staying in Singapore for more than 90 days after the end of a visa is punishable with a maximum jail term of six months and at least three cane strokes. Vandalism and Mischief Causing damage to public and private property can be classified as vandalism and is punished by caning and a fine or imprisonment. Possession or setting off of firecrackers Possession and setting off of firecrackers is an offence under the Dangerous Fireworks Act and can be fined up to S$ 10.000 and with two years jail.  Distributing fireworks will be punished with jail and caning. Drugs Singapore has one of the toughest anti-drug regimes (Misuse of Drugs Act) in the world. Do not use, offer, sell, give, administer, transport, deliver or distribute any type of drugs.. If you are depending on illegal drugs such as listed below do not enter Singapore at all. Only recently a number of expatriates were sent to jail for possessing illegal substances. If you are caught possessing more than a stated amount of drugs (see here) you are presumed to be trafficking controlled drugs which carries the death penalty. Singapore applies the death penalty also to foreigners regardless of their country of origin.   Prescription Drugs Check with Singapore Customs before ordering prescription drug over the Internet. If you carry prescription depressants while entering or leaving the country check The Presumption Clause under Section 17 for illegal substances and make sure you can show a medical certificate from your doctor stating that the drugs are for your own use. Drug Test It is a criminal offense to refuse a police request for a drug test. A positive test deems drug possession even if the drugs have been ingested outside Singapore.   Littering Singapore has very strict laws against littering with heavy fines and corrective work for repeat offenders. Never dispose anything to any other place than a litter box - this includes cigarette butts! Also, because of the nuisance and clean up costs on the Mass Rapid Transit system and elsewhere, importation and sale has restricted import permission. When caught consuming gum at MRT stations or on trains you may be fined up to S$ 500. Dropping larger items such as newspapers or drink cans may be fined up to S$ 1,000 or issued a CWO (Community Work Order) of up to 12 hours or both. While first time offenders pay between SGD $200 and $1000 The fine for repeat offenders may be up to SGD $5000. There is a maximum fine of SGD 2,000 under the Housing and Development Act for so-called "killer litter" - objects placed on the ledges of windows and balconies in a manner that may endanger the safety of others. Supervise your maid!   Breeding Mosquitoes Mosquitoes spread diseases like dengue, which is sometimes fatal. First time offenders accidentally breeding mosquitoes in or around their home receive a warning letter but will be subsequently fined SGD $200.   Alcohol / Drunkenness Purchase and consummation of alcohol is not permitted for those below 18 years of age. Persons drunk in a public place may be fined, or can be imprisoned up to three months. Driving / Car Theft Legal driving age is 18 and it is illegal to drive a vehicle without the owner's permission. Car theft has a mandatory imprisonment of at least one year. Driving/Seat Belts Under the Road Traffic Act when driving in a car (e.g. taxi) each passenger has to use the seatbelt (also in the back of the car!) failure to do so the driver of the car and the passenger will be punished with a fine of S$ 200. Any child below the age of eight should be secured with an approved child restraint, failing which the driver can be punished with a fine of S$ 120 and three demerit points.   Cigarettes and Smoking Smoking Singapore under the age of 18, you are not allowed to carry and purchase lit or unlit cigarettes in public. Fine S$ 2,000 Smoking is not allowed in public buses, taxis, lifts, theatres, cinemas, government offices, and in air-conditioned restaurants and shopping centers, bus shelters, interchanges, public pools, toilets, community clubs and open-air stadiums. The ban has been extended to pubs, discos, hawker centers and coffee shops. Fine S$ 1,000.  

Health Hazards

Heat and Humidity related
Singapore is very hot and humid, and with this climate one can easily become dehydrated. Given this it is important to drink plenty of fluids especially if involved in outdoor activities. It is good to have at least 8 glasses of water daily. Always have a water bottle with you for children as they are at particular risk.
Colds and Flu
Heat Exhaustion
Skin Diseases
Fungal Infections
One of the other problems with heat and humidity is a slower healing time for cuts/scratches and bites. Cold and flu symptoms tend to hang on longer and general fatigue can be a common problem.
Other common problems are Ear, Eye and Fungal infections (often due to the length of time spent in the swimming pool!). Showering often and using a mild disinfectant soap may help diminish these problems.
Food and Water related
Diarrhea as food spoils quickly
Food allergies to Asian ingredients (e.g. MSG/Ajinomoto)
Kidney Stones due to lack of adequate water intake
Generally eating/drinking in Singapore is free of the usual risks that are associated with life in Asia, however there are a few important things to be aware of.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Additive to a number of foods here as flavour enhancer.
Ingestion can produce symptoms such as aches, pains, pins and needles, headache and tingling, for sensitive persons. Treat by drinking plenty of water.
Beef is generally imported from Australia and New Zealand
The water supply mainly comes from Malaysia for treatment in Singapore, and is fluorinated and high quality and suitable for drinking.
Nature related
Info: Mosquitoes
Malaria Prevention is not necessary for Singapore but should be considered when traveling to neighboring countries outside the big cities
Dengue Fever The carrier of the fever is the Aedes mosquito, which breeds in still water. There are regular checks on breeding places by inspectors from the Ministry of Environment and stiff fines are imposed if rain water is not properly drained.
Bird Flu/Avian Influenza Infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. There is always the possibility that a new strain of the virus with more human characteristics can evolve.
  About prevention of mosquito bites see a video (below website) on "Action against the Aedes Mosquito". View "Which preventive measures have to be taken within your condominium or estate to prevent mosquitoes". Note: the National Environment Agency states that the pesticide primiphos-methyl - a substance precluded in the US - is used only selectively in Singapore's vector control work and in accordance with recommended dosage. Dengue fever is present in Singapore. It is a viral infection, spread by Aedes mosquito, a day time biter common in urban areas (see later for more detail). There is no treatment or vaccine, and the disease can be serious. Prevention by mosquito avoidance measures is the most effective action e.g. RID (insect repellent), PERMETHRIN natural insecticide, and mosquito nets. Also, get rid of stagnant water around the home (e.g vases), and note that the risk is higher with a house and garden.  
Advice on Household Pest Problems/Household Pesticides Mr Tan Kia Koh Vector Control Officer VCRD (HQ) #21-00 Environment Building 40 Scotts Rd Singapore 228231 Tel: 67319732 Fax: 62356913 Complaints on vector nuisance (mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, rodents and fleas) VECTOR CONTROL AND RESEARCH DEPARTMENT NEA Call Centre Tel: 1800-731 9222
Snakebites are rare in Singapore. For prevention see e-relocation Singapore Step 6 Snake Bites. Stings from ants, wasps, spiders, beetles, centipedes and scorpions occur. See section Health for more information.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Without preventive measures, the risk is generally high in SE Asia.
Chicken Pox
Hepatitis A and B
Measles Mumps Rubella
Yearly vaccination for influenza A and B


Pollution Based on World Bank and International Energy Agency Data on carbon emissions, water pollution, commercial energy use and industrial output Singapore ranks 8th amongst 36 countries according to the GIN-DEX. In a survey published by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy several years ago Singapore ranked top amongst the 12 Asian territories China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korean, Taiwan, Thailand and Taiwan. It also topped the list in managing the environment, i.e. traffic congestion, air pollution, ranked third for water pollution and came in second for noise pollution. Refuse is disposed daily, waste water is collected, treated and recycled. The National Recycling Program provides residents with recycling bags, bins or crates for their waste paper, old clothes and plastic and glass items which are picked up fortnightly by recycling companies registered, licensed and monitored by the government to cover the city' s 22 precincts. Private condominium estates have their own waste collectors and are left out of the programmer.
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY 40 Scotts Road Environment Building #13-00 Singapore 228231 Tel: 1800 7319222 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1800 7319222 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting Fax: 62352611

  Air Quality Air Quality is within the limits set by the World Health Organization and comparable to the cleanest cities in the world. The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) you can call Tel: 6542 7788 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 6542 7788 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting . In 2004 Singapore had 88 per cent of "good" days when the PSI was within the good range.
Pollutant Standards Index (PSI)
Environment topics
Allergies (Allergy Management Systems Pte Ltd)
Asthma Association Tel: 6 323 1718 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 6 323 1718 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting Fax: 6 227 0257 Website
Noise rules effective for constructions and for distances less than 150 m from residential areas:
Between 7pm and 7am No Piling, blasting, demolition and concreting works
Between 7pm and 10pm Operating cranes, unloading/loading, and quiet works like painting, plastering allowed

Water Quality Water is potable and contains fluoride. According to the WHO, the quality is comparable to the best cities in the world.

Natural Disasters There are no natural disasters in Singapore. Some minor shock waves may be experienced in the North due to earthquakes in Indonesia. See Emergency Information.

Earthquake Info
Heavy Rain Warning
Lightning Activity

Lightning Be aware that Singapore has one of the highest rates of lightning activity in the world and on average there are 171 days recorded, when thunder is heard. When you are in a low area during a thunderstorm, take refuge in a low area or shelter in a house or car and head for the shore when in open water and exit the pool. Note also that lightning sometimes can strike the same spot twice.

Also note the risks involved for your computers which are very vulnerable during a thunderstorm as there a four routes through which so-called induced lightning surges can travel and cripple the computer. 40% of computer breakdowns are the direct result of induced lightning surge and you are well advised to unplug all the lines and cables during a thunderstorm or use extension cords with circuit breakers and lightning arresters to minimise the risks.