2009 Doom & Gloom Update: Protests in Singapore

Singapore is famous for its efficiency (thus the nickname Singapore, Inc) and infamous for its harsh penal codes for seemingly minor infractions like littering and spitting. Like any other country it has been shaped by the circumstances under which it was created, and the environment in which it has survived since then.

This “red dot in a sea of green” faced race riots in the 1960s that left several people dead. Neighbors turned on neighbors and most Singaporeans in their late 40s and older remember the time vividly. In the words of many, they would rather live in a controlled but safe country than have more freedom but face uncertainty. This mind-set drives the laws of the country where people are not allowed to congregate in groups larger than 3-4 people without explicit permission. Peaceful protestors like the Fallun Gong have been known to be arrested or removed.

With this backdrop it is shocking to hear that there were protests in Singapore by around 100 unemployed Bangladeshi migrant workers in front of the Ministry of Labor. An indication of the desperation of the workers in the recession plagued economy, Singapore is gearing up for an increase in what it calls “recession crimes“. Several other ASEAN countries like Thailand and Indonesia are also expecting an increase in violence as a result of economic malaise.

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2009 Gloom & Doom Update: Protests in Germany and Bosnia

As the situation gets worse in Europe, with unemployment rates reaching new highs, the social unrest (see previous posts) is spreading. Germany is the latest in the string of countries that is seeing protests show up. This is important to note as Germany was one of the first countries that had been working on a stimulus plan and has tried hard to off-set the anticipated problems.

Problems in Bosnia are less surprising as this was not a strong economy to start off with. Given their political precariousness (two regional, uncoordinated governments), this is a country that is possibly in line for a change in administration in the style of Iceland or Latvia.

What to watch out for in the upcoming weeks: collapse of airlines. Several airlines are already facing problems as fewer people are flying (Singapore Air, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines etc)- let us see when some of the weaker players are pushed out of the market or will need to be bailed out.