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5 Places in SG to Cultivate Your Cultural Apprecia...

One of the perks of traveling is the in-depth first-hand experience of a place’s culture. From the informal things such as street art, to the religious and political sophistication, a place’s culture transcends the boundaries of time. Something that Singapore takes pride in, with all its lush array of cultural intricacies.

1. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
Opened in 2007, the temple’s name was derived from the sacred left canine of the Buddha. It’s believed that the tooth was retrieved in Kushinagar in India, where the Buddha’s funeral pyre is located. The temple follows the Tang style Chinese Buddhist temple design, which resembles hundreds of years of Buddhist art and culture. Public viewing of the Buddha Tooth Relic is possible but only from a designated area in the stupa. Regarded as sacred, only monks have access inside the relic chamber.

2. National Museum of Singapore
Serving as the best portfolio of Singapore’s identity there is, the National Museum of Singapore is worth the trip even before you set foot inside the premises. Housing Singapore’s lush history, its exterior rocks with a neo-classical merged with modernist architectural design. Dating back to 1887, the structure is undeniably one of Singapore’s icons in terms of architecture. Exhibits are held all year round. Cafes, restaurants and commercial establishments also cater to both tourists and locals alike.

3. Chinese Gardens
An island located in Jurong Lake, the Chinese Garden has a twin island known as the Japanese Gardens. These two are in the process of being developed into the Jurong Lake Gardens. The Chinese Garden contains culturally rich structures such as various pavilions and pagodas utilized during the Chinese Imperial era, way up in North China. The garden also contains a large bonsai collection. Another attraction is the live turtle and tortoise Museum.

4. Japanese Garden
Adjacent to the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden completes the Jurong Lake Garden. Pagodas are still present, but this time following the Japanese design. There are also picturesque arched bridges, stone lanterns, rock waterfalls and stone paths sure to catch visitors’ eyes.

5. Malay Heritage Center
Containing nine galleries of murals, multimedia displays and artefacts, the museum houses the rich history of Singapore Malays. The Malay Heritage Center was established in the Istana Kampong Glam. It was materialized through the efforts of Sultan Ali, son of Sultan Hussein Shah, approximately 160 years ago.

These are but five of what Singapore has to offer in terms of culture. Known as a collage of cultures in Asia, Singapore struck a harmonious balance of all of them. One culture provides a rich contrast to another culture, and they co-exist in harmony like the colors of a rainbow. Each hue distinct, complementary and blending just right with each other. Indeed, there is beauty in diversity. Singapore is proof.

The State of Poverty in Singapore

Here in Singapore, we know that our natural resources are limited that is why we give importance to human talent. Singapore is successful because we did not let our limited resources dictate our future. We maximized the potential of everybody and thereby giving us continuous success. We thought that everyone here gets fair opportunity.

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Well, we thought wrong. Not all people here are given fair opportunity especially those who are living in poverty. Poverty cannot be eradicated no matter how the government attempts. Poverty can only be reduced. Poverty actually exists here and there is no denying it.

Not all people know or see poverty here because they are usually confined in their luxurious spaces but there are people who see and even feel poverty every day. It is important that we are aware of poverty even though we are beyond that. Unfortunately, the government does not define poverty but we have to discover it on our own. Here are some truths about poverty:

  • Poverty defined: There are two definitions of poverty – absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty refers to the minimum requirements necessary for living here. Relative poverty on the other hand refers to an amount required for a specific household to afford basic necessities to survive and evade “social exclusion”.

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  • Who fell under basic living expenditure: According to the Department of Statistics, the amount needed of a household is $1250 per month. In 2011, the Department of Statistics revealed that 10 to 12% of households here fall under this level. Base on this statistics, there were about 440,000 to 560,000 who were actually living below or within $1250.
  •  What we need to avoid being “socially excluded”: In 2012, the medium income of households here was $6,000. In Hong Kong, they calculate relative poverty by getting 50% of the medium income. The 50% of $6,000 (our medium income) is $3,000. So, we need to make at least $3,000 per month to avoid being “socially excluded”. We have to accept that we are already there or in danger of falling under this category.
  • Why is it difficult for families to get out of the cycle? It is difficult for families to get out of the poverty cycle because we earn less and spend more. According to the Department of Statistics, the bottom twenty percent of households here spend an average of $2,231 but this group earn at least $2,022 which means they have a deficit of $209 per month.

Now we are aware of poverty.

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