BANKS, MONEYLENDERS AND LOAN SHARKS IN SINGAPORE

BANKS IN SINGAPORE

Singapore is home to more than 140 banks and would like to become a baning center in Asia on the level of Hong Kong. Singapore's banks have consistently been rated as some of the least risky, best capitalized and most profitable in Asia. The biggest Singapore banks are Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) Group Holdings, United Overseas Bank (UOB) and Overseas-Chinese Banking. [Source: Library of Congress, 2006]

The financial sector included three types of commercial banks (full license, restricted, and offshore), representative offices, merchant banks, discount houses, and finance companies. In 1988 there were 13 local, 64 merchant, and 134 commercial banks. All banks in Singapore were administered by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and were required to hold a statutory minimum cash balance against their deposit and other specified liabilities with the authority. [Source: Library of Congress, 1989 *]

The Development Bank of Singapore was established in 1968 to provide financial services supporting industrialization and general economic development. Owned jointly by the government (49 percent) and private sector shareholders, it had evolved from a long-term financing institution to a multiservice bank. The largest Singaporean commercial bank in terms of assets in 1989, the Development Bank was listed on the stock exchanges of both Singapore and Malaysia. Through its subsidiaries, it also provided specialized financial and insurance services, factoring, stockbroking, merchant banking, and venture capital investment management services. The Development Bank was the city-state's largest source of long-term finance, including equity and venture capital financing, medium- and long-term loans, and guarantees. *

In 1973, to stimulate the expansion of the Asian dollar market, the Monetary Authority of Singapore established the so-called offshore banking system, designed to concentrate on that market and its foreign exchange operations. Beginning in 1983, funds managed in Singapore on behalf of nonresidents and invested offshore or in the local stock market were exempt from tax. The fees earned for managing such offshore funds were taxed at a concessionary rate of 10 percent. *

More than 70 percent of Singapore's S$1.34 trillion (US$1.08 trillion) in assets under management at the end of 2011 came from overseas, an MAS survey showed. In 2007, under management in Singapore totalled S$814 billion, up 32 percent from 2006. About 86 percent is from foreign sources. AFP reported: “The MAS, Singapore's de facto central bank, insists that investors including institutional and professional fund managers have sound reasons for parking their money here. "Singapore's growth and development as a wealth management centre is underpinned by high standards of financial regulation and strict supervision," it said after UBS announced its deal with the US government.” [Source: Martin Abbugao, AFP, September 15, 2009, Rachel Armstrong, Saeed Azhar and John O'Callaghan. Reuters, May 12, 2013 ]

Singapore Slated to Replace Switzerland as World’s Wealth Capital

In April 2012, Robert Frank of CNBC wrote: Thanks in part to its generous tax regime, Singapore has been a millionaire haven for years. But a new report says the tiny island state may soon overtake Switzerland as the world's largest offshore wealth hub. The report, by WealthInsight, a London-based research firm, says Singapore is the fastest growing wealth center in the world, with $550 billion in assets under management – up from $50 billion in 2000. About $450 billion of that is offshore. Switzerland has $2.8 trillion in assets under management, with $2.1 trillion of that coming from offshore wealth. Switzerland accounts for 34 percent of the $8.15 trillion in total global wealth. [Source: Robert Frank, CNBC, April 22, 2013 ^~^]

“Yet the report said Singapore could overtake Switzerland in offshore assets under management by 2020. It said Swiss offshore assets could fall below $2 trillion by 2016, while Singapore's assets could more than quadruple by then. It seems the rich are country hopping, reports CNBC's Wealth Editor Robert Frank. Rich Russians are moving to London; rich Americans are moving to Singapore. A look at the reasons why. ^~^

“The reason: Switzerland may be falling out of favor with the wealthy, while Singapore is attracting more of the new wealth from Asia. Recent offshore wealth scandals and prosecutions in the United States and Europe have pierced the veil of Switzerland's vaunted bank secrecy laws. Western countries are also tightening their tax codes and chasing tax shelters more aggressively. "The Swiss wealth management model is under intense pressure," the report states. "Offshore centers have suffered significant reputational damage in the past four years and advanced economies are increasing their oversight of cross-border banking and tax havens." ^~^

“While the West is cracking down on wealth in Switzerland, however, Singapore is opening its arms to all the new rich from Asia. Millionaires and billionaires in Asia, especially China, are pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of their country to stash overseas. Much of that is going to Singapore and Hong Kong. More than half of Singapore's offshore assets come from China, WealthInsight says. "Rapid growth in Asian economies such as China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia will continue to see new investments in the years ahead," the report stated. ^~^

Singapore Banks Woo the Wealthy

In 2008, AFP reported: “Got at least US$5 million (S$6.8 million)? A private banker is at your service in Singapore. The tiny, tropical island-state has emerged as a centre for the wealth management industry which caters to an elite breed called high net worth individuals, or HNWIs. Banks have beefed up their wealth management services, taking up swank offices in the business district as well as recruiting and training staff in the fine art of dealing with this moneyed class. 'Typically, a client should have a financial net worth of between US$5 million to US$10 million, excluding the house, car and wine collection - just money available to invest,' said Mr Marcel Kreis, head of private banking for the Asia Pacific region at Credit Suisse, the Swiss banking giant. [Source: AFP, June 22, 2008 ==]

“Years of strong economic growth and an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit have swelled the Asia Pacific region's list of HNWIs - defined as those with more than US$1 million in investible assets, industry players said. An industry report by consultancy Capgemini and US investment bank Merrill Lynch said the financial wealth held by Asian HNWIs could reach a staggering US$12.7 trillion by 2011, growing at an annual rate of 8.5 percent, above the global rate of 6.8 percent. This compares with the US$8.4 trillion dollars in financial assets held by Asian HNWIs in 2006 - nearly eight times the combined gross domestic product of all 10 South-east Asian states, including oil-rich Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. China and Japan accounted for more than 64 percent of the regional wealth, while Singapore, India and Indonesia produced the highest number of millionaires that year, the report said. As of 2006, the Asia Pacific region had 2.6 million HNWIs or 27.1 percent of the global total, it said. Only a small percentage of this number had a wealth manager, meaning the opportunities are vast, private bankers said. ==

Singapore has “tough banking secrecy laws, reliable legal system, well-regulated financial sector, world-class facilities and political stability. Singapore has defended its banking secrecy laws from criticism, saying it has strong safeguards against money laundering. Private bankers said self-policing by the industry, reinforced by strict government regulations, ensures that dirty money is screened out. Despite private banks setting up offices in key markets like China, India and Indonesia, 'still Singapore is the private banking, wealth management centre in the Asia Pacific, without doubt,' he said. ==

“Mr Joseph Poon, head of the Macquarie Group's newly-launched Asian private wealth business based in Singapore, said the city-state is the world's fastest-growing private banking and wealth management centre. In future, Singapore 'will be one of only two global private banking and wealth management hubs, the other being Switzerland,' he added. ==

“Wealth managed out of Singapore comes from clients worldwide, including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and as far away as Russia and Europe. Japan's wealth is largely serviced domestically, industry figures said. While rich Middle Easterners are traditionally served out of London and Switzerland, they are increasingly looking at investments in Asia as revenues from soaring oil prices fill their coffers, said Kreis of Credit Suisse. An industry source, who asked not to be named, said the European Union's moves to step up scrutiny of European tax havens could prompt wealthy Europeans to increasingly look at offshore banking centres in Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong. ==

Bank Secrecy in Singapore Used to Hide Corrupt Money?

Singapore The Southeast Asian city-state has grown into the world's fourth-biggest offshore financial center but, with US and European regulators on the hunt for tax cheats, the government is clamping down to forestall the kind of onslaught from foreign authorities that is now hitting Switzerland's banks.

In 2009, Martin Abbugao of AFP wrote: “Transparency International, which like many other corruption monitors ranks Singapore highly for its clean and efficient government, said the city-state should promote greater transparency in its financial system. "As long as no one wants to know where the money is coming from, it will be easy to hide money on which taxes should have been paid, but most importantly, money that should have been invested in a given country or programme," a spokesperson for the Berlin-based group told AFP. [Source: Martin Abbugao, AFP, September 15, 2009 ~]

“Wealthy Asians regard Singapore as the Switzerland of Asia, a rock-solid financial centre where savings can be kept safely and discreetly. But critics say some of the money comes from unsavoury sources. Officials in neighbouring Indonesia are trying to recover tens of millions of dollars allegedly stashed in Singapore during the rule of the late dictator Suharto. And rival Philippine groups are suing to gain control over more than 25 million US dollars that formerly belonged to the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and is currently frozen in an offshore bank in Singapore. "It has been documented time and again that corrupt individuals -- be they politicians, business executives or wealthy citizens -- have used countries like Singapore as safe havens to stash their ill-gotten funds," the Transparency spokesperson said. ~

“There is growing pressure meanwhile on international banks to help governments recover taxes on assets kept overseas by their citizens. In 2009, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development included Singapore on a list of countries that have not yet fully implemented standards on the exchange of tax data needed to pursue suspected evaders. Singapore's government promised to amend its laws and negotiate new tax treaties to implement standards set by the OECD, the Paris-based club of industrial nations. ~

“Allegations that Myanmar's junta is stashing billions of dollars in Singapore have thrown a spotlight on banking secrecy in the city-state, which strongly denies being a haven for hot money. US-based human rights group EarthRights International says that energy majors Total and Chevron are propping up the sanctions-hit Myanmar military regime with profits from a gas project totalling nearly five billion dollars. Total and Chevron have rejected the charge and two Singapore banks named in the ERI report as the repositories for most of the money -- the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. (OCBC) and DBS -- have dismissed it as false and baseless. ~

“In a written reply to media queries on the Myanmar funds, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it requires financial institutions to have tough controls in place to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism. "This includes procedures to identify and know their customers, and to monitor and report any suspicious transactions," it said. Singapore is also amending its tax laws in cooperation with industrialised nations that are pursuing citizens who deposit their money in overseas banks.” ~

Singapore Cleans Up Its Banks

In May 2013, Rachel Armstrong, Saeed Azhar and John O'Callaghan of. Reuters wrote: “Banks in Singapore are urgently scrutinizing their account holders as an imminent deadline on stricter tax evasion measures forces them to decide whether to send some of their wealthiest clients packing. Before July 1, all financial institutions in Singapore must identify accounts they strongly suspect hold proceeds of fraudulent or wilful tax evasion and, where necessary, close them. After that, handling the proceeds of tax crimes will be a criminal offence under changes to the city-state's anti-money laundering law. [Source: Rachel Armstrong, Saeed Azhar and John O'Callaghan. Reuters, May 12, 2013 /=\]

"Because of banking secrecy, Singapore used to be an attractive place to put money if you didn't want the authorities back home to know about it," said Erik Wilgenhof Plante, head of compliance at Germany's DZ Privatbank in Singapore. "That has left legacy problems for some banks." /=\

“Singapore officials have said the city-state's secrecy rules were aimed at safeguarding investors' legitimate interest in privacy and did not mean it was a haven for illicit funds. The tighter rules are intended to fall in line with new global standards announced last year that treat tax crimes as a money-laundering offence. Bankers may now feel compelled to give up some of the lucrative accounts that have fuelled a boom in Singapore's assets under management to more than $1 trillion, with 50 percent growth in the five years to 2011, according to the latest government data. /=\

“While banks do not have to check that their clients are fully compliant with all their tax obligations, they must check if there are reasons to suspect the accounts contain the proceeds of serious tax offences such as fraudulent or wilful tax evasion. Identifying high-risk accounts will be a challenge, although most banks have a red-flag system to help guide them. Examples of red flags include clients who use complex corporate structures to hold their wealth and those who bank almost all of their assets in Singapore when they have no other business or personal interests in the city-state. /=\

“Singapore has already faced accusations from politicians in Europe that, as the veil of secrecy over Switzerland is lifted, wealthy tax evaders are shifting their money to Southeast Asia. It has gone some way to countering that perception by signing close to 40 agreements with other countries about the exchange of tax information in the past three years. In 2009, it moved off the anti-tax avoidance "grey list" of countries kept by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. /=\

“But Singapore's image as an alternative to Switzerland for hiding money was not helped by the case this year of France's former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, who admitted to having an undeclared foreign bank account last month. French media reports said Cahuzac transferred a million euros (US$1.3 million) from a UBS account to another Swiss bank, Reyl & Cie. That account was then closed in 2010 and its contents sent to a Reyl & Cie account in Singapore where half a million euros still sat. Clients like Cahuzac will soon become less welcome. "Many of these accounts have been giving us loads of money over the years," said one European banker, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic. "Now we have to decide if we need to terminate that relationship." /=\

“Banks in Singapore already have strict controls to guard against handling money from crimes such as drug trafficking and corruption but have never had a legal obligation to report on tax evaders - unlike rival financial centre Hong Kong. From July 1, banks suspected of abetting tax evasion or having insufficient controls to prevent it can face hefty fines, criminal charges and even the loss of their licences. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued guidelines saying banks must identify and review all existing "high-risk" accounts before the deadline and "discontinue the relationship" where appropriate. Even if banks cannot determine for sure that a client is wilfully trying to flout tax rules, they may opt to close accounts they feel "may potentially bring about reputational risk," said Kwok Wui San, a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Many of the major private banks, including UBS AG , have already set up special task forces to train their staff and prepare for a change in mindset to accompany the new rules. /=\

“Singapore sees a cautionary tale in Switzerland, where an image as catering to tax evaders and a zealous drive by cash-strapped Western governments to track down unpaid taxes set the stage for a witch hunt against its banks. "Because of the exponential growth of the number of private banks in Singapore, the MAS is stepping up and making sure it is ahead of the curve and does not become a haven for illicit money," said Andrew Chow, a partner at local law firm Wong Partnership. Industry professionals expect the banks to take the effort at ferreting out tax dodgers seriously and to start flagging them. "As banks trawl through their existing client base, I suspect there will initially be a spike in the number of suspicious transaction reports being filed," said Eric Chan, a partner at law firm Drew and Napier. New foreign clients may find that banks become far more picky and inquisitive as the change in mindset takes hold. "The good old times in Singapore are over," said the European banker. "We don't need that dirty money anymore." /=\

Singapore Banks Impose Tougher Capital Rules After Global Financial Crisis

In 2011, Rachel Armstrong and Kevin Lim of Reuters wrote: “Singapore said it will make its banks hold higher capital levels than those set out under the new Basel III regulations, imposing some of the toughest new banking rules unveiled so far across the globe. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) intends to make its local banks hold a higher level of top quality capital as a proportion of their risk-weighted assets than was agreed on by banking regulators in Basel. [Source: Rachel Armstrong and Kevin Lim, Reuters, June 28, 2011 *^*]

“Under the new rules, banks will have to hold a common equity tier one ratio -- which is retained earnings or shares -- of 6.5 percent as well as a conservation buffer of 2.5 percent, making a total requirement of 9.0 percent. That is two percentage points above the Basel III rules which requires banks to hold a total of 7.0 percent in top quality capital. "We must maintain the high standards of financial regulations which have become associated with Singapore," Lim Hng Kiang, minister for trade and industry and deputy chairman of the MAS, said in a speech. *^*

“The Basel III rules were drawn up following the financial crisis to ensure banks were better positioned to withstand unexpected losses. Singapore tends to set particularly strict requirements for its banks given their systemic importance to its domestic economy and the fact that they cater to a large proportion of its retail banking market. *^*

“The city state's three domestic banks -- DBS , Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank -- along with Citigroup's subsidiary Citi Singapore are unlikely to have to raise any new capital to meet the new rules. They already hold high levels of capital, with DBS reporting a tier one capital ratio in 2010 of 15.1 percent.” *^*

Sidewalk Moneychangers in Singapore

Sidewalk moneychangers continue to exist in Singapore. In 2000 there were 460 of them compared to 400 in 1990. Most work in the central business district and Orchard Road and Scotts Road shopping belt. They cater to tourists, Singaporeans and expatriates in Singapore. Many people prefer them to banks because the transactions are quick; the moneychangers are regarded as honest; they are open longer hours; they accept more different kinds of currency; and sometimes they give better rates than the banks. Even the banks recommend their customers go to the moneychangers for small foreign currency transactions.

Many of the sidewalk moneychangers are Muslim men from families originally from southern India. According to local lore the first changer, “Change Ali,” established himself on the Singapore River in the early 20th century. The area where moneychangers long congregated was called “Change Alley” in his honor. The business attracted Muslim Indians in part because they always planned to return home and moneychanging was a business that was easy to shut down because there was no inventory.

Ah Longs: Singaporean and Malaysian Loan Sharks

Ah Long is a colloquial term for illegal loan sharks in Malaysia and Singapore. They lend money to people who are unable to obtain loans from banks or other legal sources, mostly targeting habitual gamblers. Often, they discreetly advertise by sticking notices, mostly on lamp posts and utility boxes around a neighbourhood, thus vandalising public property, as authorities have to then remove such advertisements. They charge very high interest rates (generally about 40 percent per month/fortnight) and frequently threaten violence (and administer it) towards those who fail to pay in time. [Source: Wikipedia]

When a person fails to pay in time, the Ah Long will spray paint, splash, or write threats in paint or markers on the walls of the house or property of that person as a threat of violence and to scare, and perhaps even shame, the borrower into repaying the loan. A common use of painting includes the characters "O$P$" meaning "owe money, pay money", as well as the debtors' unit number. According to local police authorities, there have been cases where borrowers and even their family members were beaten or had their property damaged or destroyed, and some victims have committed suicide. In other cases, flowerpots placed outside the debtors' units were smashed, debtors' house gates have been tied up with cable ties and at the extreme, debtors' property such as their house door/gate or their cars have been burnt.

Pig heads are sometimes hung outside the borrower's house, as a type of intimidation as well as a way of 'marking' the person as a loan 'defaulter'. Ah Long sometimes break into victim's houses and steal items of the loan's value. This method is commonly used to save time and also effort. Recent cases shows that Ah Longs also display the borrower's identity card on a huge banner and post it on fences. Since Ah Longs need only an identity card from borrowers, this tactic is becoming common because it shames the borrower publicly into paying up. Borrowers often use outdated identity cards to borrow money, with the intent to not pay what they owe. As a result, unsuspecting house owners end up paying the price of receiving the Ah Long tactics of intimidation. Since they are not the borrowers, the intimidation does not stop and the Ah Long will keep on harassing them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ah Longs

The blog Sam’s Alfresco Heaven reports: 1) How much can I borrow? As a new client, the most they give you is $500. Some need gurantor, some don't need. Once you settle this $500, they will increase your limit so next time you need, they can loan up to $1000. As time goes by, $3000, $4000 also can loan. 2) What is the payment like ? Different syndicates different methods. Some will deduct the 20 percent interest from the loan amount upfront. eg. $1000, you take $800. Some give $1000 loan but take back $1200. 3) How long is the payment ? Normally is 4 weeks. eg. $1000 = 4x$250 or 4x$300 Some gives you 5 weeks. eg. $1000 - 5x$200 or 5x$240 [Source: Sam’s Alfresco Heaven, March 3, 2009]

4) How many loans can I get ? Some ah long give you up to 3 loans. eg. 3 loans of $500. Some will intro their "colleagues" and you get loan from them. But actually is all same syndicate. So without you knowing, you might be borrowing $6000 from 3 different ah long but all same syndicate. 5) How to get ? Call them up, they will ask for your NRIC, address, name. Then they will go check their database to see if you are a bad debtors. Once clear, they will send a runner to meet you to check your IC. Some kiasu will meet you at your door to make sure you really stay there. The runners will also do an inspection on your unit to see if there are any previous ah long markings. This means you are a bad debtor with another syndicate. Verification will cost about $10 or $20 payable in cash to the runner.

6) What if I miss one installment ? They will term it as "cut". Meaning you add another week of payment. eg. $1000 loan = you pay 2 weeks of $200 (Remaining 3 weeks). But 3rd week you cant pay, means they add one more week. So now you still left 4 weeks of payment = $800 7) What if I cant pay on the deadline? Some ah long can neg. give you one or two more days. If cannot neg, then refer to point; 8) What if I didnt answer their call ? You better answer, cos if the deadline they never hear from you, means you run road and actions will be taken

9) What kind of actions ? Actions range from splash paint at your door, scribble o$p$ at your lift lobby. Worse is splash paint at your neighbour doors. (Just apologise and help the clean up) Worst is set fire on your door or splash paint at random cars. 10) What do I need to do if point 9 happens ? First dont touch anything, Call police, lodge report, let them take photo. Then clean your gate and door using thinner. Call town council for their cleaners to come re-paint those writings on the wall. This is F.O.C. 11) What prevention measure can I take ? Wrap plastic sheets on your windows and doors. Normally they see wont splash cos waste of time. But they might target your neighbours house. Install CCTV cameras. But is to deter those newbie runners. Hardcore runners wont even hack care if their face is shown. Some wear helmets, umbrella and mask so CCTV no point also. 12) When will it ends ? From experience, I think they come up one time splash paint, you never response, they will stop cos no point also.

New Dirty Tricks of Ah Longs

Cao Baoying wrote in My Paper, “A new tactic being used by loan sharks to pressure debtors was exposed on Stomp this week. Now, instead of harassing just the debtors, the loan sharks also send hell notes threatening harm to their neighbours. Stomper Zubin wrote in to Stomp after receiving hell notes in his letterbox, accompanied by a threatening letter warning that "something nasty" would happen to him if his neighbour did not pay up. Zubin mused about how "Ah Longs" these days do not simply shout and threaten people with parangs. Instead, they are getting more organised and "even bother spending 26 cents" on a stamp to send hell notes and letters to the debtors' neighbours. This is just one of the e-mail messages that Stomp received recently about the evolving tactics of loan sharks. [Source: Cao Baoying, My Paper, January 5, 2013]

One new tactic employed by loan sharks is to transfer money into victims' accounts, before demanding that they return the cash with interest. Stomper Kenji, who was one such victim, was shocked when he received a text message from an unknown person, informing him that a loan of $380 had been transferred to his POSB account. The sender also demanded that Kenji make weekly repayments of $160. Kenji later received a call and was told that if he did not pay up, his parents would die. The Stomper decided to make a police report.

Stomper Cool Sapphie received a phone call asking her to take up a loan. She said the caller identified himself as a loan shark, and added that he knew all her personal details. He asked her to "pay him weekly till he's happy", or pay a one-time sum of $3,000 to settle the matter. Sapphie refused and reported the matter to the police. However, the caller still threatened her, and said that there was no point reporting the matter to the police. She wondered how innocent parties could be threatened in this manner, and how her details were leaked.

A month after Stomper MS moved into a flat in Toa Payoh Lorong 8, the police informed him one night that a fire had occurred outside the unit. MS found out later that the fire was probably started by loan sharks, who were harassing the former owner of the flat. Unfortunately for the Stomper, the loan sharks did not seem to be aware that the debtor had moved out. The Stomper, who has a seven-year-old daughter, is worried about his family's safety. MS hopes his Stomp report will make it known to the loan sharks that the flat has changed hands. The Stomper feels that he should not have to live in fear because of the irresponsible attitude of the former owner and the loan sharks' viciousness.

In February 2013, The New Strait Times reported: “A woman and her family are living in fear as they are constantly harassed by an Ah Long (loan shark) group because of the husband's debts. Their house here was broken into by three men, who took cash and jewellery. The suspects were believed to be members of the group. The woman, who wanted to be known only as Suzy, in her 30s, said she was awakened by an explosion in the 5.30am incident. At first, she thought it was firecrackers, but then she saw the three men, armed with guns. "One of them pointed his gun at me and ordered me to sit on the floor while the other two entered my daughter's room. "All of them wore masks. They ransacked the house and took away my personal belongings." At the time of the incident, her three daughters, aged between 7 and 13, were at home. Her husband, a hawker, was away. "They left behind 10 bullets, two hand grenades and drugs. They also warned us not to lodge a police report," she said, estimating her losses to be more than RM30,000. Manjung district police chief Assistant Commissioner Jaafar Baba confirmed the incident and said police were tracking down the suspects. [Source: New Strait Times, February 1, 2013]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Singapore Tourism Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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