Written by Anita Ferrara
With her nine years of living in Switzerland and her Singaporean background, Mrs Genevieve Schärer has gained deep knowledge about country insights as well as cultural differences between Switzerland and Asia. During her speech on Tuesday, 12 February 2019, Genevieve Schärer introduced exploreASEAN into the culture and economy of Singapore.
Mrs. Genevieve Schärer is the Education & Strategy Implementation Manager of EULAR. She grew up in Singapore and finished her Bachelor’s degree in International Management at FHNW in Olten and did her Master’s degree in Business Administration in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Singapore, or correctly spelled Singapura, which means lion city (Sing = Lion and Pura = City), is a thriving city-state beyond the narrow road of Johor between Malaysia in the north and Indonesia in the south. Distributed on a fairly large island plus 50 smaller islands, Singapore is known to be the smallest country in Southeast Asia. The city-state is due to its geographical perfect location, highly connected and reflected as one of the global hubs. Singapore gained its independence on August 9, 1965.
Singapore vs. Switzerland
The city-state is often described as the Switzerland of South East Asia. The two countries have a lot of similarities but also differences, which Mrs. Genevieve Schärer pointed out during her presentation. Especially the small size of both countries and the economic success are two strong commonalities of both countries. Furthermore, Switzerland and Singapore are both influenced by other countries and languages. Singapore’s has more than only one official national language such as Malay, Tamil, English and Mandarin. They also like to mix the languages up which results in the language called Singlish a mixture between Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English. The same applies to Switzerland, which has also more than one language, for instance Swiss German, Italian and French. Additionally, both countries are strong in transparency and confidence. In the aspect of cleanliness Switzerland and Singapore remain among the most advanced countries in the world.
Genevieve explained that Singapore is under strong legal protection and is known to be one of the safest cities in the world. Security and government protection are on very high levels, especially for women, who are extremely well taken care of. In order to follow the name of the safest city, the Singaporean government implemented many strong rules such as:
- You can’t chew chewing gums
- Smoking is prohibited in certain areas in Singapore
- Connecting to another user’s personal Wi-Fi is forbidden
- Forgetting to flush a public toilet
- Walking around naked even at your own home
However, you will be on the safe side, without paying any fees, if you inform yourself about all the rules of Singapore and actually follow them.
Schärer’s Personal Experience
Genevieve explained, the one aspect in which she will remain an Asian is the Asian way of working hard and studying. You could think that Swiss people are known to have a strong workforce, but compared to Asians, who are much more hard working, we would fail. They are considered to be learning 24 hours a day and thus are very intellectual and competitive. This is one thing that Genevieve pointed out that makes her happy about living in Switzerland, to be able to actually enjoy time and relax more instead of studying all day. However, sometimes she still has a hard time to adapt to the more relaxed Swiss way of living and studying.
Interview with Mrs Genevieve Schärer about the ASEAN Economy
In fact, many systems that Singapore follows are copied from Europe. For instance, the tax system and calculation of taxes are copied from the Swiss and the dual education system is copied from the Germans. Genevieve Schärer said it is essential to learn from the best, then to implement it and accordingly try to be the best version in that region.
It is important that ASEAN countries cooperate with their neighbour states and other regions in order to economically grow. – Genevieve Schärer, EULAR
In her interview, Genevieve ensured that ASEAN is going to grow in the future and is going to be the biggest manufacturing market in the world. With the ASEAN ability, manpower and mentality they have enough knowledge to grow but still need to learn things like trading from Europe and the US.
See the complete interview: Interview Genevieve Schärer Preparatory Seminar 2019