Singapore is synonymous with efficiency and order but rising discontent sparked a recent wave of protests, raising questions about social stability in the tightly controlled city-state.
The past year and a half saw numerous public rallies on issues ranging from immigration policies to a lack of transparency in the state-run pension system – marking a departure from the days when citizens held back from publicly questioning, let alone criticizing, the government.
"We have seen subterranean shift in the cultural and social mores within Singapore,now home to an increasingly educated population that has grown more confident in articulating its views in the public sphere," Alecia Quah, senior analyst, IHS Economics & Country Risk told CNBC.
"Authorities will come under increasing pressure to accommodate a plethora of dissenting views, and to demonstrate strong leadership in successfully mediating between them," she added.
Unsurprisingly, social media has played a key role in empowering citizens in the city where public dissent is discouraged. Websites like Facebook and Twitter are widely used by activists to organize and spread awareness about protests.
In 2013, 169 events were registered at the Speakers' Corner – the only outdoor venue on the island where citizens can hold protests without permits – up from 98 in 2012 and 85 in 2011, according to the National Parks Board. Demonstrations, speeches, public performances and exhibitions are all classified as events.
Last February, over 3,000 people gathered to rally against the government's plans to keep importing foreigners to address demographic challenges of low birth rates and a graying population. The influx of foreigners is a major bugbear for locals who believe they are responsible for driving up living costs and putting a strain on infrastructure.
Since then, public rallies appear to have become a more common medium for expressing political frustration. This year, citizens have staged rallies to voice their grievances on issues including increases to public-transport fares, pro-foreigner labor policies and the pension system.
In Singapore, citizens and permanent residents are required to contribute a portion of their monthly wages to a compulsory saving plan – the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Critics of the CPF say they do not know enough about what happens to money they place in the scheme and that it should be bringing them better returns.
29-year-old Singaporean Meera Jethmal, who recently completed a Master of Public Administration degree at a renowned local university, says government transparency and accountability is her primary concern.
"My biggest issue with the government is on the one hand, they say they are doing a lot for us, yet they often fail to tell us how exactly they are looking out for us. They offer things like cash handouts of a few hundred dollars around the time of elections, but this is nothing in the grand scheme and people aren't buying it anymore," she said.
"Also, Increasingly, people are demanding more explanations, and if the government isn't sufficiently responsive, how will they win our trust?" she added.