The Republic of Singapore is an island city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, separated from Malaysia by a narrow stretch of water traversed by a causeway that carries both road and rail traffic. Situated just north of the equator, Singapore is a microstate and the smallest nation in South-East Asia.
In 1819 the British East India Company established a trading post on the island, located at the mouth of the Singapore River. Singapore flourished and became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire, the hub of British power in Southeast Asia and a key port for world trade.
During the Second World War the British colony was occupied by the Japanese, reverting to British rule in 1945. Eighteen years later, in 1963, the city (having achieved independence from Britain) merged with Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak. This merger, known colloquially as “The Federation”, proved unsuccessful. In August 1965, Singapore seceded from the federation and became an independent republic within the Commonwealth. Admission to the United Nations followed in September of the same year.
Since independence, Singapore’s standard of living has risen dramatically - but so has the cost of living. In 2009 it ranked as the third most expensive place to live in Asia, after Tokyo and Osaka. The population of Singapore is approximately 5 million, though fewer than 4 million are residents. It is a highly cosmopolitan and diverse society comprising Chinese, Malay, Indian and other people. In consequence of this diversity, there are four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil. English is the language of commerce and education.
The majority Chinese population does not traditionally practice circumcision, but it seems to be gaining in popularity for health and hygiene reasons (and possibly through US influence). The pre-independence British rulers would doubtless have had their sons circumcised, and this might also have been an influence. The Malays, being Muslims, naturally do circumcise, but usually during childhood, not infancy. Singapore Motherhood reports that about 600 circumcisions take place in private hospitals and 1,400 in public hospitals annually. Of these, about one fifth are non-religious circumcision. This seems likely to be an underestimate for total circumcisions since many, both religious and medical, are done in private clinics. The Asian Parent website covers infant circumcision quite thoroughly which they would hardly do if it wasn't reasonably common.
Singapore's advances in circumcision techniques
Two circumcision clamp designs that operate on the “Clip-&-Wear” (ischemic necrosis) principle are associated with Singapore. The original version of the SmartKlamp was produced there, at the time when the development was being conducted by the Dutch company Circumvent BV. Entirely separately, the Pro Ring was designed in Singapore, but it appears never to have gone into commercial production. A very similar design, the Ismail Klamp subsequently emerged in the Malaysian town of Johor Baharu, just across the causeway from Singapore.
Singapore is also a leader in laser circumcision for older children and adults. See below, and our laser circumcision page.
Local reports from Circlist readers
An Adult Circumcision in the Singapore Chinese community
From the time I first heard of the word circumcision at about the age of 10 years, I wondered “What the hell is that?”. My Malay friend told me that it was just a cut of your foreskin, routinely done in their culture but not so common for the Chinese. I remember that my foreskin was not long at that age; I could pull it back without pain and my glans was fully exposed during an erection. I come from a conservative family background where circumcision was never discussed. Therefore, this circumcision thing slipped out of my mind as time went by.
At the age of 24 I was still doing National Service with the country’s army. Circumcision came back to my mind when I was looking at my penis while bathing. I went to Internet to do some research about it and give it some thought. Finally, I decided to do it, as I wanted to have a new smooth, tight foreskin and exposed glans, which seemed so erotic when I imagined it. In about early Oct 2000, I went to SGH Urological Department to have my very first consultation; this was at my medical officer’s recommendation. Initially, the male doctor told me that my foreskin was normal but I told him I insisted to have circumcision done. He replied 'OK' and agreed to fix a date for me. I also told him I want to have tight foreskin and have my frenulum removed so that it wouldn’t pull my glans during erection.
In mid-October 2004, I was circumcised. It was a half day surgery (under local anesthesia). It was subsidised although it still cost $400 plus. It took 14 days to heal. The first 7 days were quite painful exept when wearing loose shorts. I felt incredible pulling of the sutures when I got a morning erection; erotic except for the pressure around the cut-scar. My glans was swollen which worried me as I thought I had got an infection. So I went to the Polyclinic to have a check up. Fortunately, the doctor said it’s normal and sent me to a nurse for some dressing to be done. It was the first time I’d totally exposed myself to a female. I tried my best to look at the ceiling, trying to distract myself. But I failed when the nurse touched my penis when changing my dressing. My penis gave its full salute to her. It felt very painful as if the suture line is tearing off. The nurse just smiled and whispered to me that my cock is thick and reasonably long. All the sutures had dissolved after 14 days. I’m very proud of my exposed glans becuase it looks so bare, especially since the frenulum has been removed.
The Malay perspective
I am a Muslim, as are many of my countrymen. Thus it is normal to be ritually circumcised. Naturally knowing every other boy is circumcised, it was just a matter of time to decide when to have my circumcision performed. 12 years old is the normal age to be circumcised in Singapore. It’s either the parents who would impose it or the child himself who voluntarily requests to have it done. I requested circumcision at the age of 12 years and thus was psychologically prepared to face the fear of pain.
The circumcision was done at a village by someone experienced and fairly well-known in this line of work. I am not sure whether that person was medically trained. As a child, I simply obeyed my father, who had selected this man. We took a cab very early in the morning to the village in order to be among the first to be circumcised. On arrival, I was made to put on a sarong (cloth wrap around the body at the waist) and lie on a floor mattress. A pillow was then given to cover my face to avoid the fear of seeing the procedure. I was given a few tablets and then while lying down, my penis was injected at several locations.
After some time, it became numb and the procedure began. I was awake but dare not remove the pillow. Thus, I could not see what actually being done but only felt my penis was being pulled here and there. It was not painful at all. It was a fairly short procedure and the next thing I knew, my penis was horribly bandaged with opening at the glans for urination. The pain did not come until several hours later. The pain was quite bearable. I lay down for most of the remainder of the day as my father had cautioned, to avoid bleeding. I had to observe quite a strict diet. Less water but more beef liver to speed up healing. Avoid black soy sauce or anything that is black lest my penis will be black, my father said. Curious?
I could not bathe until about a week later, after the bandage was removed. By then the wound was about to heal. The stitches were still there and finally came off by themselves a few days later. It was a routine after each bath to apply antiseptic powder and expose my penis to the sun to dry. All in all, my penis healed fully after about two weeks.
Unfortunately, my son was circumcised at the age of one week after birth before I came to know about the real aspects of circumcision. Otherwise, I would have discussed his circumcision with the doctor and satisfied myself that my son would receive a good circumcision. This circumcision really adds life to the thrill and joy being a male. Surely, it is a great loss for someone who refuses to experience it.
Laser Circumcision in Singapore - Personal experience
I was circumcised at 20 years old by laser. Here in Singapore, it’s getting more and more popular for young guys to go for circumcision especially after they become sexually active and discover problems with hygiene and phimosis. Because of western influence, more and more girls here are becoming aware of the benefits of circumcision and like it if their guys are cut. Personally, I always wanted to be cut since I first saw my muslim friends in the shower when we were 10 and at a school camp. After many years, I finally had the courage and I booked an appointment with a specialist who uses the laser method and I was told that the result would be more aesthetically pleasing and heal faster.
It was really quite a nerve wracking experience. I went to the clinic early on the morning of the circumcision. After spending some time with the nurses I felt more at ease when they assured me it would be practically painless. It didn’t help that a really pretty nurse (around 24 to 26 years old) was helping me out! Before I knew it, my pants were off, Emla cream was applied and then after about an hour, the usual local anesthetic was injected to the base of my penis. After which the doctor used some metal device to hold my foreskin in place and he used the laser to cut it off. The whole thing ended in less than half an hour, and I was out shopping an hour after leaving the clinic. It’s true the wound heals faster- I didn’t experience any bleeding. However there was plenty of swelling just like with any other circumcision. The result I had is a high and moderately tight circ with the scar straight around my shaft. The most painful part of the circ was really the anesthetic injections. I couldn’t feel anything when my foreskin was actually being cut.
I love how my private bits look now and I have that bit more of confidence when I have to be naked in public showers! I love the feeling of sex even more now, plus the hygiene and my girlfriends so far have commented on how much more pleasant to give me oral because there’s no smell unlike some of the other guys they’ve been with! I know I made the right choice.