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Singaporean Identity...

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby American » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 1:14 am

Here are some Singaporean Identity traits I have picked up on over the last year.

1. Constantly striving for a better economic position with education being the key. Strive for economic success above all else. Money-minded. Improving your standing in the world. Investment minded. Income minded. Hustle. Manual labourers/maids/blue collared folks are the losers. Lawyers/Execs/Doctors are the winners. Reward the winners, shun the losers. Though this is true for many cultures, it is very pronounced in Singapore.

2. Voice your complaints and opinions. Rate how good/bad your service is. "Everything also complain". Being a harsh judge of services rendered.

3. Tough bargainer. Never settle for a bum deal. Always push to come out on top and be the '1st in line' - kiasu.

4. Confirm and double-confirm. Be sure. Don't assume. If you assume, you're most likely not getting the desired outcome. If you don't stand firm with your preference, then you'll get the short end. Again kiasu.

5. Short and to the point. You don't need to say it with proper grammar, but get your point across efficiently as possible. Don't be wordy or verbose. Get to the point.

6. Be as efficient as possible even if it compromises level of service/quality. Be quick and to the point. Just get it done with best effort, but above all, get it done fast.

7. Clean and orderly.

8. Revere your benevolent leadership no matter how old. Hold the most senior people in the organisation with the highest regard. Respect for elders in work and in life. Give money back to your parents/grandparents.

9. Multiculturalism with elitism. Certain races are 'preferred' but it's not hard to break the barriers with meritocracy and hard work.

10. Females are not at a great disadvantage. Women have 'almost' as good of a chance as men to succeed.

11. You get what you pay for - you won't get good service with the 'basic' package. You have to spend a little more to get the good stuff. this is especially true with medical services, restaurant service, shopping service, etc...

12. International-minded - travel travel travel and get out of Singapore for vacation whenever you can. Enjoy the rest of the world (esp Thailand, Japan, and USA). Buy as much as you can in these places because it's x2 x3 x4 times as expense in Singapore!

Not sure if this is fully indicative of the Singaporean Identify but these are some of my observations of Singaporean Identity and Culture over the past year.

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby American » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 1:28 am

earthfriendly wrote:He also mentioned meritocracy. Elitism is well and alive in SG (one evidence is how the well-to-do like to flock to certain schools), however, so does meritocracy. Seems a bit of a contradiction huh? As a girl growing up in SG, I was treated as well as my male counterparts. We were taught we could be in any profession we aspired to be. No barriers was placed specifically on females. It was a bit of a surprise when I live in the USA, where women had historically be treated differently then men e.g. voting rights, over-sexualization of the female identity. Hence the need to fight back giving rise to feminist movement. In SG, nothing to fight for. We have it all, as females.



I agree - Singapore is a great place to raise daughters! Seems to be lots of strong Singaporean women out there... Not as timid, not afraid to voice their opinion or speak out compared to other Asian cultures...

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby American » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 1:36 am

earthfriendly wrote:Another aspect I can think of is the multiculturism. Yes it sounds cliche. If I had been raised in a mono culture environment. I would have been a very different kind of person. Many (non-muslim) Singaporeans do not have unfavorable opinions of Islam. The recent xenophobia on social media took me by surprise. Just goes to show how quickly opinions can change. When people feel cornered.


Multicultural indeed, however, not as much 'mixing' and 'melting' between the mainstream cultures. I definitely find it admirable that Islam is respected, perhaps it's because there's less of the extreme right-wing ultra-conservative strain across all religions on the island (and perhaps because right-wing/extreme religious views aren't tolerated by the government). However, I find that there's a lot of racial silo'ing where people choose to stick to their own kind and aren't as keen on mixing on a less than superficial level. Still I find it admirable how there is a racial tolerance and harmony here amongst the Chinese/Malay/Indian population (maybe not so much with the predominant races with the other races)

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby nakatago » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 6:29 am

American wrote:
earthfriendly wrote:Another aspect I can think of is the multiculturism. Yes it sounds cliche. If I had been raised in a mono culture environment. I would have been a very different kind of person. Many (non-muslim) Singaporeans do not have unfavorable opinions of Islam. The recent xenophobia on social media took me by surprise. Just goes to show how quickly opinions can change. When people feel cornered.


Multicultural indeed, however, not as much 'mixing' and 'melting' between the mainstream cultures. I definitely find it admirable that Islam is respected, perhaps it's because there's less of the extreme right-wing ultra-conservative strain across all religions on the island (and perhaps because right-wing/extreme religious views aren't tolerated by the government). However, I find that there's a lot of racial silo'ing where people choose to stick to their own kind and aren't as keen on mixing on a less than superficial level. Still I find it admirable how there is a racial tolerance and harmony here amongst the Chinese/Malay/Indian population (maybe not so much with the predominant races with the other races)


It's more like nobody has the gumption to speak out or have strong opinions. The good thing is that you don't have right wingnuts. The bad thing is no one will speak if those in charge abuse their power. What you have is basically compliant sheep whose most vocal complaint is that they lost out on the latest McDonald's happy meal toy.

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 2:12 pm

American wrote:
11. You get what you pay for - you won't get good service with the 'basic' package. You have to spend a little more to get the good stuff. this is especially true with medical services, restaurant service, shopping service, etc...



some very good points however w.r.t point no 11.
economical bee hoon vs superior bee hoon that's a classic example there.. I always have a chuckle when I see that somewhere.

To be fair.. a lot of Singaporeans have got shafted with various confusing policies/rules and regulations and hence the inherent kiasu-ism is omnipresent.. but once they are out of the shackles I find them the kiasu % fall considerably.
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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 2:15 pm

rajagainstthemachine wrote:
American wrote:
11. You get what you pay for - you won't get good service with the 'basic' package. You have to spend a little more to get the good stuff. this is especially true with medical services, restaurant service, shopping service, etc...



some very good points however w.r.t point no 11.
economical bee hoon vs superior bee hoon that's a classic example there.. I always have a chuckle when I see that somewhere.

To be fair.. a lot of Singaporeans have got shafted with various confusing policies/rules and regulations and hence the inherent kiasu-ism is omnipresent.. but once they are out of the shackles I find them the kiasu % falls considerably.

I also find the average singaporean expressing more or less one of the following emotions

1. extreme outrage
2. a sense of humour ( it can be dark/light or stupid/silly)

To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby FOX711 » Sat, 08 Aug 2015 12:32 am

I arrived in Singapore just a few days ago, everyone is talking about the SG50, yet somehow many of the locals I have talked to r worry about the future of Singapore.

What I appreciate the old Singaporeans most is their will to survive. Their will brings us here today, from a tropical village 50 years ago.

Although the direction in political system or tendency in econ industries seem to reveal conflics these days, I hope with that original will, they will find a balance to maintain as a leading region of the world.



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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby American » Sat, 08 Aug 2015 1:57 am

There's a definite overall pride for this milestone, yet with a strong undercurrent of slight cynicism while still complying for the age 30-40 set. I don't see the tried and true red gung-Ho singapore we love and are super proud of our nation pride rampant in the streets, but I do come across strong feelings of gratitude for this system foe those that are well to do. I find that it is the well to do businessman as the main fore bearer and beneficiary of sg50. The lower classes want change. The upper classes are blaze.

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby JR8 » Sat, 08 Aug 2015 3:28 am

FOX711 wrote:Their will brings us here today, from a tropical village 50 years ago.



Tropical village?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orZ-TSf1gf0
'Fascinating Singapore 50 years ago'

Quite a thriving industrialised little village. But that is a good analogy, it is tropical, and in many ways it IS still a little village.
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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 08 Aug 2015 6:53 am

Particularly in local mindset.

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby earthfriendly » Sun, 16 Aug 2015 1:23 am

In Times magazine, Anthony Bourdain setting up a food hall in NY styled after the hawker center.





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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby American » Wed, 19 Aug 2015 10:39 pm

Glad Mr Bourdain started a trend whereby he made it cool for ang mo hip westerners to try local street cuisine that their parents or aunts / uncles / bfe relatives would never touch.

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby JR8 » Wed, 19 Aug 2015 11:30 pm

I'm not sure about that :) 'Indian' food has been wildly popular in the UK since the 50s. Probably from ex-colonials pining for some spice. Then cuisines have sprung up as people have become able to afford to travel far and wide. 'Indian' food at home, Thai, Mexican, American (beyond burgers etc), Jamaican, Indochinese, Indon., East African, Japanese. I haven't been back to the UK for a while but last time South American was becoming popular.

These days 'hipster kids', if they get to travel, are too busy going to uni and starting their careers to travel extensively. Look at the fanciest supermarket chain in the UK, Waitrose, they have ranges of exotic Asian (etc) dishes, and ingredients. Their demographic is wealtheir middle-aged > pensioners. My pensioner parents are as likely as I am to be brewing up some exotic 'curry', and they (like many) couldn't afford to travel beyond Europe until they were in their 50s.

The day my SGn relatives serve me up an authentic leg of roast lamb (Brit style) with all the trimmings will be the reverse/equivalent. But I don't see it happening any time soon. I can hear the moans now 'Oh no, it's so bland, I don't know if I can bare it, look! I'm breaking out in a cold sweat and turning blue!!... I.... can... hardly breath... !' :-D

The flipside of Asians not getting 'bland' is some Euros not getting spice. Some countries can be veery parochial about this. Gawd forbid you want to find a curry with any spice in mainland Europe. An irony is much sub-continental food in the UK is spicier than it is on the sub-continent. Weird but true, I think it's just because that is what people expect hence demand.

What you see with a new cuisine when it breaks a western market is it tends to enter at two demographic levels. a) the lower niche end, where it pitches to people from the food's country of origin b) the locals who can afford and demand the higher end of a country's offering. Hipsters tend not to figure in this segment, though with their youthful vanity I'm sure they imagine that they are solely responsible for it.

p.s. thank gawd I did my travelling when I was young, I just don't think I could deal with all the beards and 'me me me' ;;
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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby American » Thu, 20 Aug 2015 11:34 pm

Spent quite a few years in middle America where California Roll style sushi and Panda Express are the most "Asian" they will go. Have some close friends that visited SF with me; took them to Chinatown and they were utterly shocked by what they saw - poultry with the heads still on hanging in a window - heaven forbid! I guess what I meant to say was Bourdain helped usher in the era of the American food hipster. My view of a hipster in this sense is one who goes out of their way to not settle for the norm and seek out the most authentic obscure cultural experiences possible for the street cred,badge,bragging rights. Not sure if that's a definition of hipster perhaps it's more urban savant? Anyway I think Bourdain is great the iron stomach street meat leftover innards eating savant that he is!

By the way food stall food gets BORING here after a while!! In the end all the food court stuff has the same menu and similar taste whether it's chic rice economic bee Hoon Thai kaya toast Indian indo the fake Japanese-Korean fish all soup etc. yes there are standout spots but not differentiated enough to make you say wow!

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Re: Singaporean Identity...

Postby nakatago » Fri, 21 Aug 2015 6:36 am

American wrote:My view of a hipster in this sense is one who goes out of their way to not settle for the norm and seek out the most authentic obscure cultural experiences possible for the street cred,badge,bragging rights. Not sure if that's a definition of hipster perhaps it's more urban savant? Anyway I think Bourdain is great the iron stomach street meat leftover innards eating savant that he is!

By the way food stall food gets BORING here after a while!! In the end all the food court stuff has the same menu and similar taste whether it's chic rice economic bee Hoon Thai kaya toast Indian indo the fake Japanese-Korean fish all soup etc. yes there are standout spots but not differentiated enough to make you say wow!


Hipster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hipster_( ... subculture)

My group of friends usually refer to them as fixie-riding, skinny jeans -wearing, kale and quinoa salad eating, thick-bearded, sleeve-tattooed, ukelele-playing, latte serving millenials who hate being called hipsters.

And yes, food stalls and hawker centers are quite boring. If they aren't, queues would be miles long during rush hour and they will eventually close down after a few months because the landlord would try to wring more money off of them with rent until they deem it not worth it anymore.


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