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Do Singaporeans really have the highest IQ in the world?

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kosmopolitan
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Postby kosmopolitan » Wed, 13 May 2009 2:14 pm

Mmmm....this is getting interesting....

taxico said, "kiasu'ism is a big reason why there's a need for a "kindness movement" or "courtesy campaigns," and perhaps why many singaporeans (especially tourists) are disliked overseas. "

I think first off, we are having a slight variation in understanding the term "Kiasuism". While I do not disagree with you that it may include aspects of courtesy and social consideration, I tend to interpret the term to mean basically wanting to get the best first (eg forming long queue in advance) and be the best in everything, and having a mono-dimensionally view about life that materialism is all that is there in life.

Based on such a (my) definition, like I said I do see some benefits in the sense that it is exactly this mode that managed to drive Singapore economically at such an amazing speed that the "software" aspect of this young country has yet to catch up with its infrastructure. With maturity of this country, maybe the interesting Singaporean trait called kiasuism might naturally slowly take a back seat? I don't know, but I really see no need to urgentlly & artificially put it down becos it is in my opinion not a very bad thing short of.....

The bad side is that life becomes mono-dimensional.



But now that I understand your definition of Kiasuism to include poor courtesy and anti-social behaviour, well I totally agree and absolutely think these aspects should be eradicated as I see no value of it in a society where people jump queue or do not say thanks. In this repect, I do agree that while Singaporeans do not usually jump queue (altho they do form long queues which is OK), they do have reservations about using words such as "please", "thank you" or even the simple act of smiling.

With respect to this wider definition of "Kiasuism", while QRM is smart to assume correctly that I have not been overseas short of holiday trips, being a very sensitive person that I am, I was able to immediately recognise, believe me, in a shocking way how some 1st world societies such as Australia and Japan (but not Korea nor to a certain extent, Italy), and to some extent how even some developing regions such as the laid back Malacca, Bali, have much better social behaviour than Singapore. Believe me, I was shocked.....

After visiting Japan, I told myself, "Why can't we be as civilised as Japanese and live in a much more friendlier and pleasant environment?". I also saw a new definition of queueing at japanese train stations that is new to me. After I visited Taiwan, I asked, "Why are Singaporean cashiers mostly dumb ( no word of "thank you" nor "see you again" nor "welcome"). Or why do service staff in Singapore change their facial expression when u walk off a store without buying anything after trying something out? To stretch it a little further away from kiasuism, after I visited Australia, I wonder why Singaporean services always stick by the rules whereas counter staff in Australia are empowered to allow "exchange with no question asked" policy.

When I was in Australia, I see the need to say, "May I have a coke please?". But when I return to Singapore 1 week later, I couldn't make myself say that same sentence at the drink stall becos I know that her eyes will roll at me suspiciously, and so I said instead, "Coke one" (which is on hindsight actually more efficient. lol).

Having said that however, even though I have not been to China, I do know I am correct to say that in terms of courtesy and social behaviour, we have in comparison to China, come a long way even tho both regions are similar in demographics. However, I agree we still have a long way to go in these respects.

Sorry for not keeping things concise again. Cheers!

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Postby kosmopolitan » Wed, 13 May 2009 3:51 pm

QRM wrote:its been a while since I cried laughing =D> =D> =D>


Ya, I oso think so.

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Postby taxico » Wed, 13 May 2009 4:01 pm

kosmopolitan wrote:When I was in Australia, I see the need to say, "May I have a coke please?". But when I return to Singapore 1 week later, I couldn't make myself say that same sentence at the drink stall becos I know that her eyes will roll at me suspiciously, and so I said instead, "Coke one" (which is on hindsight actually more efficient. lol).


Image

i won't comment on your china comments - but i've usually had very good service in parts of china i've visited, as well as HK & Macau.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 13 May 2009 6:23 pm

Thanks for the pic Taxico. :wink:

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times...... if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. If in your haste to be number one you push, shove and otherwise have not an iota of consideration for others (e.g., Hello Kitty at McD's where a Doctor & and Lawyer got into a punch-up over a free gift where they were supposed to queue and ended up breaking the heavy solid glass front door!) That got world press! It's inconsiderate stuff like this that causes kosmopolitan's personal view of kiasu to get intermingled with the general social issue of inconsideration & rudeness, becoming part & parcel of kiasu-ism. The fear of losing (a seat on the MRT?) makes it okay to do whatever is necessary to win (including block the exit doors to try to squeeze in first to get the seat - win at any cost), at the expense of all others.

It's either part and parcel of Kiasu-ism or it's a genetic handicap. Have it which ever way you want. After 33 or 34 years of courtesy campaigns, I've not seen too many changes over the 26 years I've been here witnessing them. Hence, maybe there is a gene missing or gone bad that causes that type of behaviour. I don't know, but I do know it's real. And the fact that when approached about their bad manners, instead of humility you get hostility. Strange behaviour for having such big brains don't you think? :-k

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Postby Plavt » Wed, 13 May 2009 7:22 pm

kosmopolitan wrote: "Why can't we be as civilised as Japanese and live in a much more friendlier and pleasant environment?"!


Firstly Japan is a different culture, you might care to read Japanese history, there are some interesting books around although they might take some time to find. 'A much friendlier and pleasant environment?' To foreign visitor and to some extent an expat maybe, but remember superficial differences are often taken to be fundamental.

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Postby kosmopolitan » Wed, 13 May 2009 9:00 pm

SMS said, "After 33 or 34 years of courtesy campaigns, I've not seen too many changes over the 26 years I've been here witnessing them."

..........having only a few changes is still better than none right? Come on, changes in human behaviour is not an easy task at all as the entire social pyschic is basically at work (like i mentioned how the atmosphere here doesn't even encourage me to say "May I have a coke please?" at a hawker drink stall, tho taxico is rite to point out that I shd/cld insist), Also it's more effective to educate the young than to modify adults' behaviour (e.g. the rush to potty train a puppy), thus prob explaining why it might take more than a generation instead of 26 years to see very significant changes. I frankly do see less people spit now only after MANY YEARS, so those draconian fines for spitting did work even if it was a mechanical behavioural improvement.


Plavt said, "Firstly Japan is a different culture, you might care to read Japanese history, there are some interesting books around although they might take some time to find. 'A much friendlier and pleasant environment?' To foreign visitor and to some extent an expat maybe, but remember superficial differences are often taken to be fundamental."

...........Care to elaborate? I m a little lost here....If the following is what u mean, I find it a little odd to try differentiate the thin line between sincerely feeling the need to be nice versus acting that out with no sincerity. Are you sayin when the japanese say "welcome to the shop", she absolutely only mean it mechanically? How to draw the line to find out in her heart whether it is sincere, n is it practically important to do so (i.e. to find out) anyway if by that act alone, one already feels welcomed and good?

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Postby QRM » Wed, 13 May 2009 9:06 pm

What is most interesting is that while your original post was to try and fly the flag for Singapore, which no one can shoot you down for, I am all for anyone who wants to be ahead of me at the front line. It was your desire to highlight the forums anti-Singaporean trait. At first glance many would assume you are now suffering from Stockholm syndrome with your comments :

kosmopolitan wrote:"software" aspect of this young country has yet to catch up with its infrastructure. ..

...Malacca, Bali, have much better social behaviour than Singapore. Believe me, I was shocked.....

"Why can't we be as civilised as Japanese and live in a much more friendlier and pleasant environment?". I also saw a new definition of queueing at japanese train stations that is new to me.

"Why are Singaporean cashiers mostly dumb ..Singaporean services always stick by the rules whereas counter staff in Australia are empowered to allow "exchange with no question asked" policy.


I disagree, you are no Patty Hearst, what you have done is reached a milestone in the Kiasu dependent program, you can now actually see what a lot of the expats have been moaning about, what is all the more impressive is you live here among all the Kiasu-ness and can now stick your head above it and see it for what it really is.

In fact why not use your kiasu trait to your advantage and push and elbow your way be the first Singaporean born, bred, and educated to stamp out this mentality.

Why not start a Kosmopolitan Kaisu-less Klan (KKK), who knows even the news paper we cannot mention might take you up as the face of the courtesy campaign. Get your Canadian SGper Kaisu chum, to start an overseas version of KKK, and spread the news that the Kaisu buck stops here.

Go and wait outside a mall and stop and interview people who let the door slam back in the face of the person behind them.

All the best, hope to see you in the papers one day.
Last edited by QRM on Wed, 13 May 2009 10:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby kosmopolitan » Wed, 13 May 2009 9:07 pm

I mean "psyche" not "psychic"

kosmopolitan wrote:SMS said, "After 33 or 34 years of courtesy campaigns, I've not seen too many changes over the 26 years I've been here witnessing them."

..........having only a few changes is still better than none right? Come on, changes in human behaviour is not an easy task at all as the entire social pyschic is basically at work (like i mentioned how the atmosphere here doesn't even encourage me to say "May I have a coke please?" at a hawker drink stall, tho taxico is rite to point out that I shd/cld insist), Also it's more effective to educate the young than to modify adults' behaviour (e.g. the rush to potty train a puppy), thus prob explaining why it might take more than a generation instead of 26 years to see very significant changes. I frankly do see less people spit now only after MANY YEARS, so those draconian fines for spitting did work even if it was a mechanical behavioural improvement.


Plavt said, "Firstly Japan is a different culture, you might care to read Japanese history, there are some interesting books around although they might take some time to find. 'A much friendlier and pleasant environment?' To foreign visitor and to some extent an expat maybe, but remember superficial differences are often taken to be fundamental."

...........Care to elaborate? I m a little lost here....If the following is what u mean, I find it a little odd to try differentiate the thin line between sincerely feeling the need to be nice versus acting that out with no sincerity. Are you sayin when the japanese say "welcome to the shop", she absolutely only mean it mechanically? How to draw the line to find out in her heart whether it is sincere, n is it practically important to do so (i.e. to find out) anyway if by that act alone, one already feels welcomed and good?

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Postby kosmopolitan » Wed, 13 May 2009 9:55 pm

QRM wrote:you are now suffering from Stockholm syndrome


Mmm...that's something new and interesting concept that I learnt today.

But that's not exactly what is happening actually. You see, like I said, I have known for a long time how relatively poor our social behaviour is when compared to our great economic achievement. I therefore have nothing against expats who voice out on this mismatch which annoyed them. What I have issue with, like I mentioned in detail in my original post, is the way some expats deal with the locals when they erred in someway. Some expat here chose to do it in a very condescending manner in full force with rude, arrogant, witty, subtle sarcasm which often go irrelevantly into grammar etc. Such to me is bully, and isn't nec in order to bring a point across. Some even went as far as insulting the entire nation and even the whole of asia, leaving one wonder why is there such hatred for us. This is something that WIMH has also pointed out b4. I therefore STILL stand by my original thread's agenda, and hope that this particular group of expats do realise that the very people they are poking fun at, aren't exactly brainless weaklings to be made fun of. I feel a responsibility to point this out for my fellows here even though I have never personally been looked down upon on. There is a difference between correcting a person and being condescending to a person.

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Postby kosmopolitan » Wed, 13 May 2009 10:00 pm

QRM said, "All the best, hope to see you in the papers one day."

....lol. No thanks, I am not that noble nor do I like to be famous for any reason. I am a person who likes to lay low.

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Postby Plavt » Wed, 13 May 2009 10:06 pm

kosmopolitan wrote:...........Care to elaborate? I m a little lost here....If the following is what u mean, I find it a little odd to try differentiate the thin line between sincerely feeling the need to be nice versus acting that out with no sincerity. Are you sayin when the japanese say "welcome to the shop", she absolutely only mean it mechanically? How to draw the line to find out in her heart whether it is sincere, n is it practically important to do so (i.e. to find out) anyway if by that act alone, one already feels welcomed and good?


Do I have to spell it out for you? Politeness good manners showing deference to elders are part of Japanese culture, as I said read Japanese history that may explain why to some degree. However, just how genuinely sincere the Japanese might or might not be is another issue, I have met plenty who rate amongst the rudest b***** in the world. You went to Japan as visitor and people were polite and helpful as most people I have met in Singapore have been on my visits. On the other hand if you live in a country you will be subject to the same problems as you may or may not face in your native. For example their will be crime,
bureaucracy gone awol, inefficiency and racism. Try traveling on the underground or Shinkansen second class in peak hours you might not be so impressed!

Yes when Japanese say welcome to the shop it is rather 'mechanical' as they say that to everybody. Do you think they really care when all they want is money? The statement being applicable to Singapore and any other city. You don't encourage tourism by being rude to somebody do you?
Last edited by Plavt on Mon, 18 May 2009 1:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby QRM » Wed, 13 May 2009 10:21 pm

Plavt wrote:Yes when Japanese say welcome to the shop it is rather 'mechanical' as they say that to everybody.


In fact its become so mechanical they even have a small movement sensing machine that chirps WELCOME when someone walks in, which is odd if the staff cant be bothered to say welcome why bother having a machine to say it? good manners? or centuries of ingrained protocol that has to be done.

Bit like us shaking hands even if you don't like the guy. In a few years in the West, there will be a rubber hand at the door you have to shake because the people inside cant be arsed to do it.

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Postby ksl » Wed, 13 May 2009 11:09 pm

My wife who is actually Taiwanese, suffered quite a shock here in Singapore, she found Singaporeans quite rude and the suppliers she deals with treat her like a customer, and very rudely too, with very bad customer service.

She said while speaking on the telephone they just put the phone down without warning, never say goodbye, or ask how you are, and they just have no sense of customer service at all. Sadly Singapore appears to be the rudest place in Asia, although i have noticed some of the younger teenagers appear to be more polite.

The good points, are the opportunities to do business, of which there are hundreds of opportunities, from teaching customer service and hospitality, Native English conversation classes, possibly online to improve English speaking, and many more, how about commonsense course :lol: It's quite sad for children, that are speaking Singlish, when their parents may not know any English at all, because their oral exams suffer.

There is a great need to improve, most of the small businesses here in Singapore, and especially in the service sector, if Singapore wishes to lose the bad reputation it is getting.

Many of the small business owners, lack practical skills and commonsense, they just do it their own way without thinking of logic, quite often I have pointed out things to save them doing double work.
Although they replied we are not paid to think!

I've been told they wouldn't change, but if it's to do with money, they will change. If they have the highest IQ, that is because the spend their lives studying and not working, they learn to memorise and not understand, the same goes for mainland China.

Although that is not a bad talent to have, as long as you learn commonsense too. Without it, your like like up shit creek without a paddle.

Although the educated ones, have the opportunity, to learn that they can contribute to their own society by teaching them manners and politeness, if they are so competitive to be in a winning position, anything else just back fires, so the old saying of one step forward and two steps back, sounds like a ring of truth in it, to me. The only thing that has moved forward is the infrastructure, buildings and those families that have always had a privileged place in society.

Although what we do not really notice is the children are learning to be more competetive, they lack the freedom to be children, and expect a the cane if they do not perform in exams.

To learn the practical dangers of the outside world is not an option,so the paranoia is passed on to the next generation too, the media hype has this effect all around the world unfortunately.

I sincerely feel sorry for some that get the cane becasue they didn't do well in exams, or the educated parents don't have the commonsense to see that the child is more talented in languages more than maths, becuase the brain as adapted naturally to what the child likes best.

I certainly forbid Singlish in my house every day, outside when my daughter plays, with other kids I don't mind it is up to her, but in the house it's Englsih or Mandarin, and that goes for her friends too.
Last edited by ksl on Wed, 13 May 2009 11:41 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 13 May 2009 11:14 pm

kosmopolitan wrote:SMS said, "After 33 or 34 years of courtesy campaigns, I've not seen too many changes over the 26 years I've been here witnessing them."

..........having only a few changes is still better than none right? Come on, changes in human behaviour is not an easy task at all as the entire social pyschic is basically at work (like i mentioned how the atmosphere here doesn't even encourage me to say "May I have a coke please?" at a hawker drink stall, tho taxico is rite to point out that I shd/cld insist), Also it's more effective to educate the young than to modify adults' behaviour (e.g. the rush to potty train a puppy), thus prob explaining why it might take more than a generation instead of 26 years to see very significant changes. I frankly do see less people spit now only after MANY YEARS, so those draconian fines for spitting did work even if it was a mechanical behavioural improvement.


You only see less spitting because of the fine. It isn't even a Pavlovian response. It only the fear of a fine. Same goes for littering. They don't throw garbage out of the window of their cars here but watch them driving in Malaysia. Soon as they get over the causeway it starts. Why?

This is also something that I have discussed on numerous occasions as well. I agree that it will take a lot longer than 26 years. Unfortunately, my initial estimate was something like three generations and I still basically think that it's true.

If you think about it, what social skills are taught in school? Very little, if any, with most time being geared and gearing the kids up to compete and win at all costs (kiasu-ism at it's finest is a primary requisite started in P1 and goes all the way through the eductional system. Add to that, the child spend 2/3s of his time with family. so only one third in school where "some" courtesy may be instilled, but the remainder of the child's time is spent in the company of family. If the family are rude and inconsiderate, they set the earliest role models for the kids so the kids are brought up and tend to ape the parents rather than the other kids. (kids seems to only ape other kids if it's "Kool" or it's bad. Rarely do kids pick good external role models. So if the family is rude, crude & tattooed the kids tend to end up the same way.

Therefore, if, just by chance, a kid manages to pick up around a third, then there's a good possibility they will only pass on to their kids, 2/3s of the bad traits. One can only hope anyway. This has been noted before, that it's easy to build a 1st world infrastructure that is inhabited by 3rd world citizens. But yes, slowly, slowly. The only thing that helps to speed it up is that there are more and more Singaporean going overseas for their educations.

Usually when they return, they are a considerably bit better (at least for a while, until, like a lot of expats, they get discouraged at the lack of social skills here and start treating them as if they never left. Unfortunately, when that happens, they get hostile and tend to tell expats where Changi Airport is. They don't see the irony of seeing themselves in the mirror and just how ugly they are in the eyes of the world in general.

Interesting anecdote that actually happened that will serve to illustrate what was mentioned earlier by another here. Several years ago, my Mom (80+) went on a Cruise Ship to Alaska. During one dinner meal, she and the other lady she was traveling with were in line for the Buffet behind a group of three Asians. While going through the line, the three Asians stacks something like 3 or 4 lobster tails on each of their plates and completely emptied the container holding the lobsters. My Mom, being an uncouth hillbilly just like me, asked them if they were from Singapore (she's been here 3 or 4 times). They were. She just knew it by their Singapore Buffet Syndrome. Really, is that the reputation that the people here want to be known by? Or the Hotel Syndrome where everything that isn't nailed down get ripped off? These are myths? Or are they based on reality?

Don't be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Come out from hiding. Say please, thank you, your welcome. Does it hurt? Smiling is infectious. If you smile, people will generally smile back. It really doesn't hurt to smile for the sake of smiling instead of just smiling when you think you've just screwed somebody and gotten ahead of them somehow.

Give it a try. Be that person who leads.

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Postby kosmopolitan » Thu, 14 May 2009 12:07 am

SMS said, "Don't be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Come out from hiding. Say please, thank you, your welcome. Does it hurt? Smiling is infectious. If you smile, people will generally smile back. It really doesn't hurt to smile for the sake of smiling instead of just smiling when you think you've just screwed somebody and gotten ahead of them somehow.

Give it a try. Be that person who leads."


Just like wat Taxico said earlier, I think its worth highlighting this to other Singaporean readers here. It's certainly good advice.

However, I am actually not so hopeful as this is a highly intricate, systemic problem where many complicating factors (some of which may even be culturally deep-seated and others seemingly irrelevant and thus difficult to identify) are involved. And to top it all, the problem may not even be noticed. And finally, philosophically speaking, there may not even be agreement that it is a problem to begin with.

As a side track, tho this may not mean anything at all, I noticed an interesting fact there there is no equivalence of "excuse me" in Mandarin. I noticed this when I was trapped in a crowded elevator in Taiwan, trying to get off. I ended up pushing my way out b4 the doors closed instead. lol. On hindsight, I could have said "sorry" or mouthfully, "Please let me pass".


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