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Is Singapore too straight-laced for its own good?

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Addadude
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Postby Addadude » Fri, 16 Dec 2011 9:02 pm

Hmm. Singaporeans are not creative? Sorry. I don't buy it.

I've been working in the creative industry in Singapore for the last 18 years and, on the contrary, I have had the pleasure of working with a large number of outstanding creative people - all of them Singaporean.

Sebastian Tan of The Shooting Gallery - a world class photographer who has won creative awards all over the world.

Teo Chai Guan of Teo Studio, another outstanding photographer who has won awards all over the world.

Desmond Kuah - easily the best creative partner I have ever worked with in the ad industry.

Kenny Choo and Xavier Wong - both international advertising award winners who are now creative directors based in Shanghai.

Hasnah Mohammed Samid - a Singapore copywriter who has built an award-winning career as a creative director in both Malaysia and Vietnam.

(I had the honour of giving Hasnah, Kenny and Xavier their start in the ad industry - so I'm taking full credit for their achievements!)

Lim Kay Tong - a veteran actor who was outstanding in his intense performance in the movie "Perth".

Vernetta Lopez - who can pretty much do anything as an actress, singer and VO artist.

Outside of my immediate sphere:

Thomas Yang - probably the most award-winning art director/creative director to come out of Singapore – including foreign talent. This guy has been head hunted by ad agencies from all over the world - including London and New York - but he prefers to bring his family up in Singapore.

Tham Khai Meng, Worldwide Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather and Chairman of its Worldwide Creative Council.

Linda Locke - formerly Creative Director and Chairman of Leo Burnett, CEO and Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi.

Glen Goei, film director - Forever Fever and (the surprisingly vicious attack on the Lee Regime - if you understand the context) Blue Mansion.

Roystan Tan, film director.

Eric Khoo, director/film maker.

Musicians like Jeremy Monterio, Randolf Arriola, Han Chin, Dixie Ferdinandz and Clinton Carnegie.

There are many, many more and I’m undoubtedly guilty of doing them grave injustice by not mentioning them all but by memory fails me at this point.

The biggest challenge these creative people face is not coming up with creative ideas in the first place but rather getting their ideas to survive intact through the usual corporate “dumbing down”
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Postby nakatago » Fri, 16 Dec 2011 9:29 pm

Take note, Singaporeans who are ready to lynch Woz. That, as posted by Addadude, is one of many rational ways of how you counter the argument in the original post. =D>

*NOTE: I may have differing opinions but that won't detract from Addadude's point.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 16 Dec 2011 11:22 pm

Nak, I pretty much say the same type of thing. I don't necessarily agree with the list at all, but I defend his right to say it.

2/3's of those people are only "creative" in a regional context and not on the "world" stage. The marjority who tried to venture onto the world stage were overshadowed.

When I think of creative people over here, the only one who springs to mind is Sim Wong Hoo of Creative Technologies. In his date he was the world leader in Sound Card technology on the world stage. That is being creative. About the only other one that I can think of on the "world" stage is Jimmy Choo of high end luxury shoe fame.

When I think of "creative" I don't think of "the arts" per se. But talent in whatever your passion is, that transcends Race, Nationality, language & religion. Few singers from Singapore have ever "made it" in the west as well as in Asia. Anita Sarawak isn't, even though she's been in the US for 30 years. She's a lounge Singer in Las Vegas. Not much more. Same with Jeremy. Sure he does the Montreal Jazz Festival, but my wife as also done the International Country Music Festival in Nashville as well. Doesn't make you a household name though.

My 2 cents....... :-/

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 12:10 am

Jimmy Choo is a Brit company not SGn ... anyway it's day has passed, in the wake of Louboutin, (in the same way that back in the day Manolo Blahnik was steamrollered by JC).

You forgot Annabel Chong, now that's a SGn talent that people abroad might have heard of :wink: :lol:

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Postby ksl » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 12:28 am

JR8 wrote:Jimmy Choo is a Brit company not SGn ... anyway it's day has passed, in the wake of Louboutin, (in the same way that back in the day Manolo Blahnik was steamrollered by JC).

You forgot Annabel Chong, now that's a SGn talent that people abroad might have heard of :wink: :lol:
Well done Annabel! At least you proved your point of view, that most men are just wimps and cannot stand the pace of a hot blooded thoroughbred :lol:

Addadude takes gold for a piece well said!

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Postby earthfriendly » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 5:34 am

Addadude wrote:
In the next few years we are going to see the ascendance of what I call the Nintendo DS Generation. These are the kids who have spent their entire childhood playing video games – staring into tiny screens full of visual scenarios defined by people other then themselves. Remember when your parents used to clip you around the ears and tell you to stop day-dreaming? Well, that doesn’t happen anymore because kids today are just staring passively and reacting to other people’s imaginations. So, instead of creating their own imaginary scenarios, they are relying on the imaginations of others. I’m already starting to see this degradation of imaginative power in the younger guys I’m hiring today. Friends of mine in the post-production industry have been struggling with this phenomenon for the last 3 or 4 years.

So, if you think there is a lack of creative firepower in Singapore at the moment, wait for the next couple of years!


There's much less room for exploration and free play. Parents have to be actively involved to arrange playdates for kids. In the old days, kids just step out of their house or just knock on the neighbors to find their own playmates. A lot of commercial ventures that would establish the play format for them like build-a-bear. We have done some paint your own ceramics but time to move on to make your own pottery. A good kids pottery workshop is over an hour drive whereas build-a-bear is more readily found.

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Postby earthfriendly » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 5:37 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
2/3's of those people are only "creative" in a regional context and not on the "world" stage. The marjority who tried to venture onto the world stage were overshadowed.



"Creativity" is the ability to create something new thru the use of imagination, even if it does not earn you world fame.

There are many artworks and creations that will never see the day of light as the creators do not know how to market it to the world. Artist like lady gaga became famous because some commercial interest decided that she was highly marketable and took a chance on her. And for Apple products to be financially successful, they have to cater to the taste of the masses. If it is too unique and far out, it may be un palattable to the general public.

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Postby earthfriendly » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 6:16 am

Addadude wrote:
Yes, the US APPEARS to offer more creative ideas – but their population is in excess of 300 million. If you were to compare creativity per head in terms of creative awards, Singapore actually scores higher!



I am not surprised at all. There is a great pressure to conform and to be liked the others starting at the school level. Gay kids get picked on and gay phobia is higher in USA than SG. One of my daughter is struggling and trying to be more "white" as she feels great pressure to fit in. One of her classmate had gone home crying because she did not have someone to dress alike with on Twin Day.

Would you like more examples of how we, as a society, stiffles creativity and disallow diversity? :P

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 6:41 am

@Addadude, although I don't agree you need an unrivaled world recognition to be considered as creative, these are still the individuals of a very high end and this is mostly an advertising industry or not? There are always such people around even in the least creative nation, You claim it's more of them in SG (per capita) then in the States. How do you justify this claim? Besides, what at least myself have in mind thinking of people being creative is not necessarily the top level of art in a country but ordinary people solving everyday problems. Teachers doing their best to attract children, engineers to find an effective solution, customer service officers to show flexibility under individual client condition, researchers inventing something actually new... I see dramatic difference between SG and other countries.
I worked pretty close with a local R&D devision of one of the biggest MNC (worldwide) and many if not majority of their staff were recruited from the neighboring countries.

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Postby ScoobyDoes » Sat, 17 Dec 2011 4:49 pm

JR8 wrote:Jimmy Choo is a Brit company not SGn ...



And the man himself from Penang.
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Postby Manthink » Sun, 18 Dec 2011 9:25 pm

I am curious if any one had actually listen to Woz's BBC interview?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/ne ... 661755.stm

The way Woz describe about creativity, "think for yourself" and counter-culture is pretty much about anti-Establishment idealism rather than about Singapore.

He was just using the Lion-City as an example of a "structured" society and not meant as a direct criticism in general, which many seems to interpret as.

At least he acknowledged that Singaporeans have been successful since "everyone has a good job and a nice pay and a car." ;)

So tell me, if those "FT" who are flocking to Singapore are looking for Woz's counter-culture environment or seeking to enjoy a piece of the pie that Singaporeans' have? :wink: :wink:

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 18 Dec 2011 10:36 pm

Depends on which ones you talk to. Each has their own reasons for being here. Some to break out of the mold, others chasing money, others just trying to find a job. Others, just using it as a stepping stone to the west, while others are just here due to no place left to go that interests them. And finally, those who have been here for yonks already and are just waiting to retire.

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Postby Manthink » Sun, 18 Dec 2011 11:14 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Depends on which ones you talk to. Each has their own reasons for being here. Some to break out of the mold, others chasing money, others just trying to find a job. Others, just using it as a stepping stone to the west, while others are just here due to no place left to go that interests them. And finally, those who have been here for yonks already and are just waiting to retire.


So I guess you meant the later: FTs (in general) are here for the material aspect aka job/money/livelihoods/career opportunities rather than seeking Woz's zen of creativity.

So my 2nd question is why the concern about Singapore being "too straight laced " when almost everyone who came here to make a living probably had that perception before setting foot on the Republic?

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 18 Dec 2011 11:25 pm

Who's concerned?

The article? We didn't write it. Why don't you ask those who said is was. But restrictive and straightlaced? Yeah, it is. But thinking it is is one thing, letting it dictate you live is another. Nobody has said Singapore was a zen of creativity or that is should be or can be. What are you on tonight?

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Postby nakatago » Sun, 18 Dec 2011 11:32 pm

Oh boy; I think I know where this is going...


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