Singapore: The Love-hate Relationship

I have this love-hate relationship with Singapore; it’s a nice country to live in with oddball laws which makes the city-state to be among Asia’s best, safest and cleanest country but it has a hyper-competitive society, relatively expensive (the world’s most expensive city) and the weather is super humid (but what else would you expect living one degree above the equator?)

Asians in general are known for their crazy appetite in technology – animation or anime, gaming, socially-isolating gadgets, you name it, they have and can afford the latest gadget in store. Their addiction with technology is so obvious that if you take the MRT, it’s a sight of lifeless bodies. Singapore was even branded world’s least emotional country by Gallup. I’m not sure how far the truth in this but Singaporeans I know are quite lively and a bunch of interesting people.

First of all, I’m not mouthing off about this amazing country. As a kid, I always hoped that someday my parents would pack our bags and move to Singapore. Being a half Singaporean, I do think I have enough experience to make a casual observation of this country. I have many fond memories growing up with my cousins and spending my holiday in this country. I remember having my first taste of Nutella from the shop near my grandmother’s house and how child-friendly most apartments in Singapore are – they have the best, clean and well-equipped playground. Singapore recognises the importance of living a healthy lifestyle; they provide community centres for the masses, efficient sidewalks for joggers and cyclists and sport-related activities to promote excellence in people’s lives.

For passing-through travellers, it’s a dream to live in Singapore. Largely known for being the financial hub in Asia, Singapore is the favourite place for expats. It’s not exactly a place for job hunters (but I’m not saying you can’t jump-start your career here at all) but it’s the place you get sent after establishing your career. The country boasts its “safest country” status, I feel safe walking alone or waiting at the bus stop alone, even at night but let’s be honest, low crime doesn’t mean no crime.

Is Singapore a boring place? It all depends on your lifestyle. If you’re a nocturnal creature who likes to go for food hunting past midnight, it won’t be easy unless you drive up to the main town. For party goers, the country has hosted a lot of happening events annually (Zoukout, F1, beach parties to name a few), so the party scene is quite established in Singapore. They have amazing clubs and bars – filled with tourists and expats. Hence, drinks do not come cheap. Malls in Singapore are as good and grandeur as the ones you find in European countries. This is also a country of food haven after Malaysia and a melting pot of cultures. The culture is a melange of Indian, Malay and Chinese influences. People from all over the world are familiar with Singapore and its iconic cultural diversity; one of the many reasons this small island seems so large on the map.

p/s: If you’re tired of Singapore, you can always take a ferry and sail away to Batam in Indonesia.

So, what do I mean by love-hate relationship? This country sounds fantastic! Yes, but do you know that work-life balance is important?. In a system where failure is often not tolerated, the over-competitiveness can sometimes be too much. I feel like Singapore is trying too hard to achieve modernisation which leads to abandoning the cultural and moral values.

Singapore, a materialistic culture? Why do I feel so? Because the bourgeois scene is growing from the increasing number of luxury brands that are making their way to Singapore to woo this seemingly brand conscious nation. These luxury brands are doing good and attracting more and more tourists. It’s good for the nation’s economy, but the fast changing situation in this country has somehow affected their own people. I heard many sighs from my fellow Singaporeans complaining about the cost of living – thanks to the lucrative tourism industry (the same problem I heard from Parisians). What Singapore has achieved is very outstanding but any achievement must come with a cost and this cost is inevitable in the case of Singapore.

The people are nice and friendly but sometimes not inviting (in my honest opinion and past experiences). In countries with diverse races, one has the need to feel superior. It’s not just in Singapore, in fact its neighbouring country has the same endless issue that will never seem to wear off. One race always feels they have been treated unfairly. It’s hard to achieve a harmonious nation if this goes on forever – which I think it will. Singapore prides itself as a multiracial country in which all races are tolerant with each other but don’t let the tolerant facade fool you.

Ultimately, Singapore is a country split between its unvarying established traditions and the imminent, inevitable change that globalisation brings about. No doubt Singapore has been doing so well and the development is unstoppable but to balance a slow life with back to simple basics in this fast-paced society seem like a challenge.


p/s: All opinions are my own.

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