Thursday, May 14, 2009

In defence of Singaporeans - not all Singaporeans are cold and unfriendly!

I think it was last week that there was some hoo-haa in the local papers about how foreigners all viewed Singaporeans as being cold and unfriendly. The Straits Times published quotes from various foreigners on this matter, none of them complimentary to Singaporeans.

Now I'm Malaysian. We have a love-hate relationship with Singaporeans who are our southern neighbours and closest cousins. We know their country's better run, their schools are better, they got more money and more style. But we always tell ourselves that we're nicer people and that's what that really counts.

Well, that's what I've always told myself anyway! But on this trip, I met some very nice people who went out of their way to help me. Top of mind was that teen boy at Far East Plaza. I wanted to get a Subway and the only way in was via stairs. As I had Connor with me in his stroller, there was no way I could get there by myself.

So I asked the lad lounging by the lift if there was another lift in the building. Now we good citizens of the world know that bored-looking teen boys who lounge around sipping soft drinks from styrofoam cups are Up To No Good. I'm glad he proved that view wrong. He immediately volunteered to help me. He held the elevator door open for me and helped me carry the stroller down the steps. Then he ran ahead to open the door to Subway for me. After ensuring I could maneouver the stroller in without problem, he waved goodbye and walked off.

Then there were the taxi drivers. All of them came out to help me load the stroller into their boot and helped me carry any shopping I happened to have on that day. In contrast, KL taxi drivers merely sat in their seats and looked impatient as I went back and forth getting my things into the taxi.

Another nice Singaporean was that smartly dressed young man at Wheelock Place who quickened his pace so that he would reach the main door before I did and held the door open for me. What about that uppity-looking saleswoman in an upscale shop in Paragon? When I needed help carrying the stroller up some steps, she volunteered without worrying about ruining her perfectly manicured nails and smart outfit.

Maybe they were all Malaysians who were working/studying there? ;)

I hope not. I hope they were all Singaporeans who were a credit to their society. To all of you, I just want to say THANK YOU, I really appreciated that you took some time out to help a stranger.


  1. When we are expats, stereotypes will always haunt us. I learned it the hard way: experience.

  2. Hi! I like to think I'm a nice S'porean as well, and like you, am going to be an expat wife come Aug this year, with a baby (now 7 mths) in tow, heading for Jakarta. Am totally clueless about Jakarta and whether baby and I will thrive, and with all our lack of preparation for the impending move I am now in a panic. Hence, your blog is like a lifeline now (esp since it's not the typical angmoh-expat-living-in-Jakarta blog) now that I have found it, and I feel that we have so much in common (my son has fallen off the bed THREE times). It would be lovely if you could email me at if you don't mind us linking up, babies and all. -- Baby Chin

  3. Vicky: True, true... I'd always thought Singaporeans were a little cold but I'm so glad to have been proven wrong.

    Baby Chin: Hiya... just dropped you an email... see you when you come to Jkt! :)