Elmer W. Cagape
Living in Hong Kong
I have come across search queries leading to my blog posts using terms like “singapore vs hong kong”. Inevitably, these tiger economies have always been compared. They hold considerable significance in terms of trade, finance and certain aspects of education, tourism and even the land area. I live in Hong Kong the past 8 years and have been to Singapore a few times. Everytime I visit Lion City, I am always very impressed by the attractions, infrastructure and people. But I’m not sure that says it all.
I come across a link from Marketing Interactive leading me to a Facebook group called “Singapore Sucks“.
From what I read, it says something that contrasts my impression of Singapore. Here’s a message out of the group’s forum post (from Laila Allen) way back in 2007:
YOU KNOW YOU’RE A FRUSTRATED HUMAN IN SINGAPORE WHEN:
1 You are watching TTN (The Tourism Network) for ideas about what to do in Singapore and laugh about how the cultural section gets approximately 15 seconds airplay before they spend the next 30 minutes urging you to go shopping and eat.
2 You go out and realise that TTN goes on and on about shopping and eating because really that’s all anyone ever does. It’s a hell of a way to prop up an economy.
3 You are frustrated because the shopping is actually no cheaper than you can get back home, and all in all a little disappointing.
4 The food, while there is lots of it at hawker centres everywhere and Singaporeans pride themselves on it, is seriously overrated.
5 The eating, so famed by Singapore, is, for your average Australian, resident of San Francisco, New York, South of France etc I could go on, seriously average. Food courts and hawker centres continue to serve up meals that underwhelm. It’s like eating in the foodcourt of your most dirty shopping centre every day, full with people who chew with their mouths open and audibly suck in snot balls. Yuk really.
6 So you decide to do what you do back home a few times a week or more, go out for dinner. You quickly realise, to get a nice meal out with tablecloths will cost you a bomb.
7 To go out to a restaurant (to get a table cloth and wine glasses) you’ll be paying at least $30-95 Sing dollars for a main course and $60-$OMG for a bottle of cheap wine you buy at home for $7 and wouldn’t serve to your inlaws. Get real people.
8 And don’t forget the plus plus. It’s the final insult you always forget about. Take me back to Melbourne somebody!
9 For a country who considers itself so advanced, what the hell are you doing wrapping everything in plastic? Magazines in plastic, books in plastic, hey, I go to the bakery and unless I specify NO PLASTIC, I will get one bag for each item, then these little plastic bags will go inside more carry bags. On that note, try asking for no bag. It will take you two or three goes, because they just don’t get it.
10 Once you’ve been here for about, hmmmm, one day, you swear every Singaporean has had a full lobotomy and spend the rest of the time trying to be decent, patient human being, convincing yourself that no, they can’t all be like this. There must be someone with a brain out there… when no, it’s happened again. AAARGH!!! INCOMPETENCE. RIFE. EVERYWHERE. HELP.
11 You read in the local paper that the international school debating team blew the local Singaporean debating team out of the water, approximately 140-30. What was that? You expect me to express an opinion or respond to a question all on my own? Am I allowed to say something negative? Why don’t you just tell me what to say and think? It’d be a lot easier. Do local Singaporeans think this is a problem, or is this the way prime minister Lee likes his people?
12 Try asking a question of your friendly sales assistant, waiter, employee, I dare you. You will either be met with a blank stare, or they will find someone else, who will find someone else, who will ask the manager, who brings everyone over to see what the problem is. Repeat.
13 You encounter the other extreme often, where sales assistants walk up to you and stare. If you ask a question, you know they will not be able to help you. So do what I do and simply try staring back. I like this game.
14 You have just used sarcasm. You have been met with a blank stare or fake laughter. They just don’t get it.
15 After you have visited the manky theme park Sentosa for about 30 minutes in 30+ degree heat you are wondering what the hell you are doing there – and promptly get a taxi the hell out.
16 By now you understand how things work (or don’t) here, so there is no way in hell you are going to the Jurong Bird park. You understand the severity of Bird Flu, and no amount of positive PR about rigorous prevention measures undertaken by their fully trained, on-the-ball, competent and forward thinking, risk managing staff will get you there.
17 You are seriously over not being able to understand what the hell they are saying. No-one seems to speak any one language well. Their English, often as a first language, is broken and they all have the weirdest accents. Lots of them speak Malaysian, or something they call “Singlish” which is like pigeon English and every sentence ends with ‘lah’. You think about how it can get this way. You realise that learning is passed from generation to generation. You think about what it must be like trying to learn English as a first language from a Singaporean. You sigh.
18 Singaporeans are seriously patriotic and LOOOOVE Singapore because compared to the rest of Asia, yes, they are fairly advanced. But on a world standard, they are still a little (..read quite a bit) backward. They need to get out more. This annoys you.
19 In fact, the way Singaporeans go on about how great they are – all the time- gets you seriously uptight.
20 You are amazed that while George Bush earns approximately $400K and John Howard $300, Singapore’s Prime Minister earns a crazy $3.4 million (yes, million) dollars a year and he justifies this by aligning his position/rank and file to a CEO running a private company. No one complains or seems to care. Never mind it’s tax payers money they are using, Singaporeans do what they are told. This annoys you.
21 You think he probably needs the money so he can get paid enough to eat out in this place.
22 The Prime Minister keeps telling everyone how great Singapore is, how proud they should be, that what they have is envied by the rest of the world, that tourists flock here because it is “The Pearl of the Orient” and that he is the sole entity keeping Singapore afloat. He says, “You pay peanuts, and you’ll get monkeys. Would you risk this glorious city with a monkey?” You think, you all need to get out more.
23 You rest assured in knowing that the only reason people generally come here is because they have been forced to come here for work, are passing through Changi Airport or stopping over on the way to somewhere else more exciting.
Again this rant is just published out of the Singapore Sucks forum. Nothing to do with Hong Kong, but I imagine there are also issues Hong Kong can pick out of this series of observations. I have also put my own list of what I hate about Hong Kong so I guess it’s a fair game. We all are expected to complain about something no matter where we are.