I visit Singapore quite often. It is natural some people ask my views about the island Nation. These people are well read; they know about its advanced First World Status, high GDP, best garden city, good governance, good education, security and safety. They wish to listen or read something differently and yet quite factual.
For a start Singaporeans drink their own pee. They know that too. They have added some 10% of their “Newater” (reversed osmosis technology) into their reservoir. The Malaysians in Johor state drink some of this scientific water too and they are more critical towards people down south than the rest of Malaysia. Every visitor drinks the same pee water. I am not certain whether or not these “newater” produce side effects, peculiar to Singaporeans; otherwise it is difficult to explain the reasons for some behaviour. At least one of them paid money to a young sex worker, not to have sex (which will be normal by most standards), but to discuss how to do charity (which is really quite nutty to believe).
There is no doubt Singaporeans complain a lot. They complain about their government a lot, from petty things (railing and pavements) to political issues, such as demographic import to balance their own “quitters”, as their ministers labeled them. They also complain about Chinese Nationals a lot, without realizing without these people to do the “underdog” jobs (bus drivers, waiters/waitresses, construction and service industries), they may not live so well. Many have skewed eyes– they see only the “china dolls” and the Ferrari drivers at high speed in the city, killing a few innocents. Well, the strange thing is 70 – 75% of their population is “Chinese”, but their mindsets are more western than Chinese, except their “kiasu” (fear of losing), “kiasi” (fear of death), and “kiachinfu” (fear of government). In other words, despite their high qualification and wealth, the underlying “universal fear” is no different from others. Despite this, they sing Chinese traditional operas in Singlish. They don’t read English well. For instance, lots of posters in buses and trains about giving passenger seats to the elderly, pregnant ladies, the disabled, but their young occupy those reserved seats, and often pretend to doze off when these people stand next to them. Of course, there are always some who reads well on some lucky days. Too many posters and too many campaigns advising their population to be courteous, against litter bugs etc without improvement. No wonder their leaders claim Confucius teaching was out of date. If that was true, then all religious teachings were equally true, except the memoirs of politicians. For a tiny nation, it is strange they follow Americans all the way, even in recent Sino-American conflict over the China seas.
Next, despite the limitations of land, construction and deconstruction happen all the time. There are many iconic buildings, with greens on roof tops, and people can even fly their kites at night or picnic there with relative safety. Most of the parks are joined together, and even small children can ride their scooters there. Many Singaporeans are health conscious – they jog even past mid night or early morning. No wonder their populations were down, and sexual activities happens outside home as a new form of corruption. Education is supposed to be first class. Parents get nervous about their children’s results so much that they struggle to get into top schools with all the connections, and that includes long queue at pre-kinder, even camping there. Compared with Malaysia, there is no doubt their children are far in advance. For instance, in a kinder garden class, it is encouraging to find teachers teaching these toddlers on projects on “rainforest”. I thought the teachers will teach the basic elementary, but they have names of plants and animals, in all kinds of hybrid, that I have problems pronouncing them, and what more to remember them. Fact drilling to the brain core is a frightened form of pedagogy. Their schools bags are as heavy as our kids, but they teach, but we buy them for keeps. Their system is stressing their school kids as much as ours, in different ways only. Their children read more, and their libraries are often crowded. Lee Kong Chiang Research library is always worthy of visit, if you are a book lover.
You really find fine cuisine (and wine, beer), both East and West, in Singapore. Lunch is affordable (S$40 -50), but not their dinner (S$200-500), per person. Despite the high cost, the eating places are full of people, at whatever hours, which shows high consumer spending and activities. They also make good coffee, ice creams, and pastries. As a result, it makes one wonder how the Singaporeans earn their money, in a country without natural resources. The hawkers’ stalls are relatively cheap, on a one to one basis, and their culinary standards are as good as Malaysia. Singapore is also a place where the family can bring children for outing without over concern about their safety and security.
Health and Housing are excellent, if you have the money or sufficient saving by denying yourselves. Longectivity may not be fun in Singapore, again for the high cost of living. You need to be a high income earner, more than five figures, to survive in this tiny nation. The Certificate of Eligibility for a car is ridiculously high, but if you can’t afford, MRT or buses and taxis are convenient. Lots of taxis are seen in the streets of Singapore, if you can flag one, or even call one at peak hours, and the queue can be very long. With all the stresses of a modern metropolis, the pee water reminds their people that they are never short of water!