Enjoyed this article by Alan Grant published over at inSing.com
Singaporeans needs to take a long hard look at wherever they think the grass is greener, and remember Grass grows on BS !!
Things aren’t as bad as they seem, Singapore
by Alan Grant inSing.com – 17 December 2013 1:15 PM
There are complaints aplenty in this little city Singapore (Photo: Wikimedia)
People like to moan. Even when things are going well, we’re not able to fully embrace the good. Instead, we complain about the little annoyances in life.
I am a “glass half-full” type of guy, but a poorly thought-out protest will still emit from my mouth on occasion.
It’s just human nature.
SINGAPORE’S GOT (FOREIGN) TALENT
Singaporeans love to moan about the growing number and influence of “foreign talent” (FT) here.
I’m not here to restart that xenophobic debate (although I’m sure I’ve already incited a few FT haters), but I wonder if Singaporeans have ever stopped to think why foreigners are so attracted to this country in the first place.
After all, with our long list of gripes about the economy, the crowded trains and buses, traffic jams and the ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) system, elusive taxis, domestic helpers, the weather — why the heck would people want to come live on this overcrowded little red dot?
The answer is because life here to most non-Singaporeans seems to be in many ways better than in their home countries.
Most foreigners are economic immigrants because Singapore has one of the most vibrant economies in the world.
Whether the many manual labourers who help to build the gleaming edifices symbolising Singapore’s boom, or the more educated foreigners helping to service it, most are here because they can earn more money in Singapore than they can in their own countries.
SHE ‘CAN’T FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS’
Of course, not all Singaporeans are thriving in this bustling metropolis, but this is by no means a poor country.
The sheer number of foreign domestic workers highlights this. The Ministry of Manpower estimated that at year-end of 2010, there were 201,000 of them. Yet, this group of people is so often the target of complaints by Singaporeans and residents.
When my family and I moved to Singapore in 2004 from New York, one of the upsides was the prospect of hiring a helper. Having spent four years in the Big Apple, we did what most Americans do: we cleaned, cooked and raised our child up by ourselves.
It has been great having help on hand here in Singapore, and my family has hired the same lovely Filipina for nearly nine years.
She is not perfect, but then again, who is? To our shame, we’ve moaned about her occasionally, but we’ve never seriously considered replacing her.
I always cringe when I hear people talk down to their maids, or giving up on them after a few weeks or months because their English isn’t good enough or that they can’t quite get the floors clean enough.
I’ve heard the dreaded phrase, “Can’t follow instructions”, too many times.
We’re talking about human beings, not commodities to be traded. So the next time you moan about your maid, remember that many families in other countries, rich or poor, can only fantasise about such a luxury.
TRANSPORT SYSTEM, WHERE GOT WORLD CLASS?
Another perennial gripe here is about the taxis, or the lack of them when we need them most. Whether it is this, the taxi booking systems, the perception of taxi drivers as lazy, or a combination of other factors, we should step back for a minute and think.
Is it the end of the world if we have to wait 15 minutes to get our ride home? Can’t find a taxi? Get on the bus or catch the train.
Yes, the MRT is crowded and there have been occasional delays, but we still have a world-class mass transit system in Singapore.
The MRT should be held up as a national treasure, and while it doesn’t quite go everywhere yet, it’s quick, clean, safe and efficient.
I wish the same could be said for the Tube in London, the Subway in New York or the pathetic little single line that serves my native Glasgow, a city of 600,000 people.
These systems are old and creaking, perennially dirty, rarely on time and due to generally smaller car sizes, much more overcrowded than the Singapore MRT.
The bus network here, too, is splendid compared to other cities in which I’ve lived.
Sure, a rush-hour trip in the rain might take longer than normal, but a standing-room-only ride in Singapore beats the cramped, dirty and slow journeys on a daily basis in cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.
The other target of public ire, the ERP, plays a part in making sure we don’t have the monstrous traffic jams that our regional Asian neighbours have.
What’s wrong with paying a few dollars to get to work in the comfort of your own car? If you can afford the huge expense that is a car in Singapore, you can well afford the ERP charges. And it’s cheap compared to the other ERPs around the world. The Congestion Charge that covers central London from 7am till 6pm on weekdays is a whopping flat fee of £10 (S$20) a day, for instance.
We’ve also been known to moan about the cost of parking our cars in Singapore. The average cost of parking in the heartlands — 50 cents to $1 every 30 minutes — is so cheap that it’s hardly worth talking about it. Even the hefty $5.50 an hour for parking near Raffles Place, Marina Bay etc, is low compared to cities in Australia.
ALWAYS RAINING, SO HOT
Then, there is our daily gripe about the weather. People complain about it worldwide, but in Singapore, we have it made when it comes to weather.
But you know what, residents of Singapore, next time the entrance to your favourite shopping mall gets flooded or a fallen tree blocks your path, be thankful that the waters will quickly recede. The Land Transport Authority will have that tree cut up and removed in a comparative jiffy.
Think of the poor people in places like Dhaka, Mumbai or even Kuantan, who put up with yearly devastating floods, or the millions displaced by the typhoons that strike the Philippines, Vietnam and China every year. Or the Americans who lose their homes to destructive tornados on a regular basis.
So as we sit here in a relative cocoon surrounded by countries plagued by typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides and volcanoes, let’s not moan about the weather.
Let’s all try to stop and think the next time we’re about to open our mouths to wail about some small irritation that, in the grand scheme of things, is a mere blip.
I love living in Singapore, it has so much going for it, and I’m going to try and concentrate on those positives rather than the minor annoyances. You should, too.
Alan Grant has been in Singapore for nearly eight years. He first visited in 1991, then again in 1996 before his latest arrival in 2004. He has placed his journalistic hat down at such legendary Singaporean spots such as The Straits Times and I-S Magazine. He loves the local food, with his favourite haunts being the Indian vegetarian joints dotted around town.
(The views and opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of inSing.com and SingTel Digital Media Ptd Ltd.)