The "Ugly Singaporean" Phenomenon?

A friend of mine directed me at this link asking me the simple question: Are ugly Singaporeans the minority or the majority of Singaporeans. There are plenty of ways to explore this question and I could go on for hours. But here’s a summary of my major points:
1) Just because someone shouts out angry words and gets it published doesn’t mean that person’s WHOLE nation is collectively disgustingly insensitive and dumb.
2) So called “developed nations” have their “problem citizens” too. We don’t complain about them because their own citizens don’t complain about them.
3) There could be a 100 reasons why someone is being “ugly” that day, does it excuse them? No! But does it happen still, hell yes! What can you do about it? Shrug. And repeat after me… Ça? C’est La Vie (That? That is life)

And now the meat of the article.

In dealing with this article, I will not descend into demagoguery and idiotic populist exertions that this person being Malaysian is automatically biased and thus anything he says must be discounted. This is not the case, the author makes certain strong points and this kind of ungracious or discourteous behavior is seen all the time. However to make it seem like Singaporeans are the only people in the world who would do such a thing is not only disingenuous but blatantly false. Let me point out that whilst it is true that “A mature, developed country isn’t defined only by wealth and education; it is also about humanity and concern for others.” What is also true is that one who shouts louder or makes a more “newsworthy” statement tends to get his picture taken, comment recorded and invective published. It is however, not by any stretch of imagination an indication of the true behavior of the masses. Just because such “news” is more reportable, doesn’t make it the norm present in all nations.

I should also point out that such “developed nations” as France, Italy, and the United States possess people who would laugh at the sleeping homeless person on the road, spitting on his weather beaten face. They shock and appall all those who would pass them by, but it has been recognised that in these places its just what happens. What maturity, and development! These people have recognised that ultimately not everyone will follow the ONE word given by the government. As such, I don’t believe ultimately that the behavior of these boors and louts should establish how “developed” a place is, but the response provided should. Is the self-righteous anger followed with half hearted attempts at fixing the root problem? Or is this something that people realise that not everyone can fix, and ultimately a gentle, more subtle touch is required? That is the sign of maturity I think, not hundreds of posters, and thousands of angry blogposts. I do not pretend to know if there is a way to end all such behavior and to pretend to have 1 solution to all the problems is arrogant and ultimately self defeating.

The justification that just because everyone else is doing it so its fine, may seem like the argument I’m making here but I am not. Of course such behavior is not fine. But do these people have a reason to be so unfulfilled and angry? Is that middle aged businessman callousness a result of his inability to care for his fellow man? Is it due to the stress? Is it due to a myriad of factors present? Did he even mean his angry outburt on screen? Ultimately in such a situation where one is faced with a disaster of such immense magnitude, can one really fault the guy for becoming a bit of a bitch? Even if it sounds bleeding insensitive? Of course such a discourse does not make for a good article; for an article seeks to answer questions and not raise them. But I’m a blogger and such constraints bind me not. The solution this man provides however is simplistic, He says that a nation that is truly developed and truly first world and world class would have a citizenry that is also first world and world class. As I have proven already, the truth, the truth that doesn’t sell newspapers in the country up north, and the truth that hurts is IT EXISTS EVERYWHERE! EVEN UP IN YOUR COZY LITTLE NORTHERN COUNTRY! Step off your moral high horse and ask yourself, can you say that any of these statements made or actions taken could NEVER happen in your country? F*** off. You know it has happened and it has probably happened in ways that are as unimaginable and as idiotic as you have made Singaporeans seem to be. (Yes, I lied about the demagoguery)

I don’t like to say this but, this issue is about as simple as baking a great souffle. There IS no black and white answer. Sure there are “ugly Singaporeans” but someone who’s an ÜS today, could be the best tourist Beijing has ever seen tomorrow. It so often depends on the person, and no amount of posters, and training and corporal punishment will change that. I’ve learned to shrug, just like the French. Because I know something’s just meant to be, and we can all take it with a croissant, une petite café and a pack of gitanes.


3 thoughts on “The "Ugly Singaporean" Phenomenon?

  1. Hmm…

    The columnist, though he may be writing for the NST, is a Singaporean…

    Just thought that you should know…

  2. Hmm… I would like to think there is a difference between being self-loathing and self-critical/not being oblivious to the weaknesses and flaws of oneself…

    There’s a difference between saying “We Singaporeans are so lousy…” and “We Singaporeans are good but there are areas in which we can improve in…”

    I think the columnist is saying the latter…

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