singaporean “generosity”

This is one of my “I’m disgusted” posts.

Singapore has great wealth, though it’s not counted as the wealthiest Asian nation due to its small population. It has been at the top of the charts in various world indices, all pointing to a very positive and swift leap forward for this city-state of approx. 5 million people. All in all, it’s a pleasant and safe place to visit or live, even if you are an ang moh. It even outranks Japan on several factors, though Japan is still a leading Asian economy (China is huge and wealthy, however it still has large portions of its population in desperate poverty; nor does it provide for its citizens like Singapore and Japan do).

Singapore also admires Japan. Singaporeans love sushi and Japanese food (okay, Singaporeans love all food, so that might not count for much), they like to buy Japanese products and emulate Japanese trends. Japan is considered the pinnacle of Asian culture. Chinese culture provides tradition, Japanese culture is cool and trendy. (I’m going to ignore the obsession with Korean boy bands, just like I ignore boy bands in the States too.)

In Japan’s moment of need, Singapore turns its back. The government pledged $500,000SGD to the Red Cross. The makers of the Facebook game Farmville managed to raise twice that amount among its players worldwide. Contrast that with the amount Singaporeans spend at the two casinos: one local manged to lose $26 million SGD in three days, another local lost $100 million SGD in a short time. Granted, those two losses were well before the Japanese earthquake, but still — there is money in Singapore that could easily be given to help Japan. I’m betting the casinos are still flooded with locals who can’t wait to toss away hundreds of thousands of dollars every night.

One Singaporean woman donated a $1 million SGD check to the Japanese embassy in Singapore. Surely there are other Singaporeans who can do the same?

My Aussie flatmate tells me Resorts World (where the first local casino opened), is putting on a benefit show to raise money for the Red Cross. The ang mohs are volunteering their time and energy for the show. The locals (aka Singaporeans) want to be paid for doing their part (I believe the show will go on without them).

I’m sure that Singaporeans will claim that they’re too over-stressed about losing seats on the MRT to foreigners or worried about the rising cost of housing (due to foreign competition) to worry about the Japanese. This is their excuse for being rude too. It doesn’t fly.

What particularly irks me is that Singapore would be completely washed away in the event of a tsunami. Granted, it’s protected because of it’s location and this isn’t likely to happen. Apparently Singaporeans feel quite safe and don’t feel any empathy for the east coast of Japan because they must think they’re not going to suffer the same fate.

One of the world lists that Singapore ranked lowest on was generosity. Singapore is one of the stingiest Asian nations when it comes to donating to causes. It’s beaten out by countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. Too bad Japan isn’t one big casino, I think that would be the only way Singaporean dollars would go to help the Japanese.

fun with Singaporean PSAs

Singapore’s public spirit is strong and the MRT is always plastered with entertaining stickers about various things. None can top the new campaign against public nose-picking. I’m not stating that Singaporean-Chinese are the only people on the planet who pick their noses in public; it is something I’ve noticed a lot since arriving months ago. Though if the campaign wants to be accurate, the photo of the young actor should be replaced by one of a grizzled uncle in a stained singlet (American translation: old guy in a dirty wife-beater).

The blog I’m linking to also has a short feature on a Hep B campaign with clam costumes.

TIS (This Is Singapore)

singapore — bastion of enlightenment, sensitivity and tolerance

Hermes store window display on Orchard Road, Singapore. More photos in my online album.
Hermes store window display on Orchard Road, Singapore. More photos in my online album.

Singapore actually is a fairly tolerant place, except when it comes sexism, racism and a certain amount of ageism. There’s also materialism but it’s not anything near the levels of Hong Kong. Anyhow, I could not believe this store window display from Hermes. That they’re French is no excuse. Would this store window fly in America? I doubt it. Has it raised a peep in Singapore? Not that I can tell.

My Aussie roommate was shocked by these photos. Anyone is free to tell me that I’m over-reacting or taking this out of context (or even explain exactly what the context is). All I know is that my jaw dropped and I nearly tripped on the sidewalk when I first passed the store. I came back at night so the windows would be well-lit. Sorry about the humidity causing condensation on the glass.

I was planning this whole long post about the Singapore (and Asian) maid culture, but I really just wanted to post these photos!