Risky Singapore?

CBC Radio had a documentary on Singapore and its lack of risk taking yesterday (only just heard it this morning).

Since I know there are 1 or 2 Singaporean readers of this blog, I am curious to know how accurate the documentary is. I find that people often have mistaken impressions about other cultures and people.

You can hear it here.


Coffee fairy said…
hmm, im curious to hear it but the link is prompting me to .ram file type, I can't launch it...
j said…
Same here, can't access the link.
Richard said…
You need real player in order to listen to it.

There is also real alternative which is supposed to be able to play real media files.
Coffee fairy said…
Ok, I downloaded the real alternative application and was able to play the file so:

On a critique's point of view, I am actually a little confused with the objective of the documentary because it talked about risk taking in politics, business and arts...and I think you cannot generalize all these aspects by saying if a country takes no risk in politics, it takes no risk in
business and arts...and vice versa. I also can't see the point because if it aint broke, why fix it?
On a Singapore foreign worker's point of view, I don't think the documentary has been fair in its analysis of Singapore. It was exaggerated and it was like saying this country is from another dimension where everything is programmed like The Matrix. Yes, the culture may seem a little
stiff or cold, but actually, to know the Singaporean people is to spend time with them, for a year that I've been living here, I have discovered most people are just shy and insecure about communication because of lack of English skills and this gets them misinterpreted as snobs or being
cranky. The documentary is too much based on first impressions and is too biased by benchmarking an Asian culture with Western (North American) culture while we all should respect the fact that one culture is different from the other. Furthermore, Singapore is more influenced by European culture so even just from that you cannot compare already. The journalist only showed interviews from people who dislike the rules
in Singapore but failed to show the other side of the coin.
I'm really sorry but I just didn't like how the documentary was composed, it was like saying why can't Singapore be like America. I believe in evolution of culture and not revolution of culture and I think Singapore's culture is evolving so there's no need to rush things and transform it overnight. =(

P.S. I usually see the old man who was dancing with tap sandals while juggling around the business area...and I didnt like how the
documentary used him like they know him.
Richard said…
Thanks for listening to it and offering you opinion.

Personally, I thought it was a bit inaccurate. Of course, I have never been to Singaporeans, nor have I ever met and Singaporeans (outside this blog). The impression I have is that it is a English speaking version of Hong Kong (not that I have been there either) - but I do know a number of people from Hong Kong.

I always find that when people try to describe other cultures, they often fail miserably, and only seem interested in understanding it to the extent that it suits their preconceptions of the place.

An easy and clear example comes when "we" (the developed world) go to help the underprivileged world. I always have this impression that "we" think that "they" just sit around trying to eat the rocks, and we will come and show them how to dig a well, plant crops, etc.

Notwithstanding that "those" people have been there for a very long time and have survived for a very long time.

Of course, I can ramble on for hours about all sorts of other places and areas that people let their preconceptions and hysteria take them.
Mum2One said…
I think it's true that Spore is less risky and there are issues with curbed freedom of speech and creativity. There's also more emphasis on academic and brain power than on other aspects in their education system. It can get very competitive and one tracked mind. But there are loads of people in Spore who thrive on that environment. So yes it's true and correct what they are reporting but if you take your focus off that negative, there are lots of positives in Spore - like it's a really safe and clean city to live in. It's got a good standard of living and there is very low unemployment rates in Spore. Food is great and life is uncomplicated. People are hardworking and generally peaceful. So, depending on where you are in life, it can be a great place or an awful place to live in. In my 20s, I hated it. Now, in my 30s, I don't mind it. I don't know if I can go back there to live long term and settle back there but I really enjoy visiting it now.
Richard said…
The topic was not on risk as in "safety and security" but more on risk as in "initiative to take chances".

Maybe I misunderstood your comment.
Mum2One said…
Yes I did get that and I agree with report that Sporeans are less risk takers in terms welcoming change.

But I see that as ok since the country has other good points like being a safe country etc.

I don't see it as totally and utterly negative though. It curbs creativity that's for sure but there are other aspect of life other than innovation that some people appreciate which having a more risky attitude might not promote.

Like a rapidly changing society might mean more trouble if the govt and the society cannot cope with the changes fast enough so the country becomes economically unstable and less safe.

Do I make sense now??
Mum2One said…
Let me explain a little more. When I was in my teens and all through my 20s, I didn't like Spore for the very reason the report said it was. I felt stiffled and I couldn't fit in the society. Now in my 30s, I've looked past that and started to appreciate the country for what it is. It hasn't changed much and is still very much controlled by the government and the people still feel like they haven't got much choice but to accept what's been given on their plate. But my attitiude to that environment has changed and I start to focus on the good that it offers.
Richard said…
So you agree that Singapoeans are not very entrepreneurially minded?

It is interesting to me. Of course, I have never been to Singapore, don't know any Singaporeans (outside of this blog), so I had my own little preconceptions about them (now being replaced with other preconceptions).

Basically, I always percieved Hong Kong and Singapore as fairly comparable in terms of economic risk taking. The main difference in my mind was that Singapore was a more ordered and law respecting society and HK a bit more wild.
Mum2One said…
Singapore is an asian country and asians are generally entreprenurial in the sense that many are businessmen- restauranteurs, coffee shops, other trades and retails shops. But whether or not they are innovative is in my opinion NO. There are lots of shopping centres in Singapore but you will quickly that they are pretty much the same, with mostly the same franchised shops and sell quite the same things with the exception of size and stock limitations. So, their entrepreneurial skills are probably not in innovation and neither do they venture into the western countries very much - usually within the country or within asia. Entreuprenuerial in terms of financial risk takers (borrow to start a business) yes, entreprenuerial in term so innovative , I don't think so.

I've lived in 3 different countries, each for a third of my life, with Aust now overtaking that ratio. And, I'm thankful that I've got that opportunity and I love living in Australia because it suits me more.

But I know a lot of Singaporeans who will find the economic, political and social policies and law in this country not their cup of tea. And to that, I say, fair enough. It's not like Spore is a backward country or anything, just very different mind sets.
Mum2One said…
Hong Kong is maybe a little more entreprenuerial than Spore if you have to make comparisons. I suppose to understand a country we need to understand where they came from - ie history. History is not my strong point. But from what I understand, HK has a richer culture in that it is a bit older than Spore as a country. It also has a bit more British influence in terms of years than Spore. But they are comparable in their modern infrastructure and technology. Even better than some western countries. They are indeed very modern cities.

If my memory of my economics hasn't failed me, Spore's infrastructure and economic status is a NIC (Newly Industralised Country) and it has a GDP that is comparable to a First World nation but choose to still come under the banner of a NIC for economic reasons.

But the mentality of the people is not as quick changing as the buildings and its urbanization. Institution wise, the education system is very academic in nature and emphasis is very much on grades and which school you get into and less on creative learning and exploration. Children are pressured to do well in schools right from Primary 1 and often are given tuition to make the academic mark so that they don't lose out to the other children in grades.

The law, as you've already gathered is more under Kohlberg's 1st and 2nd stages of Moral Development. (ie. Preconvetional and Conventional stages). Not quite the 3rd stage. Even in western countries, that's not achieved by a lot of people, but comparatively speaking, you'll find more in western societies. Having said that, Kohlberg's studies was done only in Western settings so maybe bias and not universal so we can't use it on Asian countries like Spore for comparison.

My sister spends SGD1000 a month on one-on-one tuition fees for her 2 children under the age of 12. Go figure. That'll be fees for a pretty prestigious private schools here in Aust.

The society is changing albeit rather slowly. And that's where I agree with Coffee Fairy that a culture evolves and doesn't change overnight.

Some of my sporean friends envy the type of lifestyle I have here but are not willing to risk the security they have in Spore. As with most people, mind sets are slow to change. I can accept that.

So there you go, you know a little more about Spore now!
Richard said…
mum2one: thank you very much for all your information!

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