Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fugly Singaporeans

The Internet is a wonderful thing. I've been away for seven months but have still managed to catch up on home news. I don't read up on Singapore much in Cambodia because surfing is so expensive and I'm also more focused on Cambodia. How expensive? Well, we pay USD50 for 600 megabytes a month for cable broadband access. If you want unlimited download at 512kbps, it will cost you USD1000 a month. Yes, yes, I know I've griped about Internet charges in Cambodia before, but I just can't help it.

Anyway, so there was this incident involving an MP's daughter Wee Shu Min. The MP is Wee Siew Kim. Check out
or Wikipedia which has an entry on Ms Wee. Wee Shu Min, an 18 year old, had posted comments on her blog criticising Derek Wee (no relation), a 35 year old university grad working for an MNC. Derek had written about his insecurities living in Singapore. Here are some gems from Wee Shu Min:

"derek, derek, derek darling, how can you expect to have an iron ricebowl or a solid future if you cannot spell?

"if you're not good enough, life will kick you in the balls. that's just how things go. there's no point in lambasting the government for making our society one that is, i quote, "far too survival of fittest".

"please, get out of my elite uncaring face.

19th Oct 2006
posted at 12:08 PM

Wee Shu Min's blog shut down after the hullabaloo. And here is her dad Wee Siew Kim's attempt to apologise:

"But she wrote in a private blog and I feel that her privacy has been violated. After all, they were the rantings of an 18-year-old among friends.

How interesting coming from an MP. Where was Mr Wee to defend Chen Jiahao, who had to shut down his blog after being threatened with libel from Philip Yeo, chairman of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). In his similarly, "private blog,", graduate student and 23 year old Chen Jiahao had criticised several government policies, including the A*STAR scholarship system and Yeo’s justifications of them. You can read about the affair on the Reporters Without Borders website.

(This entry was previously called Sinkapore. I took the name from posters at one of my favourite sites on Singapore, But I've now changed it to "Fugly Singaporeans" because it's more accurate.)

I wanted to add my own experience to the catalogue of "Fugly Singaporeans". I had gone to meet my friend Leon at Lau Pa Sat, a hawker centre in the financial district that is Shenton Way. As I don't have a Singapore mobile any more, I have been using my mom's. The battery died while I was waiting for Leon to turn up. I was panicky because I wasn't sure about our arrangements. So I approached a table of young women in their 20s (who in Singapore are called "executives") and said, "I'm very sorry, my handphone battery has died and I need to contact my friend. Can I borrow your phone and pay you for the call?"

To which they responded flatly, "No phone." I managed to borrow another lady's phone and Leon finally came. And then, unbelievably, I saw one of the women taking out her handphone. I was furious and stormed up to them, "Why did you lie to me? If you didn't want to lend me your handphone, say so. Why lie?"

They were shocked and the guilty party muttered, "I never answered you, it wasn't me who said I had no handphone," indicating it was her friend who had lied. Can you believe it? Does this person believe this absolves her of guilt? Not answering is a cowardly way of not saying she did not want to lend her handphone.

Anyway, this incident left me incredibly disappointed. What is the point of having paved roads and shiny cars and buildings and a good education system when people are rude and ungracious? It was a real eye-opener coming from Cambodia where people have so little yet are generous and kind. I can tell you that it is the people that makes a place, not cars and buildings and roads. I couldn't wait to go back to Cambodia.

Jimmy said he was glad I told them off. He mentioned someone had written to the papers about a similar incident. I've found the letter here.

It's appalling how Singaporeans just turn a blind eye to other people in need. Just recalling this incident makes me want to jump onto the next plane to Phnom Penh, where a tailor had kept my friend's iBook for 3 hours, after she left it at the shop. A friend says in Singapore, the shopkeeper would say, "What iBook, where got iBook?". We had a good laugh about it.


Dennis said...

Great blog I have some one in mind that would be interested. Thank you.

Diana Saw said...

Thanks for the comment Dennis. I guess you're also Singaporean? Do you also have a blog? Would love to learn more about what you do. Keep in touch!


april said...

you were spot on; i too find singaporeans to be unbelievably rude, ungracious, highly self centred and selfish. it must be due to the upbringing they had. when kiasu and kiasi parents from a doggone generation inculcated their children with their very own losers values, this happens.

Diana Saw said...

Hi April,

To be fair, not all Singaporeans are like that. I've wonderful friends I grew up with in Singapore who share the same values as I do - people who care about others and want to make a difference.

As I wrote, I was adding to "the catalogue of 'Fugly Singaporeans'". I could similarly add to "the catalogue of kindly Singaporeans too!" :)

Living in another country brings home the point that in every country there are fuglies *and* beauties.



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