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The Sense of Superiority May 10, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

A long time ago, a PRC Minister told Singaporeans to ditch their arrogant attitude when coming to Mainland China for business. Then again there are Singapore’s neighbours, who have at one time or another engaged in taking pot shots at Singapore, among the accusations levied is the one whereby Singaporeans are said to be arrogant. So that begets the question, is there merit to these accusations? Or are all these merely hogwash by “green-eyed men”?

 While it is a commonly know fact that “Singapore bashing” is part and parcel of the political process up North, the fact of the matter is there is some grain of truth to the accusation levied against Singaporeans. One only needs to go back in time for a shortwhile, during the time of the Great Ministerial Salary Debate, when Mr  Lee Kuan Yew, during a “sparring session” against Mr Low Thia Kiang, asserted that Denmark and Finland can afford to pay their ministers a lower salary because they could afford a mediocre government. Such a view from the top has naturally trickled down so much so that at one time or another, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Singaporeans have displayed said “sense of superiority”.

 The ST has also in a way, played a part in encouraging such a sentiment. Perhaps it does so in order to be inline with the government, who has also engaged in scorn heaping exercises. notwithstanding the example above. There was once an article by Peh Shing Huei on Democracy, and in that article the virtues of the Singapore system were extolled and the Taiwanese system was derided. Then going back further into the past, several expats were interviewed and all sang praises of the transport system in Singapore, implying therefore that anyone who criticised the public transport system was a whiner with no gratitude, so on so forth. Insane Poly in his Elite Girl comic made mention of the rather one sided article. Given the fact that most Singaporeans rely entirely on the ST for their daily dose of news, it is hardly surprising that after many years of such “indoctrination” one may start to get the idea that hey, Mesa superior to yousa! Yousa all mediocre! Furthemore ST has been known to paint a rosy picture of Singapore at times when the picture was not entirely rosy; this is with reference to the IMF meeting during September 2006 last year, whereby ST reported that the delegates had praises for Singapore while the foreign publications talked about how Singapore was clamping down on CSOs (Molly made a post about this).

 Now I do not advocate throwing away ST or using it as toilet paper per say. What i believe we should do is to scrutinise every thing ST tells us. Of course blogs like Mr Wang’s, Aaron’s, Alex Au’s etc do scrutinise ST articles from time to time, it is better for the person if he himself takes the onus of scrutinising articles for himself. In that way he cannot be said to have been swayed to one side. As the Legal Janitor puts it, too many people are taking the easy way out by just parroting what the government or the “other side is saying.  

But back to this thing on the sense of superiority. No doubt Singapore has much to be proud of. Safe streets and so on. However to therefore act as if one were superior to all others is to be the proverbial frog in the well. This is because while the ST rarely publishes stuff which go against the agenda of “Nation Building”, the world is a big place and there are many examples out there which can prick the illusion of superiority that Singaporeans have been fed with.

Regarding the point about the Nordic countries, what no one mentoned in the ST, and to MR Lee, is that these Nordic countries have come up with companies like Linux, Nokia, Ericsson, among others. Mr Biao has published a letter by a Danish citizen about this matter.

 Now what of the “first class public transport system”? Well here i can only provide anecdotal evidence, and since I am neither a minister nor the relative of one I guess my anecdotal evidence is not powderful enough but when I was in Taiwan, I made extensive use of the public transport there and together with my friends we came to the conclusion that the public transport in Taiwan was in no way inferior to that in Singapore. Of course there were differences; for one there were barriers in place, and this are possibly the barriers which SMRT does not want put in place for obscure reasons. A more telling difference however was that during the peak periods, people actually QUEUED up in front of the line before boarding the train. Now having been squashed and jostled in City Hall and Raffles Place, I must say that it is hard to imagine Singaporeans queing up at the MRT Stations. But this is what the Taiwanese did. A society who is often derided by the press as being chaotic seems to be more courteous than a so called orderly society. Furthermore, the people kept to the right of the escalator. In Singapore, one often has to dodge the people standing on the escalator, and God forbid a couple should be in front of you.

 And to add on, Neutral Bystander made this comment about the Swedish Public transport system, “It’s always on time, there is a time table…it is never crowded…”

 Thus if one decides to give weight to the anecdotal evidence above, one can reach the conclusion that other countries have transport systems similar to or even better than what is in Singapore. Therefore all these lavishing of praise merely makes one appear like a nincompoop and the proverbial frog in the well. Unfoturnately this sense of superiority is an insidous thing as it pits the rational thinking man against the might and resources of large companies and powerful personages. Regretably many Singaporeans are ill- informed of the events happening out in the world, and even if they are informed they see it through tinted lenses provided by the obliging local media and others. Such a situation could possibly give rise to a situation whereby Singaporeans, empowered with a sense of superiority, start to, as the chinese say “Ban Meng Nong Fu”(act like a know-all in front of an expert) . But wait, hasn’t such a situation already occured?

 * Check out this comment by John Smith. Now thats what i call an example of a sense of superiority.



1. guojun - May 11, 2007

of course we’re arrogant – other countries are mediocre remember? That’s why i DO NOT WANT TO STAY IN SINKAPORE. It can sink or sing for all i want.

2. scb - May 11, 2007

Conceit equals overrating oneself!

3. YCK - May 12, 2007

It is possible that some people see the expression of pride for oneself a sign of patriotism.

I think it is silly… but cannot decide which is sillier. I prefer the lukewarm feeling of belonging.

4. Anon - May 12, 2007

This is the Singapore is lumpar one in this and that syndrome…..of course it “coincidentally substantiates ” all the talk about the need to pay market rates to attract and retain unigue peeple so that there can be a unique carefully constructed garment.

5. Ned Stark - May 12, 2007

It is reasonable to feel pride for one’s country; however there is a fineline between pride and arroganee, and judging by the various ST articles and some comments, it is clear that the line has been crossed.

6. YCK - May 14, 2007

Yes, the line has been crossed and I dare say that it is quite a clear line 🙂 But it has to be in a nation-building mood.

7. test « theFEMALEsingaporean - June 15, 2007

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8. Taiwan: The Big Red Herring « Winter Is Coming - June 19, 2007

[…] chaotic and no doubt that their politicians are clowns. (Though their populace seems to be rather considerate and courteous). However what the MSM editors failed to do is discuss the root cause of all this happenings in […]

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