Anyway, congratulations on your move.
[edit in response to questions below: there is a big difference between living abroad for a few months a year or a couple of years and doing what the OP is suggesting - living abroad for long enough that your adult life is permanently established abroad. There is a turning point (in my experience around 15 years) at which point you have lived away from your family and old friends (which is what I meant by own people) that your different experiences come to overshadow your old similarities, especially if there are significant cultural differences. For an academic example imagine a woman from Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed even to drive living and working in the US for 20 years integrated in normal US life. It is unlikely she can ever return home and slot back as if she has never left. Americans are not exempt from this phenomenon - as can be reported by expats living in Europe going home to visit their families and ending up in epic arguments over US foreign policy. I live surrounded by expats (not short term visitors) from many countries and they would all report various degrees of this. Basically, once you become a citizen of the world, any one country and culture can come to be seen as parochial).
This is both true and not true. I have spent something like a quarter of my total life (in 2-3 month chunks mostly) living in Mexico, and while I don’t feel like the “average” American, exactly, I always feel like I can really relax once I’m back in the US. Even though I feel mostly at home in Mexico, I always need to keep a bit on guard, gestures and inflections (not to mention cultural references) pass over my head, I have to stop and think about what I’m doing. In the US (and especially in Southern CA), I am just fluent in day-to-day life.
Anyway, it sounds like you have some personal experience with feeling separated from your home country/culture. Care to share?
I know people who have lived abroad for a few years and returned--they weren't fundamentally changed or different, same person new life experiences is all.
"Singapore society is highly regulated through the criminalization of many activities which are considered as fairly harmless in other countries. These include failing to flush toilets after use, littering, jaywalking, the possession of pornography, and the sale of chewing gum."
"Singapore has one of the highest execution rates in the world relative to its population, surpassing Saudi Arabia."
I don't mind the "severe" punishments that come down on those that do things like litter, because I don't litter — all in all it doesn't change my behavior for the worse, and only improves the quality of life.
And jaywalking is illegal in the US too.
I'd love to answer any questions about Singapore, if you want to ask them privately (I lived there for several years): email@example.com
Depends on where you are. Most cities and college towns in the US don't care where you cross the road so long as you're not doing it recklessly, and places where laws are enforced generally have nothing more than extremely small fines.
I'd rather not live in a society that restricts human liberties to the point of making citizens robotic. Yeah, the US has its share of problems, but chewing gum and porn aren't among them.
I'm sure that is not the typical experience of most people, but I thought it an interesting anecdote after seeing the parents post...
I simply don't believe your friend's dad was telling the truth. There are plenty of bad cops in the US, but drawing a gun on someone because they were jaywalking? I call bullshit.
People just have to be smart when jaywalking. Like everything else.
The officer drew his weapon because he did not know how dangerous a situation he would be in with the motorcyclist and he was in a tactically weak position by having to pivot around to face the person he was stopping. He never pointed the gun at the motorcyclist and quickly reholstered it after assessing the situation was non-threatening. And as you can see in the full video, the traffic stop was totally warranted, the idiot on the motorcycle was a danger to himself and everyone else on the road:
There are plenty of bad cops out there caught on video doing horrendous things, but I don't get why anyone would use this as an example of bad police behavior -- the cop in this video was totally reasonable and professional.
However, how was the rider a threat to anyone by that point? He couldn't run the officer down like you could with a car (he would just end up on the ground). He was boxed in.
I would also challenge the notion that the rider is an 'idiot' and a danger to himself or others. Of the 3m39s long video, there's only about 10 seconds (starting at about 0:35) where he accelerates significantly faster than the surrounding cars, and that was clearly to get around a group of cars/transport trucks. Otherwise, he was going just slightly faster than the general flow of traffic. Both of these tactics are basically inline with conventional motorcycle safety recommendations: http://www.sportrider.com/ride/146_9508_motorcycle_riding_ti...
Also, it appears that the officer is hiding his gun when the marked cop car pulls up behind them. I think it's worth pointing out that they charged the rider with wire tapping (which the judge ultimately threw out) and raided his house after discovering the video had been posted on YouTube. It's hard not to interpret these actions as embarrassment on the part of the police. Why would they object to the video being posted if he was completely justified?
The video wouldn't be approaching a million views on YouTube if most people agreed that his actions were as reasonable and mundane as you imply. He didn't show his badge or even identify himself as a police officer until after charging at the guy with gun in hand. That doesn't strike me as 'professional'.
If he dumps on that wheelie, you're looking at a multiple vehicle pileup involving a motorcycle, a tractor trailer, a bus, and other cars. It is virtually a given that people(including but not limited to the motorcyclist) will die.
The motorcyclist in this video is a total prick and if you don't see any of the many things he did wrong (both in the sense of being illegal and just plain dangerous/stupid) in that video you must not be paying attention.
Granted it's not recommended, but the likelihood of an experienced rider going down from a short, low wheelie like that is quite low. Saying that it is likely to lead to a pile-up and multiple deaths is hyperbole hardly worth addressing. Pile-ups almost always involve inclement weather.
Anyway, it's no more dangerous than the countless drivers I see chatting on their cell phones, disciplining their children in the back, eating lunch, etc. -- activities that probably the majority of drivers engage in at some point.
But the only positive that's trumpeted about singapore is that their streets are clean and their city beautiful. This is good for the tourist, but not necessarily a place you want to move to.
The same special described the general idea behind the chewing gum and jaywalking laws -- it is to whip citizens into the proper shape and to force them to behave decently. An extreme variation of the broken window theory if you will. And to top it off, there might be a government, but there is the father of the nation who, the man who developed the very idea of Singapore. He is in his 70s (?) and it is not clear how things will develop with his passing.
Any Singaporeans here care to comment on NG's take on Singapore? Curious to know how off it is.
I'm not sure I can digest that outright. Can you elaborate?
Various publications that have been critical of the political environment have been dragged into court to deal with Singapore's not-so-friendly libel laws.
The LGBT situation is culturally more acceptable than it was, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
NB: I am a liberal Brit who lives and works in Singapore (nearly 5 years now)
If a person wants to distribute recordings of consenting adults having sex to those that want to see it, I see no point in criminalizing them for doing so. It's infringing on a basic human right and I don't understand how anyone could possibly be in support of such a frivolous law.
Because porn is Bad and the law exists to stop Bad things from happening.
"I don't mind if the state thinks I did X because I don't X."
There is a crucial difference between these two things and it's why any sane nation avoids applying draconian punishments for mundane offenses. Basically, the state realizes it could be wrong and hedges its bets. The Singapore state doesn't consider that, and it should give anyone living there or planning to go pause. Even if you don't care for the guilty, remember that no judicial system will always convict only the guilty.
my only grouse is the suppressed political scene, and i am glad that even that is being lifted in a slow but steady manner. and trust me, 90% of my friends have criticized the government in a very public manner on facebook/twitter. last i checked, they are still running around town and still complaining.
do not believe 90% of what you hear about singapore - it is actually a very open and welcoming place, quirky punishments not withstanding.
Then one day while I was walking down Orchard road I saw a long line of people quieing on the street to get in...Sweansens (a chain crappy ice-cream store).
That's when I decided Singapore was lost.
What scares me the is most is that all the rest of South East Asia aspires to become a big Singapore.
Human beings are not supposed to live like that.
I've seen such signs at cheap chain restaurants in Japan. (I'm not attempting to generalize here, just relating an experience) The clear message was that high schoolers would come and buy the $3 all-you-can-drink soda package and sit and study and chat all day. Hence, no studying. Seems reasonable enough. Many places don't have that rule though, and there you can see many people studying all day.
Did you live in Singapore or just stopover?
> It is just that it is the cheapest western food restaurant the young can afford in Orchard Rd
Ok, I see. Anyway, it was a very long queue, at least 100 people. I know, I probably sound too judgemental, but it looked a bit too much to me.
I was there for a few days, I have lived in Asia a lot and in many places (Bangkok right now).
Then one day I saw a long line of people on the street to get in... an Apple store.
That's when I decided San Francisco was lost.
Imagine people queuing to get in McDondalds in your city.
Dou feel it now? That's what I felt.
There's sick marketing and commercial brain-washing, if you call it that, going on all over the world.
There are literally dozens of other gyro carts scattered about the vicinity, some with much better food, yet that cart consistently has a huge line.
It is one of my favorite cities on the planet.
I took a sabbatical in 2000/2001 for six months and backpacked through asia - I spent 2 months in singapore then as well.
The laws and strictness of the place is greatly exaggerated from my perspective -- if your not doing crazy stuff, you have nothing to worry about.
The city is AMAZING -- and is the FUTURE of cities; they have taken massive infrastructure projects to prepare for more than doubling their population by 2020 - and they build massive underground connective malls and walking causeways.
The city has an incredibly high density of plant life (trees and greenery) and it makes an impact when you visit. Many of the buildings have a large setback from roads where they have trees and grass and planters between the buildings and roads. This is really a wonderful civil engineering trait of the place and makes the city much more beautiful than dense urban dirty environments we see in american cities.
In my opinion, if you ever watch much anime -- Singapore is the city that will most closely resemble that which you see in anime.
I love Singapore - the only thing I dont like is how freaking hot/humid it can get.... and the cost of living.
I was really worried when I visited Singapore and took their 'tourist' tour. They put you in a bus, drive you around all jetlagged and give you orange juice on the beach. Completely surreal.
What really put me off was their unconditional love for their government. The woman 'tour guide' in the bus just couldn't stop thanking the government for giving them so much. It was unhealthy. Yet they don't own anything and they live in towers. Sure it was really pretty but it freaked me out a little. I felt a deep communism in this pro-capitalist ex-colony.
I'm no die hard capitalist but I prefer the australian way of owning my own life and freely talking crap of the government.
The only form of speech that enjoys some protection is political speech. So whilst Australian's can freely talk crap about the government, Australia is far from a beacon of free speech.
I come from New Zealand, and although there's a lot of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, I nevertheless consider Australia to be a second home -- even though I've only been there twice.
What is enshrined in law, however, is that certain types of speech are a criminal offence. Further, there is no constitutional impediment to Parliament passing legislation which criminalises other forms of speech.
I'm no trespasser and trouble maker, but I can tell you that anybody is free to do whatever they intend to in Australia, so as long as it doesn't impair other people doing so. In other words, you're as free as you can be without causing damage to others. I'm not sure what you're referring to though.
On my way home I saw dudes roller-blading half naked in the city. I call that freedom. Do you have examples?
The statement "anybody is free to do whatever they intend to in Australia, so as long as it doesn't impair other people doing so" is as absurd as it is false.
There are reams of legislation to prevent you from doing everything from arriving unlawfully by boat, to lying about your income, to using a wire carriage service to cause offence.
As to speech, here is a simplistic example: Let's say I walk into Federation Square and say to you "Go and burn down the Parliament, you useless white cunt!" Depending on who takes offence to my comments I can be:
a) Issued an on the spot fine for AUD$238.50 for using language likely to cause offence in a public place.
b) Prosecuted for racial vilification.
c) Prosecuted for sedition.
The fact that all but a) are highly unlikely does nothing to progress the case that "anybody is free to do whatever they intend to in Australia".
In the comment to which you replied I'm merely countering the claim that "anybody is free to do whatever they intend to in Australia, so as long as it doesn't impair other people doing so", with respect to speech.
Mind you, I did admit the example was simplistic, but it captured the essence of the three most contentious classes of prohibited speech without verbosity.
The only claims I have made with respect to free speech are that:
a) Australians have no constitutional right to free speech.
b) There are laws that criminalise certain kinds of speech.
c) There is no constitutional impediment to the creation of new laws which criminalise other forms of speech.
d) Political speech enjoys some protection.
If free speech only covers things that others might find acceptable, then it is completely meaningless.
And talking about free speech: Have a look at the Internet censorship laws in Australia!
Gender equality is not rooted in Western culture. It sucked being a woman equally in Glasgow, Shanghai & Algiers. Gender equality was spread with difficulty and imperfectly over a decade in throughout liberal democracies and communist countries. It skipped the third world, but gender equality is no more part of Spanish culture then it is Qatari.
Same for "western" democracy, western medicine and a big chuck of western values.
It wasn't cool to criticize kings or dictators anywhere at some point.
This wasn't always the case, but that doesn't disqualify the current situation.
Most of those things did not happen elsewhere. Hence my comment above.
I am by no means an expert on the politics there at all, but if one thinks that the us political system is not more corrupt at the highest levels then is simply delusional -- yet life is good for most of us in the US.
I think that one can create a bit of there reality and are not 100% subjected to the douchebaggery of their government, same goes for singapore -- just dont make the cardinal mistake (which applies equally globally) of being poor.
I've never even been to Singapore, but I know some people that used to work there. They loved it so much that they put lots of energy and time into getting back.
I don't know what Singapore do right, but I have never heard anyone be so enthusiastic by some place they didn't grow up(/study).
Visit sometime with an open mind.
Capital punishment is meted out to persons who possess or have reasonable knowledge of someone who possesses or deals in drugs. Do I agree with it? No. But it's very far from your claim. There is due process of law.
>>All members of Jehovas Witnesses were imprisioned in 2004.
The reason for this is because Singapore has a conscripted army. All male citizens are required to spend 2+ years of their lives in service of their country. They are liable to be called up for service any time up till they are 40, or 50 in the case of officers. Jehovah's Witnesses renounce bearing arms and thus their religion is in direct conflict with statute. They are not "imprisoned" in the sense of "rehabilitation" or "punishment". They are confined, so yes there are restrictions on their movement, and are given duties such as gardening, cooking etc. They are free men after they have performed the equivalent length of time as a regular citizen in the armed forces.
Can you elaborate?
I found most of the Singaporean staff I met
a) thought I was slightly crazy
b) either loved me, or hated me
for the same reason: I didn't slavishly adhere to rules, particularly when it came to giving customers what they wanted. If the entire (US founded) company had that idea the company wouldn't exist at all: particularly when you're a small company competing with giants, flexibility is required to win business. Singapore suffers from the India problem: they're technically talented, but the adherence to authority means they don't produce many innovative companies.
Start-ups rely on the willingness of founders and investors to be bold, break the rules, and act without concern for what others may think. This, in turn, requires a society which embraces disorder, spontaneity and a certain degree of rebelliousness.
It's not an accident that the two countries with the most robust start-up scenes are the US and Israel, both characterised by messy and sometimes annoying individualism, robust debate, and intellectual ferment.
It's hard to be believe that a nation like Singapore, whose citizens happily trade off freedom of speech for trivialities like clean streets and the "freedom" of people not to be offended will be capable of producing the kind of rough-and-tumble Darwinian business environment and culture in which start-ups flourish.
An aside: my read of the Indian national character is that is much closer to that of the Americans than that of the Singaporese: individualistic, pluralistic, and tolerant of disorder and creativity. These is, of course, much to still be achieved in India, but I think the vector is pointed in the right direction.
Of course, "benevolent dictatorship" is not a form of government; it's just a dictatorship that happens to be benevolent right now, but I have a feeling the honor/shame-based values of a Confucian society may have an advantage as far as their ability to produce benevolent rulers.
here in california I'm a criminal for having a gps on my wind shield. but as long as I'm not a minority/pissing an officer/disturbing the status quo/etc, I'm fine.
"to my friends everything.to my enemies, the law."
http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d12/vc26708.htm section 12
also, what if it have back up camera or radar detection? both features pretty common but outlawed.
as I said, you only have to worry with petty laws if you are not rich.
There is amazing hawker (street) food everywhere and, thanks for strict enforcement of health regulations, it's pretty cheap too. At least it was. It's been a few years since I was there.
I kinda view Singapore as the Zurich of Asia. Zurich (and Switzerland in general) is very regulated (although Singapore more than Zurich; there are no rules against chewing gum in Zurich). Both cities are clean, almost sterile, safe and they basically work (public transport and other infrastructure).
Some people chafe against what they feel is an intrusion. You see those same opinions about New York where I now live. Some feel that NYC has lost a lot of the "grit" or "character" that it once had (back when, you know, muggings were common). One wonders at the psychology of danger and character going hand in hand.
For those who think Singapore is overly-regulated, which it is, you have to remember that English-speaking countries are pretty much an outlier. In continental Europe there are rules about everything, from how to throw out the trash to have to register with the government every time you move and what kinds of window treatments you're allowed to use.
When I worked in Zurich a colleague once described it succinctly: in England (and, by extension, the US, Canada and Australia) you can do whatever you want except for those things that are banned. On the mainland (of Europe) you can't do anything unless it's specifically allowed.
While not true in the strictest sense, that delineation that is tantamount to blacklisting vs whitelisting does, at least in my experience, embody a lot of the cultural differences between English speaking and non English speaking developed nations.
That guy's wife is Finnish and she found it unnerving in England. She wanted that structure of essentially being told what to do and how to do it (within limits).
The only thing I don't really like about Singapore (apart from the weather)--and this is probably true of most Asian countries--is the importance of face time at work. You're expected to be at work a lot even if you're not doing anything. That whole "appearance of work" thing and regimented approach to work in general (ie being very much concerned with the process rather than the results) is something that I've always chafed against.
Switzerland makes it very difficult to become a citizen unless you're born to at least one Swiss parent or you marry a Swiss citizen (there are people whose families have been living in Switzerland since the 20s who can't become citizens).
There are a large contingent of workers who work in Switzerland every day but don't live there (and, in fact, aren't allowed to even if they wanted to and could afford it), particular in Geneva.
It's also one of the most expensive countries on Earth.
So, I wouldn't say the low crime rates are so much a question of effective social policy but rather of being both wealthy and exclusionary.
Yes, laws are different between the two and certainly there are cultural differences too. Zurich is very definitely (mainland) European. Singapore is quite definitely Asian.
There are severe penalties on drug trafficking because it's a big problem, with proximity to the Golden Triangle and so on. Singapore is also surrounded by Indonesia and Malaysia, places where the illicit trades have far more freedom of movement. Singapore, with some justification, seeks to avoid being a conduit or waypoint or (even worse) a destination for the drug trade.
The no smoking in public thing I consider a huge plus. The chewing gum thing is a bit weird. I think it has something to do with vandalism.
As for Zurich being strict, I imagine you don't view them that way because you're accustomed to them. Throwing out trash is a classic example. First you have to buy Zurisache (sp?) for like 2 CHF each. Throwing them out in anything else can get you fined.
Then you have to separate your trash into three different types of glass (white, brown, green), other recyclables and non-recyclables. Where you see trash cans in public there are like 6-7 different cans for the different categories of trash.
Newspapers and possibly other forms of paper (I forget) had to be thrown out on different days to regular trash. Those had to be tied with string in a neat bundle.
All of the above is enforced by the Mutzpolizei (literally "trash police").
The anmelden/abmelden (registration) system, which is the norm on mainland Europe, is extremely weird--even invasive--to most people from English speaking countries.
In Switzerland, depending on what Canton you live in, you can't make excessive noise after 10pm or before 7am (which I actually appreciate). In Zurich in some buildings this extended to regulations in certain apartments prohibiting men from urinating while standing up at those times (due to thin walls; this was deemed "excessive noise").
Some cantons also prohibited "excessive noise" or work on Sundays (for the entire day).
IIRC there were given days where you were and weren't allowed to move house.
Switzerland has its fair share of regulation is all I'm saying.
Depends on the Kanton.
>Then you have to separate your trash into three different types of glass (white, brown, green), other recyclables and non-recyclables.
Depends on the Kanton and possibly even the city. When I first came here we just had one sack for everything and didn't have to buy the bags.
It has changed now, but we have this in the US too. Sure, if you live out in the sticks you can pile your trash as high as the trees or even burn if it you like. There are a lot of places where you have to buy trash bags, etc. and how tidy you have to keep your property depends on zoning. I knew a guy who got fined because he didn't mow his lawn enough.
>The anmelden/abmelden (registration) system, which is the norm on mainland Europe, is extremely weird
It's not weird. It's an upfront and efficient version of what we have in the US. In the US most people don't know their location is tracked when the file returns. Most people probably don't know that the government can look in their bank account either.
>Some cantons also prohibited "excessive noise" or work on Sundays (for the entire day).
The interesting thing about Switzerland is that much of the law is actually voted on by the people. These noise laws are there because the people wished it so. We have noise laws in the US as well in certain places but not because a majority of the people effected voted for them.
There was one incident when the entire MRT (subway) was delayed for a few hours because the doors jammed and wouldn't shut. Turned out to be a piece of gum stuck on the door.
Well, the US keeps track of where you are based on tax returns. The difference is that in Switzerland I'm somewhere on a map and if I move I show up in a new place on the map the day I move there. In the US I'll still be where I was until tax returns come in, at which point everyone's location is updated. It's like a population status screen where Switzerland has a real-time refresh rate and the US has up to 1 year lag time.
>and, by extension, the US
No, not by extension the US. He probably mentioned this specifically because he saw you were American. Brits take particular delight in telling us yanks about how they don't have any constitution that outlines what their rights are.
>differences between English speaking and non English speaking developed nations.
Again, these are some pretty broad strokes. A Swiss friend of mine pointed out the difference between Germany and Switzerland is that for Germany the people are there to serve the government, while in Switzerland it is the other way around (and that's a broad statement of itself, but there are fundamental difference between the two. See tax rates). So the demarcation is not English/non-English.
>is the importance of face time at work.
I have yet to find a place where this wasn't the case. Perhaps it's more extreme in Asia but every place I've ever been has it. Personally I think "face time" is more about tradition than culture. The internet has created new ways of providing value and not everyone has caught up yet.
BTW, Isaiah Berlin's concepts of liberty featured quite strongly in the Adam Curtis documentary series The Trap:
I like Vietnam for similar reasons. It can be edgy but not really dangerous.
Singapore is a dangerous country.
I just moved to London from Singapore and I don't understand why westerners put up with such high levels of crime. Its awesome to be able to ride the train at night and walk through any park or dark street anywhere in a major city at 1am and feel completely 100% safe.
Westerners distrust government because government sucks in the West. They tax you at high rates and give you long lines and crappy service. In Singapore government works. It produces jobs, every government form is online and the rules are ALL practical and actually make sense (unlike the west). Policemen are polite and courteous. My Singaporian wife paid 5% in taxes last year btw.
And above all its safe to go for a run at night!
...unless it turns out to be illegal to go for a run at night, in which case it's terribly unsafe, and there's no way for a person from a "legal to run at night" country to know without checking.
Now, you might say, "Well, that's ridiculous; there's no reason why it would be illegal to run at night," but I think I can come up with at least as good reasons for making that illegal as for banning chewing gum. Making things illegal when there is no obvious reason for them to be illegal creates uncertainty and doubt; mixing in life-altering punishments provides fear, as well.
It's cheaper to fine the blood out of people for not flushing public toilets than to pay staff to check in every thirty minutes, and the reduction in costs (and maybe other things) means that Singapore has awesome public toilets.
Point being, what you say about safety is true, but I don't think much of the credit belongs to Singapore's government and legal system. Perhaps rather to a culture with a stronger sense of civic responsibility. I don't agree that you can't have both security and freedom and think any proposal to trade one for the other is foolish.
This is the opposite of a sense of civic responsibility, and roughly translates as Chinese people don't trust each other to behave without strict police.
(I wish we could accept the same about my own country)
Turn out I was wrong about flushing the toilet! Good gracious...anyway I have never seen people get caught in Singapore for that neither seen signs saying it's against the law to do that. I have lived in Singapore for more than 30 years and have seen countless of unflushed toilets in "coffeeshops". As I have stated earlier, even if it's against the law it's not easily enforceable. Anyway if you want to go down to nitty gritty legal details, I have to nothing to say. Go to Singapore yourself and see it for yourself.
In Singapore, you can die for possessing a key to a residence with drugs inside. In fact, if convicted, the law is that you must die. So I will not go see for myself, thanks.
But then I do agree with the possibilities of a wrongful conviction. I am not a proponent of the death penalty myself but neither do I disagree with it at the same time. What I hope to do is to clear the exaggerated misinformation people have about Singapore.
Reading that just makes me smile. Well done.
So many people say they want to do exactly that. So few do it.
Of the people who don't do it, so many regret not having done it. Of the people who have, I've never met a single one who regretted it.
I hope your story serves as inspiration for somebody here to pack that little carry-on and book himself a one-way flight.
These are some issues that Singaporeans face:
1) Rising cost of living through inflation.
2) Expensive housing.
3) Lack of financial liquidity. Singaporeans are asset-rich but cash-poor.
4) Apathy amongst the populace about social issues, legal and political process although this is changing, albeit slowly.
5) An extremely ingrained and fearful sense of failure. If it's not been done before, the default answer is "No".
Some good things going for it:
1) Public infrastructure is generally good but facing challenges from an increasing migrant population.
2) Personal safety. Women can walk home alone at night and not be assaulted.
3) Racial harmony. You don't read about hate crimes, skinheads etc. Some forms of implicit racial profiling and discrimination exists, but they are not widespread. i.e. there are always assholes of any color.
4) Low personal income tax.
-streets are not as clean as expected, especially compared to Tokyo, which is a much larger city. I lived in Chinatown in the People's Park Complex with 6 mainland Chinese (I'm American), which was an interesting experience.
-the expat community is dominated by the finance community, which can tend to limit the crowds you will run with if you're not in with the locals. I tried to befriend the locals, with limited success.
-it doesn't feel like the police state it's made out to be, don't worry about being arrested for chewing gum (I saw some T-shirts with a "Legalize It" theme referring to gum).
Overall, Singapore seemed sterile to me. That was part my reason for quitting my job and moving back to Tokyo in April. I like Singapore, but not my cup of tea. Maybe that's just because I'm a huge fan of Japan.
One warning: since it seems you plan to majority-own some local startups I hope you have an excellent accountant to help you with Uncle Sam. (yep, Americans living overseas still have to file with the IRS. whole mess of complicated forms. can even end up having to pay tax on undistributed corporate profits if you're not careful ...)
I have a friend who lived in Singapore for many years. The biggest "cost" for her in living there was that it is not fully subscribed to the principals of the Enlightenment.
I know this is like saying, "Yes your new girlfriend is cute and smart, but you should know she's also occasionally batshit crazy." You won't believe me and you'll be more inclined to shoot the messenger, but I thought you should know.
Edit: Hmm ... "This has led to complaints of the possibility of fraud and identity theft. Therefore, now when NRIC numbers are publicly displayed, only the last three digits and the letters are displayed." -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Registration_Identity_...
But yeah, probably an unlikely enough event to not worry about it.
* Low regulation
* Low company tax
* No income tax paid on dividends
* No capital gains
It's also a market capital for Asia. Singapore and Hong Kong are the New York and London of the Asia-Pacific region. Very deep pools of capital.
Plus it's 3.5 hours from my home town and about 5 hours from where my parents live.
This favors a trend I've noticed. White men moving to Asia or marrying/dating Asian women. It seems like half or more of the engineers I work with are married to Asian women, which is how I noticed this (I am also). It's an interesting trend. It's increasingly harder to find a white woman who will marry and have kids, let alone even talk to a man with geeky characteristics. Combine that with the lack of white women in science and engineering degrees...
But what happens if you're a young traveler living in Chiang Mai, teaching English, and you meet a local girl who works as a bank teller. You fall in love, meet her parents, marry and eventually move back to your country with her. How do you signal to the world that yours is in fact a legitimate relationship?
The short answer is: you can't. There's a stigma, deserved or undeserved. It's something you learn to live with, because you know that nomatter how clearly you explain your position, you'll still end up fielding uncomfortable questions like the one asked by the parent.
If you were to judge Asian women purely on looks, they might feel like they belong to a different class, but more often than not, they are using the 'white' guy to escape the grinding nature of their poverty and a pretty cruel life back in their hometown.
For folks with a western upbrinding, they also seem to like the calm, obedient, slightly docile nature of asian women - though i believe education and other opportunities are making them more outspoken and discerning than before.
If you find yourself dating someone - and sense stigma from friends, relatives etc ignore them initially till they get used to your partner/gf/bf etc. As time goes by, folks come around. It's really difficult to hold a grudge or stigma for a long period of time.
I don't think you know enough Asian women.
One thing to note though, you should remove your Identity Card No. from your blog post. They can be used illegally and is best kept private.
Have dropped you a mail, let's meet up sometime!
Most Singaporeans live in government-owned housing blocks. The distribution of the races within each housing block is roughly the same as in Singapore as a whole. Within these blocks, you are only allowed to sell your apartment to another person of the same race as yourself.
Officially this is to promote "racial harmony." That's probably true. Unofficially, it seems clear that it's also a form of gerrymandering: the government assumes that the Chinese majority will always support the ruling party, and this system stops any district from gaining a Malay majority.
I've also been told that your second language in school (which is taught in English, a neutral language) is determined by your race: Mandarin for Chinese, Malay for Malaysians, and Tamil (!) for Indians.
I really love Singapore -- been there several times as a visitor, studied its governance, society (and its food stalls...) but I would be seriously pissed off if I were told that I had to do certain things because of my race.
Remember though that Singapore is bilingual, so the "second language" will be the primary language spoken at home (although some Chinese may speak Hokkien or another dialect instead, and many families speak mainly English).
Roughly around 60% of Indians in Singapore are Tamil (mostly from Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka), so that could be one reason the government chose Tamil as the "second language" of Singaporean Indians.
There are several Java applets around that demonstrate the model.
probably makes for different categories, with different definitions, from the definitions used in the United States, which fortunately does NOT put "race" on national identity cards.) Categorization by race on national identity cards is a matter of considerable concern to human rights scholars who have looked at real-world examples of that practice.
The long answer about how ridiculous "race" is as a descriptive category can be found here:
But even after living here 4 years it still strikes me as strange.
I would suppose that's a pretty herculean task unless you already know several fluently and spend a considerable amount of time daily studying and practicing.
Despite having grown up in an English environment and having spent most my adult life in Taiwan, communication isn't necessarily that smooth. It's like they just grab words, grammatical particles, and sentence structures willy-nilly from whatever language they feel like, including Malay. It's not just an issue of "Singlish". Even adjusting to standard Mandarin in China is a bit of work for the Singaporean interns I've met in Beijing. As a casual learner of Cantonese and Taiwanese, it's fun crowd to hang out with, though!
More generally, is there some resource for comparing costs of living of various places?
(Congrats on becoming a Singapore citizen btw!)
Too bad the main discussion here has turned out to be a low-quality back-and-forth about the political system and macroeconomic factors, just like the Indian reverse braindrain thread last week (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2601240)
I can work from anywhere and I'm currently single, so I'm traveling the world and living in different places (currently Buenos Aires), but a partner would make this much harder as they are usually not as flexible.
Startup idea: Have a dating site for location-independent individuals, I'll be your first customer :).
A very focus country on being the most successful country in SEA and it's built on the vision of one man, LKY. However I do fear the day LKY pass and the government is lost.
I was in Vietnam last year for a longer trip (worked remotely for a client in Germany). I found the internet to be working extremely well in Saigon, so it might just be your region.
For two weeks I worked off Phu Quoc Island. A few times, we had power outage on the island, yet I was able to go online through my 3g connection. Pretty amazing change compared to the last time I visited he country four years back to visit my grand family.
(1) - the air
(2) - Cantonese
I've already been studying Mandarin slowly for a couple years, and though I've heard I could have "gotten by" with English and Mandarin, I really wanted to just focus on Mandarin + simplified Chinese.
But mostly it was the air. :-)
Singapore is a good choice though. I've also considered it. Some may complain about the hot/humid tropical climate all year round but I like that. It's also the most racially diverse country I've visited. Given your wife is Indian she will have an easier time settling in there than in HK where it's predominantly Chinese but with a huge expat crowd on the island side. Cantonese is not necessary here, you could get by without a single word really as most people speak English and Mandarin here. There is probably more chance of getting some Mandarin practice in too than in SG where they speak a variety of Chinese dialects.
I lived in HK for 10 years and will go there every other month. I love HK. But it's not for everyone. People there say you work in HK you don't live there. And that's all you do, work, work, work and then take a break to do some other work.
After 10 years of 18 hour days 7 days a week, I moved to Thailand and for the last 12 years. I live 50km from the Laos border in the city of Udon Thani. I see trees and the occasional elephant from my room.
I live here and then run my business from other countries like Hong Kong and Singapore.
I like Singapore. Unlike Hong Kong they actually welcome people to migrate there. I will move all my operations there over the next year or so and get residency and then split my time between Singapore, Thailand and Laos.
BTW, Cantonese is a far more more interesting language than Mandarin. Mandarin is a second language for a large percentage of mainland Chinese. But it's good to learn for business. And in my humble opinion, simplified Chinese is an ugly hack from a committee that has stripped most of the beauty and meaning from the language. If you learn traditional first, simplified is easy to pick up and you'll understand the context and meaning behind the characters. Compare the simplified and complex characters 'country'. The traditional character tells a story, a country is a place with a border, which is defended with weapons and words. The simplified charger is literally, jade in a box. Yuck.
Yes, Jehova's Witnesses shouldn't be jailed and talk about Islam shouldn't be regulated by the state. But then the state also shouldn't strangle and paralyze up and coming non-aggressive mutually beneficial peaceful productive businesses. So to any entrepreneur or business guy who personally doesn't care about Jehovas Witnesses and Islam, which places do you think represent the greener pasture?
Here's a case of a man who was arrested for daring to write a book which criticised the use of the death penalty in Singapore: http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2010/07/singapore-alan-shad.... I doubt he thinks the trade-off you propose for these (putative) "different kinds of freedom" is a good one.
Also: what you refer to as "freedom from" liberties seemed to inevitably involve infringing another's "freedom to". As such, it seems improper to term them "freedom".
The fact that some prefer a happy face dictatorship to a system which affords a large measure of actual liberty seems to me a very sad commentary on the human condition.
Edited: I can't seen to reply the comment below, so adding the reply here. One of the things my country takes very seriously is both the perception and actual oppression of minorities. In this case, we want ethnic minorities to have the freedom from majority oppression. As an example, there are measures that are put in place that prevents some of our freedom to say certain stuff about the religion Islam in a certain way. To say the rules are like a cudgel instead of a scapel would be right but as a citizen I can see where my government is coming from.
Like the comment below said, generally yes to freedom to instead of freedom from. What is considered not a general case in Singapore differs; that does not make us wrong. Neither does it mean our system is right and perfect. What it does mean is my country is learning and hopefully maturing.
Read "Brave New World" and see if any of the things depicted there ring a bell.
Generally, yes, it is.
On the flip side, if you stay long enough and pay more attention to what goes on around you, I hope you will realize under the facade of shining steel and glaas, our society is also very dysfunctional.
Of course, there are valid critiques of Singaporean society in the comments but for the average person these draconian laws might be minor trade offs for a safer, cleaner urban life.
Singapore is 3 hours from India
You must visit way more often - you now have no excuse not to.
And then there's the whole gun issue.
(No, this doesn't make Singapore any "better", I'm just saying that the US isn't exactly dystopian just because it doesn't have legal hookers)
It's ace. I'm loving it.
you should totally blur your national ID number, though
and I had no idea they do the old 'race on national ID' thing
This sounds counter to your goal "to remove the separations of “us” and “them”."
btw, is your office on Beach rd? ours is too (Shaw Tower), hope to run into you around the area.
Try restaurant andre.
Why should I care about this? Was bitcoin in the headline earlier?