Singapore – home or hotel?

It always fascinates me to read what foreign media or travellers write about Singapore. I read of glitzy, sparkling Singapore – great parties, crazy clean and safe streets, quality food, good-looking models and celebrities flocking here to party, unwind and network. Kim Jong Un’s (the present North Korean dictator) brother was spotted clubbing in Pangaea, Ku De Ta (aiya, one of those MBS clubs lah), Charlie Yeung got married here in W Hotel at Sentosa recently and even Zimbabwe’s president (or dictator?), Mugabe comes here for health check-ups! Check out how the some foreigners see us in these two websites: (Singapore was ranked #7 as this blogger’s favourite places in the world) and

Yes, little Singapore is a haven – no paparazzi, safe streets, quality entertainment, fantastic private healthcare and great food – but for whom?

On one hand, I am thankful for Singapore’s safety, access to quality education and strict enforcement of laws which seem to be a rare commodity in most countries. Really, I truly am. It is such a privilege to be living in a place where I have the freedom to do things without fear and certainty that what I pursue here in Singapore is of international standards. On the other, I feel indignant that Singapore has been treated as a pleasurable “hotel” by many foreigners when some Singaporeans see this as a home, and desire to make it more warm and wholesome. It is like a guest coming to your house to enjoy its warmth and wholesomeness, and your parents treat them as family but do not expect as much from them as they expect from you – the child. These guests contribute monetarily to the family but they are spared the more complex job of making a house a home which includes building familial bonds and developing the “I-will-be-there-when-things-go-wrong”-kind of dedication.

Recently, I discovered that Singapore is one of the more expensive cities to live in after doing some research for work. Even Japan, the famously pricey city (at least it was when I was younger!) has cheaper accommodation and food than Singapore! I was flabbergasted.

Singapore is a great place to study and work….But to retire, I wonder… Will it be?

I wish more people can see that what makes Singapore “Singapore” are our memories, Singaporeans’ compassion, our favourite playgrounds, the sounds of coffeeshops and wet markets… Check out Bertha Henson’s post, “I am in Singapore” – Would the foreign guests of Singapore ever know this part of Singapore?