Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Myths about Singapore

It's nearly obligatory to write this post, to dispel some myths about Singapore, just so that people wouldn't think Singapore is a place in China where you get caned for chewing gum. If you hold such beliefs, do yourself a favour by reading this post.

1) Myth #1: Singapore is a city in China
Even though the majority ethnic group in Singapore is Chinese, that doesn't make Singapore part of China. Don't believe me? Check out Google Maps. Just because Singapore is a small red dot on the map doesn't make it part of another country.

2) Myth #2: Singaporeans don't speak English/Mandarin 
Largely false. 
When I speak to people who have English as their dominant language, they say, "Oh wow, you can speak English very well!" Then I speak to Chinese, and they tell me, "你能说华语阿!" Days like this, I really wonder what language they think Singaporeans speak.

Why I say this is largely false, but has some element of truth in it, is because some of the older generation don't speak English. Also, as Singapore has four major racial groups, schools provide for lessons in our mother tongue, besides using English language as a common medium to teach subjects like Mathematics and Science. Even so, no matter which racial group we belong to, we are all Singaporeans and enjoy racial harmony.There is also an increasing trend for people from different races to learn the language of another race.

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew recently published a book on bilingualism and he has kickstarted a fund to promote bilingualism in education.

(photo credit: Singapore Press Holdings)

If it is anything to count for, most of us are fluent in Singlish, which honestly doesn't really count as a language although it's probably something we identify with. Hone your "lah" and "lor" and you may be able to pass off as a Singaporean.

3) Myth #3: You can't chew gum in Singapore
"Oh you are from Singapore? Aren't you sad you can't chew gum?" Those horrified faces make me horrified too. Anyway, I don't get what the big deal is about not being able to chew gum. I'd love to curse and swear everytime I step on a piece of gum on the road in other countries.

Personal bias aside, the truth is, you can chew gum in Singapore and you'll not be shot for doing so. The ban is on the import and sale of chewing gum although certain therapeutic gum is allowed for sale at pharmacies, pursuant to the US-Singapore FTA.

(photocredit: Law is Greek)

4) Myth #4: You get hanged or caned for everything 
Largely false.
Well, the truth is that you wouldn't get hanged or caned for littering or jaywalking or failing to flush toilet bowls. But you may get fined. And no, you don't even get punished for chewing gum, unless you decide to be a jerk and litter.

As for caning, one may get it for offences including robbery, hostage-taking, vandalism etc. Michael Fay has experienced caning in Singapore. You may think it's ridiculous to get caned for vandalism but you have to that Singapore prides itself on being clean and green and also to prevent public property from being destroyed. Scoff at me for being so narrow-minded, but with many other outlets for your artistic expression, vandalism shouldn't count as one of them.

The mandatory death penalty is imposed for very serious crimes, including murder, offences involving firearms and drug trafficking. (Please look up Singapore's laws if you are interested in the exact circumstances (e.g. amount of drugs to be imported) where the penalty is imposed.)

(photo credit: Taken off singapore2025.wordpress.com)

Well, if this tells you anything at all, DON'T COMMIT CRIMES.

5) Myth #5: Singapore Fried Noodles originate from Singapore
I was so amused when I came across this on the web because this is the first time I read about somebody pointing it out and yes, it's..
UNVERIFIED, although probably FALSE. 

(photo credit: Yummy Mummy)

I seriously have no idea why this dish features so prominently in Western countries. The irony is that this dish doesn't even seem to have originated from Singapore. We have fried beehoon (vermicelli) but we don't have curry powder added to it.

Hopefully, this post cleared some doubts about Singapore- remember, tell your friends, they don't get caned for chewing gum in Singapore! 


I have a student from Singapore this semester, which is what got me curious about it. So I googled exactly where Singapore is (I'll admit I didn't know exactly, but I did know it wasn't in China!). Thank you for this interesting post dispelling stereotypes.

hope you will be able to find out more about Singapore after interacting with your student! thanks for dropping by! :)

Post a Comment