Monday, December 31, 2012

Fast taking on the dark side of Singaporeans

Singaporeans are complain kings, we all know that. In fact the whole South East Asia knows that. I think the whole world knows that, and maybe even the deities above also know. Instead of going on with our otherwise peaceful lives in a very safe and clean country, we Singaporeans will utilize every chance there is to complain about the smallest of things. We complain about bad food, we complain about bad services. We complain about that chipped edge in the cup we are served.

A neighbor hung out her huge underwear to dry, a piercing vision burned into the back of our eyes, we complained. Neighbors naked in their own apartment, we also complained. People smoked, we complained and now the smoking ban in public places. I stood too near to a table waiting for diners finish up in a hawker center, they complained I invaded their airspace. We complain about everything. We don’t just complain, we bring it up to the managers and even to the authorities. It just makes us happy that someone suffers because we complain. During the 17th century, Galileo discovered Earth revolves around the Sun. It’s the 21st century now and Singaporeans still thinks the universe revolves around oneself.

In the tight knit community of housing board development flats (HDB), we would call the police if our Indian neighbor cooks curry all the time. It had happened, a PRC* complained and surprisingly, the Indian household was told to stop cooking curry. Naturally, the social media flared up big with storms of more complains soon after, just as expected.
(*PRC - China immigrant commonly classified with a large dose of racism as Permanent Residence China)

We complain to police about drivers cutting into our lanes, video evidence provided by the in car camera so popular now. The bloke who got complained then receives a letter sent to his home, a huge fine he must pay. I used to have a car, exhaust note an anonymous neighbor thought too loud. Complained mystery neighbor did, magically I received a lovely summon for a fine. I had also to change my exhaust system.

Life is simple in Bangkok, well at least it used to be. Land of smiles, true. All are friendly, this no longer really true. Taught to be forgiving, taught to be compassionate by Buddha’s teaching. Taught to have a cool head and to take things lightly. I am starting to see the community losing her beauty. Just check out the social media, you could see aplenty of complaining. During the course of renovating my kitchen, I had changed the position of my ventilation fan to make way for a new kitchen hood. A day after I got a call from the developer, the household behind registered a huge complain. Complained he did that the vent will blow “bad smell” into his house. We explained that we had purchased a kitchen hood with its own independent odor removal system venting air out through the original position in which the ventilation fan was, directed away from his residence. The ventilation fan we moved serves to only vent warm air out. My nice neighbor complained back two folds. Ok, he have his reasons, I would complain too if I were him (especially since I am Singaporean). I will move the ventilation fan somewhere else as a complying gesture.

In the community I will soon live, they have a common Facebook page. It’s filled with a myriad of complains. So I suppose the neighbor behind voicing out his concerns in a large way was just the norm when compared to the list of Faceook entries. Gentle Thai people, what have become of you. Why the change over the years? Is it the economic progress, the brewing competitiveness resulting in change in behavioral patterns? Fast adopting a “my-one-must-be-bigger-than-yours” attitude many are becoming. And in the evolution towards a better quality of life, individual expectations of their surrounding intensified.

I was in a lift at work. There was a lady from the insurance company within. Another stranger entered and she was holding onto a queue card of some sort representing services required. The lady from the insurance company spotting that started to chat with the stranger first asking what she was visiting the company for. Then it grew into a conversation about the New Year holidays and their return to the provinces. Such warm friendliness, I wonder how long more will I see. Soon we will regress to become like Singapore, strangers remain strangers, arrogance will be the first stance, I am better off then you. It seems the more money we earn, bad social behavior we will see the emergence. The manners between Bangkokians and the laid back country folks then diverges as the gap between the rich and the poor widens. The latter being more pleasant.

I was at Starbucks blogging this entry. The seat opposite mine was unoccupied. Until the Chinamen came and without asking permission, sat. If I were still who I was, with an aggressive tone I would have voiced to him hostilely “ask me before you sit”. I had done this before to protect my airspace, several times in fact many years back. Now that I am drenched in Thai ethnicity, I let it be, no one was sitting there anyways, I was alone. I remained silent and continued this entry.

Singapore is now filling up to the brim with an influx of PRCs. We complain nonstop about it but for reasons. As different cultures mixed, conflicts are bound to occur. In MacDonald’s we Singaporeans queued orderly waiting our turns to order food. There was a case, a China women walked in and just cut right into the queue up front. The queue of Singaporeans, initially strangers, united as one and complained out loud and all gave the women a good scolding. She left. We protected our rights with our aggressiveness. There are many more cases where PRCs had been force into submission by our complaining nature. I was told Singapore is the only place where mainland Chinese nationals had learned to behave in their spreading migration across the world.

In Thailand, the land of compassion. We are kind mostly, but not of lately. Being kind has its weaknesses. It had opened the avenue for others to take advantage of us. It had happened in business, Thais dealing with foreigners. Until this day, for some reasons Thais still perceive foreigners, especially Caucasians, to be the almighty and trust them totally. A Thai trusted a foreigner with his good speech, “you do business with me, I fair fair, you can trust me I am good businessman”. As a result after delivering of goods, beyond the 90 days credit terms normally not given to first time deals, not a single cent collected. It’s been more than 180 days, the Thai company had been swindled. It is fortunate that over the course of time, Thais had awoken and learned to protect themselves. It is the wise thing to do in the cycle of development. In social circles, Thais are also wising up, not to be taken advantage of they have learned, they have their rights and complain they will if their turn. With progression comes the intensification of societal imperfection, we cannot avoid that. The renowned Thai friendliness written in books shall only remain in books. Thais taking on the complaining side of Singaporeans is not all that bad, really it has it good points certain ways. But with it comes the conduct I so tired of, a life years ago I abandoned.

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