Happy 45th, Singapore.

Happy birthday, Singapore.

You’ve done well for yourself thus far, and I sincerely hope that we can become even better for the next 45 years.

Just like any other relationships, I do not think that you’re perfect. You have many aspects that I dislike, and even detest at times, however, you’ve also many fantastic qualities that played critical roles in my growing-up years. Thank you for the safe and stable environment, and sound infrastructure that you’ve provided. I hope that we can continue to improve and enhance our society to become a place where our citizens can all truly feel at home here.

Since it’s our 45th birthday, I thought it might be fun to commemorate this special occasion by highlighting 45 10 things that are uniquely Singapore. (Alright, 45 is just too challenging for a lone task. Contributions anyone?)

1. Singlish

Defined by Wiki as “Singlish, sometimes known in the academic community as Singapore Colloquial English, is an English-based creole language spoken in Singapore“.

For those who want to mingle in with the local crowd, here’s a “useful” guide (just for laughs please):

Singlish much?

Image source: Post entitled “Fly lice, anyone? The love-hate relationship with Singlish” by NLB blog

On a more serious note, the widespread use of Singlish has always been a topic of contention. Supporters take the usage of this self-made language with a pinch of salt, and highlight it as something that’s truly made in Singapore (as opposed to inheriting and localizing a tradition from other regions), while others feel that the use of Singlish is eroding the standard of English language locally. Personally, I’m more aligned to the former. As long as people still maintain their good command of language, and understand when and where it is appropriate to use the different types of languages, I don’t see why Singlish should be discriminated. At the very least, it helps to build a certain level of camaraderie among fellow countrymen, whether here or overseas.

2. Local delicacies, including Chili Crab, Char Kuey Teow, Laksa, Bakuteh

Besides an obvious cultural mishmash, our multiracial population has also given rise to some very exciting mix of cuisine here – Chinese, Cantonese, Teochew, Indian, Japanese (you name it) etc.

Some famous must-try local fare, that even local Singaporeans crave for when they go abroad for extended period, include cholesterol-laden Char Kuey Teow, which has juicy plump cockles (yum yum), Laksa (with the cockles again!), Chili Crab with small, deep fried man-tous, and aromatic Bakuteh (perfect after some hard partying).

Personal favorite picks (imho):

  • Char Kuey Teow: They say Old Airport Road’s hawker centre is good for this, but I’ve not tried it personally. Recommendations welcomed.
  • Laksa: Queensway Shopping Centre – Cheap and good! Get the additional otah as well, perfect companion.
  • Chili Crab (any sort of crabs actually!): Melban at Serangoon, Mister Crab at Ghim Moh
  • Bakuteh: Opposite Central Shopping Centre (at Clarke Quay). Haven’t tried this one personally too, but it’s packing in the crowds, so ought to be good?

Do let me know if you’ve other recommendations on the above, or if you’ll like to help me expand the list.

3. Almost-singular party

Our MIW. ‘Nuff said.

4. National campaigns for everything from family planning to promoting good verbal skills

In 1970s, we had “Stop at Two”, to “Clean & Green” and moving on to the more recent “Speak Good English”, we are definitely goal-oriented, and are highly focused and extremely structured in trying to achieve our objectives – for about anything. 🙂

5. Harmonious melting pot of different ethnic groups sporting multiple languages

Walk along the street, whether in CBD, Orchard, Chinatown, Little India etc, and keep a keen ear out. You’ll probably pick up a myriad of languages and dialects from English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil to Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese etc. Where else do you get all of these on such a tiny island?

6. Enthusiastic pursuit of being world’s “first”s or “best”s in many aspects

We also seem to have a fascination in breaking world records, or winning the world’s best [insert item here]. Changi Airport, “World’s best airport for [insert years here]”, has been one of our greatest pride and joy. Other records that Singapore has achieved include having the largest group participation of country line dancing, world’s fastest text messenger and making the largest mosaic from collected plastic bottles. Oh well.

7.Seemingly ridiculous housing prices

Despite the recent BTO launches, it seems like HDB prices are still going through the roof (no pun intended). A quick check on PropertyGuru, Singapore’s leading property site (according to their website), a 2-bedroom HDB flat in Telok Blangah might set you back by more than SGD800K. It was also recently reported (26 July 2010) that HDB resale prices have set a record high in Singapore. Die lah, how to have a home next time? 😦

8. Chewing gum ban

We’re famous for this! Just Google it.

9. Love for shopping, food and technology (especially gadgets and electronics)

Our shopping districts are world-famous, we have new malls popping up every other month (or so it seems), almost our entire Orchard Road is shadowed by tall shopping centers that flank both sides of the street. According to Uncyclopedia, there are 2.1 million shopping malls in Singapore, or nearly one for every two citizens.

As for technology, it is pretty much self-explanatory – there are PC/electronic fairs held every quarter, and almost every show is packed to the brim with Singaporeans scouring to get the best deals for their laptops, smartphones, lcds, blu-ray player etc.

10. Queuing for Hello Kitty (A typical classic; old but good)

Until now, I still can’t understand why there was such a craze over the mouth-less cat in the past. Why?


Was giving this a little more thought – Right now, I’m pretty sure that one of the key issues that citizens are grappling with revolves around the issue of “foreign talents (FT)”. I think many are feeling a little displaced and unsure of what the future will be like, as the ratio of FTs:locals continues to spiral upwards. Taking this into consideration, perhaps it might have been more apt to select Kit Chan’s “Home” as our theme song to promote citizens’ sense of belonging to our home country, no?

Or maybe, I’m just bias as “Home” remains one of my favorite National Day songs. To me, the song, especially the lyrics (in both English and Chinese versions) come across as heartfelt, sincere and not the least pretentious.

For those of you that like it as much as I do, here you go again. 🙂


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