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6 Traits That Are Part of Our Singaporean DNA

Welcome back from the long National Day weekend.

If you weren’t one of those caught in the massive traffic at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, lucky you!

Over the past weekend, Singaporeans experienced a peculiar, and rather frustrating kind of “unity” at the customs.

With a telepathic herd mentality, many Singaporeans decided it would be a good idea to spend the long weekend at Johor Bahru, Malaysia. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, until…

You realised everyone thinks the same way.

Some Singaporeans found themselves stuck in traffic for eight hours and more just to clear immigration.

The human congestion was quite a plight, despite being a humourous one. Seeing how we unite in a common goal to enter JB for a short getaway, what are some other ‘Uniquely Singaporean’ traits that we share?

1. Being Kiasu

/ˈkjɑːsuː/

Definition: Afraid of losing out to other people

Have you ever seen a monstrous queue, comment about it to your friend, only having them tell you: “Wah the queue so long ah! Confirm good. Let’s queue!

Singaporeans are ‘famous’ for queuing for what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s meh. Let’s be honest about it – many times we queue for the sake of queuing because a stall with long queues are guaranteed to have the best products and services. True?

From Shake Shack to Apple iPhones to the bak chor mee stall you never thought of trying until now, queuing forms part of who we are.

And we are really good at it.

Just see how orderly Singaporeans can queue for buses and mrts, as well as our favourite boba tea.

We can enter the Guinness World Records for queuing.

2. Complain, Complain, Complain

/kəmˈpleɪn/

Definition: Express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something

Singaporeans are known to be quick to complain.

MRT breakdowns? Complain.

Food is not up to expectations? Complain.

Fellow Singaporean cutting your queue? Complain.

The weather is always hot? Complain.

The weather is too cold and chilly? Complain.

You get the drill. 

We complain about things that are not necessarily life-threatening or hazardous. We complain because we are Singaporeans and we have a lot of pent-up frustrations to vent. In fact, why are you writing this post about us being complain kings?

We want to complain. 

3. Chope Culture

/tʃəʊp/

Definition: To book, or reserve

As Singaporeans, we are well aware that even when a table is empty, and its seats are vacated, it is still taken. 

By now, we are ‘intellectual chope beings’, whose greatest fears during hectic lunch hours are tissue packets and staff passes.

We are civilised people who do not fight over seats, we simply chope it so nobody else can take it.

In a way, our chope culture is an epitome of our kiasu-ism, that is most commonly found in hawker centres.

You see, it’s not that we are selfish, we just don’t want to sit on the floor. It’s free seating anyways, better mine than yours.

4. Being a Kaypoh Chee

Definition: Being a busybody or nosy parker

Imagine this in your head: It’s Chinese New Year again, and you have obligingly followed your parents from house to house, paying visits to relatives far and near. You zoom in on a cosy couch at the corner, and rush to chope a seat before your cousins could get there before you. Minutes later, you hear a familiar voice saying: “Boy ah, you got girlfriend already?

You look up and to your utter unsurprise, you see your Kaypoh Aunty Nancy.

Yes, fellow Singaporeans, kaypohness is a thing, and it’s not limited to just your aunties and uncles.

We kaypoh when we drive on the roads and see an accident on the highways.

We kaypoh when we see a long queue and wonder what people are up to.

We kaypoh when there’s a new scandal in town, even when we don’t know who those people are.

In Singaporeans’ defence, there’s really nothing much we can do in Singapore.

So we kaypoh lor.

5. Patriotism at a 100% on That One Day of the Year

Definition: We are Singapore, Singaporeans ~

Singaporeans are a very interesting bunch.

Admittedly, we complain about our mother country 364/365 days.

We complain about the government budget, the ERPs, nothing to do in Singapore… we complain about Pink Dot, we complain that we have no money, we complain about haze, no time to clear leave… 

We basically are very disgruntled people.

But every time of the year, on 9th August 2019, there’s a 360 degrees change in us.

There’s no other place we would like to call home than Singapore.

WE LOVE SINGAPORE.

WE RAISE OUR NATIONAL FLAGS HIGH IN THE AIR AND RECITE OUR PLEDGE LOUD AND CLEAR.

“We, the citizens of Singapore,

pledge ourselves as one united people…”

And then, 10th August comes around…

6. Singlish > English

Definition: A Colloquial Singaporean English that we use more than English, sometimes

Singlish has become such a powerful language that there’s a course conducted by The British Council.

Through the free ‘Coffee Morning’ sessions, expats who wish to better understand the Singaporeans’ lingo are schooled on Singlish and the local culture.

All over the world, university lecturers are increasingly introducing Singlish to undergraduates and postgraduate students, so together they can study this unique variety of the English Language.

Singlish is pretty cool, to be honest.

For example, when you want to express that something is so good it must be tried, you say “this one die die must try“; when you want to tell someone to do things at their own pace, you say “own time own target“; when you are not sure of something and wants an estimate, you say “aga aga“; and our “Oh man” is expressed as “Alamak!” Interesting.

We haven’t delved into the lahs, lehs, lors and mehs.

No wonder people are studying Singlish.

Are there any other unique Singaporean traits that you know of? Share with us in the comments section below!

Until the next post, we love you lah Singapore! 

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