The 10 things I'm grateful for being Singaporean

Coftea , 13 Comments

Guest post by Coftea

Starting with our outpour of emotions and respect for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, followed by our sportsmen doing us proud in Sea Games and finally witnessing a spectacular Jubilee NDP, I have never felt prouder to be a Singaporean. The feeling was especially strong while I was listening to PM Lee Hsien Loong's rally speech on 23 Aug. As with previous rallies, he started by recounting notable events in the past year, but this was a special year. The events he recounted were things that all Singaporeans can relate to, and will always remember.

We have seen and heard many stories of how our pioneers fought and succeeded in building a democratic and sovereign nation based on principles of meritocracy, justice and incorruptibility. As someone who was fortunate to be born well after the unsettling periods, there are many things I assumed was the way of life. The reality could not be more different as I age and experience life in other countries. Now that my patriotic fire is burning at its strongest, I must share with you the 10 things I am grateful for everday as a Malaysia born Singaporean.

  1. Feeling safe
  2. There haven't been a time when I truly need to check the news before I leave home everyday. Jes has shared her harrowing experience in Bangkok and she had to keep abreast of the latest developments in the bombing incident. What streets to avoid, any new advisory given and what to be on a lookout for. I have also heard recent stories from my friend that the person after him withdrawing money from ATM was robbed in broad daylight in Johor Bahru (JB). He is now extra careful to avoid areas where robbing incidents are common. I don't want to live life in constant worry and fear. Feeling safe is too underrated.

  3. Owning my own home
  4. Kit Chan's 'Home' has always meant something special to us. And being among one of the countries with the highest homeownership rate, "This is home, truly" rings a chord in our hearts. Only 23% of the population were HDB owners in our independence year and the current homeownership figure stands at 90.3%. Owning a home isn't easy, and I took pity of young couples in our neighboring countries, scrimping to pay down their homes or renting to save up for one. My Malaysian hairstylist recently told me our public housing is really affordable, where a 3 room BTO in a non-mature estate is going for about $180k. Consider a 10% downpayment with cash, CPF and government grants, having our nest is not difficult. And this is supported by the fact that all my engaged or married Singaporean friends have already secured their BTO without paying cash in their installments every month.

    HDBs are affordable and can also be well designed
  5. Having lots of cheap food options
  6. A great thing being a multi-cultural society is the flourish of our food culture here. Chinese, Malay, Indian, Western, Japaneses, Korean, Fusion.. I can eat different cuisine every day if I want to. What's more awesome? They can be found cheap in a convenient and hygienic way from the many hawker centers and food courts around us. I can have a delicious plate of chicken rice for $3 and coffee for 70 cents at Maxwell food center, the hotspot for tourists. I have never had food that affordable while I were at tourist spots overseas.

    Cheapest coffee I found!
  7. Living harmoniously with other races
  8. I belong to the majority race and grew up having Malay and Indian classmates. I didn't find them very different from me and never really question why they do things like fasting or having a bindi on their forehead. They were taken as it is. And I remember racial harmony day was always an interesting day to see people in their traditional costumes. Race and religion is a sensitive topic and could lead to many societal problems. Look at the huge unrest caused by the Ferguson shooting, revealing a deep tension between Whites and Blacks in the equal rights America. And so much more disturbing events are happening in the Middle East. I was at the Botanical Gardens during our SG50 NDP and one striking thing I noticed was the number of foreigners in the crowd cheering for Singapore. Kids with white, yellow and dark skin were also seen having fun running about. We don’t judge based on skin colors and that is a precious quality to have.

    Regardless of where they come from, they celebrate SG50
  9. Moving up the ladder based on my merits
  10. I shall elaborate this point from the perspective of a parent. To a large extent, I’m confident that my children can succeed and contribute to this society as long as they work hard. They will have access to education, wide knowledge pool from libraries and internet and subsequently fair employment opportunities when they are adults. I need not be worried they will be prejudiced based on their gender, race, belief and background. There are people in top positions from all walks of life, some may be more privileged, but there are also many who worked their way up. My children need not worry about finding a better life overseas, like the many foreigners here fighting for opportunities they already have. It is a privilege for parents that are worrying about how their children can excel, instead how they can survive.

  11. Having a government drives progress
  12. While on the topic of politics, a co-worker from India shared with me a popular joke back in his country. It goes something like this.
    There was once two government officials, one American and one Indian who became friends. The American invited the Indian for a visit and graciously showed the Indian his opulent mansion. The Indian was impressed and asked how he did it. So, he brought the Indian to the bustling city center and pointed to all the skyscrapers around. He winked and said, '20% of these.. in my pocket'. After some time, it was the Indian's turn to play host to the American and he invited the American to his majestic palace. The American was spellbound and posed the same question to him, how he did it. So, he brought the American to a city outskirt and pointed to the vast piece of swamps. Looking at the American's puzzled face, he shake his head a little and said, '100% in my pocket'.
    Yes, there are areas where our ruling party may have done better. But every government out there has their own flaws. Looking at the Marina Bay area with MBS, Gardens by the Bay, MBFS, Floating Platform, Barrage and MCE opening up within the last 10 years, I view them as concrete proof of progress.

    Construction brings inconvenience, but also progress!
  13. Having stable access to basic amenities
  14. It came to my attention that Johor Bahru (JB) is experiencing a shortage of water in recent months and rationing is ongoing. I have been told by JB residents that water is supplied on every alternate day.. or not. There is no definite schedule and some said they even have to wake up in the middle of the night to fill up their water storage tanks. It is terrible to be worrying over a lack of water and I couldn't imagine the amount of disruptions it will cause. But isn't Singapore buying water from Johor? How come we are not affected? All thanks to the good people at PUB for our reservoirs, NEWater and desalination plants. It was reported that they can even supply excess to JB. Wow! It is good to remember that a lot of hard work is put into ensuring consistent water in our taps, electricity in our switches and of course, internet access to our computers!

  15. Speaking two languages
  16. In 1966, Singapore adopted the bilingual policy with English being the first language and our Mother Tongue being the second. I think it is one of the best policy ever made and many countries have played catch up to introduce English into their mainstream language. With English, I can be international, travelling to different cities and speaking with the locals. With Chinese, I can appreciate my heritage and is exposed to an ancient culture rich of traditions. With both of them, I have a competitive edge over most foreigners in this region.

  17. Being spared by Mother Nature
  18. The haze situation has been a yearly problem and has caused much agony among us. But what is haze compared to hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms, tsunamis and volcano eruptions? I mean haze can be serious like the smog in Beijing, but at our current level? We continue our day as usual. The problem of haze may have been amplified in the media as we have very little to report on in the weather section. The thing I do worry about is a really heavy storm, but I am not complaining.

  19. A clean and green environment
  20. An American who is living in New Zealand recently exclaimed to me, ‘How can it be so clean!?’ We were in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, waiting to enter a restaurant and I can only smile at his comment. He shared that the only city that is comparable is Tokyo, which is a really high compliment coming from someone who has traveled and lived in 4 continents. He goes on to commend on the greenery and it blends into our city. I took a moment to look around. I see modern office buildings, clean streets bustling with cars and pedestrians and observed the gently swaying big trees that looked to be there for an eternity. It is a calm and settling sight, a sight that I can slow down and appreciate every day.

    This is the kind of sight you can find easily in Singapore
It is a wonder how a tiny nation can emerge successful in a not so wealthy region, surrounded by countries with vastly different beliefs. If we were somewhere in North America or Scandinavia, the story of Singapore might not have been so inspiring. We are like a small and nimble startup for the past 50 years, making necessary changes quickly to adapt and grow. But what do startups do to remain competitive and influential in the global stage? They continue to attract talents, build their reputation, maintain their trust, innovate, stay sharp and adapt fast. It is also something we Singaporeans should do.

Let us take a moment to rejoice at what we have achieved, and make all effort to continue to build a better future together.

Photo Credits
Cover picture adapted from The End of an Era, 5 Stars Arising by eugene_benedict and Just 3 More! by Kitty Mao.


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  1. When we drink our water we should be thankful to our source of water - Our Four National Water Taps Solution.

    We can even apply this strategy to our sustainable retirement income (water) for life solution. :-)

    1. Hi Createwealth,

      Didn't know there is a term named for our water strategy, thanks for sharing!

      Perhaps our retirement strategy can be
      1. Inheritance
      2. Income
      3. Investment
      4. Interest generating instruments

      Haha. I think the idea is the same with our water strategy, cannot depend on 1 and 2. Must also build up our 3 and 4!

  2. Hello Coftea,

    Would you like to share a little more about yourself beside being a Malaysian born Singaporean?

    Girl, boy? In you 20s or 30s, etc?

    Only if you are comfortable sharing.

    Just need a mental picture to go with your nic :)

    And don't believe a single word jes tells you!

    No, I'm not a pervert or a voyeur. I'm just a people watcher ;)

    1. Hi SMOL,

      Voyeur.... muahahaha... thank you for your mental picture! And I never bad mouth you hor.... hmmpf.

    2. Hi SMOL,

      Jes has warned me about you.. Too bad Singapore cafes aren't designed to people watch or you'll love them. Haha.

      Before your mental picture goes astray, I'm a man almost 30. Have been here as PR since primary school, did my time (NS) and converted to Singaporean after serving. I know little about Malaysia actually.

      Now, can you share with me what is your mental image before and after my brief intro here? I'm a curious man :)

    3. Coftea,

      Hey! Nice to say hello to the man in Jes' life.

      Hmm. You 30 she 28...

      You love birds met in uni?

      Marry young good!

    4. Coftea,


      Forgot to add the mental picture part.

      A guy who likes to sip coffee and tea at cafes? Most are "jie-mei" kind of guys...

      Evidently you are not, unless Jes is a "butch"? Just kidding!

      Mental picture of you:

      Clean-cut, neat, and a good listener ;)

    5. Hello SMOL,

      How come you ask Coftea about me but you never ask me about my personal/marriage life ah? Bad mouth me somemore... hahaha. I am just a Tomboy :P

    6. Wow SMOL, you are astute :)

      Oh man, please erase the 'jie-mei' image and replace it with a man in business suit with his coffee looking intently at his Macbook in a cafe. Haha.

  3. Hi Coftea,

    Great post. These are the simple things that we often over looked or take for granted.

    Since we are on the topic of mental pictures - the image you give me is someone sipping coffee or tea in a cafe watching the world goes round. Does a beer interest you?

    1. Hi Derek,

      Thanks. Ironically, I find that making things look simple is usually very hard to achieve.

      And wow, your mental picture of me is my dream. Doing work is secondary and tasting good coffee or tea is primary. Hope I can achieve that! Learning some people watching skills from SMOL should enhance my experience, haha. Too bad I have the Asian Flush syndrome and alcohol makes me feel ill. I tend to avoid if I can. So how about you, are you a cafe or a pub person?

  4. Hi Coftea,

    I love tea but coffee upsets my stomach. I like to enjoy the best of both worlds - cafes during the day and pubs at night. :)

    1. Hi Derek,

      Cool. Calm in the day, wild at night. That's a fine balance ;P


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