Is Singapore truly unique?

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• Singapore is a strange little society. Situated at the crossroads of numerous shipping and transport routes, it has, over the years, under the confluence of external and internal societal forces, moulded what I believe is an extremely idiosyncratic and distinctive culture
• But is it unique culture? – Casts a shadow upon the originality of our culture
• Culture: set of beliefs, practices and lifestyles that is embraced by, and entrenched in, a common group of people. Ideology and value system that characterize us.
Singaporeans have cultivated themselves a global image which is synonymous with the infamous Singaporean trait of ‘Kiasuism’ (afraid to lose out)
• Pragmatism, political apathy, prudence and the desire to pursue material objectives
• Display the distinctive ethos of competitiveness
• Tracing its origins to the hard life that our migrant ancestors had to lead, the political system and the general Chinese desire for material gain and social status
• Engendered this spirit of ‘die die must win’
• Satirized by the international media and local commentators … calculative and self-preserving ways
• Ridiculed for packing food into napkins at buffets to get max value for our dollar
• Rebuffed for our conservative attitudes to seemingly frivolous things such as casinos
• Conservative, self-centred view that resembles that of Victorian England where social status, wealth and propriety were celebrated
• Still firmly rooted in tradition and exacerbated by the island’s competitive economy, such a distinctive Singaporean attitude will persist long into the future

Aside from attitudes and mindsets, Singapore also has a unique cultural scene that brims with the vigour of its Asian flavour
• E.g. Sumptuous spread of Asian hawker fare
• Thanks to diverse ethnicity of Singaporean’s population, local cuisine here is ruled by a gamut of influences
• Aromatic spices, the opulent cream sauces of Western society, traditional and modern cooking methods have manifested themselves in a gastronomic delight
• Characteristically Singaporean dishes touted as ‘must-trys’ for tourists include Hainanese Chicken Rice and roti prata. The list extends into infinity.
• Attributed to Singapore’s role in a converging point for the region’s different cultures.• Vast variety of influences manifests themselves in our local culture
Exemplifies the mingling of the Eastern and Western worlds
• Colonial roots and increasing penetration of globalization forces
• Culture has evolved into a cross-cultural fusion of East meets West
• E.g. Singlish effectively infuse their Asian roots into a Western language
•Influence of local dialects which stem from the ancestral roots of our migrant forefathers, Colonial

English has been transformed into a unique Singaporean form
• Words like ‘lah, ‘lor’ and other popular dialect terms have become part and parcel of the Singaporean diction.• Singlish is the idiosyncratic lingua franca of Singaporeans
• Demonstrates uniqueness of Singaporean culture and the ability of Singaporean society to assimilate modern influences into its tradition to produce its own unique lifestyle
Caught effectively between the past and present
•Retain and preserve its traditional heritage and keep up with the rapidly modernizing world
•Variety of cultures interact to adapt to the traditional and yet modern Singaporean mindset
• Produced the aforementioned complex and varied culture

Singapore’s unique culture is not a direct product of our population’s actions. Indigenous culture has played a significantly smaller role in shaping our way of life. The predominantly migrant population has generated our unique culture, more so than any other cultural force in Singapore
• Largely attributed to its location
•Situated along the world’s most vital trading routes, since colonial times …commercial hub of activities
•Cultural forces that have since shaped and moulded our culture originate from these external agents who were
drawn to Singapore due to commercial interests. This stream of commercial activity has been the driving force of Singapore’s cultural evolution
•Although our culture based on the premise of a dozen other cultures, is this not typical of the rapidly globalizing society?
•Can no longer remain immune to external cultural forces … move along to a homogenous culture dominated by Western traditions and norms … comforting to see that Singapore has managed to hold on staunchly to her traditional roots

Conclusion: The fact that our distinct culture is not entirely our own and the embracement of this fact, has in fact created a laudable culture which differentiates itself from others in the world’s cultural landscape


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