Guest Post: i dun unerstan u lah!: An exposé of Singapore and Singaporean retardation

Singapore FlagI greatly enjoyed reading the Single Dude’s articles on the pros and cons of Singapore. As a European business person I would like to expand a bit on the “Singaporean retardation” described in the cons article. When I arrived in Singapore I was absolutely shocked at the almost unimaginable retardation of the local Singaporeans. Given that Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and apparently has the highest number of millionaires per capita, I was expecting to find a mecca of high technology and efficiency but I was sorely disappointed. It’s true the center of the city is full of modern looking buildings and is very clean but aside from that Singapore has much more in common with “third world” countries than it does with it’s very  “first world” image.

Let me preface the anecdotes I’m about to tell by stating that the situations I’m about to describe are very much “business as usual” in Singapore and not extraordinary in any way shape or form. These are daily occurrences, not once in a month or once in a year occurrences. Also, please remember that Singapore claims to be an English speaking country, but as you will soon find out, that is a very unsubstantiated claim.

Singaporean Golddiggerism

An advertisement at a shopping mall that really exemplifies the gold diggerism of the culture

The first thing I would like to discuss is the experience of trying to hire a Singaporean. On one particular day last year I invited seven people to an interview. These were people that had all previously applied for the job online through a local jobs website similar to I gave them all more than 48 hours advance notice.  Of the seven: four did not respond at all, one wrote back and said they didn’t like the neighborhood (it’s centrally located serviced by 10 bus routes and one metro line), one didn’t like the time slot I offered and one confirmed by telephone. The one person who confirmed the interview did not show up and did not call or email to cancel. Please remember these are people that are supposedly looking for employment and applied for the job, not people I identified via a CV search and cold called. I can’t imagine not going to a job interview for a job that I applied for! And as I said this is not abnormal, these are very typical examples of what it’s like trying to hire a local in Singapore.

Local workers are often of much lower quality than foreign workers, and to add insult to injury they also cost much more. Businesses are forced to pay into superannuation funds (Central Provident Fund or “CPF”) for locals but not for foreigners; at the lower end of the spectrum this can make locals upwards of 50% more expensive to hire (these CPF contributions are currently capped for salaries of $5,000 and above). To pay a local around $2200 net costs me about $3000. To pay a foreigner $2200 net costs $2200 plus a much smaller than CPF “foreign worker levy“. I can easily find foreigners to pay $2200 net that are well worth $2200. Locals available for that price range are not even worth $1000 to me in most cases, in fact I have seriously considered hiring some local maids at the lowest possible salary to sit around and do nothing so that I can hire more foreign workers.  You see, to make matters even worse there is currently a government quota of 3 locals per foreign employee on an S-Pass (the employment pass for mid to low level employees).

Toilet Training for Adults in Singapore

Toilet training for adults

The Singaporean government has now decided that companies aren’t hiring enough Singaporeans, particularly in middle management (gee I wonder why!?!) so in their infinite wisdom they have decided to severely restrict employment passes for those making salaries below <$4,500 and to somewhat limit passes for those making between 4,500 to 8,000. Only those making above 8,000 can get an employment pass relatively easily and sooner or later that will probably become much harder too.

So the government economically incentivized companies to hire foreigners for years, and now that foreigners have become close to 40% of the population they want to stop this practice dead in its tracks and force people hire locals. Here’s the problem, besides the economic incentives, as described above, locals often aren’t employable. A Singaporean that costs me $3,000 out of pocket is not even remotely as good an employee as a foreigner I can easily find that is wiling to work for $1,500. My solution? No more jobs in Singapore – I’ll setup a shared service center in another country. Problem solved. It’s the same position Obama has put American businessmen with his retarded healthcare law, and that Hollande has put business owners in in France. “Oh you want further raise my costs for these already uncompetitive workers? No problem, I’ll just hire workers in other countries and/or replace them completely with automation.”

The one exception to all of this is the lowly “Work Permit”, these are not that hard to obtain because this is how they import people from impoverished countries to be maids, nannies and other forms of workers to do jobs that Singaporeans would consider themselves to be above no matter how desperate they were for work.  These are also the passes they issue to the construction workers who work for a pittance often live in squalor in the unfinished buildings they are working on our elsewhere on the job site in things that resemble shipping containers.  While perhaps this is not an example of local stupidity, it does indicate that Singaporeans have no qualms about taking advantage of impoverished and desperate foreign workers.

Before moving on, I would like to share with you some actual, verbatim communications I’ve had with job applicants. Only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty of course. Both of these communications came from applicants claiming to have college degrees and were requesting salaries of $2,800 or more per month. I could show you literally hundreds of communications just like these but I think that would be overkill.

Via e-mail:

From: Iris
Date: October 2, 2012

i will going to ur interview monday .. but wat is the until num ..

From: Company Confidential
Date: October 1, 2012

Dear Iris,

We are pleased to invite you for an interview as follows:

Date and Time: 8/10/12 5:00 PM
Venue: xxxxx
Tel#: 0000 0000

Please reply to confirm with us.

Yours sincerely,

Hue Jazz


Applicant: Hi I’m james suppose to come interview later .. cn ii check with u ur add is xxx orchard rd .. is it full add? No unit lah? N wat yr companie nam iS.. ? xxx orchard rd is very big lah!

Me: The full address is xxx Orchard Road.

Applicant: Den wat companie nam?

Me: Don’t bother, the job requires fluent English.

[Author’s note on the employment pass situation: If you do need to get a work permit for yourself or someone you want to employ, beware of the local scam artists that try to charge $750-$1,500+ to file an application for a Work Permit, S-Pass or Employment Pass (EP) – they are ripping you off.  Anybody that is even remotely competent can file an application in less than 30 minutes for a $20 fee either online or at any post office.  These scam artists try to trick you into thinking that they are offering some added value or that your chances will be better if they fill out the simple application for you – don’t be fooled, you are perfectly capable of submitting your own applications for yourself or your prospective employees and appealing the decision if necessary!]

I talk a lot about the stupidity of Singaporeans because its so severe and so obvious, but to add insult to injury I think there is a significant component of laziness too. I believe one of the most prominent causes of this is the Singaporean government because Singaporeans are really coddled and taken care of by their government. It’s true that Singapore is really expensive but the things that are expensive other than housing are luxuries (booze, cars, designer crap). Almost everything else is pretty cheap. If you’re a Singaporean, the government gives you subsidized housing with payments on a sliding scale according to your income. If you’re a citizen you can easily get by on less than $1,000 SGD per month without struggling for your basic necessities because the housing is so heavily subsidized. On the other hand, a foreigner in a menial job will make far less money for the reasons described above but faces a much higher cost profile because they do not get access to subsidized housing. In fact many of the retarded locals own these ghetto government projects known as HDBs and lease these shit holes to foreigners for absurd prices as a way to make income for little to no effort. Which brings me to another point: a huge portion of Singapore’s wealthy citizens are just “right place right time” real estate millionaires rather than some kind of entrepreneurial geniuses, a situation which is exacerbated by the fact that the government only allows citizens to buy the best of the best properties which is jut another subsidy that allows them to be both lazy and stupid while still reaping huge rewards. And if you think the rent is high here you should see the purchase prices – 40 to 50 years of rent is not uncommon to purchase a condo. Did someone say real estate bubble?

Here is a very incomplete list of other examples of “Singaporean retardation” that I’ve observed frequently all over town:

  • Toilet training signs for adults all over the city
  • They actually employ people in the metro stations whose job is to tell people to move away from the escalator when they get to the bottom
  • I frequently encounter middle aged people (35-50 years old) that cannot use a computer even for the simplest tasks
  • Banking (see below)
  • Extremely poor language skills – I find much higher levels of English in countries where English is not claimed to be a native or official language
  • Unreliable and poorly functioning technology of all types (see below)
  • Taxi drivers that don’t know where they’re going even on this tiny island
  • Inability to manage the supply of taxis – they are either under-priced, under-supplied or both
  • The emotionless, robot like behavior of the people and they way they chase meaningless, superficial, shiny trinkets (designer crap, overpriced status symbol cars, super overpriced bottles of booze, etc.)
  • Government subsidized HDB housing parking lots frequently full of $100,000+ cars (Why are these idiots subsidizing the housing of people that can afford to waste $100K+ for a car they don’t need!?!)
  • Ridiculous overuse of snail mail
  • A complete inability to do almost anything quickly, efficiently and accurately (see below)
  • The very very few things they get semi right are typically way over done (online banking security is a good example)
  • Anti-Chinese sentiment (see below)
  • “Singlish” is not a language, it’s very, very broken English that is totally incomprehensible
  • Horrendous service – From five star hotels to cheap restaurants some of the worst service I’ve ever experienced, incredible given the price of drinks
  • Outrage of modesty – they try to make this “crime” sound like an equivalent of rape or sexual molestation but you can be charged with it for simply verbally offending a Singaporean woman or brushing up against her the “wrong way” in a club (there are scam artists that try to entrap you too)
Toilet Training for Grownups in Singapore

Toilet Instructions

Now let’s talk about the banking. Given all the wealth here you’d expect them to have a really modern banking system, unfortunately you’d also be terribly wrong. Singapore has by far the worst, most retarded banking system I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. It took my bank, one of the larger ones in town, seven working days to receive a wire from abroad. It took me three weeks to setup online banking. Setting up online banking required: filling out an online banking request form (in person at the bank), waiting for two separate pieces of mail (one which had to be signed for), sending back a signed original activation confirmation form by postal mail and then completing a lengthy online activation process which requires both a security token device and a local mobile phone number to receive additional SMS one time passwords (that’s right I needed a security token and one time passwords sent to my mobile!). The written instructions that were mailed to me explaining how to complete the final steps of the online banking activation process were blatantly wrong. After the whole thing was done and I received numerous confirmation emails and SMS from the bank letting me know I successfully setup online banking followed by a regular paper letter in the mail saying “This letter is to confirm you have successfully set up online banking” – there’s that overkill I was talking bout. Bank statements are only available online for three months, if they are older than that I have to make a request, pay a substantial per statement fee and wait a couple of days for them to get them to get those “old” statements out of the “archives”. It takes one to two business days to transfer money from one Singaporean bank to another. I could go on and on but I think this gives you a good overview of what Singaporean banking is like. If that’s not enough for you check out the bank code branch code clusterfuck, especially with UOB. Why they couldn’t just copy their more competent counterparts in the rest of the world and implement the SWIFT code scheme, or better yet IBAN is beyond me.

Singapore Convicts

Not sure what this is but it appears to be a government sponsored sign encouraging you and your children to interact with recently released prisoners!

Wherever technology is used, it’s used in completely idiotic, backwards ways and it’s poorly implemented. For example, Singapore has automated SMS, telephone and mobile app taxi booking services. Sounds high tech right? Wrong. If you try to book a taxi when one isn’t available at the exact moment you try to book it you will get an automated response that says “Sorry no taxi’s available now please try again later”. It was apparently completely lost on whoever built this system that all this wonderful technology could easily be used to queue the requests and then send a taxi whenever one becomes available which is what most people who would use such a service would actually want! Unfortunately they don’t’ do that, they just send an automated message “try again in 10 minutes”. Even more ridiculous is when ordering with operator assisted booking, you may wait on hold for 10 or 20 minutes if it’s a busy evening or holiday, the operator will then finally take your booking, but after you hang up you will often receive an SMS “sorry no taxis available, try again later”. Another example are Singaporean government websites that literally close outside of working hours.  A website that closes?  WTF?!?  My IT guy says that it’s actually more work to design a website that “closes” than to just allow it to function normally. We’re not even talking about submitting anything here, just checking a status!

Singaporean Government Website Closes Outside of Business Hours

You cannot check employment pass status online if the physical office is closed

I won’t get too deeply into the geeky stuff but suffice it to say that Singapore’s network interconnects with the outside world are so bad that all our critical business servers that serve Singapore must be located within Singapore. For the real geeks out there checkout how many hops it takes to go nowhere even still inside Singapore or just over the border as well as the tremendous jump in latency you get when trying to communicate with a network outside Singapore as opposed to inside Singapore even though “outside Singapore” is as little as 30 km away. There is plenty of fiber in Singapore so it shouldn’t’ be a bandwidth problem – probably just a completely retarded network topology coupled with some really shitty, outdated Chinese routers. The 3G is shitty, slow and unreliable also.

Common Sense

Common sense advice from the government regarding things you would expect everyone to know

The general incompetence and inefficiency is best observed in the slow, round about, error prone, low tech way in which virtually all business related tasks are accomplished: namely with long tedious forms requiring signatures (often originals), business registration numbers, ID card copies and company stamps. I know that this is a normal bureaucratic hassle associated with doing business in many countries for the initial setup of everything from a corporation to a telephone line but it doesn’t end with the setup in Singapore, far from it. The simplest tasks like adding a $20 per month value-added service to your telephone line require multi-page, paper forms, ID copies, signatures, stamps and then several working days “processing time”. More often than not they will get the requested changes wrong and require more forms from you and “more processing time” just to fix the changes they incompetently fucked up in the first place.  You’ll be lucky if whatever they fuck up doesn’t disrupt your business for a couple of days.  Once I requested a change of address on my credit card terminals; they spelled the new address wrong and broke our service entirely for three business days just because I asked them to change the address on the receipt.  Another good example is trying to signup for QuickBooks Online. Pretty much anywhere else in the world if you have a credit card and five minutes on your hands you can get signed up. Not in Singapore, in Singapore you must be a Singtel customer and you must have QuickBooks Online billed to your Singtel paper bill – you cannot pay via credit card at all. Kind of defeats the purpose of that whole “online convenience” thing doesn’t it? That’s not all, if you are not a Singtel customer you must become one first via a slew of other forms, signatures and copies of official documents about your business to get a “Singtel billing account” and only than can you sign up for QuickBooks Online only to be billed via a paper bill you will receive in the mail. It’s almost mind boggling how anyone could be so inept and incompetent at utilizing and implementing the basic technologies of our time and it is comical for anyone that doesn’t have to deal with it on a daily basis.

The periodic anti-Chinese backlash is something that I find to be a never-ending source of entertainment. From time to time the locals get all riled up about having too many foreigners in Singapore “stealing their jobs” and frequently they single out the Chinese for abuse. I find it to be incredibly funny when they choose all those “Chinese foreigners” to pick on because the vast majority of the resident population of this less than a generation old joke of a “country” is in fact Chinese, they are nearly 75% of the population!

Moving right along you can’t discuss Singapore without discussing the complete lack of anything that resembles a developed country in the behavior and the culture of the average person on the street. Those toilet training signs are probably very necessary. I’ve seen some horrific things in public rest rooms in Singapore, even in very upscale shopping and restaurant complexes.

Handicapped bathroom upstairs in Singapore

Handicapped bathroom upstairs

Other joys of Singapore are the public spitting and watching people blow snot rockets into the sinks in the rest rooms (that was a favorite of mine in my old office building). The behavior, the mentality, the culture is uncivilized and very third world. Sure there is an upper class like everywhere, but I’m talking about your regular, every day, average Singaporeans. Bad manners, no class, bad language skills, frequently lacking basic hygiene, lacking basic common sense, you name it. It very much feels like they just bused in a bunch of people from an uncivilized third world country and turned them loose in a big city.

I can’t help but wonder if some of this is caused by inbreeding. Citizens only make up a little over 60% of the population on this tiny island, which is currently equal to about 3.2 million people. But of that 3.2 million there are a lot of different ethnic groups that all stick together and mix very little, you have the Chinese and their Chinatown, Indians in Little India, Malays, Indonesians and others. By the time you break it down some of the individual communities are very small. The different groups hardly mix or integrate and all stick to their own little areas for the most part. And of course most muslims (of which there are plenty) will typically never be caught mixing with non-muslims. I’m really just speculating here but I really can’t help but wonder.  Besides the general lack of intelligence there certainly seems to be indicators of bad genes in many of the native populace such as bad skin, bad teeth and a huge prevalence of glasses and contacts (more than I can ever remember seeing elsewhere).

Toilet Training for Adults in Singapore

More toilet training for adults

Although the city does have it’s ultra modern center with high rise office buildings, you haven’t really seen Singapore unless you’ve seen all of it.  Besides the city center there are also disgusting, decrepit ghettos full of the aforementioned subsidized housing, broken down shop houses infested with roaches and rats, hourly rate hotels, cheap seedy restaurants that smell of rotting food, prostitutes galore and more.  The best example of one of these districts is definitely Geylang.  And don’t forget the infamous, “Four Floors of Whores“, that one is in the high rent district along with many other KTV bars which you can find any part of the city, high rent or not!  The Marina Bay Sands and One Raffles Place are not accurate representations of Singapore as a whole by any stretch of the imagination.

This article is getting awfully long and I could go on for pages more but I think you get the point by now. For the reasons outlined above and many more, I’m hereby terming Singapore the dumbest country per dollar of per capita income in a the world. Sure there may be some countries with a more retarded population than Singapore, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare places that are so poor they may be struggling with being able to obtain basic nutrition to the country that boasts the highest number of millionaires per capita. Outside of Wall Street and parts of the Middle East, you would be hard pressed to find more unearned and undeserved wealth than you will find in the hands of retarded Singaporeans.

Manuel adds

As predicted this article is starting a shit storm and we love it. Haters are a blog’s best friends. So far these are the place the article above has been linked. If you know of another one please let us know in the comments.

The Temasek Review
TR Emeritus
The Real Singapore
Singapore Expats Forum
My [Overpriced] Car Forum
Channel News Asia Forum
Asia One Forums

The comments being generated both there and here are predictably hilarious and we’ve archived them here.

Lastly found this cool article on “The Real Singapore” and linked it inline above where I felt it was appropriate.

Prostitution, Gambling and Bad Karaoke: The Real Singapore

Satire piece stating the same basic thing (although less vulgar and with less supporting details) where many of the people commenting don’t even realize it’s satire! Pretty funny.

Singaporeans biggest threat to Singapore’s growth

Classic, love or hate, nothing in the middle:

Love Hate

Favorite comments:

March 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm (Quote)
my sympathy to a sore loser who is moving on after so many donkey years of enriching his innards only to realised that my countrymen r retards! by saying so u r only putting up an excuse n consoling urself to the fact that ur pre-historic business models r outdated.
1) cant compete with those of newer FTs who have better ideas than urs. 2) cant compete with younger men at clarke quay.
3) with increased competitions ur business not as profitable.
4) cant take the heat, lose out to a bangla hunk n u will b leaving s’pore without ur partner
u had ur fill so b content.just go quietly. go to virgin territories n continue ur exploitations. make sure u dont end up in CDC of your next target

And nothing speaks louder than this one. You are a foreign investor that wants to start a business in Singapore and employ Singaporeans? Don’t bother, they think you are a blood sucking parasitic beggar.

March 28, 2013 at 7:55 pm (Quote)

ONE of a kind after sucking our blood and living of our nation he is talking COCK real ungrateful ARSE-HOLE.He is just a beggar after begging us for food to fill his hunger he is now bitting us.Please go and beg somewhere if you still remain in Singapore after next week you are just what i called a ARSE-HOLE BEGGAR.FUCK OFF and go beg somewhere you are just not welcome SICK PIG.

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