Sunday, October 16, 2005

Singapore...to and back

On 12th October, my friend and i went down to Singapore for a short vacation before we start our industrial training. We came back on Sunday (16th October) morning. This was my first trip to Singapore since i was 6-7 years old. I have noticed certain things and i am going to share it here.

First of all, when i exited Tanjung Pagar station in Singapore, i noticed how clean Singapore is! I can't see a single piece of plastic bottle or tissue paper on the streets! Look at the picture on the left, this is Orchard Road. Do you see any rubbish on the ground? I was very amazed because to find a rubbish bin is fairly difficult even within malls. Unlike Malaysia, we practically have (overflowing) rubbish bins everywhere and yet our streets are covered with rubbish.

Another thing i noticed is how obedient their citizens are! When i say obedient, i really mean it. I have not seen anyone jaywalking or crossing a street elsewhere other than the zebra crossing or pedestrian bridge. Probably Singaporean Goverment impose so much fines that they are all pretty scared to break the law. Besides, vehicles always give way for pedestrians to cross! This is unheard of in Malaysia.

When it comes to moving around in Singapore, we definitely relied on their MRT system because it can bring you to any part of Singapore. The MRT stations are so well designed that you can hop from MRT line 1 to other lines without the need of exiting the underground station. Some of these MRT stations even have underground passageway with cafes and boutiques along the sides. Take a look at the right photo, this is Citylink mall which connects City Hall MRT Station to Suntec City, Esplanade and Raffles City. Besides, all their buses and MRTs utilizes Esylink (Touch 'n Go in Malaysia). They implemented it in such a way that it is more expensive to use their public transport system without using Esylink. It costs slightly more to buy tickets of the automated machine. Look at Malaysia, paying KTM or Sunway parking via Touch 'n Go costs 5-20 cents more. How does this encourage us to use the system? Another thing i noted is how punctual the MRTs are. When i arrived in Singapore, it was office rush hour, the MRT arrived every minute! Plus, onboard passengers always move towards the centre of the MRT to make way for boarding passengers and they never hesitate to give up their seats to those who needs it more. Boarding passengers on the other hand always allow disembarking passengers to exit the train before boarding. Do you see this happening in Malaysia?

I also noticed that most of the Singaporeans are dressed to kill. They really know how to groom themselves and 8 out of 10 women, may it be 13-50 years old, tend to put make up. There are so many hot chicks and good looking guys in Singapore. Seriously, i am not exaggerating. Try visiting Singapore to verify my statements. Besides, Singaporeans are really technology savvy people. Why? Every other person carries either an Ipod, a high-end mobile phone, a PDA or a combination of the previous few items. I even overheard two middle aged women discussing about the technical aspects of a laptop.

Hmm...i think the reason Singaporeans are so tech savvy and well groomed is because of the low cost of living. Stunned? Don't be. Imagine you earn $2000 in Singapore. Sony Ericsson W800 (Walkman phone) costs $800 (Half the price if you sign up with their Telcos for two years). A Nike cap costs $15-30 and Adidas limited edition classic series shoes, $129-169. Heck, even their Ipod nano costs $419 for the 4GB version. I was so shocked to be able to get a $2 chap fan that has one meat dish and one vegetable dish as well as a $3 beef noodle within City Commercial area! Now, if you are in Malaysia and earn a meagre RM2000 income. SE W800 will cost you RM1600. Nike cap easily costs RM35-65 and similarly, Adidas classic series costs RM350-450. Ipod nano? RM1219. Can anyone get RM2 chap fan or RM3 beef noodle within KL Commercial area? Compare...which country has higher cost of living?

Looking at their citizen's mindset and country's infrastructure really amazes me. Their infrastructures are so well planned and executed and their citizens literally have 1st world mentality. One may argue that Singapore is small and easy to manage, i beg to differ. Is Kuala Lumpur bigger than Singapore island? If we follow the rationale of "Smaller-is-easier", Kuala Lumpur should have infrastructures that can rival our neighbour but is this the case? That's food for thought!
Before i end this post, i have to post this Air Force and Army recruitment posters. I think it's pretty good advertising, at first glance, i thought it was a movie poster.

3 comments:

daniel said...

btw, i just boarded the LRT today to work, and credit given to Malaysians who queued to board the LRT at every opening doors of the Putra LRT in the KL stations (ie: KL sentral) in the busy stations during the morning rush hour. i was pleasantly surprised! :)

BaRNy said...

It is nice to read this post of yours as there is someone who can finally relate to what I’ve experienced across the crossway. I agree that there’s so much we can learn from them. Did you notice how ‘Malaysian’ Tanjong Pagar is until you stepped out of it? An irony for a building smacked in the middle of the city centre in Singapore! I like travelling on the MRT. Remember the map layout of Dhoby Ghaut station I once put as my wallpaper? That’s my favourite station; three lines converging in that station, five storeys below ground with a depth of 28 metres!

About the jaywalking thing though, I really think that the government is loosening up, cause there were cases of jaywalking when I was there. Not many, but there is. It is more evident in residential area, where supervision is less. I think I was prompted by my cousin (A Singaporean) into doing it when we were reaching home (her home). I was like, “I thought it was forbidden?” and her reply was,”No lah!”.

Still, the pastures always appear greener on the other side. They do have a lot to complain about their government too! I think the most controversial one is about the opposition party but I will not dwell into it. Also, there isn’t much freedom in some ways. Almost all, if not all, of their HDB flats are government pojects. From time to time, there will be facelifting done on the old flats. Like it or not, I heard that the residents have to foot the bill. Also another case told by my cousin’s cousin who just moved into their new unit; some neighbour of theirs painted their balcony railings a different colour and subsequently got an order by the developer to paint it back into the default colour. Apparently, this is to keep with the building looking uniformed when you see it as a whole. Then there’s an unwriten rule that work ends after eight. Not that you can’t go home after five but it seems to give a bad impression on you, when others go home later. Guess that’s the kiasu trait in them.

Much that we like about their place, they too envied us and the place we live. A response from my brother when we were sorry for our Singaporean relatives, who paid us a visit, when a flood caused a delay for the train to arrive in KL (my brother was also traveling with them) :-
“Oh, they love it so much!”

What happened was floods in Johor submerged parts of the track and after much hesitation from the KTM officials, my relatives were 'advised' to take a shuttle bus from Kulai to Kluang and then board another train to continue the journey. And I mean 'advised', not directed. I guess they are really sick of orderliness in their country and we are terribly sick of our transportation problems.

P.S. I really agree on this  I also noticed that most of the Singaporeans are dressed to kill. They really know how to groom themselves and 8 out of 10 women, may it be 13-50 years old, tend to put make up. There are so many hot chicks and good looking guys in Singapore. Seriously, i am not exaggerating.

Unka said...

Hehehe...True...all so true. The pasture is always greener on the other side. Well...we can't have the best of everything. Thanks Barny for your comment!