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Caucasian tourist asks: Where are the friendly Singaporeans I used to know?

Posted by temasektimes on May 11, 2012

A long-time visitor to Singapore Brian Nelson has expressed his shock and dismay at the abrupt change in the attitude of Singaporeans towards tourists in the last few years.

Mr Nelson has visited Singapore several times in the past 25 years and he observed lately that Singaporeans on the street appeared to be unfriendly and rude nowadays.

“Another observation is that nobody smiles or returns a greeting any more. Taxi drivers, particularly, used to be a wealth of information and eager to point out areas of interest but are now, mostly a surly lot,” he wrote.

He is also disappointed with the service he received in shops and restaurants where many of the staff are unable to converse in simple English:

“Service has also deteriorated in shops and restaurants, where many of the staff can hardly speak English, are rude and abrupt. As for the words “please” and “thank you”, they do not exist.”

He wondered if Singapore’s ‘soul’ has been taken away by the rapid economic progress:

“It will not be long before it becomes just a rat race, like in many other cities. Has progress taken away Singapore’s soul, the essence of being human, of recognising one another? Your city is beautiful, your buildings tall and proud, yet to walk along the streets and see the surliness of a face is disheartening.”

Mr Nelson cannot be more wrong – it is no longer a ‘rat race’ in Singapore, but a race for basic survival. When Singaporeans don’t even have enough food on their table and are constantly worrying about paying the next loan or bill, they can hardly be expected to smile at visitors.



44 Responses to “Caucasian tourist asks: Where are the friendly Singaporeans I used to know?”

  1. work+study=no time for anything else

  2. Jaded said

    Singaporeans? This is Chinapore ok!

  3. spotlessleopard said

    What Nelson dose not understand is that 50% of the working population are foreigners….and many of them come from China, India, Blangadesh, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Eaastern Europe, ……most of them would not have qualifed to go to the other first World Countires end up in Singapore.

  4. Ken Lee said

    the one that smiles or returns a greeting and say the words “please” and “thank you” are local born Singaporeans. but ah las the one that you met lately are our newly imported by our PAP Gov, they are the so call “FT”. that’s look alike Singapore local Chinese, Indian and Malay but they are not our Singapore local born Singaporeans. TOO BAD YOUR HAVE TO TALK TO OUR PAP GOV REGARDING THE ISSUE. THEY JUST DON’T LISTEN TO US LOCAL SINGAPOREAN ANYMORE!

  5. C.H. Tan said

    Complaint to our STP and the finger will be pointing at all local again.

  6. Chua Omar said

    True enough. Singaporeans have lost their souls. No heart left for kind words. Jobs taken away by FT at half price. What can Singaporeans do, when there is no food on the table. Living cost in Singapore is high, especially when you are jobless. Thanks to our PAP Govt. Singaporeans are now leaving the country for greener pastures, just to survive. So sad, as a Singaporean.

  7. icedwater said

    We must continue to smile, regardless of the situation. Smiling doesn’t mean being resigned to your fate; you can fight for your rights while smiling too. It will help us stay positive, stay optimistic and keep the hope alive that we can make it better.

    • Hsien Liao La said

      Yes, smile when you cast a vote for the opposition. Not blindly smile and then vote Pay And Pay, remember.

  8. sporean said

    Those are Chinaporeans.

  9. WP for hougang! said

    many local Singaporeans have been pushed almost to the brink of insanity due to job competition with the ever increasing number of foreign labour and it is not unusual to develop xenophobic reaction towards foreigners.
    IF your own rice bowl is being snatched or your wage depressed due to the presence of some foreigners in your country, what would you do?
    Think about it.

  10. newbie said

    “Service has also deteriorated in shops and restaurants, where many of the staff can hardly speak English, are rude and abrupt. As for the words “please” and “thank you”, they do not exist.”

    I think you are refering to the FT. All Singaporeans speak english. Its only these special talents that can’t.

  11. bb said

    Singapore now interested in PRC tourists hence lost interest in English

  12. All those folks you encountered years ago have retired and and sit behind on a PC KPKB. Where can one smiles, when after all these years of slogging only to find that we can’t get our hands on the “retirement funds” being locked away for no good reasons.

  13. Orion said

    Please do not point the finger at Singaporeans. More often than not, there are PRCs and Pinoys that served you. We Singaporeans also face the same rudeness/poor customer service them too. As for the surly taxi drivers, most probably he was a PMET that was forced to drive a taxi as his job was being robbed by an FT. How can not be surly like dat.

  14. FR said

    Those buildings are not ours, stupid.

  15. tan a said

    They died the day the govt opened the floodgate.

  16. Skiesx said

    Finally! Someone from the outside recognizing our problems. THIS is what we need for the government to react because they clearly don’t listen to their own people but respond to foreign views of our country.

  17. Bengy said

    Because we the Singaporean, both of our 2 balls have been pressing too tight..

  18. Paul said

    Orion you very good at talking through your backside! FT’s DO NOT rob Singaporeans of their jobs; any company hiring one has to show it is justified in hiring a foreigner. The reason more often than not is the skill required is not available locally.

    • lol said

      lol i pity you for the day your job gets robbed by FT

      • Paul said

        Lol at you that is just the sort of dumb statement I have come to expect from somebody who neither reads nor comprehends simple English. Laugh all you like where I live there is no danger of that happening but then I retired some time ago ha ha ha ha ha!

    • Zam said

      Hey Fucking Paul FT..>Get the hell out of Singapore…You Asshole

      • Paul said

        I am not FT and don’t live in Singapore, of course it would help if you could actually read – now who’s the idiot?

  19. Singapore born said

    Hmmm… Just because a few ppl is rude does not represent the whole country is rude. To the Singaporean that vote for the current government you allow it to happen that is why more and more FT comes into the country. Don’t point finger at FT think before you vote next time.

  20. oh really? said

    your country has progress and no soul, but you expect our country to retain soul and hold off on progress, so you’d have subservient tourist-oriented locale to escape to when you need a break from your own country? sure we’ve changed, but your selfish kind clearly have not.

  21. sibei iDL said

    very scared to smile at caucasians nowadays because u don’t know who is tourist who is FT (kings) and if they punch u, u cannot do anything to them (can’t outfight them. bigger size ang moh). call police, u realise is your own problem or worse still, ang moh say is your fault and police believe it and give u shit. even if u manage to sue them, they will be out next flight back home and they will be “at wrong place at wrong time” (thought this applies to the victim, no?)

    sorry ang moh tourist, this is no longer the place u knew. u came a few times over the last 25yrs and we live here since day 1, we no longer knew it as well. find another place to visit, it’s not worth spending your euro/pounds here for substandard service, atttitude, products and people.

    however, if u are looking for a place to emigrate and retire, consider singapore. number 1 place for ang moh.

    PS: don’t punch our local people, very sad already.

  22. yen l y said

    Mr Nelson may not aware that he was served by foreign talents at the shops & restaurants. I was turned off by the service provided by one of the telco over its hotline customer service officer and at the customer service centre. I dont feel like i am living in Singapore anymore and some of these foreign talents provided a shabby service to Singaporeans. Maybe they are more interested to serve the ang moh…. i always travel for work, when i am back to Singapore i don’t feel home at all now. What happen to the place we call HOME? What hapoen to the beautiful city under the leadership of Mr Lee Kuan Yew?

  23. ellery chua said

    A question is how many of the service staff he tried talking to were FT ? At a local eatery, I was making some jokes about how they now have a chiller where you can view the various steaks with details like wangyu beef, grain feed Aus, that you can now select the kind and the particular cut of meat for your steak order – the reaction of the Thai staff – ” You want order ?” she had just taken my order and had an answer to “any more more?” Many of the FT service staff have a language issue. Being what we think is rude could be more of a total language barrier – I no speak english.

  24. SalesExec said

    Father Lee Kuan Yew.
    Please save Singapore!!!!

  25. Paul said

    Where are people getting this nonsense that ancillary staff are somehow foreign talent. The description belongs to those who are skilled and where the skill is not available locally in which case does not rob anybody of a job. As for the ancillary jobs done by foreigners Singaporeans should stop whingeing since we all know they just don’t like having to do something they see as ‘being beneath them.’ Just be glad somebody is willing to ‘nursemaid’ your pathetic souls, after all who would do your ironing, man the local eateries and get their hands dirty, my god what a load of cry-babies.

  26. Paul said

    Service staff are not foreign talent, the definition belongs to those who possess skills that are not available locally (as I said earlier for those who bothered to read it)! As for the whingeing about ancillary staff Singaporean should have a good look at themselves since so many as just to proud to do a job they see as being ‘beneath them.’ What would you do without your maids, cooks, gardeners and the like?

  27. usersadmin said

    Singapore – a balanced view (Wink)………

  28. JOSH said

    I’m from India and working here. I have been experiencing this unfriendliness from people everywhere in Singapore. I go to showrooms to buy costly things, yet no good customer care at all. I feel that being an Indian, I get no respect anywhere in Singapore.
    Is it because of colour? well, I’m not that black colour.
    I have been trying my level best to be very much polite and friendly to the public here, but the response I get is really disappointing. I a regular donator for Singapore cancer society, but when I experience something bad here, I always think Why am I donating. If a foreigner came to India, then he/she would get the top welcome and respect from Indians in India. I have been to UK and Brussels; people were very gentle and polite. I dont know why it is different in Singapore. I thought Singapore’s customer cares are the world class ones, but I was wrong ( when I went to M1 and Sony showrooms. I saw that the service person was very gentle to another person and very rude to me).
    My relatives think that Singapore is a very nice holiday location. But how can I bring them here to show Singapore when I’m afraid that they will experience some thing bad here.

  29. Megan said

    How to smile and be happy and nice to tourists, tell me, when we have bills to Pay and Pay. And many are jobless, or without much cash.

    • spotlessleopard said

      I dont know what to say (stomping my feet)…..and “So what do you think?”
      Make a change come thrue in GE.2015 vote any opposition into Parliament…let the PAP for once sit in the Opposition Section of Parliament…onlythen things will change for the better…

    • Steven Putman said

      Singapore may have its glamour but most of the time, it’s the locals you face problems. I am not being racist however most of the rude people are chinese. I have experienced being scolded by the security staff in changi airport for nothing. This people cannot market their country anymore because of the attitude. I don’t think it’s the language barrier because even in other neighboring countries, english is a problem. But a little care or sincerity of words. Most of them don’t smile. I love the country to have a vacation (except for the people) but not to live.

      If the local’s problem is surviving the financial issues, it’s all about management and discipline. Singapore may have its glamour, but continuous changes.. good luck with your country.

      • Mr Putman, I feel like calling and proving you are an IDIOT after reading your comments, “rude people are Chinese”. We are trying to explain where is the “Good Old Singapore” and you have to say something on the contrary. The reasons being this country is invaded with PRC Chinese who speaks a little or understand a little ENGLISH. and they are called “Foreign Talent” by the ruling family.

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