After numerous complaint letters to the Straits Times forum, the Director of Hawker Centre Division (NEA) finally announced that there would be no chope’ing of seats at two food centres.
And we wonder how exactly are they going to enforce that?
This issue is as divisive as the upcoming Presidential election. Some feel that it is ungracious to chope table while others think that there is nothing wrong with the practice. Even at ClearlySurely, we cannot agree if this is a right move or not.
What we can agree that it is a uniquely Singaporean culture that is not seen elsewhere. After all, we are one tissue-paper worshipping nation that knows better than to touch a packet of facial wipes that has been left on the table during peak hours.
The thing about Singaporean culture is that it usually originates from practicality or what other describes as “kiasu”.
This is us. This is as Singaporean as it gets.
We understand that available seats at the hawker centres are exceedingly rare during lunch hour and the crowd can be worse than a Bangkok jam. We develop a respect for those who manage to have the good fortune to get a table and the patience to queue for a Michelin-rated stall.
We have a silent mutual social agreement not to screw each other over because we wish that our tissue paper will be treated the same.
Like it or not, this is our uniquely Singaporean cultural trait.
Some of these social norms or cultures are not desirable, such as speeding up whenever the car beside you changes lane or cutting queues at MRT stations. Chope’ing of seats is arguably on the fence.
On the other hand, there are some Singapore cultural traits we hold dear and are worth protecting.
What are those traits and why are they important to Singaporeans?
Let us explore them.
Providing Education to the next generation
As I was growing up, I remembered my parents telling me that as long as I could make it, they would do their best to afford me a university education.
It was extremely difficult to imagine that when we were staying in a rented 1 room flat and feeding on a staple of rice and vegetable soup.
However, they made it happen no matter how remote the chance was.
As Asians, we value education a whole lot.
We understand that hard work pays off in the long run and education is a great social leveller.
More importantly, we want our children to have the best advantages as they enter adulthood so that they can strive for the betterment of their lives.
This mindset is definitely a great one to have.
As the working environment in Singapore becomes increasingly competitive, having a tertiary education is no longer an advantage but a requirement.
Thus, having this cultural belief will improve the following generations of Singaporeans and thus, build a better nation for the future.
Being self-sufficient is always one of the tenets of our country even if we are a small one.
That is why we have Total Defense.
We understand that no one else will help us unless we are strong enough to stand up on our own.
Even when a less-privileged member of the society needs assistance, the concept applies.
Help us help you is one message that our society believes in.
You may not be able but you must be willing to improve your lot.
Culturally, we can see it from the various occupations that our elderly hold even after retirement.
Some may not have enough to retire while others may not want to depend on their children.
As independent working adults for most of their lives, the elderly wishes to continue to stand up on their own and not be a financial burden to their children.
This is a face of Singaporean’s resilience that we do not see in the mainstream media.
And we love that.
Assets for the next generation.
One of the reasons why reverse mortgage or lease buyback is not popular with Singaporeans is simple.
We love to leave our most valuable assets to our family members.
For most lower to middle-income families in Singapore, it happens to be our HDB flat.
It is culturally difficult as Asians to move away from the mindset of asset accumulation for the next generation.
We value our heritage and want nothing but the best for our descendants.
Yes, we may have provided a decent education to give them a fighting chance.
However, there is nothing better than an inheritance to make one feel more secure about one’s future.
If the inheritance comes as a form of shelter, that is even better.
Insurance, a cultural defender.
While there are many ways to solve a problem, we believe life insurance is a viable solution to defend these Singaporean’s beliefs.
Believe it or not, life insurance has multiple forms that can help us maintain some of these desirable cultural mindsets.
Many Singapore parents have relied heavily on endowment plans to secure the future of their children.
Retirement planning is very much part of financial planning package.
Leaving a legacy of assets and not debts is the primary function of any life insurance.
It turns out that insurance is pretty important to what Singaporeans value eh?
Rounding it up.
Singapore is a relatively young nation.
A lot of our traditional practices come from our religions, ancestral values and different races.
Thus, we do not have many things in common with one another.
Positive or not, being kiasu may be the most Singaporean thing that we can be.
If Japanese can eat their ramen noisily and call it their tradition, why can’t financial shrewdness be part of what the Singapore culture is?
Let us embrace the traits that makes us Singaporeans.
And protect what matters!
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.