Saturday, September 13, 2008

Seeing It Differently

This conversation is inspired by a discussion with a blogger friend which brought back some memories.

Some of you would know that I'm half the time based in Lion City, Singapore, while the other half the time in my beloved country, Malaysia.

The Singapore Dream
When I first came to Singapore years back, it was out of 'living the Singapore Dream' (I like to also call it the Nanyang Dream). Just like people going to USA for the American Dream, I, like many of my peers went over to Singapore to further our education.

Now, it's not that Malaysia didn't offer us the courses we wanted or the universities we applied. But it was an opportunity to see another country (though it's just a causeway away and border to neighbouring Malaysia), be in a different system, and to open up the opportunities.

You know the modern & clean city image Singapore portrays really enticed me. Prior to that, I've always admired the city state during my holiday trips there. I mean, close as we are, it is quite a different city/ country altogether. And just by being different, it gives space for admiration.

A Different Singapore
But lo & behold, settling down there initially was a big difference. Gone were the images of the cool & admirable nation I had. Instead, it was an image of kiasu, rude and even fake encounters. And with the back of the mind that "Malaysia's food so much better".

Even whenever I was brought to see the good things the country offered, I had in the back of my mind "Malaysia also got mah.. in fact, bigger". This got to a point where some closer Singaporean friends commented "Why are you so against here?".

These thoughts may have been started because the image portrayed was quite different from the living experience. Being no more a tourist, I was seeing the 'real Singapore' that are not in the tourist brochures.

And this thought of "Malaysia better", "my country's better" etc went on for years. And to make things worse, I have had some other Malaysian friends who shared the same sentiments. And negative with negative, don't make a positive here. In fact, it just makes it far worse.

'A Paradigm Shift'
Then one day, something changed my mind. I somehow decided that if I had to stay in Singapore (like many students we have to fulfill the bond), well, I better make it a good one.

And the one way to make it good is to first, have a clear mind - on neutral ground about the country. It would definitely be difficult to start off positively but neutral ground seems perfect. And that means 'throwing' the old negative mindset.

That was like an overnight decision. And in fact, the results came quite overnight as well. From there onwards, though I still do encounter some unpleasant people, but I now have seen a better side of the people & the city. The encounters with fellow Singaporeans have been more positive then before.

From 'Don't Quite Like' to 'Not Bad' and now 'Hey, It's Good!'.
And with the change of mindset, I can now fully appreciate what the country is doing - on the international platform and at the same time for its people... like the F1, the integrated resorts, the Singapore Flyer, revamp of Orchared Road, the Esplanade & the opening up of the Entertainment/ Arts industry, CPF, etc... So much so that there are times when I'm more positive about the country than my fellow Singaporean friends (and the occasional expats/ foreigners).

Business wise, this has helped me as well - in terms of working with associates to having a rather affluent market, and even with Singapore as a good business platform (Singapore is ranked no. 1 for ease of doing business for small business).

It's The Mindset
In conclusion, what I'm actually trying to share is that the opening of mindset is crucial in our everyday lives. I've taken my experience in living in Singapore as a way of how the change of mindset can bring positive results.

And now, I'm back at seeing Singapore as it once was through my eyes.

*I continuously still need to apply this positive outlook in work, business and even in my trips to overseas. But, it really helps having this in the back of my mind.


  1. this is a really nice thought..
    yea, im still desperately keeping an open mind.. haha...
    just curious, since s'pore is a good place to u now.. then what is msia to ?
    im asking this coz i met a few S'poreans (who were Msians) and S'pore PR (msians) who lived in S'pore for 20 yrs or more..

    they kinda forgot their roots, n condemn malaysia of things which are untrue n baseless, they duno wat happen over in Msia, but they just shoot without 1st checking their facts.. that really disgust me leh!! hahaha..

    good post..

  2. @teddy
    singapore is good. so is malaysia. and the many other countries in the world. let's not be 1 country focused per say.

    one friend of mine told me once "pls see the world - there's more than you know". that was when i was just into malaysia & singapore & thought the world was around these 2 nations only.

    i couldnt quite understand him then. but as time passed, i now know that the world is really our oyster, its huge and there's more to it :)

    *on yr encounters with former malaysians, this not only happens to malaysians who have now become singaporeans. it happens to other malaysians like in australia & uk even.

    and in fact, even to other citizens when they migrate. people migrate for many reasons. maybe they had a hard life back home (in whichever country they are from).

    again, if they use the idea of 'opening their minds', they may find their former countries not as bad. for as much people leave, many actually come as well.

    take singapore. the govt do mention of the brain drain of singaporeans. but also many people are flocking to the country - from other asian nationalities to even the western counterparts.

    btw, on migration, i wrote some reasons why people migrate (& it vs loyalty).

  3. hi quachee, wishing u a happy weekend festive season..
    and agree with what u said about our country and our neighbour..

  4. You're right, it's all up to us. Our attitude decides the perspective.

  5. great to know you had sorted out problems. Always treasure on what we have! :) Kaes life more meaning full!

  6. wow.... this is thought provoking indeed.
    Maybe i should learn to be like you: how to enjoy this dreaded place

  7. @beng beng
    yes, it is :)

    thank you :)

    thanks. hope you had a good one too :)

    true, true... our mind is so powerful heh

    @big boys oven
    yes, it was just the first few years. luckily, i managed to switch. otherwise till today cant enjoy life in singapore haha

    sure can one. start on 'neutral ground' :)


Oh hey, thank you for commenting! :)