Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ni Hao

If you take a walk along the streets, you will notice a distinctive different Chinese all around. Unlike the Malaysians who many times are far more difficult to differentiate from the Singaporeans, but the Chinese from mainland
China has quite distincitve looks - apart from their usually fairer skin tone.

They Are Everywhere
The Chinese nationals in Singapore is actually not new - they form a segment of the blue collared to university students and savy businessmen in Singapore. However, it has only been on recent weeks that I took notice of the surge on the number of Chinese nationals here - in the nearby neighbourhood.

Actually, this shouldn't come as a surprise as it was reported in the press that the Singapore government has allowed the increase of the number of Chinese nationals of a company from 5 to 10%.

Some locals have lamented on their 'differences' despite being from the similar cultural background. And I agree that at times this glaring difference can be very apparent. Some feel uncomfortable too!

Foodcourt Experience
But I have also found some good experiences with the Chinese nationals here. Now that they are more seen in the service sectors, they are learning fast. They seem to be bringing their 'quality service standards' (the ones from like the hotels) from their major cities to here.

You can experience that in 5 star hotels in Beinjing or Shanghai - and now you can experience it here - in your local neighbourhood foodcourts. Going to a foodcourt recently, the Chinese nationals are now the cooks and servers. They will greet you just as you pass by with a Ni Hao or something similar to that extent, even if you are just walking by.

And when you buy at their counter, they welcome you with greetings again. To make your whole purchase a memorable experience, they greet you goodbye after you've ordered & make payment. Though they may not look into your eye, but this is service alrite.

A Singapore Experience
So despite the many negativities surrounding them, I think it's not too bad afterall. In fact, their service makes this a great Singapore experience to both locals & foreigners alike... and at the same time re-enforcing or re-introducing good service standards.

*On a sidetrack, yes, they are different - just like our forfathers who first came here and adapted the local culture. But give them time to adapt & learn a thing or two from our local or localised customs too :)

More on PRC - 2 Sides Of A PRC: Man Man Chi (Eat Slowly)


  1. i agree!! sad to say, not everyone is so tolerant or accepting of our foreign friends.

    sometimes, it's even just plain discrimination. so i wonder... what gives?

  2. so how did u answer when they said "Ni Hao" to you? or never answer? or just smile?

  3. Yes, I also observe this. In Jurong point many eating stalls employed chinese young ladies. They are friendly, hardworking, can work long hour.
    I have no objection because they like our ancestors coming to singapore for a living 5o years ago.
    Have a nice day.

  4. hi daphne

    totally agree, they need a mind-shift and to 'open up'.

    but like it or not, i think they are here to stay - and maybe the figures might increase some more.

    so we better just be prepared with an open mind :)

  5. hi haan,

    usually if they greet me while i walk by, i will smile and nod.

    but if im at their counter, ill greet them back. at times i will strike a conversation with them. act its not only to them but also to the other msians or even singaporean who serve the food - if they are friendly of course! :)

  6. Oh, you're a foreigner too.

  7. and are the non chinese speaking locals supposed to pick up chinese just because your beloved prcs can't speak english ?

  8. I have no objections having PRCs working here. But most of you seem to be overly understanding probably because you can converse in Mandarin. What about those who don't? I feel that if they want to work over here, they must have the basic skills of the official language, just as is expected of foreign maids.

    As a citizen of sg, I do not see why I have to feel alienated in my own land. We never had this problem with Malaysians because most Chinese could converse in Malay, so it would not really matter if they could not speak English because they spoke at least 2 or 3 of the languages common to most Singaporeans.

    You cannot imagine how frustrating it is not to be able to place a food order, enquire about a product or even ask how much an item is without having to go into sign language.

    And don't tell me that I'm being unduly harsh or unfair because it is expected from others, from the Bangladesh worker to the native Indonesian maid from Central Java. If they can do it, why can't the PRCs? The problem is, most hirers are of the opinion that most people in Singapore speak Mandarin - which is definitely not the case!

  9. To the Annonymouss

    Yes, Im Malaysian, but have lived here a while now :)

    2. I can see how frustrated you guys are for the language barrier.

    Act I faced some problems too with the other foreigners who cant seem to understand Singapore's more common Singlish - they speak Vinglish or Chinglish, Aus English, Brit English, American English or anything but Singlish.

    But the good ones eventually picked up - and now they speak our local lingo well. One of them is my staff (she's Vietnamese).

    I totally agree, whoever coming into Singapore be it from Asia or anywhere else, they should learn the Singlish (not English) for the ease of communication.

    I believe that the PRCs will eventually do so if they make Singapore their home, or if they stay here longer. Ive seen orang putih/ mat sallehs speaking with lahs or even PRCs who speak just like the Singaporean Chinese here. These are usually the ones who have stayed here for years.

    So give some of them time :) (yang lain tu yang tak nak belajar tu, biarkan aje. dia orang takkan lama kat sini) - for those who are not interested in learning, let them be. They most likely wont be here long :)

  10. so far the chinese from china in Msia give us a bad image...why not? u most china girls work in the disco, pub, kara-ok with so called "extra service" offered. some even selling the pirated CD, DVD and etc at the street or foot courts, most of them stay in local illegally.

    are they really in need of money & poor? im so pitty on them, so for those foreigners from indonesia & etc.


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