Singapore: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

October 31, 2020
Singapore: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

Culture Smart! Singapore will introduce you to the rich andvaried customs of this densely populated island-state. It describesits private, social, and business life, and tells you what toexpect and how to behave in unfamiliar situations. In doing so itoffers you a fuller, more rounded experience of this fascinating,conservative, “can-do” society.Singapore is a land of immigrants. Although the Chinese are byfar the largest ethnic group, it is more of a salad bowl than amelting pot, and has never had a dominant culture or a singlelanguage. It is, however, possible to recognize a common identitythat has emerged since independence in 1965.With no natural resources, the newly independent state investedin education and trade, and today this clean, sleek,air-conditioned nation is a global financial centre that makes muchof the West seem third-rate. Singaporeans are hardworking,goal-focused individuals who are both enterprising and modern. Theylove noise, colour, and shopping, and are proud of beinghigh-maintenance and competitive. Yet behind this consumeristfaçade is a deep respect for family and hierarchy, politicalpassivity, and a fear of losing face. They often use two Hokkienwords to describe themselves: kiasu and kiasi, that is, a fear ofmissing out and a tendency to be risk-averse.Culture Smart! Singapore describes how locals interact with eachother and with outsiders, and tells you what to expect and how tobehave in unfamiliar situations. For foreigners the culture shockcan be subtle. Despite its Western veneer this is definitely anAsian city, and it is easy to make mistakes. Any open expression ofanger is frowned upon, and while questions about politics will bemet with silence, expect to be asked everything, including yoursalary.