A Dragon In Singapore
Ah, Singapore, the last quasi-right-wing holdout on planet Earth (other than the Middle East). It’s a different kind of right-wing the Western world is accustomed to; these right-wingers are pro-multiculturalism and pro-environmental (more on those in a minute).
Yet even conservative, capitalistic, authoritarian Singapore is starting to feel the burn (as in left wingers like Bernie Sanders) of the encroaching left-wing dominance of the world. The right-wing People’s Action Party has been in near-complete control of Singapore since 1959. However, every year since 2006 they’ve been losing votes to more left-wing parties, the biggest of which is the Worker’s Party (can’t get more left-wing than that!).
How much longer can Singapore hold out? Only time will tell, but soon Singapore will start the slow transition from (quasi) right-wing authoritarianism to left-wing bloat. Start singing that “Change” Van Halen song.
I’m spending a week here in Singapore, working, relaxing, hanging out, and “visiting” some of my offshore investments (but I won’t say anything more about that so don’t ask). It’s a cool place, certainly one of the best places in Asia, but not without its problems.
1. The Weather sucks, almost beyond belief. Jesus God. Holy shit. KILL ME. Since it’s pretty much sitting on the equator, Singapore is the hottest and most humid place I’ve ever visited in my life. Hey, it’s hot and humid in places like Hong Kong too, but in Hong Kong I can walk around several hours before I feel really disgusting. In Singapore, if you walk outside for just 15 minutes, which can easily be the distance from your hotel to the subway, oh fuck hell, you feel so hot, sweaty, sticky, and miserable you want to kill yourself. And that’s when wearing a short-sleeved shirt. Let’s not even talk about trying to wear a suit here.
Seriously, this heat and humidity is absolute torture for a Western white boy like me. I can walk around in a “normal” hot/humid place for hours and be fine, but here in Singapore, and I hate to sound like a pussy here, I have to seriously duck into an air conditioned building at least once every 20-30 minutes. Walking around outside here for more than that is a serious endurance test unless you were born and raised here. Not to mention the fact that if you’re wearing business attire or similar, your entire vibe is ruined because you’re sticky and drenched all over.
Once again, as I talked about when I mentioned this humidity stuff in Hong Kong, I am simply amazed that people would choose to live in a city where you can’t go outside for more than 20-30 minutes without taking a sweat shower. The people who live here tell me that if you were born and raised here, it’s not quite as bad, but, and this is the point I’m making, they still really dislike it.
My only guess is that if I actually lived here full time, I would A) develop systems in my life to mitigate this and B) get “used to it,” or at least have it be really irritating instead of inducing suicidal thoughts.
On top of the insane heat and humidity, you have to carry around an umbrella all the time because it rains here. And I thought Washington DC’s weather was bad, Jesus. DC’s weather sucks, but DC is Singapore’s little brother when it comes to humidity.
Oh, it gets worse. Singapore is like this year-round. As a matter of fact, right now while I’m here is supposed to be one of the more “mild” months. Ha! “Mild” in the Singapore world means low 90s with 70% humidity. Yeah. I ate an ice cream bar in a mall the other day, and the god damn thing was actually smoking. And I was indoors.
Singapore was on my short list of cities to move to when I finally leave the US. No longer. I like Singapore and I will certainly visit here again and do business here, but live here? Even spend a month here?
No. I just can’t do this. If I had to actually live here with this heat and humidity, I can picture myself jumping off the top of the Marina Bay Sands towers just to feel cool again. Then I’d splat on the bottom, which would be sweet relief.
Sorry, Singapore. You’re awesome, and I gave you a decent shot, but you need to install a giant air conditioned dome over the entire city before I would ever consider moving here, or even spending any time here longer than several days.
2. The People. This is where Singapore is most interesting for a variety of reasons.
Very unlike most countries, Singapore is multi-cultural. It’s about equal parts Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian, with a small smattering of non-American whites (but not much). When first arriving here I mistook the darker-skinned Malaysians for Indians, which look very similar to Western eyes.
The Chinese here are agnostic, Buddhist, or Christian. The Indians are Hindu. The Malaysians are Muslim. In Singapore, you can walk down a street and see a church, a mosque, and a Buddhist temple all on the same street. I’ve never seen this kind of religious integration anywhere, including places like New York. Fascinating.
Since its inception as a real and separate nation in 1965, Singapore’s goal was to become a multiracial society. Its founder and Abraham-like figure Lee Kuan Yew famously said, “We are not a Chinese nation, or a Malaysian nation, or an Indian nation. We are a Singaporean nation.”
Well, they pulled it off. Singapore is multiculturalism done correctly, perhaps the only nation I’ve ever seen to make this work effectively. Right-wingers dislike multiculturalism because of the right’s inherent fear of other races and foreigners. The left-wing loves “multiculturalism” because they sneakily use the word “multiculturalism” as code word for “welfare state.”
As usual, both the left and the right are wrong. Multiculturalism and immigration are good, PROVIDED two things:
1. There is no welfare state (Singapore has none to speak of). If any foreigners are allowed to live in your land, then they need to get a job and support themselves, or they starve (or leave). Europe (and the US to a lesser extent) is showing exactly what happens when you mix mass immigration with a massive welfare state. Multiculturalism or welfare state, choose one.
2. There is no politically correct, big governmental structure forcing you to spend time with, hire, or serve those of other races if you don’t want to. The US is an example of big government force-feeding multiculturalism down your throat (particularly as a business owner) whether you want it or not.
Don’t do either of those things, and multiculturalism is awesome. Singapore is proof of this. Embrace either of those two things (or both), and you’re screwed.
The Muslim population here is strong. I ate lots of Muslim food (yummy!) and went to two different Muslim concerts, where the music was surprisingly good:
Women wearing hijabs are everywhere. I said hijab, not burka. The hijab covers the head and neck only (not face). The burka covers everything. An example of Singaporean Muslim women:
Some of the younger Muslim chicks, as well as some of the milfs, were pretty hot. Not very many, but some. I was surprised. Much hotter than the Chinese women anyway.
As an American, I have some false Societal Programming that tells me to fear Muslims (terrorists!). However, unlike my stupid country, the Singaporean military doesn’t attack other countries nor set up military bases in other nations, thus Singapore has no terrorism problem and Muslims here get along with the other races and religions in peace and harmony. A pity this is too complicated a concept for the rulers of the America to understand.
The Asians here are also interesting. In Hong Kong and China, Asian men look, well, Asian. No one is fat, no one is muscular, and no one is tall. All the men have that typical “skinny Asian guy” body. Pretty much every dude you see has the identical body from the neck down, and exceptions to this are very rare. (Japan is like this too.)
Asian guys in Singapore, however, tend to be taller, broader, and have bigger torsos, arms, shoulders, and can actually be beefy, chubby, or muscular. In other words, Asian guys here in Singapore kinda look like…me. They look unlike the Asian men of any other nation I’ve visited.
The Asian women here are pretty much the same as China/HK. I would say that they are one tiny notch better-looking because of mixed breeding with the other races here. The few super-hotties I’ve seen here were clearly of mixed or semi-mixed race (Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian). But then those aren’t full Chinese women, are they?
In terms of look and style, Singaporeans are even more classy than Hong Kongers (who themselves are much classier than the mainland Chinese). The women here really present well. Feminine styles such as dresses, gowns, and skirts are common.
The men here, particularly the Muslim non-Asians but some of the Asians too, actually look somewhat Alpha. There’s a common hairstyle here where the men shave the sides of their heads and grow the rest of their hair out, and it looks pretty cool. (Wish I could pull something like that off; but I’m too pale and businessy.)
These are all a testament to the more right-wing culture here; more right-wing equals more Alpha and masculine men and more feminine women. I predict that over the years you’ll see less and less of this as the culture follows the rest of the world and becomes more left-wing. I have a strong feeling that in 20 years, people here will start to look more like the West does now; more beta-looking men and more women with shorter hair and wearing pants.
3. Interesting Coupling. There are two interesting dynamics in Singapore with boy/girl couples that I have not observed anywhere else.
The first is that interracial couples here are extremely common, more so even in racially diverse areas of the US. Hot mixed girls with Asian guys. White guys with Asian girls. Indian guys with Asian girls. Asian guys with Muslim Malaysian girls. Etc. It’s crazy, and kinda nice.
The second, and more interesting thing, is that you’ll quite often see boy/girl couples where the girl is clearly better-looking than the man, sometimes extremely so. This, again, covers all three races (plus mixed). This is something I simply do not see in the West, or even in other Asian countries (of course barring the exception of the ugly older guy with money with the younger hot gold digger).
The most extreme case of this I saw just yesterday. On the subway was a young couple, a super-gorgeous, light-skinned mixed girl, whom most men would easily rank a 9 or 10, with a lanky, dorky, ugly, zit-faced Asian beta dressed like a nerd and acting like it. Yet damn, this girl was all over him. Touching him, squeezing him, giving him doggy dinner bowl eyes, laughing with sparkles in her eyes when she looked at him, the works.
I was riveted. I’ve never seen anything like this. It was like watching something from a parallel universe. This was not an outlier…there’s a lot of this kind of thing here.
4. Big Brother. I’ve always said that left-wingers want government to be their mommy and take care of them, while right-wingers want government to be a big, strong, stern father, who keeps people in line. Singapore’s strong, right-wing, authoritarian “father” government is “felt” here.
You’ll see big signs on the freeway that say, “USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL BEFORE CHANGING LANES.”
On my visa exit card it had emblazoned in huge letters, “DEATH PENALTY TO ANY DRUG TRAFFICKERS” Yes, they will actually kill you if you try to sell drugs here, even if it’s just weed, and even if you’re a foreigner.
On the subways, you’re constantly hearing audio, over and over again, of “IF YOU OBSERVE ANY SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR, REPORT IT TO THE AUTHORITIES.” (The US is doing this now too. Great.)
On the buses, you’ll actually see signs that show a man’s hand on a girl’s ass, with the words “IF YOU ARE MOLESTED ON THIS BUS, CALL THE POLICE.”
When you walk into shops, you’ll sometimes see this crap:
Chewing gum is illegal here. Yes, it’s illegal. Why? Because you might spit it out on the street. WE CANNOT HAVE THAT, CITIZEN. OUR NATION MUST BE CLEAN. NOW OBEY.
Big government is stupid, wasteful, inhuman, and destructive regardless if it’s left or right wing. Like with my own left-wing nation, this garbage is a little fun to watch from a distance though. I’m so glad I’m an Alpha Male 2.0 and none of this affects me. If I was a normal person this shit might actually affect my happiness.
5. The economy is absolutely booming here, just like with the rest of Asia. Trying to nail down some private office space for some consulting and coaching was damn near impossible because all the office space in the city is pretty much full. I have not seen one homeless person during my entire visit here so far. Even the lower-class people here seem happy, hard-working, and vibrant consumers.
As just an example, here’s the Marina Bay Sands, a fucking cruise ship mounted on top of three skyscrapers:
Not to be outdone by Hong Kong, it shoots lasers too (just not as many).
The city is clean and high-tech. I’ve been here almost a week, and have been all over the city, and so far have seen a grand total of two pieces of litter. (Stands to reason I guess. They probably kill you if you litter.)
6. The culture is much more “suburban” than most other Chinese/Asian cities. When you land in Hong Kong, and take that first subway ride out of the airport, it’s like you’ve arrived on another planet, even well before you hit the city core. In Singapore, once you’re outside of the city core it looks just like any suburb of Los Angeles or Seattle.
As such, the people are much less rushed, more polite (they actually say “sorry” when they bump you; rare in Asia!), walk more slowly, and are less aggressive. One of my mentors, Wall Street legend Jim Rogers, could have lived anywhere in Asia and chose to move to Singapore to raise his kids. I think this suburban quality, along with the cleaner air, is probably why. (I’m sure he hates the humidity too, but he travels so much it doesn’t bother him.)
7. The air quality is the best of any Asian city I have ever visited. Both the city and its air are shockingly clean (for a large city). If it weren’t for the heat/humidity, Singapore would probably have the highest quality of living of any Asian city I’ve been to so far. True, it’s still a big city so the air isn’t truly “clean” if you’re accustomed to living out in a rural area, but as compared to other cities, the air is pristine.
They’re big on the environment here. They even have an eco-mega-forest with rain forest plants and “super trees” that help clean the air:
8. The transportation infrastructure, perhaps unsurprisingly, is top notch. Just like with Hong Kong, during my entire time navigating Singapore’s subway system I never had to “think” once about getting around. While the buses are not quite as nice as HKs, everything is super efficient.
One small problem was that for some bizarre reason, the subway trains have very little seats. Many times I had to stand when there were barely any people on the train because all the seats were taken. Dumb. Sometimes you’ll have entire rows of a subway car with no seats. WTF?
Because of this, I can’t say Singapore has the best subway system I’ve seen. That’s still Shanghai, though both HK and Singapore come in at a close second.
On the overall, I like Singapore. I consider it one of my target Asian growth cities for business and income, and will be back here at some point, but because of the utterly ridiculous weather I will never live here, nor spend any time here longer than about 3-4 days at a time. I also don’t feel that exciting “hustle” of the populace in Singapore that I feel in more Chinese cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai. Still a very cool place though.
Next up, I’m headed back to the Western world: Australia…