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I read the article published on The Guardian titled 'Unfamiliar faces are crowding our land' and was stunned by the exaggerations presented in the piece. While the cost of living in Singapore is not the cheapest in the world, the average Singaporean does not exactly live from hand to mouth.
Looking at the smart-phone penetration rate in Singapore at 90% (Business Times, Blackbox Research), many people own the latest on-the-go gadget . I remember the story that came out in the news right after iPhone 5 first launched -- it was sold out almost immediately.
Each iPhone 5 costs between $948 to $1238 (without contract) and isn't it amazing that the Singaporeans who were willing and able to purchase a S$948 handphone, were also complaining about the rise of $0.50 in our ban mian at the neighbourhood kopitiam?
I'm not saying that I don't complain, I do. As a typical Singaporean, I do make complains about many things on a daily basis. However, when I stopped my typical complain-queen persona and started looking at my life and the luxuries that I have sometimes taken for granted, I felt a little silly complaining about just any thing that irks me.
What about the getaways that many of us enjoy on a yearly or for some twice-a-year basis? More Singaporeans are having their vacation holidays in Australia, Europe and America, and even more are venturing to other Asian countries like Japan and Korea. Looking at the upcoming NATAS fair, I wonder how crowded it will be this year!
The truth is Singaporeans are increasingly more well-travelled these days. If we have the money to go on these getaways, can we still claim to be living from hand to mouth as the Guardian article insinuates? Beyond the emotional triggers that the article provides, how much of it is real, proven truth?
These are but two examples of how we are not living from hand to mouth. Realistically speaking, many of us average Singaporeans do enjoy reasonably good lives. We are able to take care of our families and ourselves; and even to provide some luxuries pretty regularly, be it watching a movie, sipping a coffee at Starbucks or going on a short getaway to a neighbouring country.
I also take offence at what the article mentioned about the "racial tensions (that) already run high" in my country. These tensions are unnecessarily exaggerated and the article made it sound like Singapore is plagued with racial and ethnic strifes everyday. I wonder how the writer knew about all these?
Or if she had seen children, regardless of ethnic groups, playing together in school fields or the neighbourhood playground; or the gathering of Malay, Indian and Chinese colleagues at an Indian restaurant during lunch hours; or even Chinese families inviting their Malay and Indian neighbours to their homes during the recent Chinese New Year?
We have indeed come a long way since the old days of rioting and massive misunderstandings, and it is time that non-Singaporeans stop judging us based on our eventful history.
I must confess, I did feel slightly disconcerted when I first read the article. Then I began counting my blessings: I have shelter; yes, a small four room flat with my family which is albeit a little old but still very cosy. I have a job, I'm paid enough to save up and go for a short getaway to Hong Kong or Taiwan every one to two years. I don't have to worry about not being able to buy my next meal. I own an iPhone 5 when I renewed my SingTel contract last December. I just went to watch "Ah Boys to Men 2" over the Chinese New Year period with my family, with tickets that cost S$10 each.
Before we complain and grumble further, shall we take some time to count our blessings and realise how fortunate we actually are?
Amanda Yang, 25
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