8 Things I Don’t Understand in Singapore

8 Things I Don’t Understand in Singapore

Posted in Perspectives, on May 27, 2024

Such is life in Singapore
Such is life in Singapore

I always praise Singapore in every circumstance. However, navigating the intricacies of a city like Singapore can bring up many questions and observations.

After my 8th year living in Singapore, I am still baffled by the following issues. Disclaimer: This list is random, and in no particular order, and of my own views.

Sidewalk conflicts

Why are some sidewalks so small even though the curb and green space are ridiculously huge? Some side streets have wide green areas, so maybe there's a requirement for a certain percentage of green space versus sidewalk. But considering most people walk, why not prioritize pedestrians?

Dedicated bikelanes, please?

While there are some dedicated bike lanes, there aren't enough of them. Most bike lanes have conflicts with pedestrians on the sidewalks. I get dinged by bike bells so often; it's really annoying.

Prioritizing for cars, still?

I understand that cars are necessary for some needs or wants, but some roads are just too big. For example, Still Road could easily have a dedicated bike lane straight to East Coast Park, or maybe pedestrianize some sections like Joo Chiat Road.

Phone zombies

People walking while glued to their phones, right in the middle of the sidewalk, is baffling. I don't get the urgency. Why not stop and step aside somewhere safe instead of making passersby navigate around them?

Walk chill, leh!

People walk so fast here. I get it, sometimes you need to save time, and I do that too. But it reaches a point where fast walkers get annoyed by slower walkers, as if slower walkers always have to give way to them. Do they think they're more important?

Kids vs no kids!

There's also this kids versus no kids debate. I know some Singaporean friends who don't want to have kids, and they subtly look down on people who do (including me). One friend even said, "Why do people with kids seem to get older faster or seem unhappy?" or challenged the idea of having kids with, "Tell me a strong reason to have kids." Sure, you could argue it doesn't make financial sense in the long run, but it's not appropriate to say those things. So much of it is cultural, and not everything is logical. Some want to continue their legacy, whatever it is. Some want accompaniments. Some want… just the pure happiness of having a child. Some go extra miles for it.


Ungratefulness is another issue. I might contradict myself here, but as someone who isn't 100% Singaporean, I feel I can say this. People complain about everything, often going over the top. Seeking accountability from the government is one thing, but complaining about trivial things you should take for granted, like relatively good traffic, is another. I remember being in a taxi that was moving slowly with lots of cars, and the driver was already complaining. My Jakarta self couldn't relate. As a PR now, I pay CPF every month and think it's brilliant to save up so much money for later in life. Yet, a friend complained, "It's my money, I don't understand why I can't use it now." Bro?


Most Singaporeans are direct, which I understand, but sometimes they're a bit too direct. For example, a Grab driver once told me off because my kid should take a taxi or Grab Family instead. I agree with the rule, but he shouted at me like I was a criminal, "IT'S SINGAPORE LAW, YOU KNOW!" Another time, I had issues with my MRT card, and it read slower than usual. The student behind me got impatient and shooed me with, "Go, go, what are you waiting for?!"

In a way, this list doesn’t really represent all of Singapore (or maybe perhaps they do?), but I continue to face a few or some of these issues daily. Also, to note, of course, this list might not be specific to Singapore, so take this a little lightly. See you in the next article.

Thanks for reading!

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