What It Means To Be Singaporean


Our ancestors had travelled thousands of miles to seek greater opportunities, landed in Singapore, and finally called it home. From mudflats to metropolis, they saw through impressive transformations, as our forefathers triumphed challenges and surpassed others’ expectations. They suffered and endured, and the outcome is the Singapore we know and love today.

Being Singaporean is an amalgamation of two ends of a spectrum: a little influence from the East and West, of tradition and progressiveness, fun and stress, familiarity and surprise. Not to mention, we have have developed certain eyebrow-raising practices and traits that are truly one-of-a-kind – one that makes a fellow Singaporean recognise another from a mile away. What are we best known for?

Being “kiasu”

Singaporeans are kiasu! Kiasu originates from the Hokkien dialect, and describes a (fiery) desire to not lose out to others. We are anxious to sieze opportunities, and find comfort when our desires are within our grasps. Is there a limited edition Hello Kitty toy in town? How about the newest McDonald Nasi Lemak burger? When the latest fad appears, you can be sure to expect long queues!


An overnight queue for the iPhone 7? Better bring a pillow for comfort.

Image credit: channelnewsasia.com

Still, contrary to its negative connotation on over-competitiveness, being kiasu certainly has its benefits. This quality motivates us to strive for the best and discover ways to keep improving. On a national scale, our economy is ranked as one of the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in the world despite limited natural resources – that, on top of being consistently ranked number one in various surveys and rankings. Singapore’s success is by no means a coincidence. Do you think a little of our kiasu spirit plays a part? Be mindful, however, to not be so kiasu it becomes overbearing, and at the expense of others!


To live in Singapore is to live a fast-paced life. To this effect, efficiency is a quality truly valued. Not only do we want to be good at everything we do, we want to do it fast. For example, Singapore is gradually turning into a cashless society. Why proceed with conventional modes of payment when there is Apply Pay or VISA PayWave? We are the famous “short-cut kings”. We even created Singlish to communicate succinctly in multilingual flavours!

Singlish Image credit: hiddensingapore.com

Some fun facts that will make you proud:  Singapore’s healthcare is ranked 2nd most efficient worldwide, and the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Report ranked Singapore as the 2nd most efficient government in the world, just behind Qatar. We are fast and tenacious problem-solvers with a can-do spirit! But do remember that a fast-paced and efficient life is not always the best thing for us. It is refreshing to slow down every now and then to smell the roses. Don’t just live by the moment; live in it. 

Passion for food

One of our greatest pride is the amazing array of local and foreign dishes that give the taste buds reasons to party. Satay, rojak, bak chor mee, chicken rice… We bet the mention of these dishes have already got you salivating and thinking about your next meal. Truly, food binds us all.

Food Image credit: cuddlesandrage.com

Because food is so central to our lives, it is also an area of passion for a great number of Singaporeans. More local entrepreneurs are starting their own cafés, with some making an appearance in the HDB heartlands. For example, Hougang may seem like an unusual place to find a French patisserie, but that is home to Ciel Patisserie, that sells a wholesome range of cakes and tarts that will tickle your fancy. If you crave gourmet waffles and ice-cream, the Toa Payoh neighbourhood Creamier – a quaint dessert place that prepares quality sorbet and one of the best waffles in Singapore, and claimed by Singapore’s food blogger, Lady Iron Chef.

Technological savviness

Singaporeans are virtually connected 24/7 with the omnipresent Wi-Fi and mobile data networks. In this age of social media, youths without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat accounts are truly a rare breed. Fascinatingly, this is the reason CNN Travel rated Singaporeans as the 2nd coolest nationality, behind Brazilians. Old school notions of cool have been given a fresh new face: internet geeks are now ruling the planet. 

 SocialMediaImage credit: bitrebels.com

Now that we are a wired nation, a single post can go viral within minutes with little care for whether its contents can elicit uplifting or detrimental effects. Don’t forget that no one is truly anonymous behind screen, and that we are still accountable for all our online activities. Singaporeans are not just mindless social media kings and queens; we can strive to be responsible too. A humorous, positive, and Instagram-worthy Singapore – now wouldn’t that be an awesome thing to be?

Truly, there’s no place else we’d rather call home.

Happy 52nd Birthday Singapore!

This article has been brought to you by the NDP 2017 Media Team.