A Singapore experience

I was in Singapore for a few days, mainly to attend a religious ceremony arranged by my sister for my parents 10 years’ death anniversary.

Well, Singapore is Singapore, and it never fails to amaze me with new buildings , new viaducts and roads here and there. Even for a personlike me, who has stayed there for 5 years, it is not easy to recognise the roads except maybe the city centre.

But one experience  showed that even in Singapore, you have to be careful when taking a cab.

One evening, we had a craze for Indian foods, and we decided to take a cab from the Hotel to little India, which is maybe 10 minutes’ drive away. Since I was always trustful of Singapore taxi drivers, I did not pay attention to the driver but instead was chatting with my family. The  suddenly I realised we were travelling  away from the city and I  immediately told the driver in Mandarin that I was educated in Singapore and had stayed there many years, and have been coming to Singpaore on and off . He looked stunted and embarassed and  quickly switched direction and brouhgt us to our destination . A journey of 10 minutes took about 20 minutes in the end.  I did not take down the number of the cab which I should have, since i thought I should give him a chance.

For a ride of about $5, we have to pay $11. I gave him $12 and he told me he is giving me a dollar change. But when I alighted from the car and took a look, the coin was a fifty cents coin. To be cheated once is ignorance, to be cheated twice  is real foolish on my part.

That is a lesson to learn. Even in such a disciplined country, you still have to be careful. Human being human, greed is present everywhere. 

One other thing that sruck me is that even in Orchard road, where there were such big crowds on Sunday, not a single person was seen wearing a mask… In Changi airport, there was no thermal scanners and also no one is wearing , masks, which is a sharp contrast with KLIA. It reminded me of my trip to Australia and NZ in May, where everyone moved around without much worry about H1N1, since this virus is just another seasonal flu to most of them.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Meng
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 11:46:02

    Dr Hsu, well now you know

    In May they had scanners at Changi.


  2. klm
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 11:50:27

    Dear Dr Hsu. Cari makan is cari makan whether in Malaysia or in Singapore. It is tough for the lower income group to survive in Singapore. The PAP govt system in Singapore work works against them.

    In moving the economy up the food chain, i.e. higher paying jobs, the people in the low income group suffer. They have to swallow their morals as make a bit extra by fleecing the tourists and visitors.

    In Singapore, the labour profile is :

    1. High Income = 51% of poplulation
    2. Mid Income = 24.7% of population
    3. Low Income = 24.3%

    (These are Spore Ministry of Manpower figures)

    The majority being classified as high income will push prices making life difficult for the low income.
    Low income people are minority in Singapore.

    Please do not be upset. Singapore is not heaven for these people.

    🙂 😮


  3. clearwater
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 12:22:02

    That was a cheap but timely reminder to be careful and not be too trusting. Well worth the lesson. We all have been conned one time or another, being conned by a perfect stranger is a lot less painful than being conned by someone known to you.

    I have lent money to 3 friends in need in the past ; 1 passed away without repaying, 1 is no longer in touch with me and the 3rd keeps breaking his promise to repay a not insubstantial sum overdue 4 years. Yet he can still keeps his Mercedes. Never a borrower or a lender be ; or lose your friend , lose your money as well. That’s life.


  4. cilipadi
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 13:00:26

    The taxi driver is one example of morally wrong case, irrespective of the amount involved. This taxi driver did not take into consideration for consuming more petrol by taking you for a ride, hehehe. He was sure in financial difficulty for doing that, but, that is not the excuse.

    Morally wrong examples are every where. DVD Chua is morally wrong for cheating his wife, yet can stand ‘straight’ with no shame after that.

    Umno Permatang Pasir candidate can cheat client’s money, yet can still stand ‘tall’ with no shame for contesting in bye-election. He sure lose, maybe his deposit as well. If he wins, then confirm for sure “morality” is not important in Malaysian politics. A murderer, a robber, a pirate, a gangster, a crook, ….. can be your leader.

    How about Tiong & Ong? Same-same?

    siapa makan cili, dia rasa pedas


  5. DG
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 13:17:13


    It’s like saying SOME MALAYSIANS dislike so and so, or A dislike B.

    Why make such a remark?
    I can’t see where in this article written by the good Dr warrants such a remark?

    We have to b careful with what we write or say or it would give people the wrong perception about us.
    What say you ?


  6. Meng
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 14:33:22

    DG and the rest my sincere apology.

    Thank You DG for pointing out.

    For others who come in here my childish comments do not in any way reflect on the quality of this blog but solely on Me Meng.

    Dr Hsu my apology.


  7. Dr Hsu
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 14:41:26

    I have deleted part of your earlier message, an inadvertent mistake i believe..


  8. A true Malaysian
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 15:19:33

    Crows are equally “black” everywhere, whether in Malaysia or Singapore.

    But, why we human using crow to depict bad or immoral person? Why crow? If we really look into this, crow actually does wonder to our environment. It is functioning like “bandaraya” to keep our roads clean, and we heard story about young crow take care of its aging mother diligently.

    To use crow to depict bad or immoral person is in itself reflects “how bad” we humans are. The fact is that we humans should learn from crows sometime.

    By the way, someone told me crows in Ghana is white, not black. My source is reliable. Maybe someone else can testify this. So, crows are not all black after all.


  9. Dr Hsu
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 15:34:15

    you are right. SOme crows are white.
    go to this link for pictures of white crows : http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/whitecrows.htm

    Colour is illusion.
    Everything in this world is illusion, no permanence… Crows can be white or black, it does not matter, Man can be white or black or brown or yellow, it does not matter. The souls inside our bodies have no colour…

    Our cells have no colours. Our bodies are made up of trillions of atoms and some of them may have once been inside the body of Genghis Khan, Some of it may be inside Napoleoan, some of it may be inside Confucius… Once the bodies died, it is either buried or burned and the atoms returned to nature and from nature it is used to build animals or plant cells which may eventually be incorporated back into human bodies again.

    So all men are really brothers, and why fight each other just because the external colour may be different because of the different enviromental influences?


  10. A true Malaysian
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 15:49:57

    Well done Dr. Hsu. Thank you for the link.


  11. ahoo
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 18:17:01

    Many people always think that the grass is greener everywhere else except in our own land. To each its own as some people are good at adapting to any changes, be it climatic or otherwise. As for me I think Malaysia is not that bad as we have ample facilities as compared to third world. Of course taken with a pinch of salt without the ugly side of ketunan politics etc.

    Let us the sane ones ask ourselves what we can do for this country to regain its lost status of former glory. The road ahead may not be easy but there are still hope as by the days, we are witnessing more changes taking place. With Pakatan leading the way in some states with more accountability, transparency and working toward people’s aspiration, BN have no choice but to emulate them. This itself will augur well for the future generation.

    Let each of us play our small role in ensuring that our votes are given only to those who share our dreams for a united Malaysia with every citizen as anak bangsa Malaysia.


  12. disgusted
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 21:34:18

    Haa, ha, Dr Hsu, you are enlightened. First time, I hear someone in the blog sounding out this truth.

    The spiritual dimension is color blind. You are right, atoms don’t give a damn shit to race, culture and so-called religions that some idiots are so fighting so hard, even kill others to protect all these “illusions” and these assholes will surely go to hell. PAS old man is right.

    The hell is really crowded.


  13. looes74
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 22:11:42

    What you should have done when you have met this errant taxi driver are as follows:

    1) Talk down taxi driver’s name or at least his Taxi’s registration number.

    2) Lodge a complain through phone to that particularly taxi company

    I guarantee you that taxi driver would be out of work immediately
    The relevant information as follows:


    Just to remind you. Once you lodge a complain, that taxi driver (only for Singaporeans) would be blacklisted for good


  14. looes74
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 22:16:18

    Singapore government make sure that taxi drivers are driven by Singaporeans only because taxi drivers would not get away with anything criminal.
    Of course, you have because of the touting in Changi airport. Then again, you can lodge a complain with all information. These pepetrators woudl be nailed for good
    Something Malaysia can’t do because enforcement is simply too weak


  15. Peter Sng
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 00:26:19

    I really admire your Magnanimous & Noble attitude towards the taxi driver. But you should have taken the taxi no. and when you return to the hotel, you can ask the front desk how to lodge a complaint against that particular taxi driver. I can assure you tha the Taxi Co. will definitely investigate the complaint and hear from both sides before coming to a satisfactory decision.

    Btw did you ask for a Receipt? Nowadays it is common in S’pore to issue receipt for taxi fare so that certain staff can claim it as transport expenses in the course of their work.


  16. looes74
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 13:46:46

    Peter Sng,
    Not only the taxi company would investigate the complaint promptly. They would simply persecute that taxi driver immediately
    Singapore Taxi Driver must place a deposit with the Taxi company. It runs into 5 figures. Taxi drivers got to pay insurance too. Whatever happen, collision, Part of the money is gone.
    Hence, those taxi drivers in Singapore are so damn scared. I lodge a complaint with taxi complain. I threaten to bring it up to Singapore Turism Board to make sure these recalcitrants gone for good. That how rigid Singapore is. Rule of Law
    You think that ministers are high & mighty there. Singaporeans are known to be complain king. I remember reading an article. A young chap holding on the document asking monetary reward. The ward is Tech Ghee. The MP running Teck Ghee (AMK) none other than Lee Hsien Loong.

    Singaporeans docile creatures? They are smart folks man! Unlike us, still kenna cheated by so few money. Beri sad


  17. Ooi
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 13:54:23

    Well, gentlemen, sometimes we have to give some benefit of doubt. In a country that are so strict, do we know why this particular taxi driver still want to take such a risk to cheap. Have we give a thought to this. Maybe he needs the money for his family for survive. If Dr Hsu had complained and get him out of a job, what then. Maybe he will not be able to provide good education to him children or worse no food for his family. I am not condoning such bad practises but sometime, we have to take this into consideration. However if he had commited something more serious such as molesting then we shall not let him go.


  18. Dr Hsu
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 14:39:06

    The few days that i was there, I took taxis on many occasions, and except for the above mention case, all the others were courteous, professional. Taxis were comfortable, well service, and I have only praises for them.

    As for the one, I did not take down his number because i thought I should give him a chance, not knowing that I was shortchanged too. By the time I realised I was shortchanged, it has driven away.


  19. Lilian
    Aug 25, 2009 @ 18:42:18

    Maybe the driver is from China, who knows….


  20. looes74
    Aug 25, 2009 @ 23:26:04

    No Lilian,
    That driver is definitely a Singaporean. Singapore government has reserved certain jobs meant for Singaporeans. Call it a legacy as Singapore during the early days need to maintain good image especially money from tourism is far important.
    Plus, Singapore government are pretty afraid that foreigners can get away very easily. But Singaporeans with money sunk in HDB flats, nah…..
    Lilian, perhaps, a new migrant from China becoming Singaporean. Hehehe! Me feel the kinda of pressure when I first set foot in Singapore. CWO campaigns are rampant. Litter bugs are public shamed. My first taste of Singapore being the undeclared communist country.
    Of course, it’s more relaxed no. With the influx of xiao lung nu, Singapore has fast become another Hong Kong. Old Singapore better. Rugged Society. Male Hair must be short if not chop chop & trim trim.

    Thank god, I am way past that era. Though my parents then would be carrying “calculator”, saying all things in Singapore are cheap, cheap, cheap


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