Stephanie Koh not proud to be Singaporean

From ‘K-pop hunt 3 finalist:I don’t feel proud to be Singaporean’, 13 Jan 2014, article in asiaone. com

Controversial K-pop Star Hunt 3 finalist Stephanie Koh from Singapore says she doesn’t regret how badly she behaved on the reality talent show. In one episode where she was asked to surrender her mobile phone, the 21-year-old had infamously said: “I’ll attack you, I’ll scratch you and I’ll kill you”.

…On the topic on viewers expressing the view that her behaviour gives Singapore a bad name, she said she is not bothered about it. “I wouldn’t actually bother about representing this country because to be honest, I don’t really feel proud to be a Singaporean,” she said.

“Everyone here is so small minded, everyone here is so submissive, everyone here don’t know how to think outside the box, no one here is creative, everyone here just thinks the same way, full of the same rules, and it’s too rigid for my taste,” she told RazorTV.

Stephanie later posted a vlog ranting about why Singapore sucks, making comparisons between Singapore and Australia wages, invoking sympathy for ‘artists’, and blaming the education system for mass manufacturing ‘homework robots’. I didn’t have the patience to listen to a K-pop wannabe complain for more than 10 minutes, so here’s a summary of her main points on why being Singaporean is nothing to be proud of based on the asiaone screenshots.

1. No place for an artist.

The finest example of how artists aren’t appreciated here is the My Grandfather Road saga. Yet, despite Sticker Lady Samantha Lo’s scuffle with the law for her street art, she has managed to find a ‘place’ for her work in Sentosa. If you’re aspiring to be a digital CG artist, there’s Lucasfilms’ Sandcrawler at Fusionopolis. So yeah, you may not be able to get permits to display a dead shark in a tank or even get arrested for using the Singapore flag as an artpiece, but to generalise that art as a career path is a dead end in Singapore is probably stretching it. And, oh, there’s this small local film called Ilo Ilo. Perhaps Stephanie may have heard of it.

2. Singaporeans are narrow minded.

This suggests that we’re fixated on only certain things in life and not open to new experiences. I was expecting Koh to expand on this point to talk about the paper chase and PSLE, but she began complaining about how we’re brainwashed by mainstream media propaganda, and comparing what a waitress would get in Singapore vs Australia. Granted, we’re still a conservative lot, uncomfortable with homosexuality and stuff on the Internet, but that speaks more of the Government than the people of Singapore. I don’t know if she went on to discuss the chewing gum ban.

In a similar vein, someone by the name of Zing waxed lyrical about London some years back;

In London, I can be a saint or a sinner. I can be City boy, goth girl, punk kid; I can be in with the media, in with the cool kids, I can drop rhymes in East End ghettos and I can drop cash in Mahiki on cocktails. I can be posh, poor, upmarket, downmarket, chav, toff, hippie, indie. I can be gay or straight, man or woman.

Zing also bragged about being ‘mugged’ in London and having to need stitches. No I’d rather not be mugged at knifepoint, nor ‘drop rhymes’ thank you very much. And who wants to be ‘poor’?

3. Singaporeans are not creative

This is where the ‘homework’ robot argument comes in. Sure Singapore may never produce the likes of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks we suck at creativity.

When you’re very structured almost like a religion… Uniforms, uniforms, uniforms… everybody is the same. Look at structured societies like Singapore where bad behavior isn’t tolerated. You are extremely punished.

Where are the creative people? Where are the great artists? Where are the great musicians? Where are the great singers? Where are the great writers? Where are the athletes? All the creative elements seems to disappear.

Perhaps what our critics mean is the lack of innovation and risk-taking, even if such elements may not necessarily lead to noble enterprises. One ex-Singaporean Brandon Wade defied the odds to let his creativity flourish in the US. He runs sugar daddy websites.

‘Creativity’ is subjective of course. Stephenie thinks Jack Neo films are ‘super amazing’ and does cover versions of Gangnam style. Ironically, Jack Neo’s movie success came  from capitalising on the exact same things that Stephenie is whining about. If we weren’t oppressive in some way, ‘I Not Stupid’ wouldn’t have existed. The fact that we’re renown for being a nanny-state makes any sort of creative output noteworthy, like ‘Wow imagine that, a thumb drive invention coming out of boring, sterile Singapore!’. Which did happen, by the way.

4. Singaporeans are submissive

Well, totally. Unlike those buggers rioting in Little India.

5. Singaporeans are not happy, and not nice.

Stephanie tries to impress with some dubious statistics about Singapore being the smallest country in the world with the highest suicide rate. What has the size got to do with suicide anyway? Yeah, we’re not shiny happy people and we grumble a lot. We’re not as ‘nice and friendly’ as the Australians, and aren’t generous when it comes to smiles, emotions, or helping strangers. It needs work I have to admit, though I rather be given a scowl on a train than have someone mug me or insult my race in broad daylight. Again, a case of selective observation and the ‘grass is greener’ syndrome. The average Australian may treat you with zealous hospitality if you’re there visiting, but it might be a different story if you’re there taking someone’s job.

6. Everybody just follow rules

This point is related to all 5 previous points. Everybody loves a rebel, the one who bucks the trend, who goes against the mainstream. ‘Breaking the rules’ has become such an overrated motivational cliche that we forget that for every person who makes it big as a non-conformer, there are other rule-breakers subscribing to the same gung-ho thinking who fall by the wayside.

Stephanie goes on to say she won’t be here for long and will be scooting out of this godforsaken place (I’m guessing Australia where she can join 50,000 of ex-fellow countrymen). I wish her all the best and I’m sure all unhappy, submissive, uncreative Singaporeans are spurred into proving some of her gripes about the country wrong. Not sure if Australia would welcome with open arms someone who mocks her fellow countrymen on Youtube, or feral enough to scratch you if you get anywhere near her precious phone. She ends her video challenging anyone to come up with something worthy to be proud of as a Singaporean. That’s easy: I’m proud of our food, though I don’t know if Stephenie’s diet consists of only kimchee and sour grapes. Maybe she should try some humble pie for a change. That would help a lot if you’re settling down in ANY foreign country and can’t afford to piss people off with a snarky attitude.

I would argue that you don’t have to be ‘proud’ of your own country to be perfectly happy living in it. Singapore has things to be ashamed of, but so does everywhere else in the world. And even if Australia turns out to be a disappointment, it’s unlikely that someone committed to romanticising the country and its way of life would admit that they made the wrong decision to pack their bags and leave in the first place. Let’s be ‘nice’ and just leave her be, shall we.


8 Responses

  1. Singapore is far from perfect and yes there’s a lot to rail about, as there is for almost every other city or country though. There will always be people who focus on the positives, and those who focus on the negatives.

    Commenting on your other post about Singaporean sons and daughters leaving, I don’t know if Utopia exists, and doubt if Australia is it (although I do enjoy visiting it very much). I do wish though that more of my cohorts (ahem a fave local term) weren’t leaving the island. These are all well-educated professionals, many who I grew up with, deciding to leave for one reason or another. I’m not sure the G cares too much though, as as you pointed out there are 5 other (FTs) rushing in to take the place of every Singaporean leaving.

  2. […] little red dot: Don’t be too quick to judge Stephanie Koh – Everything Also Complain: Stephanie Koh not proud to be Singaporean – Man donates US$5,000 to local charity after finding out Cecilia Cheung was […]

  3. You are missing the point.

    If you are so proud being a Singaporean, please explain why you have such a big brain drain going on (50k in Australia!) One recent survey shows over 60% of young people want to leave this place!

    Your few selective examples (e.g. thumb drive) mean little. You have admitted that you won’t have someone like Steve Jobs or even Linus Torvalds (BTW – Finland has about the same population as Singapore.) Even Brandon Wade is an American!

    On compassion, you can’t possibly be proud. What is the average number of volunteer hours you put in? Please compare it to Australia or any other western country.

    Anyway, I am glad that you are proud to be a Singaporean.

  4. This blog entry has inadvertently proven Stephanie Koh’s point.

  5. Way to shoot yourself in foot. Good job.

    On a separate note, Singaporeans are the only people who can’t stop complaining about their own country but would burst into a hissy fit when others agree.

  6. Everything Also Complain, I have found your comments rational and insightful, but can’t agree with you on the Stephanie Koh thing. I might be generalizing here, but I have a hunch that Singapore is not for the free-spirited (artists, people who question and rebel and dislike rules). Singaporeans have plenty of integrity and fighting spirit that move me deeply. But the narrowness of perspective and lack of imagination and utter boredom is sometimes too much. Believe me those scowls on the train add up pretty fast. (Unless of course, I zombie-fy and become one of you :)) Do you get it? No? That’s alright; everyone’s entitled to their anyone, including Stephanie (Found her views pretty watchable for her age and experiences).

  7. Note: I might have posted a similar version of this comment a moment ago, but it refused to appear so I’m doing it again. Apologies for any duplicated contents.

    Everything Also Complain, I’ve found your comments rational, insightful and entertaining. Can’t agree with you on Stephanie Koh though. I may be generalizing here, but I think Singapore is not for the free-spirited – the artists, rebels, people who question authority. Singaporeans have integrity and fighting spirit that deeply move me. However, the narrowness of perspectives, the lack of imagination, the uniformity and utter boringness sometimes get to folks like me. Believe me the scowls on MRT can add up pretty fast. Singapore’s small, homogeneous, focused in its (dare I say corporate) mission. So it’s natural that it weeds out the deviant, those who don’t follow rules, those who don’t march together to the beat, the poets who don’t win wars. It just loses a certain type of people, is all. Like Stephanie Koh. You aren’t an artist, you don’t get it. Or do you?

    • Thanks for your comments. They were set to moderation-required mode so explains the lag. Not sure what you disagreed with exactly since i didn’t think i put across any strong opinions or jingoistic defence of the nation, but I know what you mean. As for train zombies i’ve seen the same blank faces on other countries’ subways whether it’s HK japan paris or ny, and we all hear tales of shitting in trains in China. Maybe we all have a preset way of looking at things, that if u’re determined to think sg sux based on a few unfortunate experiences then everything will look tainted like it’s manufactured, nannified and same old same old. If u’re willing to give our boring sterile country a second chance u’ll find the rare silver lining and be surprised by the simplest of joys amid the concrete jungle of scowling faces and copycat buildings. To each his own i guess.

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