About Singapore

About Singapore - Culture & LanguageAbout Singapore - Culture & LanguageAbout Singapore - Culture & Language

This page covers information on culture and language of Singapore. Understanding the culture and heritage of Singapore, the different races and languages like Singlish.


Singapore Culture

Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races are commonly seen. The pattern of Singapore stems from the inherent cultural diversity of the island. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled.

Behind the facade of a modern city, these ethnic races are still evident. The areas for the different races, which were designated to them by Sir Stamford Raffles, still remain although the bulk of Singaporeans do think of themselves as Singaporeans, regardless of race or culture. Each still bears its own unique character.

The old streets of Chinatown can still be seen; the Muslim characteristics are still conspicuous in Arab Street; and Little India along Serangoon Road still has its distinct ambience. Furthermore, there are marks of the British colonial influence in the Neo-Classical buildings all around the city.

Each racial group has its own distinctive religion and there are colorful festivals of special significance all year round. Although the festivals are special to certain races, it is nonetheless enjoyed by all.

In Singapore, food is also readily and widely available. There are lots of cuisines to offer. We have, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and even Fusion. It is very common to savour other culture's food and some of the food can be very intriguing. Indian food are relatively spicier, whereas Chinese food is less spicier and the Chinese enjoy seafood. Malay cooking uses coconut milk as their main ingredient, that makes their food very tasty.

You can refer to our Eating in Singapore section for a list of recommended food outlets in Singapore.


Religion in Singapore

Most Singaporeans celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective religions. The variety of religions is a direct reflection of the diversity of races living there. The Chinese are predominantly followers of Buddhism, Taoism, Shenism, Christians, Catholics and some considered as 'free-thinkers' (Those who do not belong to any religion). Malays have the Muslims and Indians are Hindus. There is a sizeable number of Muslims and Sikhs in the Indian population.

Religious tolerance is essential in Singapore. In fact, religions often cross racial boundaries and some even merge in unusual ways in this modern country. Younger Singaporeans tend to combine a little of the mysteries of the older generation with the realistic world that they know of today.

Religion is still an integral part of the cosmopolitan Singapore. Many of its most interesting buildings are religious, be it old temples, modern churches, or exotic mosques. An understanding of these buildings do play a part in contributing to the appreciation of their art.

Chinese Temples

Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and ancestral worship are combined into a versatile mix in Chinese temples.

Followers of the Tao (The Way) adhere to the teachings of the ancient Chinese legend, Lao Tzu. They are concerned with the balance of the Yin and Yang, which are opposite forces of heaven and earth, male and female. Feng Shui, literally translated as wind and water, also originated from Yin and Yang. Ancestral worship is common and the spirits of the dead, like the gods themselves, are appeased with offerings.

Most Buddhists are of the Mahayana school although there are some from the Theravada school. In Singapore, the Buddhist faith is linked with Taoism and the practical doctrine of Confucianism.

Islam

The Malays in Singapore are Muslims. A few of the Indians are also Muslims, but even more uncommon are the Chinese Muslims.

Islam has a fundamental influence in the lives of those who follow the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad. The religion involves praying five times a day, eating only "halal" food, fasting during Ramadan, and going to Mecca on the Haj (pilgrimage). Halal food means food that has been specially prepared as according to the religion's dietary requirements.

Hinduism

As the Indian immigrants migrate to Singapore, they brought with them Hinduism. The early temples are still the central points of rituals and festivals, which are held throughout the year.

Christianity

One will be able to find Christian churches of all denominations in Singapore. They were actually established with the arrival of various missionaries after the coming of Sir Stamford Raffles. Together with Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, Christianity is considered one of the four main religions today. There is quite a large number of Christians on the island.

Others

Minority faiths are not forgotten. There are at least two synagogues for the Jews and Sikhs. The Zoroastrians and Jains are also represented in Singapore.


Language in Singapore

The four official languages of Singapore are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English. English is the most common language used and is the language which unites the different ethnic groups. Children are taught in English at school but also learn their mother tongue to make sure they don't lose contact with their traditions.

Expatriates and foreigners may encounter language problems in the beginning of their stay in Singapore as many Singaporeans use Singlish to communicate. Singlish is a mix of English with other languages mixed into the English, sometimes phrases can end with funny terms like 'lah', 'leh', mah'. Chinese commonly use their own dialects to communicate, and sometimes, inter-dialect groups don't understand one another's language, as the language is vastly different. Except for Hokkien and Teochew, which have a closer link. The Malays use the language among their fellow races and the Indians speak Tamil. But whatever the race or religion, the country's community unite as one nation, where most religious or racial gaps are being bridged.

Singapore English has its origins in the schools of colonial Singapore. In the nineteenth century very few children went to school at all, and even fewer were educated in English. The people who spoke English and sent their children to English medium schools were mainly the Europeans, the Eurasians (people of mixed racial ancestry), some of the small minorities, such as the Jews, some of the Indians and Ceylonese, and also a group of Chinese people usually called the Straits Chinese, who had ancestors of long residence in the region, and who spoke a variety of Malay usually called Baba Malay which was influenced by Hokkien Chinese and by Bazaar Malay.

The fact that all these children would have known Malay probably explains why most of the loan words in Singapore Colloquial English are from Malay. The largest group of teachers were Eurasians, and there were also many teachers from Ceylon and India. European teachers were never more than a quarter of the total teaching staff in a school, and they usually taught the senior classes. These Europeans may have been from Britain (which at that time included Ireland) but were also from the USA, Belgium and France. The children in these schools would have been exposed to many varieties of English.

In the first twenty years of the twentieth century, English medium education became popular for all groups. Girls started going to school in larger numbers too. By the 1950s nearly all children went to school, and the majority were educated in English. By the 1980s. all education was in the medium of English (with children learning another language alongside English).

Singapore English grew out of the English of the playground of these children of various linguistic backgrounds who were learning English at school. As more and more of its people experienced learning English at school, English became widely spoken, alongside Singapore's many other languages. Since Singapore became an independent Republic in 1965, the use of English has increased still further. For many Singaporeans, English is the main language. Many families speak English at home and it is one of the the first languages learnt by about half of the current pre-school children.

Nearly everyone in Singapore speaks more than one language, with many people speaking three or four. Most children grow up bilingual from infancy and learn more languages as they grow up. Naturally the presence of other languages (especially various varieties of Malay and of Chinese) has influenced the English of Singapore. The influence is especially apparent in the kind of English that is used informally, which is popularly called Singlish. Singlish is a badge of identity for many Singaporeans.

 

Singlish

Singapore English usually come from other languages spoken in Singapore, especially Malay and Hokkien. Speakers of Singlish are not necessarily aware of which language they are from however.

Example:

  • habis - finished
  • makan - to eat
  • chope - to reserve something
  • cheem - difficult, complicated
  • ang mo - a white person
  • rojak - mixed, a mix of
  • liao - finished, the end
  • kiasu - afraid to lose mentality

Speakers of Singlish will usually end his sentence with a distinctive exclamation. The three most common are ah, lah, ley and what.

Examples:

  • OK lah, bye bye.
  • Don't like that lah.
  • You are going there ah?
  • No parking lots here, what.
  • The price is too high for me lah.
  • And then how many rooms ah?
  • It is very troublesome ley.
  • Don't be like that ley!
  • I'm not at home lah. That's why ah.
Related Page

   
Re: Cheekbone in korea

mahimablair:
Hi,

Anyone done their cheekbone reduction surgery (zygoma) in Korea?
Any recommendations?

Regards.
Mimi

Yes, I went to The LINE Clinic two months ago for this surgery. I believe they are best. You can find them in http://thelineclinic.com

Take care, greetings!!

Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

beppi:
My recommendation (even if not entirely legal): Just sit it out and not pay the last month rent until you move out. That way you lose one month deposit (plus a few potentially uncomfortable weeks).
Forget about SCT and other legal actions: If she has no money, you will not get anything (and only generate costs, which you'll have to bear).
You can of course inform the main landlord out of revenge. The result can range from nothing (he doesn't bother) to immediate termination and eviction for all inhabitants. There is no personal advantage you can gain from any of this (other than satisfaction of having made somebody's life even more miserable). I would not waste my time here.

Re: PHL Embassy BS?

singapore eagle:
This is the Philippine embassy... nothing at all to do with UK.

And this is supposed to be the procedure. You HAVE to have the airline tickets before you apply for the papers.

I got a feeling i'm going to be screaming at someone in about 30 minutes.

I would direct your anger at the agency. We embarked on this same process at the start of November, and got all our paperwork back from our agent at the start of December. Our helper flew off last week.

Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

carolynililan:
1. She can ask you to leave, but it will take longer than you are planning to stay to enforce.
2. Legally speaking, no, you can't. But this is nevertheless quite common practise. I'd recommend you move on and forget about your one month deposit loss, as it will be too difficult to recover.
3.+4. This has no relevance to your case.

hello thanks for your reply.
however, technically, i have a high chance to lose "2 months deposit" if she doesnt let me use up my 1 month rental. are you saying i might as well just go to small claim after this?

for the 3 and 4. if i get to expose her illegal acts, can i not get the real landlord to do something?
if he is the owner of the house, no way i can use this against her? what will happen to her if i do so..

Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

beppi:
1. She can ask you to leave, but it will take longer than you are planning to stay to enforce.
2. Legally speaking, no, you can't. But this is nevertheless quite common practise. I'd recommend you move on and forget about your one month deposit loss, as it will be too difficult to recover.
3.+4. This has no relevance to your case.

Re: National Service Deferment Procedure in Singapore.

brightandbeautiful:
Hi PNGMK,
Thanks for the prompt reply. You are right, thanks for the reminder, never renewed singapore passport or applied for NRIC. Yes have been reading threads by MS and SMS.

I am confused about something else. I spoke to a friend, who managed to get deferment for her son till 21, and she said she didn't apply for exit permit at all. But recieved a letter from CMPB stating that the deferment is ok.

But also undertand what you said: "the idea is to avoid falling foul of regulations and laws that will give cause for Singapore CMB to say "there are outstanding issues preventing your son from renouncing Singapore citizenship"

Ok now what do I do? Also if I do apply for exit permit for 1 year and 364 days, what happens after that? Do I keep applying for exit permit till 21?

Thank you so much for replying. It really means alot.

Re: Tenancy agreements/leases and your rights as a tenant

carolynililan:
need urgent help from professionals.

i have been renting a room (in landed house) from the main tenant who rent from the landlord.
<as far as i am understood, i found that it is actually legal if you rent from subletting "landlord" for more than 6 months->according to URA>

upon signing the TA with this main tenant (on June 1st), i only signed 6 months minimum n can give 1 month notice after 6 months is fulfilled. and i gave 2 months rent deposit as she requested. <we signed with rent is inclusive of PUB>

total 7 people moved in this landed house at the same time, 3 couples + the main tenant.
in November, 1 couple moved out, in December another couple moved out. from what i understood right now.
both of ex-tenants, have not taken their 2 months deposit back yet!!! the main tenant claimed she has cash flow issue, moreover, we also found out she kept on having outstanding PUB bills and starhub bills.

I gave my notice in Early November to tell that my move out day will be in end of January (i have completed my 6 months already, and this is 2 months notice), since i have 2 months deposit with her, i told her i am not going to pay last month's rent, so she only needs to pay me 1 month deposit back upon move out date.
she never replied my notice email until yesterday, which is mid december already, to tell me i cannot use my deposit to cover my rent, threatening me if i dont pay in 7 days i will be evicted.

I haven't told her i know her financial problems and i also have decide that i will go to court if she doesnt pay me back deposit. what i want is that i don't want to have 2 months deposit in her hand without knowing when she can pay me back. i'd rahter have 1 month deposit with her.

i need help on
1. does this "main tenant" have the right to change the lock or ask me to leave? in law, is she a landlord or just a tenant?
2. in general, is it actually legal or do-able to use 1 month deposit as rent?? (consider i actually gave her 2 months)
3. i have the proof of the place i am living at being posted on property guru with fake address by a licensed agent in Sept. which this property isn't the main tenant's property at all. will this work if i threaten to report to the government?
4. i also have the proof of the main tenant rent the place to random people for short term like 1 month only....can this fact help anything?

appreciate with anyone's reply! thank you

Re: What to do for New Year's Eve?

Akimbo:
Again...I have a 4S, Nak... ](*,)

All the guides I've seen are using iPhone 5 at least! And they STILL slide in and out of the makeshift cardboards... because they're too small :lol:

That's what I've read from Google Cardboard's site, and also from your link above.

Re: PHL Embassy BS?

Dert42:
This is the Philippine embassy... nothing at all to do with UK.

And this is supposed to be the procedure. You HAVE to have the airline tickets before you apply for the papers.

I got a feeling i'm going to be screaming at someone in about 30 minutes.

Re: PHL Embassy BS?

Steve1960:
a person I know has to get a business visa to go to Philippines, time for processing they state is six weeks!! what the hell? how can a person who needs to travel frequently surrender his passport to the PHL embassy for six weeks?
the only other way is to apply a single entry visa each time.. and thats now what he is doing.
it seems to be a money spinning technique for the embassy.

I have a similar issue when going to mainland China on business which I do two or three times a year. Every time I apply for a multi entry visa every time they give me a single entry visa.

Re: PHL Embassy BS?

rajagainstthemachine:
a person I know has to get a business visa to go to Philippines, time for processing they state is six weeks!! what the hell? how can a person who needs to travel frequently surrender his passport to the PHL embassy for six weeks?
the only other way is to apply a single entry visa each time.. and thats now what he is doing.
it seems to be a money spinning technique for the embassy.

Re: PHL Embassy BS?

Steve1960:
I don't think you have any recourse here. Most likely you will be told the same as for a passport application or renewal. You should not make travel arrangements until you have the travel documents.

The UK passport office says it takes 8 weeks to supply a passport to a citizen abroad. Its been 10 weeks already and with Christmas approaching I am guessing we will not see it until January. If I had booked flights for Christmas would that be the UK passport office fault or mine?
The office may be obliged by law to respond within defined period of time (likely), so it well could be the UK passport office's fault and you may have some recourse in such cases. Of course practicality of any recourse action is a different matter.

No I don't think so. After the backlog earlier this year at the UK passport office when so many people lost money on flights and holidays the Commons home affairs select committee recommended people be compensated but it is not law as yet.

Well doing Business for Grab in singapore!!!!

agnesshl:
Always wanted to be your own boss but don't know where to start? Fear not, the best opportunity is here at SINGAPORE!!! My Client is selling away his 14 years old business due to retirement. There is a total of 19 store islandwide. Every store location is in good, high volume human flow area. Store are selling flour prepared food item. it a healthy and easy maintaining business. Food are usually sell takeaway hence there is no need for washing of utensils. It is also a good opportunity for individual intending to migrate to singapore. We are a one stop service to ease all your worries. Why Wait? Call me now for a non obligation discuss. Tel : +65 9487 6218 (Agness Lim)email:agnesshlasset@gmail.com :D :D

Re: What to do for New Year's Eve?

nakatago:


http://9to5mac.com/2014/08/22/makeshift ... one-video/

Re: Amazon Server EC2

x9200:
Sure, but how is it related to my earlier questions (how this can be that cheap including static IP)?