Common expat complaints – and some textbook responses
Expats complaint a lot hor? We know it’s tempting to scold back “If you don’t like it why don’t you go back to where to came from!?” But, may we suggest some more measured comebacks?
Here’s a cheatsheet…
Common Complaint #1: It’s hot
What you want to say: “F***off then. Go live in Alaska” What we suggest: “It’s exactly this humidity that gives us lustrous hair and smooth, glowing skin. If you stay long enough, your wiry hair and Australian skin might improve too!”
Common Complaint #2: Singapore is a nanny state.
What you want to say: “Think we don’t know ah? Your country meh? Don’t pay CPF don’t talk.” What we suggest: “Yeah it’s frustrating for us too. But people forget how young this country is. We only got independence 50 years ago. You don’t think that from looking around because it’s so developed and successful, but as a nation we’re very much still finding our feet. So you can’t compare us to mature democracies like the US or UK. Economically we went from third world to first world in one generation, and are miles ahead of our neighbours. Now our socio-economic policies have to catch up.”
Common Complaint #4: Singaporeans never stop talking about food.
What you want to say: “How dare you insult our national pastime. Three strokes of the cane for you!” What we suggest: “Yes! We love our food and take it very seriously. And if you want to create instant rapport with a local, show us you share our enthusiasm for chicken rice, prata and chilli crab. You’ll be in there like swimwear.”
Common Complaint #5: “Why does everyone have a maid here? Can’t people clean up after themselves?”
What you want to say: “Whole world got maid what. Problem, meh?” What we suggest: “It’s actually a lot to do with lack of support and social welfare. Helpers are usually hired to either care for kids or elderly parents. Most households have both parents working, and no one to stay home with the kids. There’s little to no daycare like elsewhere in the world. Some families are lucky and have “grandparent daycare” so they can leave kids with grandma and grandpa, but most don’t. There’s an aging population so many families are caring for elderly who aren’t well. It’s a huge cultural taboo to put your aged, sick parents in nursing homes, and there is neither healthcare nor elderly care from the government, like your country probably has. Often, helpers are the only way for people to make their mortgage and be good parents and filial children. Makes you rethink the welfare state doesn’t it?”
Common complain #6: “Singlish is not a language. It’s just bad English.”
What you want to say: “Si mi bad English. Wah lau eh [hokkien expletive] la you [hokkien expletive]” What we suggest: “Hahaha, of course it’s not a language! It’s a patois, silly. Oh you don’t know that word? It means ‘a form of a language that is spoken only in a particular area and that is different from the main form of the same language’. Like Creole, or Cockney, but better because it blends Chinese, Malay and English. We know you don’t understand it. Don’t worry, in time you’ll learn. Until then please avoid lah, or you’ll just sound stupid.”