15 Traits That Make Us Singaporeans

Have you ever had foreign friends ask you how Singapore was like? How the people are, how the weather is and if you can really get arrested from chewing bubble gum (No, you can’t). In that moment you may be stumped for an answer and go “Errr… Singapore… like that lor.”

The next time someone asks you to describe how people in Singapore are like, this could come in handy. Here are 15 Traits That Make Us Singaporeans.

1. Never give up, Never Surrender!

Have you ever been forced to get that Minion Toy for your little sister, or aspire to get to the front of the mosh pit of the Kpop concert, or even just your favourite Char Kuay Teow at the nearby hawker centre? Once Singaporeans have their eyes set on a goal, they are dedicated to it like husbands are (or should be) to their wives.

longest queues

Credits: kazettesg

Come rain or shine, no queue can stop us as we battle to obtain the object of our desire. Remember the Hello Kitty mania, the N95 masks and Kpop concerts? See more crazy pictures in the 14 most powerful images of Singapore in 2013.

2. Short-cut Kings

Not only do we want to be good at what we do, we want to be fast. Anything short of just-in-time or instantaneous is almost always deemed a failure.


There’s a fine line being lazy and efficient. Some might say tapping our ez-link cards through our wallet or bags are signs of laziness. However, I will argue that we’re just efficient people who love shortcuts.

If you think about it, Singlish is actually far more efficient in communicating as a language than English.

3. Kiasu

Singaporeans are kiasu people, afraid of losing. We need to win, be the first in everything (or we are made to believe that somehow). Second place is first in the long line of losers.


Because of that, we pull every single trick out of the magician’s hat to achieve our goals. From young, we are bombarded by assessment books and tuition by our dear parents. We train like crazy to win competitions. Topping the league on Fantasy Football is like winning the Barclays Premier League. Having the sexiest dress at school is like winning Miss Universe 2014.

Did someone mention that careers as a banker, lawyer or doctor are a must? 

4. Humourous

At times we like to glorify things, or make things bigger than they really seem to be. We exaggerate, and more often than not we complain… and complain… and complain. We blow stuff completely out of proportion just for the sake of our daily dosage of entertainment. Then after we’re done, we move on to the next better topic.


We take to social media and make jokes out of things. We pinpoint, critique and create humour. SGAG is one of the platforms we share our beloved talking points with other Singaporeans.

5. Respectful

I like to think that we have many practices that shows that we are respectful people. Reading negative comments about us being ill-cultured makes me go, “Hell no!?”

I mean after all, majority of the country are NICE PEOPLE. Don’t discount us just because you met a couple of black sheep. One of the most respectful gestures of this island is definitely found in our eating places.


Where else in this world can you reserve a seat with a tissue packet, a pen, an umbrella or even a name card? Annoying as this habit may be, the sight of tissue paper on the table is respected as, “Okay, you got here first and you took the table. Fine.”

Try doing this anywhere else in the world, you will probably lose your tissue packet and/or get punched in the face.

6. Up-to-date(moment)

We like to keep ourselves up-to-date, sometimes right up to the very moment we are living in. We also yearn to ensure that the virtually the whole world knows what we are doing real time. You know what is the best part? Our friends like to be up-to-date too! 

We tweet every other minute, Instagram our every meal, comment on the Facebook walls of our friends while we are on the go. Take away our 3/4G networks, we make sure you go the way of the Dodo birds. We try not to do this at concerts, but we do anyway. 


I’m guilty 

7. Strangely Patriotic

We complain about singing the national anthem for 10 good years of our lives, but when we get overseas, we are strangely patriotic about our country. We say the word “Singapore” with pride and blabber on about how we miss the food, Singlish and sunshine (and sometimes mummy).

b2ap3_thumbnail_singapore-flag-hanging.jpgCredits: Chef Devagi Sanmugam

Then there comes the time of the year on August 9 where we sing with pride, for one day at least, the national anthem and proudly display our national flag in front of our homes. For that period of time, we gather together as one Singapore to remember fondly the country we call our home.

8. Marksman at Hunting

If ever there was a prize for being the best at bargain or discount hunting, Singaporeans will surely, almost definitely, top the charts. We know where all the freebies are being given out and where the largest discounts are given island-wide. We flock like the annual great migration of zebras and wildebeest to the target destination within moments of sniffing out attractive bargains.


Not failing to mention once again how much we love queuing for things. Check out this article on 11 Longest Queue Restaurants in Singapore.

9. Orderly

It is as if a drill Sergeant was implanted in our minds as we grow up, Singaporeans are orderly by some weird force of nature.

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC00743.JPGCredits: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries

We have register numbers while we are in primary school. We queue up for things in an orderly fashion (most of the time at least). We fight to keep left on the escalators.. and as if the MRT started a campaign on queuing or something, these queues have become a natural sight during peak hours. We even have queue numbers for Bubble Tea!

10. Territorial

Singaporeans are also territorial creatures. We love hogging space and we make sure the whole worlds knows that “THAT SPOT IS MINE”.


Credits: The Persistently Nonsensical Blog

We put our notes on tables at Starbucks to chope the place for ourselves. We go to the school’s library as early at 9am to reserve our favourite spot (yes I’m looking at you muggers :D). We all know of that bus scene where the auntie puts her tons of plastic bag next to her and no one can seat beside her. Take our space and risk our rage.

11.  Inquisitive

They say curiosity kills the cat, but curiosity hasn’t killed any Singaporeans, has it? We are inquisitive people, not so much to the extent of being kay-poh all the time. It kills us inside if we could have seen something, but didn’t make an effort to see it. When something is so attention grabbing, we want to be at the front of it all.


We slow down on the highways to get a better view of accidents, we want to know how well our nephew did for his PSLE and we even sneekily glance at people’s handphones as they text or play games on the MRT. We want to know this, we want to know that. But hey, being inquisitive has gotten us this far okay? 

12. Kind and Compassionate

We might have several shortcomings, but we are definitely kind and compassionate people.


We have campaigns like Singapore Kindness Movement and charities that devote themselves to helping people in need, but really we don’t need things like that to motivate us to give. Take Dec’04 Boxing Day Tsunami for example, the amount of donations from Singaporeans were just mind-blowing. Even simple projects by youths like While You Were Sleeping are evidence that really, we are a warm-hearted bunch of people. Give us a chance, we will show you some love.

13. Modernly Traditional

Singaporeans are a good blend of traditional and at the same time modern people. We move with the times; sporting modern day fashion and indulging in the latest technology gadgets. At the same time we still engage in traditional practices such as celebrating our respective new years.

Visiting graves during Qing Ming, having Chinese Operas and lion dances here and there, wearing traditional costumes to school alongside with our excellent fusion of traditional and modern day cuisines within this small island.

While we move forward as a nation, we have not forgotten the people who made us who we are today

14. Perfectionist

Being a first-world nation drives us towards being perfect. We want to be the best, excel and hopefully be number 1 in everything. There’s a bit of kiasu-ism in there as well. As a Singaporean, I’m proud to say we won the World Best Airport again in 2013. Not as if I have a share in the award but hey, it’s national pride.

Our desire to be perfect means we painstakingly take time to put things together. Every detail matters, like when try to take the perfect instagram at the best Singapore cafes.

We want things fast and perfect. Some might think that it is impossible and we’re crazy, but we make it happen. Just look at how fast we build up and tear down the F1 track every year. Perfectly efficient.

15. The Singaporean Slang

I guess every country has a unique way of speaking. But nothing makes us stand out more than mixing 2 or more languages in a sentence, loads of Singlish as well as speaking at the speed of lightning. The only country that probably understands us best is Malaysia. Other than that, the rest of the world is probably clueless when we go into the “Singaporean Hyper-speech-drive”.

I’ll end off with this video about 16 Singaporeanisms. If you like to know more about Singaporean Slang, you can read up on 20 Slangs Only A True Blue Singaporean Will Know.

Have a Singaporean trait that should be included?

Do you have a favourite Singaporean trait not being included here that you wish to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

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