How To Be A Singaporean



Regardless of what kind of teacher you were saddled with, they would still have taught you a whole bunch of stuff that you won’t remember after graduation. But not everything needs to be taught if you’re a true blue Singaporean.

Being Singaporean is more than adding a ‘lah’ or ‘lor’ to the end of everything that escapes your mouth. Being Singaporean is about following the rules, even the unwritten ones. As a nation reputed to be one of the most law-abiding countries in the world, that’s what separates the true blue Singaporeans from the foreign talents.

Any failure to abide by the following 15 unwritten rules of being a Singaporean will earn you a tskkkk so loud, you’ll want to throw yourself into the nearest longkang.


1. You shall not take a seat that has been choped with a tissue packet



Do NOT ever attempt to occupy a seat that’s been choped by a tissue packet in the CBD. Like seriously, don’t even try.

The tissue packet choping system has been in place in the CBD long before you entered the workforce. Don’t challenge the system. .

Fail to respect this ancient practice and you’ll find yourself at the receiving end of a very angry tirade by an overworked corporate worker whose lunch hour you’ve just ruined. Working life is hard enough. Don’t make it any harder for them.


2. You shall step aside after the 2nd failed attempt at EZ-Link Card-tapping



You tap your wallet on the gantry and… nothing happens. Your heart rate quickens. You frantically take your ezlink card out from your wallet and try a second time. Again, there’s no response. You hear a tsk from that impatient aunty behind you. You start to sweat. The grumpy aunty tsks you again. You realise you have no choice but to siam out of the way and requeue.

We Singaporeans are not an unreasonable bunch. We believe in second chances. And considering how hectic our lives are, getting two shots at going past the gantry is more than sufficient. So don’t complain that we never give chance when your ezlink card refuses to cooperate.


3. You shall not part the red sea when queueing for the MRT



Don’t be that blur sotong who waits in the middle unless you want to earn yourself some broken ribs from getting shoved aside rudely by every single person exiting the train.

And if you’ve ever wondered how that no-man’s land in the middle came about, you can thank an incredibly cheesy national campaign involving cartoon characters with names like Give-way Glenda and Move-in Martin.


4. You shall not hinder a walkway by taking a selfie



You do it. Your friends do it. Even our Ministers do it. But there’s a time and place for everything and that applies to taking selfies too.

Regardless of how flawless your complexion is or how flattering the lighting is, please don’t be that douche who obstructs the entire walkway by taking a selfie. Singaporeans are perpetually rushing and taking a selfie on a busy walkway is an open invitation for other people to walk into you.

Instead, find a secluded wall mural. Or a white background. Or some other basic background in a deserted area. Then adopt the most hipster-ish pose you can muster and *snap, you get your Instagram worthy shot and nobody walks into nobody.


5. You shall always keep left on the escalator unless you are moving



Stand left. Walk right. Seriously, how hard is it?

And yet, there’s always that one rebel who defies Singapore’s escalator etiquette by causing a jam on the right lane. Don’t be that person.


6. You shall observe that this seat is meant for the 1 adult + 1 kid combo



You know that seat right behind the driver that’s around 1.5 times bigger than a normal seat? That seat is not for people with extra big asses. It’s for an adult and a kid.

So if you don’t have a kid with you, don’t be the noob who sits on that seat like a boss. Your noobness might just earn you a spot on Stomp.


7. You shall not make body contact with other commuters on public transport



Making body contact is one thing that Singaporeans absolutely hate. Which explains why the national birth rate is so low.

There’s an invisible force field separating Singaporeans from one another. Cross that line and one day, Singaporeans might really resort to donning the spiky vest you see above to safeguard their personal space.


8. You shall plan your zhup cai png order in advance



Take too long to choose your dishes and I assure you that everyone behind you in the queue will be silently cursing your ancestors.

You see, the kind of people who queue for economy rice are also the kind of people who don’t have much patience to queue for food. And that’s because there are rules in place that’s made ordering economy rice so quick and efficient. And the number 1 rule of ordering economy rice is to not ‘errr’ and ‘hmmm’ when you reach the front of the queue and hold up the whole process.


9. You shall adjust your headphone volume such that people around you can’t hear what music you’re listening to



Believe me when I say that nobody wants to hear the Justin Bieber song that you’re blasting through your earphones.

If you don’t trust me, you should at least trust this campaign poster. I mean, if it’s from the gahmen, it should be legit right?


10. You shall keep as far a distance as possible from fellow passengers in the lift.



There’re only two reasons for standing near someone during an elevator ride, You either want to snatch their purse. Or you want to molest them.

But I assume you’re neither a thief nor a pervert so please don’t alarm other people by standing unnecessarily close to them.


11. You shall not make 841672 transactions on the ATM



When there’s a queue as long as the DBS queue you see above, don’t prolong the agony of queueing for an ATM by taking a million years to complete your transactions. Doing so will only earn you bad karma points, and dirty looks from everyone behind you.


12. You shall take only one free sample


Singaporeans love free things. That’s like… a fact of life.

But Singaporeans don’t love free things that much and will restrict themselves to taking only one free sample at a time. Try to take more than one sample and you will earn yourself an earful from the sample lady for being a cheapo.


13. You shall not adopt an ang mo accent if you’re born and raised in Singapore.



Speak Singlish. Don’t act yi ge ang mo.

And if you’re going to act ang mo, at least act as the correct ang mo. I’m not sure what it is but people who go overseas to study in Australia always seem to come back with an American accent.


14. You shall not take the “paiseh piece” unless someone offers it to you



We have all been in this awkward situation before. I stare at you. You stare at me. That last piece of food stares at both of us. We both think the same thing. But nobody says it out loud. Who gets to have the paiseh piece?

As a general rule, you don’t take the last piece unless someone else offers it to you. Meaning that the person who holds out the longest gets to enjoy the last piece.


15. You shall not pang kang on the dot


Leaving work on the dot is a cardinal sin in Singapore. Singaporeans are expected to wayang a bit. And the unwritten rule here is to leave at least 5 minutes after the official ending time.

Yes I know, staying back an extra 5 minutes to pointlessly refresh your emails doesn’t exactly make you more productive. But, you need to act a bit if you want to earn some brownie points from your boss.


Any more Singaporean unwritten rules to share?


If you’ve broken any of the above 15 rules, you’re a bad Singaporean and you should do some self-reflection.

But bear in mind that the 15 unwritten rules I’ve spelt out earlier are by no means exhaustive. But they’re the only ones I can think off the top of my head because I like to chao keng at work and writing any more rules would mean I need to OT. So, do me a favour by pointing out any unwritten rules I’ve missed out in the comments below!

And remember to share this article for the benefit of all the blur sotongs out there as well!

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.