UK Internet filmmaker talks to Singaporean Grab driver about trust in Government

By November 9, 2019Current

TL;DR -“But whatever it is, we still feel very happy in Singapore.”

I came across a video today. It’s a week-old video that an Internet filmmaker from the UK, Andy Burgess, has made from his week-long stay in Singapore in September.

Burgess’ Youtube video on Singapore is slightly over 10 minutes and has chalked up some 33,000 views as of now.

I’m not sure about you, but I really love watching foreigners’ take on our country when they’ve spent some time here or when they’ve done some research on us.

Foreigners don’t look at Singapore the same way we do. Most of us have lived here all our lives, and we can be immune to things, or we start taking things for granted. In fact, we may not even know that something we have been so used to all our lives may be an oddity or rarity somewhere else. So it’s interesting to learn how others see us, others who bring along with them their own foreign lens, different from us in many ways.

And of course, it is also because most foreigners find many things in Singapore so “amaze balls” that they would often gush and wax lyrical, so that’s very nice, hurhur.

So now, back to the video.

Burgess (who happens to be quite goodlooking!) opened the video with this.

“So, being a liberal, millennial filmmaker living in East London who is naturally curious, I feel like our country is doing a lot of things wrong at the moment.”

“But I just got back from a country that is relatively new and they looked around and they were like, ‘We’re gonna do things our own way. We’re gonna do stuff differently to anybody else.'”

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“And it’s one of the most intriguing trips I think I’ve ever been on.”

Welcome to Singapore.

Burgess talked about our buildings and architecture of the future, he talked about how greenery is part of our city and our everyday lives.

He also mentioned how communities from diverse groups live together harmoniously.

And yeps, he gave our street food a shoutout too.


Burgess said,

“I’ve been here for over a week now and everyday, I’m learning a little more about Singapore. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this country is only 54 years old. And that’s because the infrastructure is just so well-designed.”

“Their subway system is pristine.”

And of course, Singapore’s the cleanest and safest Burgess has ever seen.

Other than the tangibles and the hardware of our island city, Burgess talked about our “heartware” too.

“Singapore has zero resources, like NONE! Everything has to be imported. But what they do have are people who are willing to work really really really hard.”

“If Singapore decides they’re gonna do something, they do it to the best possible standards, which you can see all across the city.”

“Like Marina Bay Sands.”

Our achievement in education did not go unnoticed by Burgess too.

He talked about how our education system is ranked 5th in the world, and that everyone is pretty much bilingual.

“So, strong work ethics and a strong education help their economy. They have one of the best economies in the world. That came from Lee Kuan Yew and his vision for Singapore.”

Of course, no video on Singapore’a history and achievement would be without any LKY mention.

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Burgess did a quick fly-through of Lee Kuan Yew for his viewers since the international audience would presumably be unfamiliar with our little red dot.

He had described the founding father of Singapore as someone who’s “known for his pragmatism and flexibility, and not being held back by ideologies and policies that had not worked in the past.”

Burgess shared that Lee saw and stressed the importance of racial harmony, and his most urgent task (back then) was to tackle the high unemployment in Singapore.

So yes, Lee and team worked hard at attracting foreign investments and eventually Singapore became an international financial centre of Asia.

As Singapore modernised and progressed, prices of things started to go up, including housing. And yet, Burgess noted that there’s next to no homelessness in a city as developed as ours.

“The HDB ensures that everyone in Singapore has somewhere to live.”

Burgess noted that hard rules are in place, but these don’t seem to be in the way of Singapore becoming a thriving state.

So pragmatism and breaking the conformity of trying something new have helped the government to lead Singapore to the forefront of things.

Burgess pondered,

“But as a Westerner, something that I struggle with is how much Singaporeans trust their Government to do what is best for the country and for its people.”

He said here’re lots of rules here in Singapore. He gave some examples, like no eating or drinking in the subway, no chewing gum and high tax on cars.

But he also pointed out “all these things come with a caveat, it’s to make the city cleaner, for the city to have less cars.”

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“If that’s the way it has to be for us to have a cleaner city or a better way of living, then all right. But what about freedom of speech?”

And, who better and wiser about the ways of the world than the taxi or Grab driver, right?

In Burgess’ conversation with his Grab driver, the Singaporean man had calmly said this,

“But whatever it is, we still feel very happy in Singapore. There is no war, there is no fight. It’s a very good way of living. We are very proud to be Singaporean.”

Burgess also mentioned one drawback. And it’s something we’re inherently born with.

Our teeny tiny size.

He rightly pointed out we’re a very small country. In fact, we’re only half of London. And as a small country, there are issues that surround the country.

He gave the example of how once a year, Singaporeans suffer from the very bad haze from Indonesia. He said that Singapore isn’t big enough to push back at Indonesia.

But all in, he thinks Singapore is a great city of the future and it’s incredible how after our split from Malaysia in 1965, we had managed to transform ourselves from a third world state to a city of the future.

“And they did this in just 54 years!”

“Whichever way you look at it, Singapore is one of the most innovative countries.”

Watch the full video here,

(Featured image and screen-captures via)



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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

More posts by Gabrielle Teo

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