|EQI.org Home |
Singapore - 2003
Singapore is the most depressing country I have ever been in. Here are just a few notes...
From my friend Fabio:
I have seen many signs that say people will be "referred to the police" for doing various things from putting up notices on bus stops to viewing pornography or gambling websites.
At subway there was a sign threatening a $5,000 fine for walking over the tracks. Instead of this I suggest:
Danger! High Voltage!!
Then show a picture a person getting electrocuted, hair standing on end, etc, and then show a coffin. Make it slightly humorous, but serious.
But signs are not enough, a process of real education is needed.
Other EQI.org Topics:
In the surrounding countries, people from Singapore have a reputation of being rude, pushy, arrogant.
I was told it is common for men in Singapore to go over to Indonesia for the day where they visit prostitutes or have second familes. The island next to Singapore is called Batam. It is known for having many prostitures, mainly to service the men from Singapore.
When I was in Thailand I met a man from the Singapore navy who was clearly in Thailand to visit the prostututes,who are much less expensive than the ones in Singapore.
One night I talked to a hotel security guard as the prostitutes were coming back from work. None of them were smiling. They were dressed just like the women in the shopping malls - both the ones working in them and the ones shopping in them.
In Singapore I was told several times I could not plug in my laptop to charge my batteries because I would be using the restaurant's electricity. The first time I was told this was in a fast food restaurant that was part of the a chain. Someone saw me plug it in and then reported it to the manager who then came to tell me I could not do that. It was not in some mom and pop restaurant where the owners were barely making a living. This was the first country in the world where anyone ever told me this. It was also in a very expensive shopping mall.
In one of the poorest countries I have visited, Indonesia, I was never told I could not plug in my laptop. And in small, three table mom and pop cafes in Ecuador, I have asked if it was okay to plug in my computer and I have always been told yes.
Maintain social order through Education or Fear?
Inform or Frighten? Hurt or Help?
Many people talk about how the streets are so much cleaner than in other Asian cities, but why are they clean? Because people are really personally responsible or because they are afraid of being fined, or because the city spends a lot of money on cleaning the streets?
Thought on punishment...
In the USA it is supposed to be illegal to inflict "cruel and inhumane punishment." But I say that all punishment is cruel and inhumane. Punishment is intentional hurting of one human being by another with the intention of changing that person's behavior.
A conversation with one teenager named Sharon in Singapore:
I asked her if she thought she deserved to be hit when she was hit by her parents.
She said: You think you didn't deserve it when you were young but later you look back and think you did
She told me of this story. She was 8 years old. She didn't see the last page on a test at school. So she scored very badly. She told her mother she didn't do well. Her mother found out later what happened and hit her for lying.
Sharon said she made "careless mistakes."
She learned this from her teacher who said it in front of veryone. She scolded Sharon publically.
"The teacher scolded me for being too careless."
Sharon now thinks she is "careless." She has labeled herself as the teacher labeled her many years before.
Her friend Yaying also thinks she is careless so she tries to remind her.
She has three earings. Her father scolded her. He said, "When did you pierce your ears? Who took you to get them pierced? You had better let the holes grow over I will check back in one week." But he didn't and she still has them.
Some of her subjects: chemistry, physics, maths, econ, general paper
School starts at 7:35. She leaves house at 6:40
They told me about feeding "The hungry ghost" (this is about putting food on the sidewalks)
Sharon's sister is 21 and her father tells her to be home by 12 midnight. She let's her father tell her what to do because otherwise he makes everyone's life miserable.
He stopped hugging her when she was about 8 years old. She feels loved by him about 6, by mother about 8 or 9.
Sharon said her parents would not allow her to go to Malaysia. She wouldn't disobey them
She said at first children obey their parents out of fear, but later it is from respect.
see sing.txt for emails
Signs in the Library in Singapore
One sign says
Right next to it:
Aug 5 -
Got stopped for eating a sausage in the metro station! lol.
Got some sushi for 50 cents. Was going to get my usual peanuts and rasins but decided to try more of the local food. Saw quail eggs next to the regular eggs. And some other great big eggs from I don't know where.
Found internet for 2.80 an hour vs the 5.00 they wanted to charge in the mall for 30 minutes. The mall is very American looking. People here waste a lot of money on material things just like Americans.
Saw on news that Mariott Hotel was bombed in Jakarta. lol And I was just in the Hotel Intercontinenal. I might not wander around the fancy American hotels so much in the future! Of course I wouldn't stay in one but I have been in them a lot to get maps and pens and things.
Tried out this 6,000 dollar massage chair. How ridiculous! It hurt my back. It had all these moving things going on. I'd much rather get a massage from someone I loved. It had synchronized music too. lol. Then I tried out eye massage things. They made my teeth rattle. lol. And I couldn't help but laugh at how ridiculous I must look in them! I wished I could walk around a place like that with some of my friends. We could laugh and laugh. Laughing is so healthy. Oh, and they have these Jeep brand clothes. And lots of Barbie stuff. But the main thing I have notice while walking around is the number of friggin shoe stores and shoes - all ladies shoes of course. The women must be really obsessed with shoes here.
I talked to two technical institute students in one store. They had to wear uniforms even when they have finished high school! Things seem to "work" here, what ever that means, but there seems a lot of conformity. Haven't seen anyone with spiked hair or dyed red hair yet. Or dressed up in "goth" clothes.
Things I have been told by residents;
Singapore is an open prison.
Here, you are guilty until proven innocent.
Government controls the newspaper. Articles critical of the government are not allowed.
Journalists have been expelled for writing critical stories. The magazine The Economist was banned for one month in singapore when it printed a critical article.
Protests, such as protests against the invasion of Iraq, are not allowed.
But I have had two people tell me there are "other avenues" for trying to change things. Like you can get a permit to stand in a park on a box like in Hyde Park in England. I feel more than a little skeptical about how effective this is.
People in Singapore have the same values as Americans, meaning money, appearances, status symbols and material things. I woud add, obedience and conformity. And "education" as in training to become a part of the unfeeling capitalist system.
As I have said before, you can care about people or money, but not both.
Someone told me they got a fine for jay-walking
Today I crossed a street after the light said don't walk. There were about ten people in front of me. They all had just stopped like robots as soon as the walk light turned red even though they had time to cross. I was walking fast and almost ran into them. I went around and went across the street. it was a divided boulevard. In the middle there was a fence. I put one hand on it and hoped over it. lol. Then hurried across the rest of the lanes. Iwas afraid the police would see me. Which brings the question - is it better to be afraid of the traffic or the police? Had i looked around for a police car I could have gotten hit by traffic. In paris I wouldn't be afraid of doing something like that. I miss paris... *smiles thinking of it*
Talked to Avis who works here at New 7th Street Hotel. He told me that in S'pore (as they call it) there is a lot of pressure for children to be the best. He said parents push them to get into the top secondary schools. He said after their primary school exams there are a lot of suicides. He also told me the last time there was a murder was two or three years ago.
meng (a consultant interested in EI here) said he wanted "financial freedom"
but i want psychological freedom for myself and for the people i care about
which brings me back to blame. if u blame someone else, you give away control.
if manager says "you should have...." then how can the hotel prevent same situation from occuring?
if sarah blames me, how can she prevent same situation?
who am i blaming? mother, family, soceity?
difference between blame and cause and effect.
if it rains and the grass gets wet, do i blame the rain? or do i say, the rain caused the grass to become wet?
if i don't want the grass to be wet, would it help to know what is causing it to become wet? if i lay on the grass and it is muddy and damp, and i want it to be dry, would it help to tell the grass that it is responsible for being wet? would it help to tell the grass, "you should have gotten out of the rain"?
see poem about blame by P. Sackett
aug 15, 2003
I am eating in a place called Mos Burger.
I went up to get a cup of ice. I was just told that it is not allowed for me to plug in my lap top because the electricity is not for the customers. I am not sure how she knew that I had plugged in the computer because I am sitting behind a small wall. It is possible she saw me but I wonder if she did or if someone told her.
So I asked to talk to the manager. He told me the same thing. I asked if they were afraid it would cost too much money. He said it is just the rules.
I asked if it was a law in Singapore. He said he was sure it was like that in all the restaurants.
He said we are here to provide good food. But what if he saw the company's role as to help people?
When do we stop thinkinga about money and start thinking about helping each other?
Resentment - appreciation
A person needs something and asks another person to help them. The second person is able to help them, but refuses to. How does the first peson feel?
So I asked for his business card
Humans have a need to feel understood.
Telling me it is a rule does not help me feel understood.
Singapore is a small country. One bomb would destroy the entire island and wipe out the entire population.
Now I am sitting in the lobby of a backpackers hostel called Lee's Traveller's Club. I am paying 12 SD a night to stay here. The manager often walks around without a shirt.
I sit down across from this couple. They look at me and he says something to her. They both laugh. I feel judged. I smile but they look away from me and stop talking. Later I can feel her eyes on me so I look up and she is staring at me. I don't know what they were saying but I feel uncomfortable and self-conscious because they are not talking to me. They are talking about me, but not too me. I suspect he made some comment about my laptop computer. But I wonder why he didn't just say something to me. I start to feel judgmental of them. I wonder where they are from. They are from some western country. She looks like she could be from America. She has a piercing in the middle of her left ear. Later I hear them talking and they seem to have a British accent. Oh well, I want to get back to work.
aug 20 2003
woke up at four am. went to lobby and wrote a little, charged batteries for a while. then got restless. too many ideas going through my head. so i went for a walk.
coming out of the elevator i saw someone inserting the advertising supplements into the newspapers, like i used to do when i was around twelve.
it was already hot outside, or maybe it is better to say it was still hot. i didn't know where i was going, but i was looking out for someplace cool where i could sit and plug in my computer.
passing by the hotel next door i noticed they leave all their chairs and tables outside over night. they don't chain them either. but then i remembered the security guards who stay up all night, of which there are many on the streets here.
looking around i saw one in a little booth. a few seconds later i passed by an entrance to an office building. Behind the metal gate which rolls up and down was another security guard sittin on the steps in the dark.
then i passed by a hotel entrance with a person sitting outside. it was the same place i found someone who walked me over to lee's travellers club. i asked the person if they knew where the hawaii hotel was. i had just seen a business card from there at the desk inside lee's, and i remembered reading about it being another cheap place to stay.
he got up and said "I will show you a schematic." I wondered why he said "shematic" instead of map. Maybe he was trained as an electrical engineer or something. He looked too intelligent to be sitting outside a hotel at five in the morning. I asked him how he liked working the night shift. He said, "There's not a choice. You just do it."
i feel sad when i hear people say something like this. he did have choices. but he didn't feel free to make them. he felt forced. i have seen a lot of dead looking people in the past few days. in malaysia i saw people sitting in small shops. just sitting, staring. i smile at most of them as i go bye. some smile back. some just keep staring.
this person was reading a book while he sat outside the hotel. i regret not asking him what he was reading. by the size of it, it looked like a fiction book. one of those books to help you pass time, or kill time, however you want to say it.
but is this what we want in society? people sitting around killing time by reading fiction books? or just sitting staring?
in one shop in malaysia i saw a person sitting near the entrance watching tv. in some ways i admire the shopowner for allowing her to do that. i suppose it could be more healthy for her than just sitting or standing staring out at the people passing by.
i think of an animal in a cage in a zoo. i wonder how different the animal feels from the people who in some of these shops.
what kind of life is that? what kind of parents will someone like that make? how will they feel at the end of the work day? who will be with their child when they are in their shops, or cages, whichever you prefer to call them.
in singapore the people in the shops are busier selling things. people in singapore have a lot of money to spend on clothes, watches, cell phones etc.
which reminds me that someone in malaysia said the people in singapore value the four c's - cars, clothes, cash and cell phones.
the people in malaysia didn't have a very good impression of singaporeans. "arrogant" is a term i heard several times to describe them. someone also told me it was a "mini-usa".
Soon I passed a few educational businesses. By that I mean private businesses teaching things like computer skills. Someone told me Singapore people really value education. I can see this is true. But I wonder what kind of education they value. I think of the "fashion college" that I saw in the same area where I saw several other educational businesses. I wondered if a) more people studying fashion is what the world really needs and b)how happy are the mothers who study fashion and then work in the fashion industry. and i wonder what values they will be teaching to their children. i can guess that they would be teaching that looks and appearances are important, as they seem to be in singapore.
Thinking about the heat I also thought about men wearing suits and ties. This seems unhealthy when it is hot outside. And I also think of the young females in primary schools who have to wear ties as part of their school uniform. I wonder if this is really what the world needs - more young females being raised with male values. the book stupid white men comes to mind.
I wonder if the world would be better off if we had more young females studing emotions and conflict resolution and parenting and less of them studying physics. Will our scientific knowledge prevent the next world war? Or make it more likely? It seems to me our scientific knowledge has helped us to kill each other faster and with less empathy for the familes of those killed. I remember someone who wrote me saying "the thinking mind can't feel." this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is a lot of truth in it. it reminds me of two people who are working in human resources who both said "I think...." when I asked them how they felt about something. If people in the profession of human resources do this, what about those who study physics and other sciences or other professions?
Generally speaking, I'd say the more empathy you are able to feel, the less likely you are to kill someone else, or even hurt them. So if we want to reduce killing and hurting we could look for ways to increase empathy. One way is to help people feel their own feelings. Then they will be able to relate to others. This reminds me of the person on the bus who got sick coming down the mountain from the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. I had gotten sick on the way up, so I understood much of how he felt. I actually cried when I looked over and saw him in such pain. I knew he was feeling trapped, powerless and alone. No one was doing anything to help him. I wanted to reach out and just put my hand on his shoulder to let him know he wasn't totally alone. But I was sitting on the other side of the aisle, near the window. I felt powerless myself to help him.
-- on the bus from jb to s'pore.
asked a highschool student if i could look at her time magazine. she said yes. but then added that she had to get off in about four or five stops. i asked if i could see the work she had from one of her classes. it was a physics assignment. then i asked what the little pin was on her collar. (she was wearing her school uniform) she said it was the school flag. i asked if she had to wear it. she said yes. I said what would happen if you don't wear it. she said "you pray that you don't get caught." I then asked, but what would happen if you did get caught. She said, "Well if you are lucky the teacher will just tell you that you should wear it the next time." I asked what would happen if you said, "I dont' want to wear it because I don't like this school." She said, "I don't know. I never heard of anything like that."
I also talked to two people from New Zealand. I asked them about going to Indonesia. They said they weren't allowed to go because they were in the army. They said they had to get special permission to go there -- something which I don't understand at all.
one day I heard an American university student talking. He was saying that he and his friends "did" the laser show, safari night and what ever that island is called. Then they went to see a movie. I asked which one. I guessed he was going to say SWAT, which he did and I started laughing. He couldn't understand why I was laughing and I didn't try to explain it. Later he said he had an interview in Los Angeles with one of the big accounting firms.
McDonalds: McD radio, only at McDonalds
|one day I was sitting on a wall by
the escalators in the subway in Sing. Several people
-- rode metro in wrong direction then back again to get cooled off. --
Ad on tv in metro shows boxer getting hit in the face and blood spurting out of his mouth. The ad says "Why not donate blood where it does more good?" It is an ad for the Red Cross.
Another ad shows a woman slapping a man in the face. - A Canon commercial.
-- Sign in metro
"For your own safety, please do not sit on the parapet wall"
I don't see anything remotely dangerous about sitting there...
Everything is "for your own good"
-- waiting for a subway train but the sign says do not board the next train. it doesn't stop anyhow so it would be impossible to get on it. then another one comes by. they don't explain what is happening. they just say don't board it. people don't look for reasons and explanations. they just obey.
even when the second train goes by no one shows any emotion. i say out loud what the hell is going on? no one looks at me. their faces are blank.
-- there are blinking red lights on the doors of metro when the doors are closing. - people have singapore flags on their apartment balconies for national day. someone tells me that a committe goes around encouraging people to put up flags. i ask if they have one on their balcony, they say no. -- Though signapore makes a big deal of being such a clean city they allow people to put out food on the sidewalk to appease the spirits. One day it had rained and the food was all soggy and there were ants climbing all over it.
A high technology city that still believes in superstition.
-- I was riding the train with someone one day. He asked me in a judgmental and disapproving way, "Do you look around when you ride the trains?" He didn't think I was paying enough attention to the areas we were passing by. I felt resentful and defensive. He didn't know me at all. He was feeling superior to me, implying he looked around, so I should. But that day I wasn't interested in looking around. I still feel defensive and resentful about it. I wonder if I am too sensitive. I wonder how I got so sensitive. Maybe because the same wounds keep getting re-opened. And I wonder what I am supposed to do if I am too sensitive. It easy easy for someone to say "Cheer up" or "Don't be sad."
- At the restaurant where i often went- one day I walked by and smiled at the sister in law. She only weakly smiled back at me. I wondered if she felt hurt I hadn't been eating there in a few days or felt betrayed because she had seen me eating somewhere else or something. Her look reminded me of feeling rejected, unwelcome. I don't want to be just a customer - just money - to people. --
in the home or school or work place, is it safe to make suggestions. -
to parents - do u want your child to be employee or self-employed, or employer? if employee - what kind? obedient? afraid of getting fired?
|"Your attention please. Eating and drinking is not allowed for the comfort of all passengers."|
|one day i wanted to see how many free samples of moon cakes i could take. i got up to about 15 then lost interest in this little research project!|
Meng and I were talking - he said he wants to pull them out of the viscious cycle.
I told him how American employees just follow procedures and if you ask them how they feel about something they don't know how to answer and they would said "I'm sorry that question isn't covered in our procedures."
|Marketing material: List of Programmes - Productivity Boosters: Advanced Power Communication, Fundamentals of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Power Presentation, Scaling New Heights with Emotional Intelligence, etc.|
From August 21
I don't know just how the brain chemicals work inside my head or inside anyone else's head. I am fascinated by the process and want to learn more, but from what I know each event in our life has with it some associated emotional imprint. These imprints, some believe, last a lifetime. As I understand it, we also have some type of channels or pathways in our brains. The more we feel a certain feeling, the deeper or wider these channels are and the more likely our brain will direct signals through them. Since it is all electrical, or something close to electrical, perhaps a electrical analogy would better help describe what could be happening. Maybe it is something like sending electrical currents through various materials. We know that certain materials are better conductors of electricity than others. Wood and rubber do not conduct electricity as well as copper or gold. Water is somewhere in between.
My father told me a story once which I didn't fully understand. I get teary-eyed thinking of my father now. He died before I ever had any knowledge of feelings and their importance, and before I realized that my mother was an expert at provoking him, blaming him and making him look incompetent. He and I would have a lot to talk about now and I feel sure he would be proud of what I am doing. I also feel sure he would listen to me in a way that is simply impossible for my mother to do. She wants to be closer to me, but a) she doesn't know how to do it and b) my ideas about parenting and mental health are too personally threatening for her. She prefers to think that my oldest brother has, and always has had, a "chemical imbalance". She prefers to blame his mental problems on the Vietnam war, among other things. But my brother did not even fight in the war. He protested it, but he did not fight in it.
I have high ambitions. I want to leave my mark on the world. I want to change the world in a big way. I am afraid some people will think this is arrogant or naive of me. That is okay. They may think that. They may judge me. I feel less and less concerned with the judgments of others. I have an inner compass which guides me. The feeling words which come to mind are "called" and "driven". I feel called in an almost a religious sense. I think of a woman I met in Switzerland who was helping children through the use of farm animals. She told me it was as if she were on some kind on an invisible train track which led her in her work. She felt led by some kind of an invisble hand or force. I feel this sometimes also. Sometimes I feel it very strongly and sometimes I want to fight it and I say "Why me?" Tears start to form in my eyes now. I suppose this is because of all the pain I have felt in doing what I have tried to do and what I know I must do. I wonder why I was chosen, if I may use that word, to suffer so much pain. I wonder why I have had to go through deep depressions and come very close to wanting to die in my sleep, wanting to kill myself by setting fire to my van with me inside or drinking some kind of poison, or nearly wishing for someone to kill me to end my pain.
I have never found any religious belief systems which I can fully subscribe to and I don't believe in any particular god or higher power except the power of nature, so I can't say that I feel called by a supernatural force. Whatever force it is, if it is a force at all, I would prefer to believe is a part of nature rather than something outside of it. There is more of most religions that I disagree with than that I agree with. Most of it does not make sense to me and does not fit with my own experiences, observations, feelings, thoughts and understanding. Yet I sometimes have this somewhat religious type feeling which I can't escape from.
So I am going to post this later tonight. I have taken down everything from my personal site for the past few days. I was going through some re-thinking about a lot of things. I wasn't satisfied with how I had been handling my own feelings. I was tired of being depressed. I decided I wanted to be more influential than I am now and that my personal writing was not helping me gain influence and credibility.
I want to thank a few people in particular who have helped me recently. Kali for writing and asking how I am. Heather for listening to me when I was very close to a nervous breakdown. Sarah for still writing to me and for just being herself. Anna in England for caring so much about how I feel and trusting me and believing in me so much. And I want to thank someone else who will know who she is, who came back into my life and helped me feel accepted and admired again. Then later helped me by hurting me yet inspiring me and motivating me at the same time. She is one of the only people I've ever been close to who has been able to tell me things which hurt, but are helpful for me to hear, and say them in a way that allows me to keep valuing what she has to say. I also want to thank Shayla, Hanna, Beth and Heather with trying to help me with something that is important to me. And I want to thank Meng Wai and Granville for listening to me and sharing some of themselves with me. And Josh Freedman for putting me in contact with Granville. And David Caruso and Jack Mayer for taken me seriously. I sound like someone who is accepting some kind of award on TV, but oh well. Amy, my amygdala wants me to thank all these people right now for some reason. She feels a little bad because she knows I am leaving some people out, but she feels mostly satisfied.
So now we will walk across the street and post this. The place closes at 12 and it is about five till 11 now. The hour always goes by quickly.
From August 23, 2003
i want to talk to someone this
morning. it hurts not to be able to talk to someone.
Today I saw a fashion show on the
street. Music so loud it was giving me a headache.
Like in pretty much all buildings in Singapore there is a security guard at the door. I feel watched by him. I am afraid he will come over and ask me what I am doing, tell me I can't sit here. I am even afraid someone will try to take my computer from me and read what I am writing.
There have been two hotels now that
won't let me in or sit down in their lobby because I am
I am sitting here almost in tears
and no one notices. If they do they look away. There is a
female around 20 sitting here now. A few feet away from
me. Does she even notice I am ready to cry? Why don't
people notice and offer to help? Why don't they say,
"What's up?" and give me a chance to talk?
|I am afraid to put my feet up on the coffee table in front of me. I don't want to get yelled at again. Questioned again. I am so weak. I hardly have energy to get up and start walking back to the hostel. At least I have a room with air conditioning. People will pretty much leave me alone if I just lay down there. So I might do that.|