09 June 2006

Signs of Singapore

In a city such as ours, we're surrounded by signs, promoting famous brand names, telling us there's a road detour ahead or asking us to donate generously to a charity. Among these are a few signs that are relatively unique to Singapore, either in terms of their message or the way they convey their information. These signs tell us we're not in any other city, but in Singapore. They're signs of our Singaporeanness. Photo essay.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I love this photo essay. My favourite was the keep left sign at the roads. Really funny. Thanks Alex!

Alfred said...

Regards the parking coupon that is used in Singapore, I have seen it in use also in Kuching, Sarawak.

kiatchan said...

I remember reading somewhere that the coupon system is based on a German one.

Singapore Calamari said...

(1) No Durian signs are also found in some hotels in Malaysia, Bangkok and Taiwan I think. I never stay in hotels in Singapore, but I do remember spotting signs like these at hotel entrances somewhere.

(2) Schools do not have to compete for students. But schools, like any other entity run by our efficient and economical govt, is about value adding and showing values... and about being results oriented...

(3) I have a booklet of parking coupons from Johor. Purchased parking coupons at Ipoh before too. They learned from us pretty fast.

(4) Placing coupon on dashboards in cars are not unheard of. Most of the "coupons" used in other countries (even Malaysia last time) works like this :
- Find a lot. Park into the lot.
-Step out of vehicle, look at lot number.
-Go to the "vending machine".
-Press lot number, pay the amount corresponding to the time you wish to park (most countries have time limits)
-Take receipt, place promiently on dashboard.

The crossing signs are really funny (and yes, though I have passed it many times, I failed to notice it.)

Also, the tissue paper is really one heck of a bad thing I hate to see about Singaporeans.

hugewhaleshark said...

Great photo essay. The tissue paper really is Singapore. KL also got some kind of coupon parking system where you scrape off the silver covering off the coupon, like a scratch-and-win thingie...

Other suggestions: taxi with "On Call" sign, "flag" selling students (you know, those little stickers you get for making donations). I was once asked by a foreigner why empty taxis refused to stop when flagged in Singapore...

StealthEagle said...

Ah, schools' own brand of media and propaganda, I guess they are trying to attract 'talented' primary 6 students and send a signal that they are the best around the neighbourhood because they have good teachers that will help your child to excel. It is no surprise that schools have become too academic and results obsessed.

It is also no doubt that kids or parents will be attracted to schools that have the most awards of 'whatever you name it, they got it'.

Anonymous said...

Singapore introduced coupon parking in the late 1970s, taking up a suggestion by a New Nation (remember that afternoon newspaper?) report about a similar but unsuccessful pilot scheme in New York City that was in turn based on one in Israel.

At the time, the authorities faced a lot of difficulty hiring parking attendants to issue parking slips and collect parking fees, and were therefore very quick in adopting the idea. Motorists were also fed up with having to hunt for the few parking attendants roving neighbourhood and roadside carparks to pay their parking fees.

I remember all this because I was the one who wrote the New Nation report as its New York correspondent. The irony was that when I resumed living in Singapore in the early 1980s I parked my car at Taman Serasi hawker centre, forgot to display a parking coupon, and was of course fined for un-couponed parking! So much for suggesting a good idea...

kungfubunny said...

I've never noticed that pedestrian sign and yes, it's hilarious! And I never understood the tissue paper thing. I usually just take the seat. If I get there with my food first, the seat is mine! Curiously, I've never been confronted, so I suppose that means I get free tissue. And I know for a fact that some hotels in Singapore don't allow durians.

Anonymous said...

When I was in Cork City, Ireland, in '91 they used disk parking... prepaid round coupons, used in the same way. Still do, apparently:



Anonymous said...

I forwarded the photos to a colleague in UK who came here 2 years ago on a business trip i.e. come -> work ->go. This is his reply :

Very evocative. I need to make another visit!


Anonymous said...

Schools have started boasting about their results to compete for the best students. They feel that the best students would tend to flock to a school having very good results. And the schools need the best students to produce good results each year (which mean more awards for the school); so this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Elaine G said...

Tissue pack on table: don't need to get upset with Singaporeans. Western Europeans do it, esp the Germans. They are infamous for that and the Brits hate them for it.

They go to beach resorts around the world (incl Malaysia) and reserve deck chairs *OVERNIGHT* or wake up early and then return to bed. They do it with towels or tiny personal items.

Years ago, in Club Med Maldives, they even had a more subtle method -- mind you, this included other W Europeans. They wld lean all the chairs against the table, on two legs, they wanted to reserve at the buffet. I was suitably chastised when I sat down on one of these tables.

Also while travelling in Europe, I found the Spanish, French and Italian just as unruly, not obeying queues.

So no need to feel ashamed of Singaporeans.

Ben said...

You are truly a social historian. The next icon after mrbrown.

Light Affliction said...

In many 'modern' cinema halls here, if you happen to to be watching the trailers before a show while sitting at a row of seats above the first few rows, ie higher up the sloping floor, you'll experience great discomfort because of the glare from many wall lights on either side. Those seated at the first few lower rows enjoy the best. The lights are designed for comfort to people below the lights while those above the level of the lights are not shaded from the bright glare.
The sooner this problem is addressed, the sooner we get rid of another 3rd World 'feature'.
What's the big problem? This is just a minor problem to solve! But please do it, OK?

dhrye said...

the keep left sign was the best of all. ;) good job.

martin said...

My favourite Singapore sign which says it all is "Speakers' Corner". Unfortunately I haven't been in the area lately to photograph it but I think we all know it.

xinwei said...

on the subject of uniquely singaporean education, there's the market for "top (primary) school exam papers" that sometimes get sold in hdb areas.

i was in popular bookshop today and i vaguely remember seeing them sell "tough" question papers. i can't recall if they mentioned a specific school, but i'm damn glad i went to primary school after this fad.

Jeffrey said...

Its acutally not true to say that spore sch do not have to compete for stduents. in fact, esp with declining birth rate (and of course what Spore Calamari said), some schools, though not all do compete for students intake, if not they face the risk of closing down in the long run. esp in the JC, competition is stuff as JC need to compete with polys for students as more now poly or even overseas or private education.

but of course the main reason is still ''Branding'' and value add to the school reputation.

Anonymous said...

I can think of another list of what is typically very Singaporean.

1.Uniformed schoolkids behaving like intimate couple at bus stops or in MRT trains

2.Pet owners dont clean up after their pets.Allow pets do defecate along walkways
or corridors in HDB heartland. The mutt could be an expensive breed but the owner has a low class mentality to boot.

3. Singaporeans dont queue up anymore to get onboard public transport anymore and
sucks even big time jostling to get into
MRT trains.

4. Singaporeans are blantant litter bugs nowadays . See HDB heartlands .

5. Sinaporeans loves to queue ( in oppose to No.3) for anything from freebies to
condo promo or 4D/Toto or Hello Kitty ..the list is endless

6.Singaporeans drive their work big lorries or tractors ferrying their families on a weekend outings.

7.Singaporeans taxi drivers used their taxis to ferry their families out for
outings -No wonder we still dont have
enough cabs to go round.

8.Singaporeans geography knowledge very limited - they been to Genting and JB
but dont know where is KL or not been there.

9.Singapore Ah Bengs are typically unique

10 Singapore Ah Lains also typically
unique too.