A Communication Blog.


Posted on: October 10, 2010

It is said that Singapore does not really have a culture. Or that we have more than a culture, depending on which race you are looking at. I think we do have a culture. We are not unlike typical Asian societies. We are tight lipped about issues that are not widely accepted. We study hard. We study very hard. In school, teachers expect nothing but diligence and steadfastness in our work. So what happens when school and controversy clash? Check this out. It hit the headlines a few days back and has caused more than a couple of parents to cringe. ACJC seems to have a culture of havoc kids of late. Remember the ragging incident in ’08? This seems to be a repeat of that, just more extreme and way more controversial. Two girls having sex is already a big issue, but to be caught on tape in school would indeed stir up some major controversy and certainly in many others, disgust.

Now consider this issue. Tyler Clementi was a talented musician and seemed destined for a bright future until a video of him making out with a fellow male student was leaked onto the internet by his college roommate, resulting in his suicide. What ensued was a public outcry for schools to draw up new anti-bullying laws and brought attention to a public campaign to assure homosexual kids that “it gets better”.

Before I go off a tangent here let me state that what I’m trying to do is to draw the differences between Singaporean and American society. It may be a somewhat poor and unfair comparison. After all, one act was done in privacy and the other in public domain. However, both have breaches in privacy. A very significant difference is in the public’s reaction after both incidents. America was disgusted, but not at the video itself, but at the brutality in his roommate’s actions and at the unfair violation of his (Tyler’s) privacy. America seems to have a more liberal and open culture, more individualist than collectivist. Social behavior is largely determined by personal goals, attitudes and most importantly, values. As for Singapore, it has been commented that the video was “disturbing” and that disgust has been directed at the two girls and the video. I guess Singapore has more of a collectivist culture than individualist. We conform to the norm, which is to work hard and try to keep in line.


9 Responses to "Culture."

I used to feel that every school had their own culture. From my perspective, the ACJC culture was that of a school with much of outgoing and fun people. That people enjoyed there time there. They were smart, talented and a jovial bunch. A school of all-rounders. Now, there’s an added aspect to the ACJC culture? With so much going on these past years that were thrown into the media spotlight, I think it has become known that once in a while, the elite facade of ACJC cracks a little to reveal the inner circle. What if this had happened overseas, I don’t think there will be much of a whoo-ha. I believe Americans are much open-minded and less conservative thinkers than we are.
We make such a big fuss about things that deter from the social norm, when actually it could actually be an acceptable norm overseas.

but i think in every school theres going to be people who deviate from the culture of that particular school. i guess it could have been more acceptable overseas. but in singapore although we are really traditional, maybe even backward, when it comes to certain social issues but at least we are good in many areas: technologically advanced, high level of hygiene, really good education etc.

Totally agree with you on the Singapore education part whereby teachers expect us students to be hardworking,diligent and attentive in school. Between the singapore and american society, is it true that singaporeans do not want to stand out from the others, they make it a point to follow the norms as compared to the american society, gays are everywhere but however at a tender age to be committing suicide it is really tragic.Also, people in america are prone to invading such privacy which leads to the death of many.Which i think they are quite unethical..

I believe that despite there being a culture for every school, there certainly is no absolute need to adhere or conform to that culture. In every school, there are different types of people as seen in the formation of different cliques. This can also be seen in western countries. I believe that even in ACJC, despite the culture being that of a fun and vibrant one, there are bound to be people who do not belong to that category. Stereotypically, I personally have been experienced to both the very fun and lively school culture in MGS; and the dull, boring, studious environment of NJ. As observed, I know that drastic and controversial issues occur in both types of environment, but its just a matter of which receives more attention and limelight. Some schools would try to the best of their efforts to quiten down the issue and settle it in a subtle manner, letting the victims go with a casual warning (which I’ve observed in NJ), whereas others will step up and implement measures to prevent similar issues from repeating itself(as observed in MG). Hence, culture in schools I feel, is merely a perceived view which is based on little evidence.

Hiiiiiiii 🙂

The Tyler Clementi and AC girls situation seems pretty different to me. In the case of Clementi, he was in his room in private. It was his personal space. Whereas the girls were in school. I believe that there’s a certain code of conduct we need to observe in schools and the girls outrightly defied that. I think the public would still have been ‘disgusted’ if it were a male and female having sex in a college school toilet. The idea is that they did it in a school toilet. The students should have realised the consequences of doing it in school and because they failed to do so, people are generally unable to extend their sympathies unlike in the case of Clementi. However the act of filming these seem to be pretty brutal and voyeuristic in nature. And those involved need serious help.

Admittedly though we’re not as liberal as perhaps the Western societies, it is quite undeniable that we’re starting to loosen up.

As much as most people commented that they feel every school have a school culture, interestingly, from where I came from (NYJC), most of us feel that the school do not have a prominent culture to speak of. We do not have that rah-rah school spirit like that of AC and VJ students, nor the mugger environment of MJ and AJ. However, I do agree that in every organisation, there would be people who deviate from the norm. At the same time, the culture one assumes of a school could be one that others imposed on it. One example is my secondary school, Chung Cheng High School. People say we are chee-nah and all. Although yes we are more exposed to the Chinese culture than other students in some sense but ultimately, we are still effectively bilingual, at least most of us are. In fact there are other schools where the students take part in similar activities, yet we do not see such labelling of them.

Interesting that you contrasted Singapore’s response to the ACJC lesbian issue with america’s response to their gay issue. the vast differences in our responses portray our mentality and the culture which shaped it. Our culture is such that one would rarely want to rock the boat and such behavior is very common. it is also going to be difficult for us to even go close to becoming more like the american culture of freedom of speech and all. Especially since we are so ingrained in our traditional values and beliefs.

There is definitely a cultural differences but is the CONTEXT the same? When we say there is a lack of freedom of speech, do we know why or just that America for instance are socially more mature then us? It is sad that many want to be American but not proud of being Asian that has such a rich history behind. Why compare? If you are not happy living in Asian society, leave for America then. Just be glad Singapore is a safe and sound country to live in!


I would just like to say that American, or rather western societies may not be as liberal as they seem. Some religious groups, such as christians hold strong views against homosexuality, and countries like America are made up of a large number of christians. Religion does have a stronghold over people’s actions. Take Harry Potter as an example. There are many christians out there who do not read Harry Potter as it consists of witchcraft, which goes against religion. If a book alone could receive such treatment, what then about a practice like homosexuality?

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