When expats misbehave — “This may be Singapore but you watch out, I can do things”


A good friend of mine had her carbon bicycle frame damaged by the carelessness of some expat’s kid at her condo. It may be a small thing, but what followed from that incident was a case of ugly expat in Singapore trying to belittle her even though it was clear his kid was the one who was at fault:

The damage to the bike
Expat kid’s bike (white) against the carbon bike belonging to Samantha

So Sam took some shots, and sent a Whataspp message to the mother of the child:

In this instance, I see no wrong with Sam’s complaint to the parent(s), and at this point it’s immaterial whether or not the act could be proven to be a case of deliberate/premeditated mischief or vandalism: the point is the actions of the child did cause significant damage to Sam’s bicycle.

And what ensued was the father flying into a rage and started belittling Sam and saying things like “this may be Singapore, but you watch out, I can do things, you’re a nobody and probably uneducated.”

Uneducated? Dear sir, Sam happens to be a honours graduate from Nanyang Technological University, and is a government officer. Get your facts right and take the time to understand the law better before you start threatening a public servant.

And so Sam went to file a police report.

The matter is now in the hands of men in blue, and I trust the law will deal with it.

What’s disturbing to me is the way the man behaved: is this the way an “educated expat” should be? And did he forget he’s a guest, not a privileged scion here in a country where it’s all about meritocracy, not entitlements?

As an expatriate, you’re a guest. Learn to respect your host and the way of life here.

I’ve been an expatriate living in Bangkok the last 2 years, and I’ve seen enough of expats thinking they are privileged and entitled just because they hold senior positions in companies or are economically better off than the locals. I’ve witnessed how their arrogance and myopic mindsets have led them to think they are untouchable, that they seem to think they have the rights to have things their way, even going so far as to challenge local laws, customs and cultures that don’t sit well with their perspectives and lifestyles.

Grow up. You claim to be educated, you want to think you’re entitled; but the reality is that at the end of the day, you’re still one dispensable statistic that really no one gives a flying f*** about. If you have this mental model where you’re some kind of colonial overlord and expecting the locals to kowtow to you and fear you, you need to get your brains checked.

I don’t usually engage in trolling behaviour, but I’m sorry, this is one incident that pisses me off big time, and I don’t condone bigotry. Not especially to a public servant whose day job is about service to others — including the very person berating her — because her service obligation and ethics is one that does not discriminate regardless of gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, religion, lifestyle orientation etc. VERY VERY UNLIKE a person who claims to be so well educated yet does not seem to have the basic courtesy and respect for others, much less the moral courage to admit to a wrongdoing by his own flesh and blood.

All bigots are cowards at the end of the day.

So Sam, cheer up. I’m sure you can more than afford to have the bike fixed, or even get another one, and I’m sure you hold nothing against a kid who doesn’t know better, and probably give the benefit of the doubt that it could be all an accident. You’re educated. You’re morally upright. You’re better in every way, and if ever we are allowed to admit it publicly, your actions are way more honorable and courageous than someone who hides behind a fancy title and self-delusional prejudice and pride.

And to the so-called “expat”: even a foreign blue-collared worker who comes here to make a meagre salary but nevertheless respects the people and culture of the host country has far more honor that I have genuine respect for compared to the likes of you.

Roy Phang is a Made-in-Singapore writer, adventurer and entrepreneur. He also blogs @Blackbaron on Medium.com.