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Photograph: Unsplash/Agathè Yosefina

15 dumb questions Singaporeans get asked all the time

Alright, let’s sort this out once and for all

By Time Out Singapore editors

In general, Singaporeans are a pretty polite lot. That said, we're also a very impatient nation. Train coming in five minutes? That's too long. Stop on the streets to do a short survey? Nope, don't have time. Although when it comes to queueing for food, that's a different story. We try to answer all your burning questions without letting our eyes roll to the back of our heads. Here we go.

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Speak english

How is your English so good?

I don't know, maybe years of colonial rule helped strengthen our prowess in the language? Jokes aside, English is the most common language used at home and in schools. Most Singaporeans are multilingual or bilingual at least.


Am I using Singlish correctly?

Wah, you think Singlish very easy is it? You don’t anyhow lah and suka suka. It’s sibei chim okay! (Translation: probably not, but we appreciate the effort!) Also, just because you add 'lah' after every sentence doesn't mean you're fluent in Singlish.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Queue
Sara Goldsmith

Why do Singaporeans love to queue so much?

We think of it as character-building. If we can't wait a bit for something good, then what does it say about our attitude to life? And then sometimes, the end benefits seem to outweigh the cost of lining up. 


What's Singapore’s national language?

Surprise, it’s not English. Our national language is Malay and we have four official languages spoken here: English, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin.

Singapore, China

Is Singapore a part of China?

For the love of nasi lemak, the answer is no. We've been asked this one too many times in our lives that we’re starting to question if anyone out there studied geography – or seen a map. Simply put, no we’re not part of China. Never have been. Never will be. We recommend investing in an atlas.

Singapore, Malaysia

Is Singapore a part of Malaysia?

Well, we used to be, but not anymore. Here's a quick history lesson – Singapore merged with Malaysia (then known as Malaya) in September 1963 before the bittersweet separation in 1965, where we officially became independent.


Why do Singaporeans complain so much?

Singaporeans love to complain about even the smallest of things and this culture of complaining is only allowed for them, and no one else. It probably boils down to how things are based on meritocracy here. We get what we deserve – and when we don't, you'll be hearing it for days. 

Chewing gum

Can you really not chew gum in Singapore?

Sigh, poke fun at this all you want but its really one of those questions we’re tired of being asked. Lets make it clear: there's a ban on importing chewing gum into Singapore but it’s not illegal to chew gum here. 

Singapore skyline evening

Is Singapore a 'fine city'?

No, we're a divine city. Have you seen our stunning city skyline? *Whistles*

Merlion, Sentosa, Singapore
Photo: Petegar

Are Merlions real?

Are unicorns real? But in case you wanted to hunt this half-fish half-lion creature down, here are seven spots on the island where you can.


How can you afford anything?

Living in one of the most expensive countries really takes a toll on our bank account. But we’re known (and proud) for being highly-skilled cheapskates so that’s how we’ve managed to thrive in this costly city. All Singaporeans live by this mantra: cheap must buy, free must take.

13 dumb things Singaporeans get asked all the time

Is the weather in Singapore always this hot?

It’s summer here all year-round with an average temperature of 27°C, but we do have our cooler days ­­­– especially during the monsoon period. Once, it dipped to 21°C and Singaporeans were practically calling it winter and a "miracle". Frankly, we call it global warming.

Jumbo Seafood, Chilli crab
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Where can you get the best local dishes?

This isn’t a dumb question at all. We love getting asked this and we have the best answer for it too. Hawker centres! Check out our list of the best hawker centres in Singapore and what to eat there. Although during the 'circuit breaker' period you can only enjoy food via takeaway and delivery.

13 dumb questions Singaporeans get asked

Why are Singaporeans so rude?

You know the saying, don’t let a bunch of rotten apples spoil the whole barrel? Well, here’s where it fits. We think we’re generally nice and kind people (albeit sarcastic), but come on, you’re always going to encounter a couple of rude folks anywhere you go.


Why are durians not allowed on the train?

For a good reason. Sure, we love the fruit – we even built a landmark inspired by it for god’s sake – but you gotta admit, the durian one helluva strong smelling fruit that might offend some. See, we're pretty polite people.

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