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Singapore ‘most emotionless’ society

Published Nov 23, 2012 12:00am


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NEVER mind its temperate 28ºC weather, low unemployment rate and high per-capita GDP — Singapore is the most emotionless society in the world, according to a new Gallup poll, beating the traditionally po-faced Georgia, Lithuania and Russia in a survey of more than 150 nations.

Asking respondents questions such as “Did you feel well-rested yesterday?”, “Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?” and “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”, the survey found that Singaporeans were the least likely to reveal experiencing any emotions at all.

Just 36 per cent of Singaporeans reported feeling positive or negative emotions on a daily basis, while 60 per cent of Filipinos recorded regularly feeling both — the highest response rate of any country worldwide.

“If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” Gallup’s Jon Clifton was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report on the survey. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.”

The poll’s findings — released on Wednesday — soon went viral on the Internet, where they became the butt of many jokes, not least among Singaporeans themselves.

“Singapore ranked most emotionless country in the world — not sure how to feel about that,” ran a number of Singapore-based tweets. “That [poll] is a lie,” commented one reader on the online news portal Today. “I use many emoticons to express how satisfied I am.”

Singapore’s 5.2 million residents work — at 46.6 hours a week — the longest hours in the world, according to the ILO. And only two per cent of the country’s workforce describe themselves as engaged by their jobs, according to the Bloomberg report, despite the global average being 11 per cent.

While many Singaporeans seem to agree that the nation does indeed work excessively long hours, its population is not necessarily “emotionless”, said the Singaporean native Adrianna Tan. “Every culture expresses everything differently. [The] European love of siesta, or quality of life, is seen in Asian eyes to be laziness,” said the 27-year-old IT consultant. “You can’t put one set of expectations that one group of people decides is ‘how one should live’ and apply it uniformly across the world.” — The Guardian, London


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (14) Closed

abbastoronto Nov 23, 2012 04:20pm
I have (Chinese) business partners in Singapore. They are the most warm and hospitable people with impeccable manners I ever met.
LiM BW Nov 23, 2012 06:47am
more like we are immune to many stuff thats why become emotionless
Mohammed Baluch Nov 23, 2012 10:02am
It appears that expressions of emotion are inversely proportional to degree of order in one's life. Singaporeans need a modicum of chaos to spice up their lives.
Capt C M Khan Nov 23, 2012 08:41am
I visited Singapore just three weeks ago. There are so many religions and cultures( Cheneese, South Indians, Malay Muslims, Europeans, Australians etc) living peacefully in Singapore...I wish my country men Pakistanis were like them.
Sue Sturgess Nov 23, 2012 02:25pm
There is an enormous difference between not experiencing emotions, and not revealing them. If people from Singapore prefer to keep their emotions private, it does NOT mean they are lacking in emotion. This is an irresponsible headline.
Parvez Nov 23, 2012 10:30am
......and possibly that's a good thing. At least they won't pick up a gun and shoot themselves because some fool reportedly said something sitting seven thousand plus miles away.
abbastoronto Nov 23, 2012 04:57am
Singapore is a fine society. There is a fine for everything, e.g. not washing your car, or chewing gum in public.
raika45 Nov 23, 2012 05:24am
Singaporean's know they have to be on their toes for the small country is to survive in this rat race. with no natural resources and having to import all it's food and water needs,this country is doing exceedingly well. You have a roof over your head,decent income, walk without fear in the streets both males and females without the women being molested or harassed.Cheap world class education and health care.Their emotions lie in their satisfaction that all is well.Best of all, no religious bigots enforcing their law.
Rao Nov 23, 2012 11:52am
I met and mixed with few Singaporean fellow travellers during my recent European holidays. They were perfectly normal like anybody else. It is true they may not be as extroverts or bubbly or critical of their governments and domestic politics like some others from many other countries. But they are just as human if you scratch the surface. I am glad they are prosperous and have well run country. I wish billions of people elsewhere had a standard of life say 1/10 of what Singaporeans have. May Allah bless them all.
Skaukat Farooq Nov 23, 2012 07:20am
Being a very very small country survival lies in extraordinary hard work and efficiencies much better than most in addition to strict disciplne.This makes them emotionless.Hats off to their survival and success.
alan Nov 26, 2012 07:09am
"[The] European love of siesta, or quality of life, is seen in Asian eyes to be laziness" Asian consists of many races which in general do not think like Singaporean so please don't apply your personal view of European on all races.Many would love to have lifestyle like Europeans. You should say "[The] European love of siesta, or quality of life, is seen in Singaporean eyes to be laziness". You Singaporeans are very 'kiasu' in your own way even you know you are wrong. "Every culture expresses everything differently" How you Singaporeans express? By arguing pointlessly?
Nasser Ali Khan Nov 24, 2012 01:13am
Their society has law and order, minimal crime, social justice, education, hard work and success - and that too in a multi-racial environment. Yes, they are not perfect; which nation is? As a Pakistani, I admire them immensly just as the rest of the world.
Ivy Nov 26, 2012 06:47am
Work more and talk less has become the culture of other people eyes, it is emotionless or robotic but in some people eyes, our country is successful and efficient. Most of Singaporeans keep our emotions to our families and friends.....we gather and talk during lunch and dinner.
john Nov 24, 2012 06:23am
Thanks to LKY