5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore



5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore

PETALING JAYA: They are the Romeo to our Juliet, the France to our Britain, the kaya to our toast. They are relatives, friends, rivals and neighbours all at the same time.

5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore
Malaysia’s neighbour and occasional rival Singapore is quite the interesting place to visit and experience. (Pixabay pic)

Who are “they”? The Singaporeans next door, of course!

When Malaysians aren’t brandishing fists at their neighbours over the true ownership of hawker food, the people of the two countries do actually get along with each other quite well. After all, thousands cross the border daily to work and shop in each other’s countries!

In addition to the amiable diplomatic and economic ties, Malaysians and Singaporeans have something of a shared history and culture.



All the same, life in the two countries have their own little quirks and a Malaysian crossing the causeway will be in for a shock if unprepared.

Here are just a few things that are unique to Malaysia’s wealthy sibling down south

5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore
Despite similar culinary traditions, dishes from the two countries are rather different from each other. (Moganraj Villavan @ FMT Lifestyle)

1. You call that food?

Singaporeans tend to be better with their international marketing, but any true-blooded Malaysian knows who has the superior food – and it’s not the islanders! No offence to Penangites.



Culinary patriotism aside, while both Malaysia and Singapore have similar culinary tastes, there are still differences that are hard to miss.

Take Hokkien mee, for example. Malaysians can’t imagine their noodles to be any colour other than black; the Singaporeans have theirs white.

Same goes for bak kut teh. Here, the emphasis is on herbal goodness, whereas Singaporeans load up on the pepper.

It would be lovely to discuss which nation does it better, but starting a diplomatic fracas is not a recommended course of action. Hint: It’s Malaysia.



5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore

Manglish and Singlish are quite similar but the latter tends to have a more noticeable Hokkien influence. (Michael Elleray pic)

2. You cakap apa lah?

Manglish and Singlish, like their respective countries, tend to be easily mixed up, given the similarities between the two slangs.

With very few words that are exclusive to one side or the other, they are mutually intelligible; possibly even more so than Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia.

There are some distinctive traits though, with “sia” being a common part of the Singaporean vocabulary.



Malay words are also more common in Manglish for obvious reasons, whereas Hokkien heavily influences Singlish.

On a side note, it is apparently easier to tell apart a Malaysian from a Singaporean based on how they speak Chinese.

5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore
In Malaysia, signs are suggestions. In Singapore, orders. (Pixabay pic)

3. Rules, signs and fines

The words “chewing gum” and “Singapore” often appear in jokes rather than serious discussions, though it is based on truth.

In Malaysia, signs bearing instructions are regarded more as suggestions rather than anything legally binding. Case in point? The many “Dilarang membuang sampah di sini” signs usually standing in a heap of trash.

In Singapore, signs and warnings are serious business and only a fool would ignore them. They do serve their purpose though, and any Malaysian visiting Singapore can tell you of just how orderly society there is, akin to Japan in some cases.

For some folks, this seems like heaven; for others, life in Singapore can seem a little uptight, especially to the relaxed chaos of Malaysian life.

To say that Singapore has a better sense of urban planning would be undercutting it. (Pixabay pic)

4. Wait, walking is a thing?

While Kuala Lumpur is worth a visit for its sights, locals can attest to how pedestrians aren’t afforded much respect by motorists here.

Zebra crossings are simply ‘artwork’ on the road for motorists to speed up and pedestrian traffic lights are there for decoration.

Singaporeans, on the other hand, tend to take great pride in their public transport and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

When you’re confident the train will arrive on time, there’s little need to hop into your car and sit in rush hour traffic. While Malaysians do this on a regular basis, Singaporeans are comfortable catching the train and walking from their stop to wherever they’re headed.

With a better economy, Singaporeans tend to hop over to Malaysia to get good food on the cheap. (Pixabay pic)

5. Different sides of the same coin

When Singaporeans cross the border to munch on Malaysian goodies, they will happily comment on how cheap food is here.

For Malaysians within Malaysia itself, complaints about rising food prices are rife and older folks will go on and on about how 50 sen used to be enough for a roti canai.

Singaporeans tend to be proud of the food they have in Singapore, often pointing to how movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” gave them a publicity boost.

Malaysians visiting Singapore have a different idea altogether; namely that they could get better food back home for much cheaper!

There’s one thing both Malaysians and Singaporeans can agree upon though: Thai food is favourable both to the wallet and to the stomach!

BookDoc CEO Chevy Beh passes away at 37

5 strange things you learn as a Malaysian in Singapore


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