Steph Micayle – Gaijinhan

Steph Micayle

Despite talking about exigence in a previous post, this will be a rather late entry to all the hoo-ha surrounding the girl on whom our nation of people with attention deficit disorder did a hit-and-run. I first learnt of this girl when a friend (or maybe an acquaintance) posted an article on Facebook where Steph Micayle (whose real name I later learnt to be Stephanie Koh) said “I’m not proud to be Singaporean.” It reminded me of how some of my friends say they are not proud to be Japanese which surprised me because so many nations around the world love Japanese people. But let’s face it, there probably are people who aren’t proud of being part of their nationality everywhere in the world.

Interestingly, despite knowing nuts about this person or the whole issue, I sat through the entire 13-odd minutes watching her validate her statement. Unmistakably, due to the human desire in voyeurism. Granted, her arguments were flawed i.e.:

1) it doesn’t make for sound argument that a) Singapore is worse off in its waiting salary per hour as compared with Australia’s and b) it is worse off in creativity as compared with Taiwan, because comparing one point with one country and another point with a different country does not make for a valid argument. If 3 countries are to be used in the argument, then data of all 3 countries should be presented for every premise. Taiwan’s hourly salary for waiting averages between NT$110-120, which is around SGD$4.60-5.05 (based on an exchange rate of NT$100 = SGD$4.21 as of 7 Feb, 2014). Is Singapore worse off than Australia? Yes. Is it worse off than Taiwan? No. (If you think about it, “I’m not proud to be Singaporean because it’s an expensive place to live in” is really illogical.)

2)comparing the room for creativity in Taiwan’s art classes against Singapore’s English classes is not comparing apple with apple. It’s like saying Taiwan’s literature class is better because they encourage critical analysis and Singapore’s math class sucks because there is only one right answer. Besides, the Japanese education system is far more rigid than Singapore’s (I believe having taught in 7 Japanese public schools for a year gives me the right to make this statement) yet they are one of the most creative nation of people. So there really is no clear correlation between rigidity in education system and creativity.

3) claiming Singapore is a nation of unhappy people because it has one of the highest suicide rates may sound valid. But according to Wikipedia, which claims to list statistics from WHO, Singapore is ranked 48th in suicide rates among 110 countries and guess what? Taiwan is ranked 24th and Australia is ranked 50th. How is Taiwan or Australia better then? Fine. Wikipedia does not make for good material but on WHO’s official webpage, Singapore is ranked 45th and Australia at 52nd. Still not too far off, I would say. Taiwan is probably not in the list for political reasons. Further, in 2011, Time Magazine published an article on how the happiest states have the highest suicide rates (http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/25/why-the-happiest-states-have-the-highest-suicide-rates/). If Time Magazine articles and WHO statistics are anything to go by, Singaporeans are, to the contrary, happy people. In any case, neither Australia nor Taiwan is any much better.

4) “Talented people can’t enroll to university unless they are book-smart.” Why do “talented people” have to enroll to university? Lots of artistes drop out of school to pursue career in the entertainment industry. Looks like she, like the “majority of Singaporeans” that she disses, thinks university education is important too. Although I take issue with her use of “talented people” to refer only to those who excel in none academic fields.

5) challenging people to give reasons why Singapore is a good country by eliminating a list of items first. The sentence speaks for itself.

6) Jack Neo productions are “super amazing.” I disagree. I think her voice is better than Jack Neo productions.

but rather than her arguments, I am more disturbed about the things people say in response. I don’t get why people are so upset about her “I’m not proud to be Singaporean” comment. It’s her choice. And I think it’s a stretch to say her behaviour tarnishes Singapore’s reputation because people don’t judge an entire nation based on one person they see on TV. Would you think all Americans are bitches watching Jersey Shore?

And last, but definitely not least, her accent. The most irritating things Singaporeans do is to pick on others’ accents. So what if she picked up an accent? It’s got nothing to do with the argument. It’s your choice and your business if you retained your Singaporean accent after 20 years in Australia and she changed hers after less than a year.

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