Where is Singapore? People ask me this question all the time when I tell them I am from Singapore. Is it in China? No, it isn’t.
Where is Singapore located?
Geographically, Singapore is situated at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is 137 kilometres (85 miles) north of the equator.
The tiny island state is sometimes mistaken as being a part of Malaysia. Well, we used to be part of the British Empire and did try the Malayan Federation out. It just didn’t work out.
On the world map, you will find Singapore as a teeny weeny dot at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. That’s Singapore. A statesman of a neighbouring state gave us a nickname, “little red dot”.
There are more unflattering names given to our island by others. A communist state. An authoritarian regime that bans chewing gum. A ‘fine” city with monetary fines meted out generously for petty offences.
We are frequently mistaken as part of China. Yes, many of us are of Chinese descent as many of our forefathers migrated from Southern China during the turn of the 19th century.
That’s a lifetime ago. Most Chinese born in Singapore does not feel close to China. Our outlook, values and beliefs are very different.
More people are becoming aware of us as a country. It took us quite a long time to achieve that. Not all the publicity is positive.
In 1994, Singapore leapt into the international media limelight with the Michael Fay incident. Singapore’s decision to cane an American teenager for vandalism sparked off an international (actually namely US) furore. I remember I was for the caning and was glad the Government didn’t back down under pressure.
In 2009, Singapore successfully hosted the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix Night Race. The first ever F1 night race. That put Singapore on the international sporting circuit and attracted many international F1 fans.
Singapore legalized gaming after years of debate. We now have two integrated resorts: Marina Bay Sands, and Genting Resort World.
Our otters have made our country famous too. Even BBC made a documentary about them.
“Are you from China?” Foreigners in Singapore tend to ask me this question.
Initially, the question surprised me. Do I not look like a true blue Singaporean?
Singapore has attracted many “foreign talents” to live and work here. There are more permanent residents and employment pass-holders than locals. The Government has also accepted many new citizens in a bid to boost our population.
We used to joke about this. Throw a stone into a crowd and you are more likely to hit a foreigner than a citizen.
My favourite reply to my overseas visitors now is, “yes, I am born and bred in Singapore“.
Chinese or Taiwanese visitors who asked me this question usually marvel at my command of Mandarin. Their impression is that Singaporean Chinese cannot speak Mandarin and therefore I must be from China or Taiwan if I do speak the language well.