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What Has Happened To My Good Friends?

Just got back from a short trip to Singapore. I meet my good friends there 3-4 times a year, all of them are Malaysians who studied in NUS, some may have married other Malaysians or Singapore girls. Plus I worked in Singapore for 3 years in the early 90s, mixing with the same group of friends.

I do not have many good friends, maybe less than 20 but the group in Singapore (some taken on citizenship there even) has evolved like Darwin's best pets.They are still inherently the same people but the stuff they talk about PISSED me off no end:

a) "waaa... so cheap" - everything to them is so cheap, one must be empathetic enough to visualise how their attitude or even genuine statements make themselves appear in the eyes of other

b) "flaunting of brands, labels, airline miles, etc.." - you can be a consumerism victim, you may even say what things you bought or which ski lodge you holidayed at ... BUT NOT ALL THE FUCKING TIME ... these are THINGS. If I come to visit and have dinner, talk about you and your family, your aspirations, even your troubles or happy stuff. Things are things are things.

In terms of being successful in the careers, most of them are, my friends in Singapore but I also have a similar group in KL, just as successful, but do not engage in pathetic marialistic talk ALL THE TIME. It gets very tiring when you talk about queuing up for LV bags, how many you are limited to buy, the bloody ski holiday in Korea and planning your next ski holiday in Europe, getting enough Biz Class frequent flyer miles, where to get the most expensive ham, how you attended the expensive Chinese dinner drinking S$300 soup ... ALL IN the first 20 minutes of dinner ....

Real friends, good friends when we have little or no money .... the trouble is when some of us get a bit of money. I know my friends, if they read this they know what I am talking about and why. Is it the recognition, the need to be validated, the high life you are living, you need people to know ... Just like the ostentatious HK rich man who said, when asked why he keeps flaunting his wealth: "IF I DON'T DO THAT, HOW WILL PEOPLE KNOW HOW RICH I AM ... IF PEOPLE DON'T KNOW, WHY BOTHER GETTING RICH".

If you can find ten things wrong about that person with that last statement, you can be my good friend.

It is sad and it makes me angry, but I guess they have been Singapor-ed ... I hope they realise before I give up on them.


Cruiser said…

Unfortunately, We, most of us, are unable to resist the temptations... materially, that is!

I fully concurred. High five to you.
Cruiser said…
LOL! High five for us on this post.

Most of us have lost the "direction" in search of material comfort in life, unfortunately. I must fully concurred.

Come to thnk of it, you too are getting age.
Simon said…
This is what we call human being and living in a capitalism world.

If you do not like this concept of living. Go communism ideology.
Simon said…
This is what we call human being and living in a capitalism world.

If you do not like this concept of living. Go communism ideology.
viv said…
feel sorry for your friends. sounds like they've an inferiority complex. i also meet up with ex-schoolmates from more than 40 years ago. there's a particular old girl who pisses everyone off by trying to sell us her unit trust, etc. plus, of course, she'd be regaling us with stories of her reward trips for being top agent. you're right. when friends, especially old friends, get together, we'd rather catch up with their latest emo state, health, etc. why give way to all those marks of conspicuous consumption?
j said…
thanks for the wake up call
Samsung said…
Priority of Adulthood (mid- or post-graduation)
1. Career
2. Family (Wife and Kids)
3. Lover
4. Colleagues/Bosses
5. Friends/Associates
6. Old Friends (if you're lucky or still keep in touch)
Your ranking may vary. In any case do a 'If __ and __ fall into the sea..." scenario test to find out ;)
lai said…
y get so worked up lar...

this kind of ppl is everywhere.

the question is:

1. Do the afterworld accept the currencies??

2. Truly rich ppl measure themselves by the numbers of charity that they've done, without expecting things in return.

P/s: If u find my statement annoying, u can be my friend(sic)
Ping said…
As they say "Size of penis is inversely proportional to the height of your pickup truck."
clk said…
Interesting comment about your friends. I always tell people I know, "people who really care about you or your true friends don't care about the clothes you wear or what car you drive". Similarly why do many try to impress people who don't know you well as people who do, don't care! Do close relatives and friends care about your material life? When I meet old friends, people I know from school for example, we don't really care about such things, we just want to know about your family, children and how's your life, as we count our days to retirement.
tansmurf said…
I have been your follower of your blog for a few years and whenever i read your blog, it just inspired me. I'm one of the young forces who opted to work in Singapore than in Malaysia and 2 years down the road, i started to realised how materialistic the people are in Singapore. Be it your origin from any surburb from all around world, if you happened to work in Singapore for few more years, thrust me, you will be acting just like them. Because everyone around you are like that.....
Charles Chong said…
totally agree. i find that people nowadays are really superficial.. superficial talks, show off session. Just find that these gathering has gradually turned out to be a show off session. Should get them to read or book. Successful people do not need to think about telling other about their wealth. They just concentrate on their life goal or creating more wealth..
bruno said…
Forget about these so called high and mighty big mouths.If they dare boast about their successful stories in front of the corrupted Umnoputras and their spoilt brat offsprings,they would be laughed off the planet.Chinese say 'be boh an'.

Anyway what happened to the pics of the pretty lasses that used to accompany your articles.Do not tell me that they get laughed off the planet with the boastful crowd too.
Unknown said…
Just goes to show that we are living in a materialistic world
Unknown said…
Just goes to show that we are being suck into a materialistic world. Consumerism is now a norm in Asia.
sam said…
they say singapore is a check-valve, once you were in, you can't get out. And in order to do that, they made sure you spend all your money, and to continue to work there for the rest of your life until you are no longer needed. in order to make that happen, they do the inception thing inside their minds with softwares called LV, burberry, prada, gucci, etc etc. And the mouse wheel keeps spinning and spinning...
clearwater said…
Yes, your friends have been Singaporified. It's almost inevitable if you stay and work there. It's a materialistic concrete jungle and you are judged by what you wear, drive, live in, travel to, invest in etc etc. Don't fault them; when in a social group, that's how Singaporeans compare notes to see how one measures up to the other. Their world has evolved, accept it and move on. And don't get too upset with their condescending views of a struggling Malaysia.
clearwater said…
Yes, your friends have been Singaporified. It's almost inevitable if you stay and work there. It's a materialistic concrete jungle and you are judged by what you wear, drive, live in, travel to, invest in etc etc. Don't fault them; when in a social group, that's how Singaporeans compare notes to see how one measures up to the other. Their world has evolved, accept it and move on. And don't get too upset with their condescending views of a struggling Malaysia.
Mr ICICI said…
ive literally grew up in sg, worked there a few good years and just came back to malaysia a few years ago.
i think you might want to give your friends some slack. =)

honestly, there is limited topics to chat about in singapore other than good and cheap deals, high end stuff that they bought and their europe holidays, things that may make them appear materialistic. in malaysia, you talk about politics, food, traffic, weather, flood, inflation, poor pay, new places to hang out etc. right?

so they might appear materialistic, but probably because they can't help it. singapore is just so boring!
clearwater said…
Want to share this candid comment from a rich business friend in Malaysia who lives in a monstrous extended family house, has 6 luxury cars, 4 maids, 24hr security : "What separates the truly rich from the rest if we do not use our wealth to acquire nice things? We'll just be like everyone else".

Well, from this one comment, one can deduce the truly rich do not want to be like everyone else, except maybe Warren Buffet and a few like him. Very few.
CK said…

How's that compare with the same in HongKong, Taiwan or Shanghai?

My experience is the up-&-coming in these 3 places r behaving almost the same as the Singgies.

The super riches don't have to prove anything.

The BIGGEST show is. I believe, is in the lower end of the earning spectrum.

Since the red-dot has practically zilch category of that class. Or could it be that they r just more transparent in our daily dealings, that they have been missed. So the materialistic side of the up-&-coming Singgies shows glaringly in the outsiders face?

Or could kiasuism be cultured as a ongoing meme of a society? After all the base of showing off is wanting to let people know that one has ARRIVES. No?

This has a similarity with the opulent showing off of their wealth by the umno elites of M'sia.
Unknown said…
they are just pathetic, except those story they could share, they left nothing in their life and brain, they just can't catch up your standard.
SmokingGun said…
I have to agree with Mr ICICI

I am working in Singapore for 3 years and from what I gather, the topic of conversation is generally limited mainly because;

Singaporeans have an islander mentality - i.e. unlike their Malaysian brethren, the country is small and any form of a holiday has to be outside the country.

Ditto for the frequent flyer miles obsession.

There is so little to talk about and do in the country, so most of them are just comparing notes on who has the bigger property, car etc... talking bout the GST, HDB launch, resale price etc.. and bitching bout the MRT... keeping up with the Jones becomes a common and favorite past time amongst the Sings..

So I guess that limits one pursuits to material stuff to fill the void.. and you cannot really fault them as the society is fiercely competitive and with living expenses so high that even renting a room in a HDB costs up to 1K, money really talks. That's the make-up of the Singapore society now and I guess we Malaysians in Singland also fall into that cog unfortunately...

One of my pet peeves about Singlanders is the obsession with sending their kids to "branded schools"... at all costs.. and bragging about it and putting other parents down for sending their kids to neighborhood schools..
Roy said…
These people are searching for happiness. They are hoping they will find the happiness by buying things. Of course they will be searching and continue to buy things and yet find no lasting happiness. We see them everywhere, even here in Malaysia. It becomes irritating when that's all they want to talk about, wanting validation from their friends. I pity these people.
pj pilgrim said…
Your friends are in trouble. If one lives an empty life, one feels the need to be validated by the envy of others.
It's not a matter of environment alone. What happen to the very person who consciously uphold human values instead of $$$ values? They must have been unconscious already it seems...
Unknown said…
Haha your friends fall in "C category - New money, new class" the same C category in Malaysia. Rich people who build wall to wall 3 storey, 10,000.00sf home, no garden (no place for grand monther to walk - and end up having evening walk on the street) and still hang comforter, bedsheet on the front gate hahah you cannot buy culture rich.
Unknown said…
Haha your friends fall in "C category - New money, new class" the same C category in Malaysia. Rich people who build wall to wall 3 storey, 10,000.00sf home, no garden (no place for grand monther to walk - and end up having evening walk on the street) and still hang comforter, bedsheet on the front gate hahah you cannot buy culture rich.
Zack said…
I read almost all ur blog entries. I have to say, this is the best and real down to earth entry I have ever read.
I am not rich and want to be rich. Yet I don't want anyone to know when I get there.

BTW, whats LV ?
zen cat said…
How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number. They walk about loaded with a multitude of baubles, in weight and sometimes in value not inferior to an ordinary Jew's-box, some of which may sometimes be of some little use, but all of which might at all times be very well spared, and of which the whole utility is certainly not worth the fatigue of bearing the burden.

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
ccdev said…
kudos for writing this article, though it may result in brickbats for you, from your friends. yes, some times people grow up and then you wonder what the hell happened to the people you knew when you were younger. welcome to capitalist society! It wouldnt make any difference even if Singapore was a communist country, the appeal of the 'power of money' transcends geographical boundaries.

yeah, you too get assholes in malaysia wanting to show how rich they are. Those who have chhosen to stay away from the 'consumer based' society are a dying breed.
clk said…
Some how in M'sia, I realise many who were materialistic in their 20-30s outgrow this phase by the time they reach their 40s and have a family with kids.

Their priorities do change. However in S'pore this appears much less in my observation. Perhaps its got to do with the fact, M'sians need to take care of their old age, so the need to provide for themselves or children.

Joseph Heller was once quoted as saying he'll always have something the "ultra-rich" will never have. He's got "ENOUGH".

I've got enough too, don't you?
Agent Diary said…
Come on, things like that has nothing to do with capitalism. Friend evolves to whatever direction they think fit, that's it. So does your spouse, career, family members....... Maybe the friends haven't change much but you are, for good. Time to move on and travel your direction while seeking new comrades on the way.
iWhisper said…
Dude, not everyone has the same inner scorecard (google it)... n i bet none of ur friends have a inner score as high as u.
Laughing Kor said…
Unfortunately, these are Malaysians (Chinese) who left their country to work in Singapore. And the successful ones are exactly like what you described. I know of 2. One will enjoy gloating about his next trips to Barcelona, Bordeaux, London, Beijing, etc. The other, a specialist at Gleneagles, will gloat about his fast cars. And he does not see why doctors should not make S$12m a year. Its their bloody right. For me, such are people who are vexations to my spirit.
Born2Reign said…
Many lead a life with no purpose. They plan what to buy and build for themselves, but almost no one train us on how much and how to give.
The kings/govt and banks have been lawfully ripping us off so much so that we have nothing much to give. How many of our fathers taught us to save AND give? Not mine.

This is a rich world vs a wealthy life whereby:
- ipads vs skipping rope n 5 stones
- private schools vs life/outdoor experiences
- expensive cars vs enjoying the journey

This is poverty mentality no matter what label you wear.
- must grab and save all the best for myself
- the world has limited resources and food
- entitlement vs responsibility
- rich in assets but poor in wealth (health, friends, laughter, humility, endurance n persistence)

A good life is simple, really.
Pixie said…
Positional goods :- In economics, positional goods are products and services whose value is mostly (if not exclusively) a function of their ranking in desirability by others, in comparison to substitutes. The extent to which a good's value depends on such a ranking is referred to as its positionality. The term was coined by Fred Hirsch in 1976.[1]

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