Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 12:34 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 12:34 | SYDNEY

The cultural openness of Singapore


Malcolm Cook

14 August 2008 13:22

I was one of the Lowy colleagues that (as Sam noted) queried the tone of his 'Singapore-Donald Duck axis' post. When I lived in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, I frequently came across similar arguments by Western visitors or ex-pats using the same very analogies – Disney, cartoons, stunted maturation (as compared to the home country of the commentator). The more often I heard these culturalist arguments the less convincing they sounded and the more I thought they told me more about the observer than the observed. 

One of the most interesting and impressive elements of modern Singapore, Japan and Korea is how they have opened themselves to global (often Western) cultural influences, adopted them and fused them with local culture. J-pop and Canto-pop (maybe what Sam’s grizzly taxi driver was listening to) are certainly distinct from American (or Australian) pop music and yet have adopted much more from Western pop than Western pop has adopted from East Asia. Mainstream East Asian radio stations also play a more global range of music than those down under. Here is a quirky example of this cultural trend from the Singapore Government itself.

As for Singapore lacking irony, this is certainly true of the public face of the Singapore Government, but what government in the world gets irony? For some good 'ironic' discussion of life in modern Singapore, go here