The Need to be Specific

These days when a Singaporean ask or tell me something, I often see the need to check for the definition of their terms before commenting - only if I am asked to do so, else I will prefer to keep my big mouth shut.

You see, over the years of blogging on, I have learnt to be specific. Too often, I have Singaporeans contacting asking generic questions such as, "How much many do I need to survive in Australia?"

These questions amuses me slightly. It wasn't because that addressing these questions have been done to death already and inquirers would have found the answers they wanted if they bothered to read. What irked me was the lack of common sense in asking such questions. If I were to ask Julian Mou whether I would be happy if I moved my family to Darwin, what do I expect her to say? "Yes, if you like artistic coffee?" I am certain she would not even entertain my retarded question. So how do people expect me to answer if they are able to "survive", "get by" or "live comfortably" in Perth? Perhaps I should quote 3-meals Vivian the next time round by returning this question, "Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?"

Believe me when I say I am not annoyed with these folks. I had so many people telling me they would blow their top if they were in my shoes. No, I didn't have the patience of a Buddha. The secret lies in the fact I had no obligation to answer anyone anything. Not even to people accusing me of glorifying Perth living and hiding the worms in the can. (but this time I'll come to you. Very soon, I promise.) So the idea is to shelf the questions that may frustrate a bit for a good day when double rainbows show up on my way back home. I'll then be able to reply an email with the right mentality. The most important thing - everyone was once a noob, including myself.

This does not take away the fact how difficult it is to answer a question meaningfully without wasting everybody's time. Read what our friend Faris Moktar (screenshot) said about the power outage in his neighbourhood. He called that scene completely dark. If I may be honest, after living in Perth for a few years, I can't sleep well under that "complete darkness" depicted in the picture anymore. If anyone felt sorry for Amos Yee being forced to sleep in a brightly lit room for a couple of weeks, then come give me a pat on my head whenever I return to Singapore. I won't hold it against anyone who don't understand what I'm talking about. I can't expect people who are more than willing to sacrifice good sleep for their illusion of safety to understand that.

What do Singaporeans really mean by "getting by" or "survive" then? I can guarantee you the difference can between the sky and earth by 2 different Singaporeans. Thus, there is a need to be specific and explain what we are after in clarity. The next time a Singaporean asks me to recommend a suburb where he or she can sleep safely at night, expect me to ask, "How many lumens per square metre of safety do you need?" 

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