The signs of Singaporean success
Do you think of yourself as a success? Do you even know how to measure if you are a success or not? Can you tell who around you are successes? In Singapore, you'll know exactly how close you and everyone else is to success. In Singapore, there is a fine and uncontested measure of success: the five C's of career, cash/credit, condo, car, and club.
First, everyone in Singapore has a career. Even if you just wanna tend bar or work in a bookshop, Chinese tradition, which rules Singapore, demands you have great aspirations in that position. The majority of the professionals I met were all on, or trying to get on, the fast track to manager, director, or even president of wherever they worked. If not up, then out to start their own business, which of course, will be bigger, better, and bolder than the company they left.
Once you have the mandatory career, you should be making cash, and lots of it. Never enough cash, or credit, for a Singaporean, for there is always somebody richer they are trying to outdo. The Singaporeans also save massively, never spending cash for something as foolish as enjoying themselves in the night scene, but easily fork out big bucks for the next 'C.'
You best be ready for condominium living if your gonna be a real Singaporean. Everyone has a condo, and if you are making it, yours will be a private (versus a government allocated) flat as close to District 10 or Holland Road as possible. With housing prices just below Hong Kong's you'll be working hard to support the mortgage, and just making enough for the next status symbol.
Not content with a Mercedes, the Russian sign of success but associated only with old men in Singapore, a BMW is the ride to drive. Of course, the latest model as soon as it comes out in the right-hand drive used in the island nation, and definitely with the plush leather interior. Funny enough, your car, however nice, better not be better than the boss's car, for Asian 'face' says your boss should always have more flash than you should.
Once you have the career, the cash, the condo, and the car, you now have to go where you can show of your hard-earned Singaporean success, a private club. Limited through cash or connections, or like the Singapore Island Club, both plus heredity, all the successful people belong to at least one or two clubs. I went to two, one a private University club on the top of a building that required me to hang a loud and ugly batik shirt over my chair back to comply with the collared-shirt dress code, and another, much more relaxed Armed Forces beach club. Neither was as pretentious or ornate as the Gentleman's Club I snuck into in London, but I didn't get food poisoning from the Singaporean versions either.
Now, I have no clue what happens if a Singaporean achieves all five C's and still cannot find happiness. Maybe he's taken out for a good caning, because there was a total lack of dialogue in the city's streets or press about alternative self-actualization's to gratuitous materialism. Only the results of a recent poll where Singaporeans were revealed to rather loose their lives than take a pay cut or pay higher taxes. Definitely, there are few Singaporeans who'd quit their jobs and wander the earth for a few years.
The only guys I know who come close, TWC and Jerry, take a few weeks each year to see the sights, but look at me in wonder for leaving PwC to live my dreams. Hopefully they are models for the next generation of Singaporeans, who try and add another 'C' to the list: culture.