My tale of two cities

The 18 Mar 2012 article “My tale of two cities” by Straits Times copyeditor Joel Cooper is a sincere expression of his preference of Singapore over Hong Kong as a place to live and work.

Mr Cooper brushed aside his British friend’s comments on Singapore as second hand tales of those who have never been to the island or who have never ventured further than Orchard Road. Yet, he felt reasonably clear of what Hong Kong is like from watching Batman. He also confirmed his dislike for Hong Kong as a place to stay from what seemed like a short vacation trip there. His characterisation of Hong Kong as a Gotham like city makes you wonder if he had ventured out to Hong Kong’s many islands for hiking and adventure. Mr Cooper visited Hong Kong looking for reasons not to like staying in Hong Kong. Perhaps he saw what he wanted to see and if he had wanted to see something else, he would have seen those too. He sees a sharp contrast between an orderly Singapore and a Hong Kong where aunties lunge and jab at each other over a seat. But Singapore has no lack of ugly scenes every day [1] including some famous road rage cases.

Mr Cooper even justifies his choice by citing the 2008 HSBC survey which showed Singapore as the best place to relocate compared to fifth placed Hong Kong. You wonder why he didn’t refer to the more recent 2011 HSBC survey [2] which shows Singapore and Hong Kong occupying the top two positions respectively and separated by a measly 0.01 point (Singapore scored 0.49 while Hong Kong scored 0.48). Mr Cooper might find it disturbing that the Economist’s World’s Most Liveable Cities 2011, Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey 2011 and Monocle’s Most Livable Cities index 2011 didn’t put Singapore tops in their list. What should he do? Move to the top city shown by Economist, Mercer or Monocle?

[1] Ugly Singapore scenes



4 Responses to “My tale of two cities”

  1. Joel Cooper Says:

    This is the author. You should be pleased that someone’s praising your country. It shows you guys are doing something right. The article doesn’t make any grand claims about Singapore being better than Hong Kong. It’s simply my subjective opinion on where I’d rather live. Hong Kong’s great, I just prefer Singapore for the reasons stated. If you want to try to convince me that Singapore’s actually a terrible place to live, then I’m open to persuasion. However, it’ll probably take more than a few clips of people being rude to one another on the MRT.

    • trulysingapore Says:

      Yes we should be pleased if someone were truly praising our country. Unfortunately, yours sounded more like humoring or false praise. Like the men who praised the emperor’s new clothes, those praises meant nothing for they were false praises.

      Yes we guys are doing something right. But many of the things you claimed we guys are doing right over what Hong Kong is doing is just plain false. Either Hong Kong too is doing right or we too are doing wrong. In any case, Singapore and Hong Kong are simply too similar cousins for anyone to effectively thumb down one over the other.

      While the article doesn’t make any ‘grand’ claims about Singapore being better, it does make a series of claims about Singapore being better that are simply not true. That is besides the point about what ‘grand’ specifically refers to.

      While it is indeed your subjective opinion, it is backed by a whole host of falsehoods that makes the opinion unsubstantiated and therefore unworthy of being published in a paper. But since it has been published in a paper, it has to be demolished for all the falsehoods that it claims.

      You don’t just prefer Singapore for reasons stated. Your supposed stated reasons are not reasons but false reasons that in many cases are half truths and sometimes even complete falsehoods.

      No one is convincing you that Singapore is a terrible place. That would be a terrible mistake on your part. All we are trying to convince you is that you have offered terrible reasons to substantiate your case.

      Your statement about the need for more than a few clips of people being rude to one another on the MRT to convince you otherwise is itself a clear evidence that you are simply not fair in your comparison. In the case of Hong Kong, one rude experience is all that you need to conclude that the Hong Kong people are unrefined. In the case of Singapore, you need more than a few clips instead. Tell that to anyone and they will tell you you are not being fair.

      What about the 5 Apr 2012 ST report “Attack over MRT seat: Man jailed” which was also a case of fighting over train seat like the one you witnessed in Hong Kong but only much worse because it became a vicious attack that warranted a jail term.

      What about the recent clip about an old lady being pushed out of the bus?

      Your selective accounting of bad experiences in Kong Kong and selective discounting of bad or even worse reported experiences in Singapore is the clearest indication that your reasons are flawed and hence your praise which is based on those flawed reasons are flawed too.

      That’s why in the end, you are not praising. You are just one of those who praised the king who had no clothes.

  2. Joel Cooper Says:

    This was a personal column about my personal preference for Singapore, hence the title ‘My tale of two cities’. It is not a scientific report that claims to be the final word on this issue.
    I point to factors such as Singapore’s cleanliness and ease with which foreigners can fit in as things that appealed to me. These are not outlandish or ‘false’ claims, they are simply my views based on my experiences.
    That is why I write an opinion column, to offer my viewpoint. You may have a different viewpoint, which you are perfectly entitled to. I may not agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I should accuse you of lying. After all, your opinions and experiences are subjective.
    It is important to gain the maturity to recognise the difference between an opinion piece and a news story.
    For example, if you are offered a job in Paris and one in London and you decide to pick London, I would not lambast you for sharing your personal reasons for picking one city over the other. It’s your choice and your opinion. If you think Singapore is not a better place to live than Hong Kong, then fair enough. But please do not accuse me of indulging in falsehood, when all I wrote was my honest opinion.

    • trulysingapore Says:

      While it may be a personal column, it is a biased personal column that has no place in a supposedly neutral national newspaper.

      You do not just point to Singapore’s cleanliness, you also pointed to the supposed ugliness of Hong Kong which became the basis of your championing Singapore over Hong Kong. That approach is not justified since the ugliness you claim to have seen in Hong Kong also exists in Singapore. It is therefore only right for me to point out your false arguments. Your arguments are false because they are based on recognising the ugliness of Hong Kong while ignoring the same ugliness in Singapore. So there is no way you can wriggle your way out and say they are simple and not false claims. Nothing can be further from the truth. Your personal column reeks of such false claims all over.

      I did not offer my viewpoint about which city is better. Therefore you can’t say that I have a different viewpoint. I merely pointed out the fallacies of your argument without revealing my own viewpoints about the issue which is not important to me. Whether Singapore or Hong Kong is better is not important to me. Because good or bad, this is my country. What is important is that I see arguments properly substantiated. When they aren’t, they deserve to be torn apart.

      Hence, I did not accuse you of lying. You may genuinely believe your viewpoints. But if your logic is convoluted and inconsistent, it is only right that I point it out. My opinions and experiences may be subjective. But I am not offering my opinions and experiences. I am merely offering logic based on facts which cannot be subjective.

      Yes it is important to gain maturity, something I can’t see in you. If you don’t agree with fact and logic, then you demonstrate a lack of maturity.

      Yes if you chose Paris over London, I would not lambast you too. But if you claim that London is dirty whereas Paris is not when they are both equally dirty for example, then I have the right to lambast you. My lambast is not with your choice of city. It is with your false justification. If you can’t justify properly, don’t. Just say for personal reasons, you prefer one over the other, no one will blame you for that.

      Never did I say Singapore is not a better place than Hong Kong. It is your assumption, it is not true. Go through my arguments again. They are specifically against your justifications, not against your choice. If you can’t even comprehend this basic difference, I think you’re not cut out to write an opinion piece.

      Finally, I did not accuse you of indulging in falsehood. I am merely pointing out the obvious and undeniable truth that you were, perhaps unwittingly, indulging in falsehood. They may be your honest opinion. But honestly, there is no consistent logic in your opinion. Just a series of selective recognition of facts to make a claim which is no justification, no argument at all.

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