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The Ugly S'porean abroad

Singaporeans can be uncouth and offensive abroad.

In Japan, when a customer buys a fruit, he does not touch it, let alone squeeze and smell them. It is considered unhygienic to do so. You tell the stallholder what you want and he will pick the best one for you.

I was once at a fruit stall in Kyushu with a fellow Singaporean, who picked up a fruit, tore open two layers of wrapping to find out what it was, put it back and left.

The Japanese stallholder looked shocked. He discarded the fruit.

Another type of ugly behaviour I have observed is Singaporeans noisily helping themselves to dried fruit or sweets without being invited to do so, and then leaving the stall without a word of thanks or buying anything.

If I have no intention of buying anything, I would not try the samples offered. If I do try some, I feel obligated to make a purchase. This is a basic courtesy.

Singaporean tourists also tend to talk loudly whenever they are in a group, showing no consideration to others and not realising that their sudden intrusion has broken the peace of the quiet environment.

Some might say that such loutish behaviour is not unique to Singaporeans. But this does not mean that it is all right to indulge in such behaviour.

Lawrence Chu Tuck Fai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'The Ugly S'porean abroad'. Print Edition | Subscribe