I have to write this because the term convenience is really simply misused just because one is working in Singapore. A younger friend said, Singapore is much more convenient than Penang. I look at her and ask why. She said, ‘MRT’ can reach anywhere you want to go! Let me share with you one typical working day and one typical weekend and then you decide about the term convenience. On a weekday, as usual, you would wake up at 730-8am if your work starts at 9am. You shower and after everything done, you go to get your car in the car park and drive out and along the way, you saw your favourite nasi lemak stall, you stopped your car by the road side and you asked the aunty, ‘lima bungkus kak’. She gave you your nasi lemak and you arrived at your office, gave each of your co-worker a pack and they smiled and said thank you. Lunch time came, you walked down to the car park, with all your co-workers to try a new lunch place. After lunch, it rained, fortunately the car was parked at the underground car park. You arrived back in office and at 6pm, you left your office. Your colleague said, ‘can you drop me today? my husband is out of town’. Your answer is ‘of course’. You dropped your colleague, then on the way home, saw your favourite nasi kandar restaurant, stopped your car, eat and got home around 745pm. That’s a typical day.
If I am working in Singapore, I need to wake up at 7-730am, prepare as fast as I can, take the lift from the HDB flat that I am staying in. If I am late, the lift would take a long time because it’s a flat and there’s 40 storeys high. I got down to the ground floor, walked to the nearest MRT station around 500 metres away, got into the station, walk another 300 metres to reach the platform and wait. The train came, you got up, it was already quite full, you had to stand like a sardine for the next 45 minutes to reach the station. Got down, walked another 800 metres to reach your office. Worked till lunch, go down to eat at the community food court nearby. Why walk so far away? It’s so hot. Finished work at 6pm, you can either rush as fast as you can to the station or stay for dinner first because it was peak hour.You choose to rush. Like a sardine for the next 45 minutes, reach your home, hungry and ‘ta pao’ in the community food court nearby and that’s your day. Wow, you got back nearly the same time as the one in Penang. However….. look closely what you have really missed.
Weekends are for loved ones. You got up at 830am, showered and went to pick up your girlfriend for a good breakfast. After the breakfast, your girlfriend said she needed to buy something for her mum and duplicate keys for her dad. Both of you went to the market, followed by the key duplicating stall. Reached home, her parents said, ‘wow, thank you, fortunately you can drive her here and there, she is scared to drive’. After some chit chats, you went for lunch and then shopping for Chritsmas gifts. Your girlfriend bought 7 gifts and you just 5 gifts, both of you carrying the heavy shopping bags to the car, you drove her home to pick up her sister and then three of you went for a nice seafood dinner at Tambun, which is around 40km away. After the seafood dinner, both of them said they wanted to sleep early but said you need to pick the whole family up for family breakfast on Sunday. You said, ‘of course’.
Can you, as a working adult in Singapore have these ‘convenience?’ Convenience of timing. Convenience of driving? Convenience of not carrying heavy shopping bags, sandwiched like a sardine, picking up anyone you want to pick up, seafood dinner at a far away places which takes nothing more than just a drive away? Please note, I have not yet started on, if you have a family; stroller, shopping bags, baby, diapers, hot water, baby food and more. I also did not include that it rains every now and then and during rainy seasons, it would be even more tougher as you have to add umbrella into the equation. I have also yet to add that for S$700, you rent just a small room and disallowed from bringing home anyone at all. In Penang, for RM700, you rent one whole apartment and you can bring as many friends as you like for party or even BBQ at the facilities provided.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of reasons that you can argue Singapore is better. Stronger currency. Bigger and better shopping centres. Safer. Top universities. Cleaner FLATS. More professional local council. Healthier lifestyle. Singaporean ladies know that they have to pay for themselves after you have paid for the first two times. So many other reasons. An efficient MRT system. However, think closely, without MRT, do you have any other choice? Answer is clear, none. That’s because buying just a Proton Saga would cost you RM500,000 in Singapore (COE + car price). In Malaysia, Proton Saga with 2 airbags, ABS, EBD is just starting at RM34K onwards. ‘CONVENIENCE’ is not one of them and never will until the day you got promoted to be a senior manager and is able to buy a car like the minority of very rich Singaporeans.
written on 14th dec 2013 in response to the so many times that awesome Malaysians coming back to Penang and argue that Singapore is more convenient.
Next suggested article: Rent or buy Penang property