Singapore’s Five C’s of Success

2000 > Singapore

The signs of Singaporean success

oh the bright lights of success
Downtown cash flow

I was looking for Singapore's slums
The oldest car in Singapore

Even the tow trucks are new and clean
Singapore’s govmn’t ‘slums’

No one with cash ever rides the bus
Proletariat transport

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

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.

1 Comments on “Singapore’s Five C’s of Success

  1. Dear friend,

    I was very please to read this page. I also heard about those Five C’s, when I was living in Singapore.

    For few years, I was spending my time taking pictures, writing books, leaning on the beach of Changi, drinking ice moka at Starbuck or a cold Tiger on Boat Quays.

    For Singaporeans, a french writer is a man of prestige. But as soon as they knew I was not making any money with my books, they thought I was some kind of waco.

    Who can live without making a lot of money?

    Anyway, I loved my time in Singapore, and when I forget about those Five C’s, I can say: they are the most gentle people in the world.

    Thanks for you page, you brought back some sweet memories in my heart.

    Yvon Verrier

    PS: If you visit my website, you will find some picture of Singapore.