It’s easy to roll my eyes at the gross misrepresentation of my country in films like Crazy Rich Asians, but things get more awkward when I’m face–to–face with gushing foreigners, talking about how much they’d love to move to Singapore, how it’s just so much better than wherever they’re living, how it seems so beautiful and wonderful and everything “just works”. In that moment, I don’t want to be that party pooper who goes off on a rant, because that feels impolite and also unfair to both my country and the speaker who just wants to pay a compliment. But I’m also reluctant to let go of an opportunity to raise awareness of the struggles Singapore’s activist and pro–democracy advocates face. More often than not, I’m just left with a sense of ambivalence..
Published April 1, 2021.