Singapore is snobbish, says Tommy Koh. Singaporeans, do you agree?

snob, snobbery, people, snobbish, country, koh

“Singapore is snobbish,” says Prof Tommy Koh in a Heart of the Matter podcast, and Singapore will have to address its flaws if it is to create a new social compact going forward. 

Prof Koh’s remarks elicit many responses. Among them are the following:

tommy koh

There are snobs but there are also humble people. Prof Tommy Koh needs to mingle more with the poorer segment of society. Virtue signalling is not helpful. Now, of course, when Prof Koh says ‘Singapore is snobbish’, he does not include himself but perhaps he should ask himself if he too is a snob? 

snob, snobbery, people, snobbish, country, koh

Everyone needs to address snobbery. Prof Koh’s comments should not leave the impression that only the government or system has to address snobbery. 


To a degree, it is true that we have become snobbish because of a capable government that leads us through all odds. In short, success has made us snobbish.

The opposite of snobbery is the ability to empathize. We have faced crises but each time, the government had been quick to provide needed support. The result is that most of us have really not felt the full impact of a crisis. This results in a less than desirable ability to empathize with others. Volunteering and helping people in distress is a good way to build empathy.


Graciousness is also the opposite of being snobbish. When we no longer need an army of cleaners to clean up after us, when we are more welcoming of the foreigner in our midst, when we readily give up our seat on the bus or train without arguing whether it is a priority seat or not, when we do not hesitate to lend a helping hand to the visually impaired navigating his or her way around, etc, we will have become a more gracious people

By far, the best comment is this one:

snob, snobbery, people, snobbish, country, koh

Self-reflection is always a good thing to do. It is a good idea to reflect on our own self and ask if we are snobbish. 

Snobbery can exist in many different ways. There are intellectual snobs, music snobs, food snobs, phone snobs and what-have-yous. 

Snobbery comes from the inside out. It’s how you view other people. At its most extreme, snobbery is a symptom of a nacissistic personality disorder that is marked by grandiosity and a need to be admired. 

Snobs think they know better than others. They brag about their own choices and are rude about others’ choices. The intellectual snobs, for example, carry an air of superiority with them. They are often arrogant, judgmental and egoistic, showing contempt for those who do not share their views or opinions and demonstrating their contempt with derogative adjectives to boost their own ego. 

How to recognise the snob in you?

According to John Mayer, a psychologist at the University of New Hampshire, snobs have no doubt about themselves. They genuinely believe they are better than others. 

You are a snob if you believe that your success is solely because of your own ability and efforts and not because of the support and opportunities given to you by the system and the community. Just think. You could have been born in a different place with a different system, and your life could turn out very different. 

If you are always bragging about your achievements, you are a snob. As citizens of a successful and well-run country, we take pride in our country being able to punch above our weight in the international arena. However, it’s one thing to take pride, another to be boastful. Our ability to punch above our weight is possible only because we are a successful country that can value-add to other countries. We will therefore do well to always remember our vulnerabilities because it helps us to stay humble. Never forget that the quality of leadership in the country makes THE difference. Mess up everything with incompetent leaders, and we will be forced to eat humble pie.  

Lest you think only the rich and well-educated are snobs, ask yourself: do you hate rich people? You could be a reverse snob. A reverse snob is no better than a snob. Reverse snobs feel they are better than others because they don’t ‘put on airs’. They are “down to earth”. They thumb their nose up at people who earn more than them, and think the world owes them everything. They are anti-elitist. They cast doubt when the rich are generous and feel happy when something bad happens to the rich. 

By far, the worst kind of snobbery today is wokeism and cancel culture. They not only think they alone are right, they want to cancel out everyone who disagrees with them. Here, there is no room for discussion or disagreement. 

So, is there a snob in you?

[irp posts="14996"]


On Key

Related Posts