Are Singaporeans unhappy?

Last year, Gallup, a reputable research firm, surveyed people all over the world and came to the conclusion that, based on their responses, fewer Singaporeans were happy than people in other countries. Singaporeans weren’t happy with this response and went on an excuse-gathering exercise to come up with all sorts of reasons why they came out so low; personally, I didn’t find it all that unlikely an outcome – when I look around I see a lot of frowns, and that can be any time of the day, even 6:00 on a Friday night when everyone’s heading home for the weekend!!

Now it looks like someone has paid good money to produce a not-so-authentic-looking video to debunk the survey. Call this an entry from the Department of SEE-HOW-HAPPY-WE-ARE!!! SEE!!! SEE!!!


In December 2012, a global survey ranked Singapore the unhappiest country in the world. At StarHub, we didn’t agree with it — not for one second. So, we went out to uncover what real Singaporeans thought of the survey. And this was their answer.

The text in the commercial is as follows:

In December 2012 a global survey ranked Singapore the unhappiest country. They say we are emotionless. Soulless. The least positive nation. One that is intolerant. One that is not for family. They call us a nation of complainers. People who don’t smile, laugh, dance. People who are just about the GDP. NOW…. who says we are all that?

Well… this is a bit dishonest. Yes, the survey said least positive, which can be rephrased as unhappiest (and a different survey a month earlier said emotionless). But the words and phrases “soulless“, “intolerant“, “not for family“, “just about GDP“, “a nation of complainers“, and “don’t smile, laugh, dance” are not in the Gallup findings. Those words are all Starhub’s (and, I suppose, reflect Singaporeans’ suspicions about themselves).

It gets a bit silly when the commercial asks “who says we are all that?” – if you remember, at the beginning of the commercial it is announced that this all comes from “a global survey”. Okay – this looks to me like a case of someone coming up with an answer to a question, giving the answer away early, then asking for the answer later on in order to influence the outcome. Nice, and this may convince those people who just aren’t paying attention. But the fact is that Gallup conducted a survey, where they asked people all over the world questions about how they feel, so in terms of the outcome of the Singapore portion of the survey, the real answer to the question “who says we are all that?” is actually the Singaporeans who took the survey who say they are unhappy (and, in a November 2012 survey, emotionless) and no one else.

The ad ends with the marketing catchphrase ” Starhub says Happy Everywhere.” Sounds like a command… sir, yes sir!!

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