Typical Singaporean ‘Service’

I had what I have come to believe is, unfortunately, an entirely typical experience of Singaporean so called, ‘service’. Partially this experience is caused by the unfortunate side affect the nanny state has on it’s citizens minds—turning them into mush only capable of performing set repetitious tasks—and partially on typical bureaucratic red tape. Red tape is typical of all governments, Singapore has no excuse since it has gelded all opposition and there is a single National ID, with no expectation of privacy.

This adventure started with the need to register Victoria’s birth and have the official birth certificate made. We were told you have 14 days to do this, Monday will be 14 days so now that we have chosen the Chinese name I need to get this all done ASAP.

I called up the hospital and ask them when they are open today (Friday) for birth registration. Their answer: “normal business hours.”

I arrived at hospital at 4:03. A sign at queue number machine says: “Birth registration is closed for today. We will be open tomorrow morning at 8:30.” 4:00 PM is not outside normal business hours last I checked. Normal business hours here in Singapore are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM with some places closed for an hour at lunch time between 12:00 and 2:00 more or less. So I ask the lady at the information counter why they are closed early. Her answer: Birth registration is open 8:30 to 11:00 AM and 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

“I thought you were open ‘normal business hours’ today?”

“Those are our normal business hours. We only give out queue numbers from 8:30 to 11:00 AM and 2:00 to 4:00 PM.”

Would have been nice if the person on the phone would have said that, typical fucking Singaporean—can’t give all the relevant information in the answer to a question, they all seem to suffer from some sort of shared mental heath problem when answering questions; if they don’t flat out lie, or guess they just say whatever they can to get it over with, they are not interested in actually being helpful. So, tomorrow is a public holiday—national day—so ask the lady at the information counter if they are open tomorrow. No, it’s a holiday.

“You need to change your sign at the machine, it says you are open tomorrow at 8:30.”

“Yes we open at 8:30.”

“But not tomorrow?”

“No, tomorrow is national day.”

“Then you need to change the sign on the machine—it says you are open at 8:30, tomorrow. Listen to what I’m saying.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Come, look at the sign.”

Once I showed the woman the sign she said, “Oh, I see.” Apparently they put this little sign up everyday at 4, and who ever put it up today did not engage their brain before doing so.

So I asked; “Now, since I was here at 4:03, your closed tomorrow and I have to finish the registration by tomorrow, is it possible to get a queue number for today? Please?

“Let me check with my colleague.”

After a few moments speaking with the girls behind the counter she returned and said, “my colleague there will help you as soon as she is done with the last two people in the queue.”

“Thank you.”

Once I actually got to the counter new troubles started. First was the issue of address. To explain this I first have to tell you a short story:

See, here in Singapore the government keeps such tight reign on it’s subjects that one has to register where one lives so that it can be kept on file by the police and written on the back of ones identity card (IC). The funny thing is while the address you give them is printed on the card when you get the card, any changes to said address are printed out on green paper and taped to over the old address. Candice’s IC was printed a few years back with her family address on it. Then, she updated it to the apartment we were renting in China Town two years ago. Now that we have moved to Yishun she needs to change it again. But to show the change they need specific paper work—i.e. utilities bills or some such. But when we moved it I took care of getting all the utilities set up and therefore all the bills are in my name. So the alternative is to have them mail you an official letter to the new address (don’t know how this proves anything as anyone could have it mailed to a friend and then pick it up…). Candice asked to have such a letter mailed but the person who took the request fucked up our address and so while the post office was able to figure it out and deliver it correctly, the government won’t accept it, but now the system won’t accept any changes for some reason. So despite the fact that you are supposed to have your IC updated within 30 days we are still trying to get her IC changed, because of a fucking typo!

On top of the fuck up with Candice IC and our address there is the problem of the institutionalized sexism here in Singapore. On the birth certificate form there is a place to fill out the particulars of the mother and father. Under the mother they want the mother to list down her address. But they don’t have a place for the fathers address. So I listed down the correct address—where we actually live under the mothers particulars. Now why they even need the address is a point of contention I have with the Singapore government—not that I don’t want to give it to them, that’s a fight not worth starting—but since her address is registered by law why do I have to give any government worker both the IC number and the address? Shouldn’t the IC number, once entered in a form, be used to retrieve ALL the other info? I’m mean what is the point of writing all the damn info down over and over again for each government agency on every form when it’s already in the god damn database. That’s just stupid, someone got taken for a ride by the vendors of their IT systems—and I bet the vendors laughed all the way to the bank. Typical fucking requirements gathering failure. Waste of money. So much for Singapore efficiency and e-government.

Anyway. Once the woman saw that the address I put down did not match the address on Candice’s IC she said I either had to have Candice change the IC or we would have to print the birth certificate with the wrong address. What’s the point if we can just print the birth certificate with the wrong address? I don’t get it. Why does the birth certificate have an address on it? Do they really think that you are never going to move? The morons who designed the rules and process for this shit need to get their heads out of their asses. Why does it matter if we use the mothers address or the fathers address? Why do we need to print the address on the birth certificate? Why don’t the systems communicate with each other—why do I have to give them the same damn info on every form—the god damn IC is supposed to solve this type of shit.

So, in the end I told her to use the old, incorrect, address. It’s just an address for god’s sake.

But wait, plot thickens!

After getting all the info entered into the computer the system spit back and error:

Registration could not be processed. Instruct customer to proceed to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Do what?

Try again.

Registration could not be processed. Instruct customer to proceed to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

No luck.

No the woman asked her manager to look at it. Apparently not everyone can register for the birth certificate at the hospital. This is mostly and issue for foreigners, but as Candice is a citizen and I am a permanent resident and we were married in Singapore we should be able to register at the hospital.

The manager could find no problem so she called someone who also could find no problem. The solution: go to ICA. No I have to take a day off work and go to ICA to do this… and my experience with ICA is that it is the epitome of inefficiency and bad processes.

I can’t wait…

4 replies on “Typical Singaporean ‘Service’”

Damn, that is bad. Beyond DMV Jersey bad. I don’t think there’s a comparable scale for it. But, if there were a lotus scale for inefficiency and bureaucratization, then it would score a 9.9 (got to leave room for the ICA).

What happens if you dont register and give the above explanation with the addendum that is it not good for your mental health.

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