British man calls S'pore a Disneyland for adults with little racism after 9 years here

He met some "really good" locals, and finds the country extremely safe to live in.

Kayla Wong | June 13, 2019, 11:05 PM

A British man, who originally came to Singapore with the intention of staying just a year, ended up staying for nine-and-a-half as he liked the country way too much.

"Disneyland for adults"

In an interview done for a YouTube series, The Melanated Files, which highlights the experiences of black people from across the globe, Michael Francis called Singapore the "Disneyland for adults" as it is "so easy" to live here.

There are many things he liked about the country, such as the "sunshine" and the food.

"You can't pin me down on one thing I like to eat here, all of it is good," he said.

The only thing he does not like about Singapore?

The lack of DIY (do-it-yourself) shops here.

This means that he could not just "turn up somewhere and buy a tool".

Volunteers in Singapore

Francis first came to Singapore as he was offered a job here, although he did not say what kind of job it was.

The decision was an easy one.

It took him just a few minutes to decide to make the move as he thought such an opportunity would be hard to come by again.

Francis took a career break from being a fireman in the London Fire Brigade in order to move here to Singapore.

He said he does "a lot of volunteering" in Singapore, by helping charities take photos at their fund-raising events, for instance.

Minimal racism

When asked if he faced racism in Singapore, Francis, a black British man, said it was minimal.

"I can't say there's much... There's a tiny, tiny amount of racism here, but it's so small it's ridiculous.

I would say there's none."

Hangs out more with local Malays and Indians

As for the general attitude he got from local Singaporeans, he said it depends.

"Most of them stay on their own, like if they're staying in HDBs, they stay on their own," he said.

But he said even though he "mixes a lot" with the Malays and the Indians, he does not do that much with the Singaporean Chinese.

When asked to elaborate on his answer, he said he does not see a lot of Chinese locals out on the weekends.

"If you're living next door (to a Singaporean Chinese), you don't normally see them. They're either inside doing something, or they're out.

Their children are studying."

Met "really good" people in Singapore

Nevertheless, Francis said he met many good people here in Singapore.

"I feel like it has been an adventure. I met really, really good people here. You just gotta be open and just soak up the lifestyle.

Also... you get to travel and see a lot of the other islands and countries around Singapore, like Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia and so forth."

Feels safe here

One other thing Francis appreciates about Singapore is its safety.

"You know that feeling when you're walking down the street in the U.K., or Jamaica, or the Caribbean.

You have this little sixth sense of seventh sense going on at the back, you got this radar looking out for trouble.

When you're here, that switched off. You don't have that at all, it's gone."

He is not the only foreigner who found Singapore safe to live in too.

Ran a Jamaican food stall at Bedok Marketplace

Francis opened a Jamaican food stall at Bedok Marketplace too.

He did that in early 2017 after chatting with the owner, who tried his food and thought it was different from the existing types of food here.

And it tasted great too.

His Jamaican food stall, called Mike's Caribbean Food, received positive reviews from local food reviewers.

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Jerk Chicken with Fried Plantain an alternative to Rice and Peas. #mikescaribbeanfood #bedokmarketplace #friedplantain #goodeats #simpangbedok #singapore #jamaicanfood #irielife #irievibes

A post shared by Michael Anthony Francis (@mikes_caribbean_food) on

The menu consisted of Jamaican dishes such as jerk chicken, curry goat and fried plantains.

Unfortunately, he had to close his stall in November 2017 as his mother had passed away at that time, and he had to return to Jamaica.

Francis cited another reason too, which is that he "couldn't get any staff".

"Not many Singaporeans want to do the F&B business. It was very difficult (to continue running the stall).

I was a one-man show."

Spent a year just eating chicken rice

Francis also spoke of his quest to find the best chicken rice in Singapore.

He said that when he first came here, he spent a year just eating chicken rice.

He tried the dish from all over Singapore in order to find out the best one there is.

In his second year, he switched to wanton noodle soup, and then to laksa for his third year.

He said with a laugh, laksa is "completely different no matter where you go".

However, he did not say in the interview which place he thinks has the best chicken rice, wanton noodle soup, or laksa.

Singapore is much more relaxed than foreigners think

To inform the uninitiated foreigner, Francis also addressed what he sees as the "greatest misconception" about Singapore, which is that "you would get fined for everything".

"It's much more relaxed than you think," he said.

As for the common misconception that chewing gum is banned in Singapore, he said "you might be able to bring it in, but you can't buy it".

In addition, while Francis said he has not seen anyone getting charged for spitting, he has seen the police arrest people here, and he finds it "amazing how they do it".

"It's usually plain clothes police and they usually just grab the person, and they're gone, like quick, quick, quick.

You wouldn't even know that it happened, it's so quick."

Also, he confirms that there is indeed the death penalty here in Singapore, something he is not exactly against.

"Because of that, I think most people are peaceful here.

I think I've only ever seen one fight here since I've been here."

However, Francis said the movie Crazy Rich Asians was an accurate portrayal of Singapore, which is an opinion most Singaporeans would not agree with.

Singapore is a "can do" nation

Francis shared his views on the city-state too, saying that he sees Singapore as a "can-do nation".

"If they plan on doing something, they get it done," he said.

"That's what's great about Singapore."

You can watch his interview here:


Top image via The Black Experience Japan's YouTube