Sec 3 Social Studies guide says speaking Singlish, eating hawker food and playing in HDB estates show low socio-economic status


A Secondary 3 Express/ Normal Academic assessment book has rubbed Singaporeans the wrong way after an excerpt suggests that speaking Singlish, eating at hawker centres and playing in HDB estates show one’s low socio-economic status:

The book, Complete Guide to O-Level Social Studies Vol 1 by Rowan Luc, suggests that those who belong to a higher socio-economic status “Use formal English in daily conversation or at home; Play sports or tennis at an exclusive country club; Have regular fine dining at expensive restaurants; (and) Travel overseas for leisure during school holidays”

On the other hand, the book suggests that those who belong to a lower socio-economic status “Use Singlish or different dialects in daily conversation or at home; Play football or basketball in HDB estates; Eat at hawker centres or at home; (and) Work part-time jobs during vacation time to meet family basic needs”

The writer added that understanding differing socio-economic statuses “is important because they help us understand societies better and enable governments to put in place more effective policies in dealing with health care, the rich-poor divide, aging, crime and education.”

He added that one’s socio-economic status determines that person’s choice of language, housing, food and entertainment and can influence the friends that person interacts with.

While the book is meant to supplement official syllabus taught in Singapore schools, it is not approved nor endorsed by the Ministry of Education.

Meanwhile, a netizen’s post showing the questionable excerpt has gone viral with over 4,300 shares, almost 800 reactions and almost 300 comments. Several netizens excoriated the content of the book and shared that they were appalled by the needlessly discriminatory classification:

Surprised this is even published. I am appalled! Ministry of Education, Singapore @ Singapore

Posted by Ahmad Matin on Monday, 12 March 2018


  1. When one belongs to a lower socio-economic status , what is wrong with that? In this world, if you have it (wealth) you have it. If you don’t, you can work harder getting it. With the opportunities you seize & luck you have, you can climb up to be in the next higher level. At the higher levels, one can still continue to speak Singlish and eat hawker food !

  2. Singlish,hawker centre and HDB is a trademark of SINGAPORE. The author shouldnt look down on it. We cannot find all this in other country. If u real SG u have to understd Singlish , eating at hawker centre. Dont forget your own root n look down to the people stay and play at HDB as 50% Singaporean mostly stay there.

  3. who is this “Rowan Luc”, who is the publisher in the first place and who were the editors – more fake name or fake news or more Foreign Talent!!??
    Don’t talk Singlish – then don’t have Singapore lah.
    Don’t play soccer in HDB – then don’t build HDB flats – go play in Oxley.
    Don’t eat in Hawker Centre – then don’t build Hawker Centers loh.
    Don’t work part-time – then give me minister salary and have the next generation feeling “entitled” and “high” SES.
    Why Education ministry no comment?