Is enough ever enough?: a discussion this Saturday on consumerism in Singapore

i shop therefore i am

How materialistic and obsessed with status competition are we Singaporeans?

Some days I think overconsumption and conspicuous consumption are things of the past, others I feel we have just moved on from the material to the experiential, from leather bags to F&B/skiing holidays (no judgment…probably guilty of all of the above.)

Not to mention the increasing projection of status competition onto children. BYOM–Bring your own maid–one of the best terms I’ve heard recently re: kids’ party instructions.

I don’t think there are ever going to be any definitive answers to any of this, consumerism is so ingrained in the Singaporean psyche, yet is also constantly evolving with migration, technology and other trends.

Nevertheless, always good to engage in the occasional banter, so I’m looking forward to this talk at 3pm this Saturday at FOST Gallery, Gillman Barracks, alongside Chua Beng Huat, a sociologist and author of “Life is not complete without shopping”, and Li Lin Wee, director of “Gone Shopping”.

Do join us to talk shop.

“This talk is free but seating is limited. Please email to reserve a seat. Unoccupied reserved seats will be released 5 minutes before the talk begins.”


Official invite details on Facebook and below:

” Do you ever get the feeling that we spend all our lives in shopping centres?”
– Aaron Ho, ‘Gone Shopping’

A panel discussion with Professor Chua Beng Huat, Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh and Wee Li Lin in conjunction with ‘The Foster Emporium’ exhibition

Saturday, 10 March 2018
3PM – 5PM
FOST Gallery


Shopping has been called Singapore’s national pastime, and our island described as one endless shopping centre. What does this say about Singaporeans, what matters to us, and where we are headed?

Please join us for this talk as our panellists discuss the politics of envy in the age of Facebook, Instagram; why we covet what we covet; and why it’s easier these days to find a good macaroon than good ondeh-ondeh (…or is it?)



Professor Chua Beng Huat is Provost Chair Professor in the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. He received his PhD from York University, Canada. He has published widely on urban planning and public housing, comparative politics in Southeast Asia and the emerging consumerism across Asia. His many publications include: Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore (1995), Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore (1997), Life is Not Complete without Shopping (2003), Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore (2017), and as editor, Singapore Studies II: Critical Studies (1999), Consumption in Asia: Lifestyles and Identities (2000), Communitarian Politics in Asia (2004), Elections as Popular Culture in Asia (2007), Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader (2007), East Asia Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave (2008) and Port Cities in Asia and Europe (2008).

Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh is a Singaporean author, most recently of Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus. He blogs at He finds the excess of consumer choice one of the most exhilarating, yet ultimately draining, aspects of life in any global city. He is currently working on a book about China and India.

Wee Li Lin is one of the pioneer female filmmakers in Singapore. She has made numerous short films and two feature films as well as several telemovies and commercials. Her debut film Gone Shopping, was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. She has won several awards locally and internationally such as “Best Director” at the Singapore International Film Festival and a “Star Award”. Her films have travelled to prestigious festivals such as the Tribeca Film festival in New York, the Cairo International Film festival, the Shanghai international film festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival and many others. Li Lin is also a part time lecturer at NTU and NUS teaching screenwriting for the short film.

This talk is free but seating is limited. Please email to reserve a seat. Unoccupied reserved seats will be released 5 minutes before the talk begins.


From 26 January to 25 March, FOST Gallery will be transformed into The Foster Emporium, showcasing items, many of which are limited edition, produced by artists and independent makers. The Foster Emporium is a serious platform, thinly veiled as a retail concept, to explore the issues of trade, consumerism and the commodification of art.

With support from the National Arts Council


“I shop, therefore I am”, a concept made famous by artist Barbara Kruger (photo credit)




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