Sep 4, 2008

Two Perspectives on the Emigrated Ex-Singaporean

The first perspective comes from an article by one Philip Lee. The article was published in both the New Paper and the Straits Times (on 30 August and 1 September respectively).
Retiring abroad ain't bed of roses
By Philip Lee

THEY are day-dreaming, those young Singaporeans who said in a recent survey that they wanted to retire abroad.

A make-believe Utopian world is always more pleasant than the real one.

Harmless reverie, I suppose. A form of escapism when all roads here seem to lead to ERP gantries.

But we need to also get real. It ain't all hunky-dory in the US. G'days come with bad ones too in Australia. And there's no milk and honey aplenty in Canada, Malaysia or China.

Who needs this reality check? The poll result showed that a desire to live abroad was the highest among those aged between 21 and 34.

They probably had in their young minds attractive lures such as cooler climate, cheaper housing, lower cost of living, wide open spaces and so on.

Pardon me, while I burst a few bubbles.

First, housing abroad is not as cheap as we once thought, except perhaps for sub-prime property.
Nor is the cost of living. And by the time these youngsters retire, costs would have soared even higher.

A change of weather? Yes, spring, summer and autumn are nice seasons, although in many countries early spring and late autumn are as chilly as winter.

Winters can be so severe that old joints ache, parched lips crack and aged minds go into depression.

The last is the result of a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

This is believed to be caused by the deprivation of sunlight during the short winter days.

I was a sufferer when I lived in Vancouver for 10 years. Some are afflicted year after year and may need exposure to artificial sunlight. Some feel suicidal.

When one has reached retirement age, making new friends is not going to be easy. Set in their ways, they cannot discard their idiosyncrasies accumulated over so many years on earth.

Idiosyncrasies and new friendships don't mix. Don't believe that everyone ages gracefully. Many are cantankerous, irascible, suspicious and anti-social.

At a time when you most need the sight of the familiar faces of family and friends, you'll find yourself among virtual strangers - living in a strange land and feeling like a second-class citizen.

I know of friends who migrated to the West years ago after renouncing their Singapore citizenship, only to regret this after a few years.

Immigration: Many countries in the west and in Australia today prefer young, qualified immigrants, not oldies with money.

So the picture is not as rosy as the young imagine. Let's hope they wise up.
The second perspective comes from one of my readers, Cheong Wing Lee. From his home in Vancouver, Canada, he sends me an email. Rather long, but the highly specific information will be helpful for those seriously considering emigration.
Dear Mr.Wang,

Mr. Philip Lee's critical assessment about the pride of Singaporeans retiring abroad cannot be left unchallenged.

I have been retired for more than ten years and have been spending my time between Guangzhou in China and Vancouver in Canada. Contrary to what Philip Lee had said, both these cities are interesting, fun and cheaper than Singapore.

In Guangzhou, I live in a penthouse apartment that I bought for S$150,000 five years ago. It is situated in Tian He district (similar to District 10 in Singapore) and next to the beautiful 1,000 acres botanic garden that residents of the condo can access for free through a side gate. It is a gated community with a club house and first class facilities, Olympic size swimming pool and modern security services. A similar apartment in Singapore would have cost at least S$900,000 or more.

For about 5,000 yuan or about S$1,000 a month I live extremely well. A similar lifestyle in Singapore would cost me at least S$5,000 a month. One can easily survive well in Guangzhou for 2,000 yuan or about S$400. It would be cheaper if one decides to live in smaller cities like Fushan or Chungshan. A Singaporean who speaks proficient English can easily get a part-time job teaching English and earn 3,000 to 5,000 yuan a month.

A retired professor from NTU in Singapore has been living in the same estate as I in Guangzhou for the past few years. He teaches science at a local university and earns about 10,000 yuan a month. He too can testify to the cost of living in Guangzhou. He is unlikely to move back to Singapore as he has liquidated all his assets there.

In Vancouver, I live in a 5,000 sq feet waterfront property that costs me less than S$1 million. A similar piece of waterfront property in Singapore would have cost at least S$3 million or perhaps more. Attached is a photo of the view from the windows in my house.

I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid that I brought brand new five years ago for S$25,000. A similar new Honda Hybrid in Singapore would have cost close to S$100,000 if you include COE. If one prefers to drive more prestigous cars like a brand new Mercedes 250 or a BMW 325, these cars cost less than C$50,000. The cost of living for my wife and myself is less than S$2,000 a month. The cost of living for me in Vancouver would drop significantly when I reach the age of 65 when I am entitled to old age pension from the Canadian government. My wife and myself would then receive more than S$2,000 a month from the government.

Factor in the savings in the cost of purchasing a house and a car in Vancouver vs in Singapore, and the difference is more than enough to pay for a happy, comfortable retirement for the rest of your life.

If a person is more adventurous and hands-on, the cost of living in Vancouver can be only about a few hundred dollars a month. You can fish, catch crabs and prawns, grow your own vegetables, hunting etc. There are lots of places to fish and hunt. All you need then is to purchase rice, sauces, spices and pay for essentials like gas and electricity for the house you stay, telephone bills and transportation. These items amount to no more than S$500 a month. I have tried it and it is fun.

It is impossible to find similar opportunities in Singapore.

Philip Lee had personal experiences of depressing tales about lack of friends for retiring Singaporeans living overseas. I sympathize with him for "suffering from seasonal affective disorder", but I suspect Mr.Lee is an introvert and does not have a sociable personality. As long as one is an extrovert and willing to engage in and be pro-active, he will have lots of friends.

I have lots of friends of all races both in Guangzhou and Vancouver. I participate in dragon boat races in Vancouver, San Francisco, Guangzhou, Hawaii, etc. I am the only Singaporean with the rowing team and the oldest. The rest of the team are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Thailand and some European countries. I play golf with friends of all races. I give free English lessons to Guangzhou universities students as well as local business persons.

I am a member of both the Guangzhou and Vancouver Toastmasters clubs, Guangzhou Canadian Friendship club, Friends of Taiwan club, etc. I am always welcome by friends in Guangzhou and Vancouver. We have activities all year round, i.e. snow hiking and skiing in winters, fishing, gardening, cruises to Alaska, and BBQ during summers, pot-lucks, mahjong, hunting, etc., throughout the rest of the year. There is hardly a dull moment.

My wife who is a retired teacher from Singapore gives free English lessons to doctors and nurses at Chungshan Hospital in Guangzhou. She does volunteer work when in Vancouver. Life is so rewarding and there is simply no time to be depressed.

It is surprising that Philip Lee had said that we are treated as second-class citizens. It is inevitable that there will be a small minority of people who are racists and bigots. These people even hate their own kind. It is not the norm and that happens in any country including Singapore.

I have kidney failure and it cost the Canadian Government S$8,000 a month to treat me at no cost to me. There are nine friends who are willing to donate their kidneys to me. They include a Caucasian, a Taiwanese, a Malaysian, a Korean, a Mainland Chinese (a doctor herself) and four members of my family. It is unfair to say that we are 2nd-class citizens when people like Dr Ron Werb, head of department at St. Paul's Hospital personally accompanies us in dragon boat rowing practices twice a week together with other doctors.

I remember when I first immigrated to Canada more than twenty years ago, all my three children were given C$250 each as "milk money" until they reached high school. This policy is still ongoing. There are plenty of support organizations to help new immigrants of different cultures and races to assimilate into the Canadian society.

The Canadian Government even pays for my medical treatments when I travel overseas. Healthcare is very costly and a very important factor for retirees. To have access to good, free medical treatment during retirement is like striking a million-dollar lottery .

The benefits of free healthcare in Canada makes Singapore's claim of a lower cost of living quite meaningless.
Now, note the next part. Here's a personal invitation from Wing Lee. SPH and Mediacorp employees, please take note. This could be your chance to write an interesting story. Wing Lee has given his telephone number to me (and I have his email address, of course) - if you are a journalist and you want to contact Wing Lee, please feel free to email me.
To prove my case, I welcome any member of the Press to visit Guangzhou or Vancouver and stay with me for a month and experience the truth. However, I have one condition. Do not send an introvert and an eternal pessimist who only engages in self-pity and complaints. Then there is nothing to prove. The person should be open-minded and adventurous and enjoy sea sports. He must be a hands-on person and preferably be able to handle a rifle and likes hunting and able to cook.

Philip Lee is correct to say that life is not a bed of roses, but only if one is not prepared to make the necessary adjustments to adapt. If one works hard and stays positive, it is difficult to fail. As for me and many others, we are very happy immigrants. Life could not be better. There is no shame and we certainly have clear conscience when emigrating from Singapore.

Regards
Cheong Wing Lee
Just a small note from me now - perhaps not terribly relevant. Last month, around the National Day period, I wrote a long blog post with a patriotic theme. Its title was self-explanatory: "Why I Will Not Emigrate From Singapore".

But I never posted that article. After I finished writing the article, I looked at all my personal reasons for staying on in this little island, and I realised that collectively, all those reasons made me a rare statistical quirk, an improbable oddity in the Singapore landscape.

In other words, my reasons for staying on in Singapore will apply only to a very, very small number of other Singaporeans. That is to say, if my personal circumstances were more like the typical or average Singaporean's, I think I might struggle to find reasons to stay.

So as not to dampen everyone's happy National Day mood in August, I decided not to post that article. But now let me just state, very briefly, some of the reasons why I will not emigrate from Singapore:

1. I have a congenital heart defect and no NS liability. Therefore I am personally not disadvantaged by NS, vis-a-viz the ever-increasing number of foreigners on this island.

2. My children are extraordinarily bright and I believe they will belong to the tiny minority who can sail through the local education system with minimal tears and suffering.

3. Unlike most Singaporeans, I have no interest in driving a big car or owning landed property.

4. At work, I'm paid like foreign talent.
There, I told you. If my personal circumstances were more like a typical Singaporean's, I really would be quite unsure why I'd stay.

136 comments:

Singapore Sports Fan said...

Hi Mr Wang

While it is fair for Mr Cheong to challenge Mr Philip Lee's views, because there are always two sides to a coin, I think it is terribly unfair of him to label or assume Mr Lee as an introvert and not having a social personality.

I happen to know Mr Lee and can safely say that he is one of the more gregarious people I know and is often the life of any social gathering.

Mr Cheong's assumption of Mr Lee as such, is misleading as it can be wrongly interpreted as fact.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

I think both letters shared intensely personal experiences and I thank both writers for putting their views across. People who had made the move to live abroad would probably have experienced both.

Like most people I have been contemplating this move but never have real compelling reasons to do so. I feel that at the end of the day familiarity and being near loved ones will win out. I have not stopped contemplating though.

Mr. Wang, having bright children would probably be a good reason to move to give them a more vibrant and stimulating environment. Would it not?
-Lin

Dennis said...

I am in my fifties now. The greatest regret in my life is that I did not try to get US or Canadian citizenship while I went for my studies there.

Work hard to ENJOY LIFE. That's what it's all about. To live a life. The wide open spaces, the nice long drive along winding roads in relaxing forested areas, the camping trips, the fishing trips, the snow sledging, etc. If one likes the outdoors and is an extrovert. One can really ENJOY LIFE.

In S'pore, it seems we work hard to get milked harder by the govt. When I step out of my home to do a simple errant or meet an appointment I see all these great big ERP gantries. No relaxing drive anymore, simply enjoying the travelling and listening to the car stereo. Pray I don't get a serious illness in my old age. Etc.

Advice to all out there. Get the hell out when you can! If not, change current govt status and/or its mentality!

Anonymous said...

Your readers may not know that Indians of whatever nationality actually hold double citizenship i.e. Indian citizenship is always available there for overseas Indians to take.

Likewise, China. But one has first to renounce the current one I guess. In fact, given some savings and the low exchange rate difference and a smattering of Chinese, China especially Hainan Island and some suburban districts of southern China coastal cities make very good retiring grounds.

A couple of my friends have retired there. Being Chines makes them blend into the local culture easily. Furthermore, China is never hostile to foreigners let alone overseas Chinese.

Yes, the food is cheap, accommodation inexpensive by Singapore's standards. Standard of living now is comparatively high. Also new wife is young and pretty.

So, why waih Mr Oldie! Act fast!

Anonymous said...

I think not everyone who dreams to retire can live like Mr Cheong, and therefore enjoy the quality of life he has.

How many can afford a close to $1 million property anywhere in the world?

I might be wrong, but I don't believe your life in Canada will be the same if you are earning average wages, and can only afford to live in a smaller apartment. The social circle, and activities, and life's 'enjoyments' are surely more limited.

And how many can afford to live between 2 cities? I am certain that if I can do that, there will be far more in both places I can tap into. Not that living only in GZ or Vancouver means life will be miserable, but surely it's not the same if you can afford to fly to another home anytime you wish to.

Having said that, it's fair for Mr Cheong to highlight that emigrating can be a possibility for some, and not necessarily as bleak as Mr Lee's examples. Even so, emigration is not always as rosy as many young S'poreans believe.

thecatman

Anonymous said...

I dunno if I have SAD. But one main reason why I had to turn down long term overseas postings is hay fever and nose bleeds during the colder seasons. No joke :-S

(For once not talking thru my behind.)

cool ... u finally realise that u are special. Well done! :-)

Anonymous said...

I think one point not highlighted is the differences in the foreign township that both Chrong and Lee are staying in.

I suspect that if you stay in a more "international" township, you may find the environment more accommodating to new-comers.

Perhaps the real issue should be about location choices, rather than comparing 2 groups: Singapore vs all foreign lands.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Would you let your son be disadvantaged by the NS liability?

My apologies if this is too personal to reply.

I am one parent who, despite sharing similar circumstances like yours, still opt to emigrate.

I believe that if my son wants to serve his birth country one day, he could still return to do so. It would be his choice.

Having some 40 year liability forced upon him by birth is pretty unfair.

If he does, he can proudly say he choose to be Singaporean.

I notice that the Singapore media tend to project ex-Singaporeans as bitter underachievers who emigrated in search of greener pastures or to escape the PAP government.

It is good for you to give the other perspective as well.

I know of many ex-Singaporeans where I am. We are mostly young families with a kid or two.

The kids adapt better than the adults, surprisingly. They can make friends and build lasting friendship with the locals.

Actually, my advice to Singaporeans who are thinking of retiring elsewhere, would be " leave when you are younger".

Then, one would not have problems faced by Mr Lee.

Overseas Singaporean said...

Having lived overseas (Down Under) for 2 years as an Aussie PR I can see the points both writers are trying to make.

On the plus side, the lifestyle is much better than Singapore, working life is much more relaxed, work culture much more humane than Singapore. No matter where your hobbies lie, there will definitely have some scope for you to pursue it. People (almost all the time) treat you with decency and show lots of courtesy and kindness, as long as you’re willing to show them the same. And standards of living; as one of our ministers said, what do you want? Hawker centre, food court or restaurant (although the context he used it in at the time was very wrong). Given that large number of ex Singaporeans/Malaysians here, you don’t really miss the food as almost everything you crave can be found here (or DIY). You’ll definitely have time to spend with the family if you choose to, unlike the fast-hectic lifestyle back in Singapore. I’ve ongoing problems with hypertension and recently fractured my toe and my net spend on medical fees is exactly $0 for doctor’s consultation, blood tests and x-rays . Even my hypertension medication costs ½ of what it does in Singapore. Even with higher taxes, I earn twice (after exchange rates) what I will earn in Singapore in a similar position. I’ve recently been offered a higher position in Singapore yet my take-home still can’t match my current pay.

On the negative side, I can really see Mr. Lee’s point of view, I’ve read about SAD before I encountered winter but it really hit me this year although it’s the first time I’ve encountered it after staying through 6 winters. I found myself being grumpy and “sian” due to the low temperatures and short days (start work when its not fully light and knock off when its starting to get dark) and now that spring has arrived I can feel the change in my mood. Public transport here is much poorer in coverage (due to urban sprawl compared to Singapore’s size) and more irregular so a car is more a necessity here than in Singapore, unless you’re willing to put up with high rental/property prices near the CBD and/or live very close to work. And unless you’re really at the top of your game, there tends to be a glass ceiling, career-wise.

I’ve no doubt I will want to retire here and not in Singapore, and the only reasons why I would want to go back is because my parents are there (I’m the only child) and the industry I work in is a lot more vibrant in Singapore. Otherwise, it’s a no brainer.

If you do choose to live overseas, you must really change your mindset, but it might not be a course for everyone. Your mileage will still vary.

Overseas Singaporean said...

Mr Wang, anon of 11.24am makes a very good point, while your kids are bright enough to take on the Singapore education system, would it not make more sense to go somewhere where their potential can be maximized?

Xtrocious said...

Just a minor point - I don't think that with the runaway property prices in China, one can still get a similar condo for just S$150,000 as mentioned by Mr Cheong...

Anonymous said...

Is he the same Philip Lee who worked at SPH for more than twenty years? If yes, then please don't insult his personality, as there's nothing personal about his letter - he's just doing what he used to do: nation building.

Anonymous said...

I dont think Mr. Cheong is saying that he is enjoing life bcos he can live in 2 countries and own a million dollar house in Cananda. He has given plenty of examples as to how one can live very cheaply in the smaller cities in Guangzhou and that the Canadian government
takes good care of their citizens such as giving free medical care for the elderly (which I believe has to be the paramount concern of aged Singaporeans) IMHO, the cost of medical care in Singapore is good enuff reason for the average elderly Singaporean to emigrate to China, Malaysia or Thailand.

If Mr. Cheong is really keen to give a balanced picture of the emigration issue, he should seriously consider submitting his letter to the ST instead of just issuuing an invitation through this blog. It is undeniable that the ST reaches out to a far greater number of pple and so as it stands, Philip Lee's version of life as an emigrant represents the truth.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before but will say it again: wen you are 55 or 62 or 70 (the retiremet age will go up) think back of what you will have (emotionally, spiritually, culturally and materially) if you had worked as hard in whatever country you aspire to when compared to Singapore. I'm not talking of the super rich just think of yourself. If the scale comes down on where you are in Singapore then good for you if the scale tips the other side think of your children and where they will be when they are at yor age. Emigration is a difficult decision so think carefully. But if you have the chance think even more carefully.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"It is undeniable that the ST reaches out to a far greater number of pple and so as it stands, Philip Lee's version of life as an emigrant represents the truth."

Heheh ... What are you saying? Many people read the Straits Times, therefore what the Straits Times publishes is true?

klimmer said...

Philip Lee's writing introduces nothing concrete but apparently, there be monsters if emigrate.

I have been living in Tokyo, one of the world's most expensive cities, for more than 8 years and I've never come across any of the issues he speaks of. While it's equally tough to make it in Japan, as in Singapore, there are many options available. It is this diversity, as opposed to Singapore lack of it, that makes it so interesting to live here. Cost & money, although important, isn't everything as there are more options available. Not everything cost a fortune, and incomes are proportional to living costs.

Onlooker said...

There are successful people who found a better life in a foreign land and settle there. Who are better witness to this than our own Foreign talents.
Of note:- There is an upcoming propapganda TV series regarding overseas Singaporeans featuring Fiona Xie and chichak noose guy.
Seems like The establishment is realizing the displacement of locals by FT(foreign toilers).
And the QC is still not stringent enough.

Anonymous said...

Singapore definitely has no fight where cars, housing and outdoor space is concerned.
The rest I am not so sure. But I value security most because no matter how good and cheap, if it is a crime ridden place, how to have a good quality of life? Or if weather is extremely cold most of the time? Or you are a handicap if you don't drive?
Maybe Singapore is not so bad, if you are not the poor minority. If not how can the PAP be so strong and opposition so weak, maybe weakest in the world that has voting system for gahmen.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the comment on Indian citizenship, dual citizenship is not allowed, but the government does have a scheme for persons of Indian origin and for emigrants.

http://www.indianembassy.org/policy/pio/introduction_pio.html

http://www.immihelp.com/nri/dual.html

Maybe the Singapore government should also start something like this, instead of making it so difficult for emigrants to retain touch with roots.

Also, I've noticed that most Singapore blog posts on citizenship and/or emigration bring the NS factor into the discussion, overlooking the fact that 50% of the people involved, women, are not liable for NS. Aren't Singaporean women emigrating?

yamizi said...

Wah seh...feel like go holidaying with Mr Cheong! But too bad I'm not working for the media!

Anonymous said...

The Government has announced the launching of a People of Indian Origin Card, which will allow visa free entry to Indian origin people living abroad and give them all the rights enjoyed by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) including purchase of non-agricultural land. 15 million people of Indian origin living abroad will benefit from the Card. Fee for PIO Card is US $ 365.00 for adult and for children below the age of 18 years is US $ 185.00 (effective from September 17, 2007). Validity of new PIO card will be 15 years from the date of issue.

Anonymous said...

It is indeed true that many aspire to emigrate without knowing what they're in for (especially for those young and impressionable ones). Many walk away from S'pore and look forward to a "promised land" with starry eyes, envisioning life in the West through Hollywood lenses. And after the initial euphoria of packing things, buying things, settling in, spending money, and after finally settling down to a new routine in the new land, reality sinks in when the "wheels of the bus" surprisingly continue to go round and round.

When you emigrate, be prepared to SUFFER for at least the 1st 3 years. Don't let anyone tell you any differently cos there's pride involved and nobody will tell you enough until you are there. You will struggle to build new memories in the new place, new friends, new routines because life is basically still the same whenever you are. You will change or be forced to change and then you realise the environment is not the problem. You realise you are the problem to begin with. Solve that problem and you will be happy anywhere.

If you think you will like the cool weather in the west, think again. Rich people in the West escape to the tropics (eg florida, bahamas, bali) from the cold winter. Here, we are very blessed to have such excellent weather.

Don't watch too much hollywood movies cos it ain't real all the time. Shake off any media-induced bias and get real with yourself. Life is stressful anywhere in the world. It's what you make out of it. If you really have to go, leave when you're younger (before 35) and the pain/suffering will be easier to bear.

Spark

Anonymous said...

Another S'porean in Vancouver
Mr Cheong forgot to mention:

the "Canadian Experience" required by the industry here.
Many qualified professional come here to start from low bottom, earning minimum wages.

He also forgot to mention the health care system is not entirely free, you need to pay a fix amount per annum. For my family of 2 adults and 2 children, it cost us about C$1600/year. Lucky me, my hubby's company pay for it, in this sense, its free. But health care here is facing serious issue. Lack of hospital beds, lack of doctors, and if you need a knee cap surgery for instance, be prepared to wait up to a year. I was spotting during my pregnancy, called the gynae, scheduled me to see her only in 3 weeks time, needless to say, I lost my baby then.

Undeniably, its really a nice city to live in, with so many activities to do during different season.

Overall living standard is more manageable than SG, BUT the aspect of being far and away from relatives and friends, relationship that you have built up for the past decades....is no joking matter.

That is why immigration is not everybody's cup of tea. What do you want in life?

Each country has its beauty and irritant. I still miss S'pore very much, ironicaly.

james said...

U got only one life. If u dun decide to make it worth living beyond just breathing, then dun regret.

On this very interesting and relevant post by MW, one must decide. Not to decide is also a decision.

In life you need to have reserves before you can do anything major.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Also, I've noticed that most Singapore blog posts on citizenship and/or emigration bring the NS factor into the discussion, overlooking the fact that 50% of the people involved, women, are not liable for NS. Aren't Singaporean women emigrating?"

Sure, often with their husbands or sons - the ones liable for NS.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Shake off any media-induced bias and get real with yourself."

LOL .... yeah, beware of what you read / see in the local media.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Would you let your son be disadvantaged by the NS liability?"

Oh, I think that there's a good chance that NS won't be such a big deal, by the time he's 18.

Maybe NS will be down to 9 months or a year, by then.

The SAF will realise by then that the requirement of 2 years' service just goes to show how inefficient it is. Nowadays, few conscript armies require such long service.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"I think not everyone who dreams to retire can live like Mr Cheong, and therefore enjoy the quality of life he has.

How many can afford a close to $1 million property anywhere in the world?"


Let's see ... The logical answer to your question is - every Singaporean who owns a $1 million property in Singapore.

In case you didn't realise it, after the recent property boom, a high proportion of all condos in Singapore are worth more than $1 million .... and there had even been HDB flats selling at 600K, 700K.

You might also have read newspaper reports about how young people in Singapore have been deferring their marriage plans simply because they can't afford a place to stay.

To put it simply, property isn't cheap in Singapore. I guess Philip Lee failed to notice, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Philip Lee's views is so typical of, well, a typical Singaporean.

As a ex-Singaporean, one of the most irritating aspect of Singaporean attitude is this "Inertia" mentality. They expect the "Government" to do everything for them -- including to make them happy. In other words, for opportunity to knock on their door, handed on a platter, and also to teach how to exploit the opportunity.

When one emigrate one's goal is to seek the opportunities that are out there. If you want friends go look for them! The world don't own you a favour. Otherwise, why bother.

For me, who lack a degree, I went oversea to seek my opportunities that are barred to me in Singapore. I am now having a time of my time. I even came back to Singapore as a "Foreign" Talent, albeit for a short time but one's things for sure, if I have not left I will be so full of "Inertia" that all I can do is complain.

Working with some Singaporean workers also show how lack of initiative. For example, in our company, we wanted to have a good time all us expats would just put aside our work and just party. Of course if the work was really urgent one we would stay to complete it. The Singaporean bunch: no. They have to be pretending to do work so they can impress boss. Or if they do come a party, they expect others to tell them how to have fun!

True, life overseas may not be a bed of roses but at least I don't wait for the roses to come to me, I go seek the roses.

Anonymous said...

Been overseas working for 5 years.. in taiwan mainly. Had good friends, routines, etc etc. however, I am back here in SGP.

Every place in the world there are pros and cons... and different places will be benefitual to you during different part of your life.

All in all, SGP is still a good place for bringing up young kids (safe, relatively good public medical facilities, close family support infrastructure). that is for me now.

I may move to other places (like Australia for kid's education) later and have not rule our retiring in a different country... maybe by then African country will become attractive :P.

IMHO, this is a personal choice of the family and each must weighs the pro and cons for their own benefit.

Anonymous said...

To the > 500,000 pple who are willng to pay $24 a month to SPH, whatever is published in the ST must be the truth (unless they are paying for the TV guide or EPL articles). So if Mr. Cheong's letter is not published in the ST, the > 500,000 pple will believe that Singapore is a paradise to retire in and the PAP should be credited for it.

I dont know if many pple realise it but the fact that the survey shows that a majority of the pple polled desire to emigrate is irrefutable evidence that the PAP is really doing a lousy job for the people (i.e. locally born) of Singapore. The PAP is driving citizens away from Singapore and still have the cheek to say they are a competent govt?

Anonymous said...

Spark said : "When you emigrate, be prepared to SUFFER for at least the 1st 3 years. Don't let anyone tell you any differently cos there's pride involved and nobody will tell you enough until you are there"

I lived in down under for 6 years and I vividly remember my Day one in Australia with $6k in my pocket looking for a job. And I CAN tell you that I didn't suffer for the first 3 years and many of my friends who emigrated too can attest to that. It all boils down to your mindset and perspective of life. And of course what you value more.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:39 PM - I've said it before but will say it again: wen you are 55 or 62 or 70 (the retiremet age will go up) think back of what you will have (emotionally, spiritually, culturally and materially) if you had worked as hard in whatever country you aspire to when compared to Singapore. I'm not talking of the super rich just think of yourself. If the scale comes down on where you are in Singapore then good for you if the scale tips the other side think of your children and where they will be when they are at yor age. Emigration is a difficult decision so think carefully. But if you have the chance think even more carefully.


This is very true and many people are just too caught up making ends meet, the grind the routine, & they dont realise or just dont have the time to reflect on their lives and where they are heading. "Make them starve a little, scare them a little, just a little, not too much" - is a proven way to control the masses.



Anon 1:54pm - Singapore definitely has no fight where cars, housing and outdoor space is concerned. The rest I am not so sure. But I value security most because no matter how good and cheap, if it is a crime ridden place, how to have a good quality of life? Or if weather is extremely cold most of the time? Or you are a handicap if you don't drive?

Cultivation theory in media studies call this the mean world syndrome. I lived in Vancouver and LA for a few years and i can say the bad press on crime is much overblown. People there are more willing to help one another. It all depends how you choose to live, whether you want to adapt to others, be open minded, or stay insular. I actually felt safer in Vancouver than in Spore. Anyway Spore isn't as safe these days compared to the past, seeing the increasing number of migrant workers flooding in.

Which reminds me, they are going to build dorms for workers in our neighborhoods!

Anonymous said...

To:
"The PAP is driving citizens away from Singapore and still have the cheek to say they are a competent govt?"

September 4, 2008 5:45 PM

My dear fellah. If we don't drive people away how can we get the kind of foreign talent we want - docilem relevant and supportive. Never fear though their turn will dome when they get a bit restless and irrelevant. You simply have yo change mind set you know. Heh heh!

Anonymous said...

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

The Chinese who remained behind in China to fight the frequent natural calamities and disasters time and again over the millennium have proven to the world that they are Number 1. Their genes are so tough, so, so, tough. With 1.3 billion mouths to feed they top the world's foreign reserves today and took top spot in the recent Olympic Gold medal tally (having just threw away the standard blue garb 3 decades ago). Never before for any Asian country. Look at India, 1.2 billion, and only 1 miserable Gold!

Remember in the 50s they drove the UN army ed by the US out of N Korea, humiliated the Indian & Vietnamese armies in the 60s & 70s respectively.

Singapore's an immigrant society with emigres who from China, Indonesia and India. The indigenous aborigines orang laut (sea gpysies) have all but disappeared today or moved to the nearby Riau seas.

Our forefathers all but ran away from hardship. They didn't stay and stick it out. That's why when the going get tough now their descendants again talk about running (quitting). It's in the genes or blood so to speak - like father like son.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember Knight of Pentacles? He was a network specialist in Singapore and emigrated to Perth. While there , he took on part time pizza delivery and purchasing clerk roles. Anyone would think "how sad". But he was happier away from SG even in jobs that typical S'poreans would feel were below him. He enjoyed the people , the scenery , basically the lifestyle. I emigrated to NZ 6 yrs ago. My children were doing well in Singapore. But I'm happy in NZ and so are my children. The only problem is my son will have to disrupt 2 yrs of NZ life doing NS. But I told him to treat it like gap years , build his fitness , play with guns etc(which he enjoys). I was in corporate life in S'pore and had no life ! I worked late nights, took work home and over weekends. I made loads more than I do now in part time early childhood education. But I am truly happier here. To all those contemplating emigration, don't be put off by what the MSM print. I took one year of no pay leave and came with my kids to "try it out"(was still a kiasu S'porean lol!) But within a year , kids were happy and so was I. Nothing to it !! If you have a good command of English , if you are willing to take risks and drop the kiasu mindset, life can be good elsewhere ! especially for children. NZ kids found out that ribena had no vitamin c. And it's not because they were doing worksheets , past year questions, trying for A stars in PSLE etc. Kids here are encouraged to question, to try , even to fail. Cos that's how humans learn - thru mistakes. But it will be a while before Singapore's Education Ministry will see that. Mr Wang, I've been in early childhood in NZ these past 5 yrs and if I had a chance, I'd have let my kids have ECE here even tho they were in pretty good ECE centres in SG.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang

Thanks for giving us your reasons why you would rather not emigrate. And I respect those for stating so.

The decision to emigrate is very personal. One point I would make is that the higher one reaches in Singapore's social hierarchy, or the more 'elite' one becomes, the harder it is to emigrate because the costs of doing so are just too great.

E.g. One could be a very successful partner in a law firm in Singapore with a huge client base. He might not be 100% happy with the way things are in Singapore. Indeed he could be very very unhappy. But although he might be able to transfer his skills and qualifications to another country if he chooses to emigrate, he is unable to transfer the status and prestige which he enjoys with his job in Singapore. And these things are very important to the elites in Singapore. In Singapore, the person is a 'somebody' while in another country, the person even if he retains a similar job, could be just 'ordinary' or horror of horrors a 'nobody'.

Such elites believe they have achieved self-actualisation in Singapore expressed through status, position, wealth and influence. And the Singapore system can certainly offer lots of these if one is among the elites.

On the contrary, the person who has 'nothing to lose' in the Singapore system is more likely to consider emigration. E.g. a blue-collar skilled technician or a mid-level public servant may seriously consider emigration as the best option to improve his lot in life (bigger house, cheaper car, better pay, susbsidised healthcare, less stress etc) by moving to those countries which has need for his skills. The thinking goes 'I'm a nobody in Singapore, I'll still be a nobody in another country but at least I'll have a shot at a better quality of life for myself and my children'.

Now you also understand why one particular government official calls emigrants 'losers' because from the viewpoint of an elite, they are losers. These losers haven't achieved the status, position and self-actualisation of a Singapore elite.

You can also understand why our government needs to pay our ministers and top civil servants so well.

Ex-Singaporean in Adelaide said...

As with all things there are two sides to emigration. You cannot expect to move to a new country and live like in Singapore, with cheap hawker centre food and the short commute and ease of access of facilities. At the end of the day it is a packaged deal, and it all depends on what you think is important. If you want low taxes and convenience, and government policies that minimises choices but don not leave much room for you to make stupid mistakes, Singapore is the place. If you choose to live in a place where the government policies are geared towards providing a safety net so that everyone gets to live in dignity, then be prepared to put up with higher taxes. More space also means more need to cars and maybe less "efficient" public transport.

All said and done, emigrating requires adjustments to lifestyles, but the most important thing is that you have more choices compared to Singapore. There are ups and downs, but as long as you are prepared to adapt you'll do more than fine. It is not a constant bed of roses as with anywhere, and your mileage will vary depending on the attitude that you bring.

We moved to Australia last year and have never looked back. Kids absolutely loved school and have flourished unlike in Singapore. Working hours are humane and there are so much more things to do compared to just shopping and eating in Singapore. Sure, we gave up easy access to hawker food, but in return we live on a 1000 square metre block with two cars, at the price of a 5-room HDB. Never felt like a second class citizen at all. People treat you with respect as long as you do the same, and my company gave up an unexpected raise that was the second highest ever in the company's history, to think that I am the only "minority" in the company. There are so much more opportunities, even though we are living in Adelaide, which is relatively backwater compared the usual big Australian cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane that Singaporeans emigrate to. As for safety, I feel the same here. All depends on where you live and what you do. Nobody can help you if you don't have your wits about you and insist on walking through seedy places, even in Singapore.

There are bigots everywhere, even in Singapore. What matters at the end of the day is how you deal with it. Personally, Singapore is history for us now, and we can't wait to get our CPF out in a year's time.

We have seen Singaporeans who held on to their beliefs and ways of life in Singapore and refused to fit into the new society. These often do the worse and whine non-stop about how much they miss Singapore. That is pretty much missing the point really since every society is different, and nobody owes you a living so you do have to make an effort to fit in and know people. Most of our friends in Singapore only see the "glamour" part of it but never put any thought to all aspects of emigration, and have false expectations, but if you have a sense of adventure and are open to new cultures and adapting, you will get so much more out of it.

auntie lucia said...

I come baring/bearing(?) fodder for yr post.

Go to this link:
http://travel.asiaone.com/print/Travel/Places%2B%2526%2BInterests/Region/%253Cbr%253ENorth%252C%2BSouth%253Cbr%253E%2526%2BCentral%253Cbr%253EAmerica/Story/A1Story20070523-8480.html

Having lived in Vancouver for a decade, Philip Lee recalls with fondness the sights and sounds of Canada
Philip Lee

Sun, Feb 04, 2007
Special Projects Unit

Anonymous said...

Not everyone can emigrate in the manner of Mr. Cheong. Let's face it, if you have the resources, why emigrate at all. Base yourself in Singapore. Fly to anywhere you like. Spend half a year in the Northern and the other half in the Southern Hemisphere. That way, you won't get yourself into SAD. At the same time, being based in Singapore, you still stay in close touch with family and observe how the foreign talents is ripping the true Singaporean character of this place apart.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,
From my experience, one of the major challenges ex-Singaporeans/Australian PRs faced while living in an adopted country is the ability to embrace the diverse cultures of their "home away from home". Instead, many are seeking for the "Singapore in Australia". They are unable or unwilling to enhance their Singaporean memories with new experiences in their adopted country.
For those thinking of migrating, it is a major decision not to be taken lightly and certainly not for the faint heart. Once you decide to move on, you should enjoy and embrace the culture of the adopted country.
Many kiasu Singaporeans are less successful in their relocation because they have one leg in the adopted country and the other in Singapore.
If you live "Singapore in Australia", especially during the initial period of relocation, you will always look back, and not move forward. Australia, or any adopted country is not Singapore, and will never be ... Cheers.

Down under three Olympics ago.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang said at 4:06 PM: "Let's see ... The logical answer to your question is - every Singaporean who owns a $1 million property in
Singapore. In case you didn't realise it, after the recent property boom, a high proportion of all condos in Singapore are worth more than $1 million .... and there had even been HDB flats selling at 600K, 700K."

This may be true, but these are primarily older S'poreans who already own their own homes that can sell for such prices. The average youngster with dreams of emigrating remains far from this position.

I think many young S'poreans are under the illusion that the open space, big house dream lifestyle is instantly accessible so long as they leave S'pore. How many have even experienced living on their own or elsewhere to begin with?

Personally, I think both S'pore and the 'greener' side suffer from unfair bad press in this immigration debate. No place is objectively and definitively better or worse off for everyone.

Unfortunately, many (including quite a few who have commented here) tend to thumb down the decisions and rationale of those who have adopted a different position from theirs, on whether to remain in Singapore or to live elsewhere.

In that sense, Mr Wang, I do appreciate reading the two different positions in your original post. I just don't see the need to conclude that one is objectively more 'true' than the other, which seems to be the view that many like to adopt.

thecatman

Anonymous said...

I think a distinction should be made between Singaporean migrants who go abroad when they are young in order to seek out better work ooportunities or a better lifestyle and those who want to retire overseas (at the end of their careers).

Spark is right to say that the first few years abroad will be difficult - this is inevitable as it is an emotional uprooting of everything one is familiar with and has lived with all one's life.

Speaking as migrant to the UK who has been here for 5 years, I would say that I think it's probably easier to migrate when you are young because you are more adaptable and not so set in your ways. But I accept that very energetic, sociable, adventurous retirees may thrive in this environment as well.

Also I think there must be "pull" as well as "push" factors. Without doing any research about what life in a particular country is like, how can people tell if they will like retirement there or not. The "pull" factors must be realistic and not some ideal based on false expectations.

Israphale

Anonymous said...

My child is diagnose with Autistic spectrum disorder ASD. And for the past 2 years it has been a learning experience for us and in terms of support for parents with asd children the support is not adequate. Every corner we turn we see that the resources for asd children given from gov is limited. Long waiting queues, restrictive rules. In fact, there is only one Child Development Unit and its at Jurong Polyclinic. imagine for the whole of singapore. The rest are private or NGOs funded by MCYS. In terms of support compared to 10 years ago, its better now but its simply not enough. I am moving to australia, my inlaws are there running businesses and doing very very well. I got my inlaws to check out the support & resources for ASD parents and children, and i am amazed that they are lightyears ahead of what singapore now. My 2 cents worth of advise: if you want to emigrate...Emigrate early!...do not wait till retirement. Australia has a cut off age of 45. Unless, of course...you have lots and lots of $$$ to invest there. I love singapore, i served my icts and ns and pay my taxes and recite my pledge. I cried when PM Goh rallied the people when the SARs hit.... But in the end...i am doing it for my children......

Anonymous said...

The reality of the 21st century is that people have greater mobility in terms of job and living. Like it or not people move for whatever reasons. Instead of protraying negative testimonies about people who emigrate (which i believe there will also be some), how about making it more attractive for foreigners to come here ? what is see now is that PRs now enjoy lesser benefits in terms of healthcare subsidies. In Australia, if you are a PR, you get Medicare and surgery or procedures is all paid for by garmen. Maybe Sg garmen should consider that, or else people will just move.....where the grass is greener, the cows will gather there. That's the 21st century people!

Anonymous said...

anon at 4:14 PM said: "Philip Lee's views is so typical of, well, a typical Singaporean etc. etc. As a ex-Singaporean, one of the most irritating aspect of Singaporean attitude is this "Inertia" mentality. They expect the "Government" to do everything for them -- including to make them happy. In other words, for opportunity to knock on their door, handed on a platter, and also to teach how to exploit the opportunity. .......Working with some Singaporean workers also show how lack of initiative. For example, in our company, we wanted to have a good time all us expats would just put aside our work and just party. Of course if the work was really urgent one we would stay to complete it. The Singaporean bunch: no. They have to be pretending to do work so they can impress boss. Or if they do come a party, they expect others to tell them how to have fun!"

I can understand the need for you to defend your own decision to emigrate, but is there a need to adopt your generalised negative position about Singaporeans. Is Mr Lee really 'typical'? How much do you know about Mr Lee anyway to make that assumption?

Just because you have chosen to emigrate doesn't give you the right to be condescending towards those who have chosen to remain Singaporeans.

You might have seen S'porean colleagues pretending to work to impress their bosses, but that doesn't mean this is 'typical' of Singaporeans, which is what you are suggesting. Maybe the local office of your organisation has a culture and bosses who suck, or have simply employed the wrong people?

Where I work, no one feels there is a need to do so (granted mine is not a big organisation). Many of my colleagues lead more interesting lives outside of work than within, and we are otherwise as 'typical' as Singaporeans can possibly be.

There is often an implicit suggestion in positions such as yours, that choosing to remain Singaporean is an objectively inferior decision. And that yours and only yours (to immigrate) is correct - everyone else who remain are 'inferior' to you.

This is no different from Singaporeans who like to attack the decisions and rationale of those who choose to immigrate. I just don't see why there is a need for such denigration of the 'other'.

thecatman

-ben said...

Dennis wrote:

To live a life. The wide open spaces, the nice long drive along winding roads in relaxing forested areas, the camping trips, the fishing trips, the snow sledging, etc. If one likes the outdoors and is an extrovert. One can really ENJOY LIFE.

My sentiments exactly. Thank you, Dennis.

Nationalistic lemmings always ask me, "What does USA have that Singapore doesn't?"

My answer?

Space.

http://tinyurl.com/5vdwqj

Also, feel free check out some of the "space" in Western Australia and North California (on the side bar).

Singapore's Sentosa, Pulau Ubin, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Sungai Buloh, Southern Ridge, et cetera, in comparison?

FAIL.

As for winter and cold. I am 1.87 m tall, weigh 65 kg, and love cycling in 7 degree Celsius fall (autumn) and 0 degree Celsius (winter). Cold? What cold?

Now, if you are the type who sits on the couch all day for the government to set up resident communities for you; senior luncheons for you; match-make you; dictate how you invest your savings for retirement and how many children to have, et cetera, then you best remain buried in Singapore.

Majulah kita sendiri.

Anonymous said...

i stayed in melbourne for 8 years studying and working there. I will go back. Its a far better place air, opportunties and etc. melbourne was voted 'most livable city' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_Most_Livable_Cities a few times in the 90s. Singapore not even comes close. i also stayed a while in Hobart and Launceston (tasmania), i also like the clean air and people.

Anonymous said...

An invitation to bloggers

Dear Bloggers:

If you publish opinion articles on current affairs in your blogs, be they of social, economic, or political nature, you are most welcome to repost them in our current affairs forum "Singapore Kopitiam" for discussion and exposure.

We have daily visitors in the order of a few thousands. The daily number of pages viewed has exceeded 20,000. Any article reposted in Singapore Kopitiam will gain you instant exposure to a few thousands more readers. You can get instant feedback to your opinions and views expressed. You can also join the debate and clarify your thoughts.

Since Sammyboy.com's Alfresco Coffee Shop was unplugged on 6 August 2008, Singapore Kopitiam has stepped in to replace it and to provide a cyber kopitiam for netizens (both Singaporeans and ex-Singaporeans) to meet, exchange ideas/opinions, and discuss any thing and every thing under the sun. It does provide an important link to the blogosphere community where public opinions are shaped and refined.

There is no waiting period for you to register an online moniker and to start posting your articles. In the spirit of free speech, there is no censorship or moderation.

Why don't you give it a try today? You would be surprised how effective it can be to reach out to your next few thousands readers, as many bloggers already discovered!

Regards
Singapore Kopitiam
http://forums.delphiforums.com/sunkopitiam/messages/

Anonymous said...

I think 70% of those talking about retiring overseas are just wishful thinking ...

These are the ones trying to paint a brighter future for themselves to escape the reality of collecting drink cans when that day arrives.

Anyway, why are Singaporeans fantasizing about retirement? Didn't Lim Boon Heng say that RETIREMENT IS HISTORY?

All this talk is going against national ideology.

Looks like we need more National Education classes.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"This may be true, but these are primarily older S'poreans who already own their own homes that can sell for such prices. The average youngster with dreams of emigrating remains far from this position."

I just want to correct that.

You can sell your property in Singapore before you finish paying your mortgage. You use the sale proceeds to pay the rest of your mortgage, and the remainder of the sale proceeds is yours.

You then go to another country and you buy another property. As usual, if you don't have enough, you take a mortgage.

All that is really happening is that:

1. instead of having a property in Singapore, you have a property in another country;

2. instead of having a mortgage in Singapore, you have a mortgage in another country

but the key consideration raised in Wing Lee's letter is that whatever kind of property you have in Singapore, you can "trade" it for the same price, for a much larger, more luxurious piece of property in some other country.

This follows simply because land is scarce in Singapore, compared to most other places (eg Canada), and therefore for the same amount of money, you should be able to get a much larger property in Canada.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I'd like to draw everyone's attention to Auntie Lucia's comment. She provides a link to another article from Philip Lee.

Surprise, surprise. In this other article, Philip Lee writes about Vancouver, Canada, in highly positive terms, making it sound just like the kind of place you'd want to go to.

Link.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"He also forgot to mention the health care system is not entirely free, you need to pay a fix amount per annum. For my family of 2 adults and 2 children, it cost us about C$1600/year"

You forgot that in Singapore, he would probably be paying about SGD $200+ per month, or around SGD 2,400 to $2,600 per year; to his Medisave account.

If he or you or the kids actually fell ill, there would also be all sorts of limitations and restrictions concerning whether he is actually able to use the Medisave money or not.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Anon said: "the person who has 'nothing to lose' in the Singapore system is more likely to consider emigration. E.g. a blue-collar skilled technician or a mid-level public servant may seriously consider emigration as the best option to improve his lot in life (bigger house, cheaper car, better pay, susbsidised healthcare, less stress etc) by moving to those countries which has need for his skills. The thinking goes 'I'm a nobody in Singapore, I'll still be a nobody in another country but at least I'll have a shot at a better quality of life for myself and my children'. Now you also understand why one particular government official calls emigrants 'losers' because from the viewpoint of an elite, they are losers. These losers haven't achieved the status, position and self-actualisation of a Singapore elite."


I have to disagree with your generalisation. Because I personally know many well-qualified Singaporeans who left and haven't looked back. If they had stayed, they would have been considered among the "elites", with almost 100% certainty.

Eg looking back at the top students in my NUS law cohort, quite a number went off to work in London and Hong Kong, and they never came back.

klimmer said...

"If he or you or the kids actually fell ill, there would also be all sorts of limitations and restrictions concerning whether he is actually able to use the Medisave money or not."

The issue of healthcare should be considered moot. If one falls seriously sick in any part of the world, it will require a lot of money.

klimmer said...

Singaporeans generally (not all but a large majority) do not realise how parochial their world view & life goals are. There's nothing wrong with that of course considering that our views and goals are shaped by our experiences and environments.

If only it was so easy to explain to everyone else how much they are losing out on in life.

If one is willing to work, there's opportunities aplenty, even as a pizza boy.

Anonymous said...

This is a free world. Not a gulag.

People are free to come and go. Get this into our thick heads. Stop whining and asking for empathy or sympathy. It's getting nowhere. Why make a big fuss? This is not North Korea where its people are shot on sight trying to leave the country.

The Chinese especially are ALL over the four corners of the world. You find them even in Alaska and some remote parts of Africa or Latin America. Didn't you know?

Without migration, the Chinese won't be in Singapore in the first place. Mind you the number of Chinese in Malaysia are already more than that of Singapore's.

More than 20 million educated Indians are residing outside India! No big deal right?

Without migration, there won't be a US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. So grow up and stop being childish.

Harping on 2 stupid things over and over again like local born and NS.

No big deal. Take the Malaysian Chinese for example. The Malays want them out and frequently label them "pendatang asing" (immigrants) despite the fact all are virtually born there in Malaysia. So what is "born there" when in the real world the color of your skin is counted by others. They (Malays) can. As the majority they choose not to see they in fact are also immigrants (from Indonesia) with the indigenous aborigines, orang asli, staring blankly into their faces.

NS. Take it as 2 years of exercise regime meant to toughen our bodies. Again, no big deal isn't it? Female citizens don't do NS and we conveniently cite others arriving on our shore without NS. Primary school education is COMPULSORY! So why don't we protest! Btw, Israeli citizens do tougher NS for your info. They don't make a hue and cry. In fact, Jews commute across the US and Israel like nothing. Thousands of American Jews mind you, choose to serve NS in Israel. Why because they love the land of their origin!

Mr Wang Says So said...

"If one falls seriously sick in any part of the world, it will require a lot of money."

Yes. Wing Lee, for example, needs $8,000 a month for his medical treatment. The Canadian government pays that for him.

Meanwhile, in Singapore ....?

This seriously is an important financial consideration especially as you get older.

Kaffein said...

I think Mr Lee got the brunt end of his migration experience.

My Dad too migrated to Sydney. His experience was very bad. Because he lived in a Vietnamese refugee area (no offense to Vietnamese) but the crime rates are higher in these areas.

He is not an easy person to get along with. He's rather introvert and doesn't like to go out, eg Blue Mountain, beaches, etc. He clings onto his existing friends network and laments he misses them. He is not adventurous to try other food like Greek, Italian, Russian, German, etc and complains about his local char kway teow, prata, Chinese food. He came back to Singapore after 1 year.

On the other hand, I have migrated and this is my 1.5 years in AU, Melbourne. My wife enjoys the lifestyle, my daughter enjoys school, I enjoy my work. I have time to watch my daughter grow up and I enjoy spending time with my family a lot. And mind you, I have weekend implementations. In fact the stress in my work place is akin or even more so than my previous place in Singapore.

However the workplace environment is very encouraging and I can work from home too. We have met many friends and have formed new friendships and outings. We keep touch with one another and look after each other's kids. We invite people to our house and have fun and fellowship. Weekends, public holidays are opportunities to go out, drive far and enjoy life. Just 1 month ago, we went to Lake Mountain with another family. Falling snow and tobogan for the kids. So much fun!

Well, it's all your perspective. It's akin to two cars at a red light juntion:

One complains that he is unlucky to be at the red light. The other enjoys the break and listens to music.

Both at the same situation but different responses.

For me, my outlook is:
What people call problems, I call opportunities.

Kaffein

PS. In singapore, it is one man's urine is another man's drinking water. LOL

james tan said...

I have lived in Australia for the past 10 years and I absolutely love it here.
I went back to my birth country, Singapore last year and cannot get used to the humidity and smell. Then I got sore throat.
2 weeks were all I can stand in the hectic crowded city.

Kaffein said...

Mr Wang said:
"but the key consideration raised in Wing Lee's letter is that whatever kind of property you have in Singapore, you can "trade" it for the same price, for a much larger, more luxurious piece of property in some other country."

Indeed, Mr Wang. Totally agree. I own a landed property (767 sqm), double storey split level house, in a court location. I am also looking at another investment property.

See here:
http://kaffein-nated.blogspot.com/2007/10/god-gave-us-home.html

(and read my blog labelled 'Aussie')

At the price of my 5-room point block, I get this awesome house which I call my own.

THAT is the difference for those folks who don't understand the need for space.

Cheers,
Kaffein

PS. No offense Mr Wang if you don't feel the need to emigrate. To each his own. I'm just providing another opinion.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, that article was dated Feb 07. Still he wrote it after a decade in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, time to again ask PM Lee for the data of TOP senior servants who migrated overseas! This will show how welcome their own policies are!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think that there's a good chance that NS won't be such a big deal, by the time he's 18.

Maybe NS will be down to 9 months or a year, by then.


Mr Wang, I believe most of us here are so familiar with Rush to wait, wait to rush SAF.

If they just cut down the WAIT part by half, I am sure they can cut NS liability by 1 year!

ps: btw they should cut down the number of officers by half too. Multitasking is the way to go, as per PAP says. Time to save some taxes for us all.

jimmy said...

Hi Mr Wang,

Is Anon Sept 5 2008 9:23 am, the same sicko you mentioned in earlier articles who always writes about M'sia, the M'sia Chinese, the M'sia malays, and how life is ssooo much tougher for them (m'sia chinese) etc, irrespective of article written?

Anonymous said...

"People are free to come and go."

People are free to stay yes? This is our "home" (whats left of it anyway).

"Stop whining and asking for empathy or sympathy."

This is disrespectful and also untrue. In fact the SG middle class could use less insincere "sympathy" from the gahmen.

"Primary school education is COMPULSORY!"

Nice of you to compare NS with education. Like apple vs oranges.

"Thousands of American Jews mind you, choose to serve NS in Israel."

Keyword is choose. Israel is in a war-zone. NS protects the people. Singapore is not in a war-zone. NS has become a means to oppress the people.

Anonymous said...

I find this ding dong on emigration quite amusing. : )

What works for one, may not work for someone else.

So the question here is for employees of Singapore Inc to ask themselves, these questions.

1. Has the past played out well?
2. Are they content with the present?
3. Is the future here one that they can look forward to?

Migration is a result of Adaptation. Adaptation begets evolution, and evolution begets survival.

Those reading this should note the following:
Information that you read is not intended to be legal, financial, or tax advice or an investment recommendation and may not be relied upon to evaluate the merits of Emigrating. It does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any particular person. It is recommended that you seek professional advice from your legal, financial, tax or other professional adviser before deciding whether to Emigrate. An investment in Emigration is subject to risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested.

Emigrating is a long-term commitment. An early termination usually involves high costs and the surrender value payable may be less than the total premiums paid.

This document may contain forward-looking statements that involve assumptions, risks and uncertainties. Actual future performance, outcomes and results may differ materially from those expressed in forward looking statements as a result of a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.

Jon

Anonymous said...

Dear Fellow Singaporeans,

I have a Canadian friend who came back to visit us some time earlier this year, and he was only able to do so because he had a heart transplant which costs the Canadian government 3 million dollars (and the costs goes on for medication). This is not the kind of treatment a typical Singaporean can afford, or rather; this is not a treatment 99% of Singaporeans can afford. A minister probably has to work his gut out for a -year- before he can see a doctor for that.

And the thing is it doesn't matter if you are immigrant, first generation, etc. Or even sociologically you are 'under class' or deemed 'second class' to others who may not welcome you. These things aside, that is a system or a country that really takes care of its people, regardless of who you are, and we are starting to see this facet or function slowly diminishing from ours.

The fundamental here is not to let opinions translate into mere interpretations and inaction. The prospect of not having the ability to retire is very real. And if you think that it is justified, your lifetime of servitude for a somewhat self serving group of people, then think about it.

There are places elsewhere. And it is not even audacity one needs to muster, it is mere survival instincts.

Anonymous said...

NS. Let me give my 2 cents' worth.

Some people are real childish if not stupid. LOL. Forever citing NS as if the country & the world owe them a living.

For your info, me and all my brothers served NS. No big deal!

The Taiwanese boys serve NS and I'm told real bullets are fired over their heads while they are crawling. Many Taiwanese have migrated to the States over the years. They don't curse NS here and NS there. Be mature lah!

Yes, the Thais also serve NS either in the army or monastery.

So stop whining and behaving like spoilt brats and behave as if we have run out of ammo. Unlike the Americans we are not even inserted (NEVER) into battle. More than 80 000 Americans came home in body bags from the Vietnam war! Today, almost daily, American boys return in body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan while we kiri kanan, twang and eat curry ayam from the army canteen.

Real shameful! Making mountains out of moleholes. And don't let me read and hear NS again. Make all decent and intelligent people sick!

Mr Wang Says So said...

I don't think that the NS issue is a small one. Apart from the actual two years of full-time NS, it has become an employment disadvantage.

In a previous post, I have pointed it out this way. If an employer knew that EVERY YEAR without fail, you will somehow contract chickenpox and be unable to come to work for two weeks, he would hesitate to employ you.

If the employer had other candidates of similar qualifications /experience to choose from, he would choose those candidates, not you.

Well, as far as the employer is concerned, 2 weeks ICT every year is like 2 weeks of chickenpox. It leads to the same consequence.

Since there are so many foreigners in Singapore, economically it makes better sense to employ a foreigner instead of a male Singaporean with NS liability.

-ben said...

Under the circumstances, it is proper to wonder why our entrapped multitudes do not seek escape from the hive, once more asserting their individual independence as men. The door stands open on the outside world. I conclude that we have lost our knowledge of the outside world, and fear of the unknown is greater than any accustomed horror. I have seen a bird cowering in its cage when the door was open for its escape.

(Louis J. Halle Jr. ,Spring in Washington)


Anyone remember Goh Chok Tong's 2002 National Day Rally speech during his tenure as Prime Minister? "Quitters" versus "Stayers? " Salmon versus goldfish? Ocean versus aquarium?

(Oww! The bogeyman!)

civil servant said...

I have lived in Vancouver/San Francisco for 2 years, that is not very long. And one day i will go back there. I consider myself a dedicated Singaporean, even pro-government as some of my younger colleagues said about me. But Mr Wang you really have to get out of Singapore and experience overseas living for yourself to know whether it is for you or not. I still love Singapore, but I can always do it from overseas.

Anonymous said...

"don't think that the NS issue is a small one. Apart from the actual two years of full-time NS, it has become an employment disadvantage."

Yes Mr Wang. There's no utopia anywhere.

When the 4 months' pregnancy leave of absence kicks in then married or pregnant women will bound to be disadvantaged as well.

That's life. Mother Nature meant trade-offs for mankind.

So we must all look towards the afterlife when we leave all things worldly behind . . . .

Anonymous said...

Excellent weather in Singapore ?????????? Excuse me is this another new slant from the pap propaganda machineries.

Anonymous said...

Sure other countries also have NS but the duration is shorter and they are not treated as cheap labourers and like dirt. They are also protected when they join the workforce.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

"These things aside, that is a system or a country that really takes care of its people, regardless of who you are, and we are starting to see this facet or function slowly diminishing from ours."

Wait till the Canadian Government (or any party that comes to power in future) gets an inkling of the "beauty" of the Singaporean Government's "we're not a welfare state" system.

Along the same lines, does anyone remember the KKH baby incident which Mr Lim Hng Kiang made some comments?

Anonymous said...

My take on NS since many touh on this..sorry if this is slightly off the post...

I used to think NS is good; it helps mature the young, help defend the nation, etc. I think this is what the establishment want us to think. In today Straits Times forum page, someone wrote in and spoke passionately about why we need NS and why we should be patriotric about it..

We are extremely deluded if we think we can defend Singapore in the face of an invasion. If you think about it, there are many ways that we can be easily brought to our knees. I can cite a few examples:
- cut off our supplies. We are so dependent on others for every thing, from food to fuel to even labor.
- a missile/rocket attack on one of our extremely built up HDB estates. The number of causalties will keep all our agencies busy.
- a deliberate flood of refugees into our land. Imagine the nightmare. We are surrounded by neighbours that have many milions in population number and bigger land space than us.

A oft used excuse for NS is that it helps matures the boys. But when I compare our youth to others that have not served NS, I do not see any discernable difference. In fact the latter are in a better position, socially and career-wise.

There is also the oft use reason of deterrance. But, really, who are we kidding. A more likely scenario of preventing aggression of any sort will be to continue to engage with everyone and be open to all kinds of foreign investment. It is less likely for anyone to attack us if other people's (and larger , stronger ones)interests are in Singapore.

For those reasons, I am for the eradication of NS and if this is not possible, to reduce the length. Perhaps this may even help solve some of the related problems of people migrating and labor shortage and not having the young marrying earlier and have babies.
-Lin

Anonymous said...

Just to sure a few points of my daily life experience in Toronto. My whole family relocate to Toronto a couple of months ago and I would say that one will have to physically experience the place rather than hearing or reading from other sources. Presently my family is staying in a matured residential area. If what I have experienced during my stay in Toronto and the situation and environment is going to remain the same, I will reitre and die there for good in the long term.

1) At supermarket, there is no charge on PST and GST when we buy necessity items such as rice, vegetable, milk, etc. But you will have to pay taxes if you buy a bottle of soft drink.

2) It is expensive to eat out. About S$8 for a plate of rice with meat and vegetables. But the quality of meat and vegetables are much more better than our food stalls in Singapore and the quantity given is more than enough for 2 person to share.

3) In Toronto, 1 kg of fresh lean pork is about SGP$3. In Singapore, it is going to cost us about S$12 to $15 a kg. When cook at home, we can have 2 simple good meals for 6 persons that cost us less than SGP$10.

4) Public transport fare is expensive (approx SGP$3.20 per trip for audlt) as it charges a flat rate regardless the distance one is travelling (via bus, subway, including transfers). There will be bus-stops at each traffic junction and immediately after the traffic junction. The distance between each bus-stop is relatively short. For example, from the subway to my house, the bus will pass by 3 bus- stops. But by walking, it is atually less than 10 min. In certain roads, there are buses that operate 24 hours. From 9p.m to next morning 5a.m., female passenger can request bus driver to stop at in-between bus-stop for her to alight. During peak hours, you are practically assured that the next bus will come in less than 5 min. Sometime 3buses come at the same time. During off-peak hours, the waiting time is definitely much much much shorter than the waiting time you experienced in Singapore. During weekday, the last train to leave the subway station is 2.30a.m. Unlike in Singapore, by 11.30p.m, you will start to worry that you will miss the last train or bus.

5) In Singapore, my youngest child (P1) didn't enjoy school at all. When we enrolled him to the public school in Toronto, the first question the child asked the school principal was 'Is the teacher here kind?'. It really surprises my wife and I as this child has been identified as 'did not really meet P1 standard' when he first attended P1 in Singapore. Now, I see a child with cheerful and happy face.

6) In Singapore, while we are still debating whether we or the cleaners should clear the dishes after we have eaten at the food court, in Toronto, we do all these 'automatically'.

7) Kind words such 'Thank you', 'u r welcome', are being used in our daily lifes.

8) Driving habit is something Singapore drivers can't compare with the driver in Toronto. In Toronto, it is really car gives way to passenger and drivers don't 'anyhow' honked their horns.

There are more to it, but I will not want to take up more space. In Toronto, there are also shortcomings as well but are quite negligible in my personal opinion.

Anonymous said...

"American boys return in body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan while we kiri kanan, twang and eat curry ayam from the army canteen."

Exactly!
NS in Singapore is a criminal waste of resource.

btw, US dun have the draft anymore.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Let me assure you silly folks out there that there is nothing glamorous about being packed into a body bag. It is certainly not something to aspire to.

I had said that I do not plan to emigrate. However, if my son was going to be drafted into the SAF and there was actually some imminent threat of actual war, I would immediately grab all my family members and fly off.

Actually, I like Cayman Islands. These tax havens usually have a job for lawyers.

Only stupid fools believe that war is a grand, exciting adventure. They must have watched too many Hollywood movies.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous September 5, 2008 11:35 AM. Well said about all those whiners on NS. It too makes me sick. I have four sons who dutifully served their time in NS and may I add that they were not disadvantaged in any way when employed.

The trouble with this country is that we have had peace for too long. When the savages are at the gates ready to rape your wife, daughters or even mothers, then and only then will these whiners realise what a fool they have been. Make no mistake about it, we are surrounded by people who wants to do us in the minute they think we are weak. We live in a very very bad neighbourhood.

Mr Wang, your analogy with sick leave and ns commitment is flawed. No one wants to attack you when you take sick leave. They most certainly would want to kick your teeth in if there were no deterrent and with half a chance of success.

Everyone seems to want to equate ns with some form of incarceration for two years. They can't see the wood for the trees. Very sad indeed.

If ever my sons want to emigrate, ns would never ever be a reason for it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang. I am first batch NS so allow me to say something about NS. Is it worth talking about NS? Of course! Otherwise wh have it? In the very first days of Singapore as an independent nation the analogy of our defence and of NS was that of a poison shrimp. You eat that shrimp by all means but you may also die of poisoning or at leasy get a bad case of food poisoning. War to my mind was and still remains a deterrence, a weapon of last resort and as Dr Goh Keng Swee once said, if we went to war your children and their children will carry on fighting. Don't believe -look at Israel and the Middle East. Pray that we the day will not come when we (or some crackpot) believes that war is a choice, a means of policy, that can be turned to before all else is exhausted. It frightens me when people talk of war so readily and easily. Do they really know what that means? Have they ever seen or felt death? I can assure it is nothing like "Counter Strike". NS is a necessity in Singapore butnever never allow the weapons that NS forge to be unleashed.

"We go to gain little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang thanks for letting the whole world know how you feel about ns for your son and running away with your tail between your legs in the event of an imminent war. Sadly, you reflect the thinking of a vast majority of people on this island.

If you were an immigrant to the US, Canada or Australia and if you still hold on to this view, you may put all potential Singaporean emigrants in a disadvantaged position because these countries would certainly consider that the majority of singaporeans as "Talk or write cock can, stand and fight? No siree" Which country values such immigrants?

Anonymous said...

thecatman in responds to anon at 4:14 PM wrote:

I can understand the need for you to defend your own decision to emigrate, but is there a need to adopt your generalised negative position about Singaporeans. Is Mr Lee really 'typical'? How much do you know about Mr Lee anyway to make that assumption?

If you read Mr Lee's comment about emigrating abroad:

When one has reached retirement age, making new friends is not going to be easy. Set in their ways, they cannot discard their idiosyncrasies accumulated over so many years on earth.

Idiosyncrasies and new friendships don't mix. Don't believe that everyone ages gracefully. Many are cantankerous, irascible, suspicious and anti-social.


Clearly from Mr Lee's statement it has shown that he is making excuses for himself. It also seemed to me that since he knew he was likely to exhibit that kind of characteristics and yet chosen to emigrate, it seemed to me in his mind that he had expected that emigrating would have solved his inner flaws -- i.e. expect the new place to change him and not the other way round.

As for your "typical" Singapore, this kind of attitude is not uncommon. If you follow Yawningbread's blog there is also a similar thread about the "Inertia" phenomenon that is so prevalent in Singapore.

You see it in many complaining about how stressful Singaporean lifestyles can be but when you analysed further you will see some degree of self infliction. For example, pretending to work long hours to please the boss.

Or for example, in entrepreneurship, you constantly hear people saying they dare not do it unless they have a guaranteed income. In my adopted country, I found people were willing to try and make it they way, which is why I see so many starting up their own business, fail and then startup again. There is no real stigma for failing in a business like that you find in Singapore. Which is why I found so much kinship when I start my own small business. It's the kind of kinship I don't get back in Singapore. Back then when I toyed with the idea of starting up, all I hear is how things can't be done!

In my circle of Singaporean friends, which is largely non-graduates, you can see those who got civil service jobs (lowly ones) stayed on and do nothing about their plight but complain. In other words they just accept their station in life.

And those that are prepared to heck it take the hard knocks either migrating or even if based in Singapore seek fortune abroad.

In social aspects like having a baby. Even people with quite well off income are not confident enough about having babies. Many expects the Government to "help" out before that do it. In my adopted country, the current government, which is quite right-wing who don't support single motherhoods, many Single mother still managed to soldier on. Ok it is tough but people get on. Hey when the government don't support the Single Mothers themselves formed support groups to help each other out!

Other examples. You hear about people complaining about how the PAP is this and that, and yet at the end people still vote for the party. Or give the excuse that the opposition is no good or the opposition is weak. I mean if the opposition is weak than join it and make a difference. For example, in a adopted country, when people are dissatisfied with the incumbent party, people turn up for the alternative or it an alternative is not available, form one! For example, in my local area when my neighbourhood found that none of political parties were able to address the issue that was of concern to us, we (including me) form a pressure group to get our local representative to press for a policy amendment. We didn't wait for the Government "feedback" unit.

Just because you have chosen to emigrate doesn't give you the right to be condescending towards those who have chosen to remain Singaporeans.

My point about emigrating is that I have found certain aspect of the Singapore live not to my liking. I have not suggested my reasoning as being superior.

My point is also about Mr Lee who choose to emigrate and then still try to cling on to what I see as the typical Singaporean trait of expecting the world to accommodate ones idiosyncrasies. Why bother to migrate? Who not just stay in Singapore?

If you find that point condescending all I can say is that is your prerogative.

You might have seen S'porean colleagues pretending to work to impress their bosses, but that doesn't mean this is 'typical' of Singaporeans, which is what you are suggesting. Maybe the local office of your organisation has a culture and bosses who suck, or have simply employed the wrong people?

Where I work, no one feels there is a need to do so (granted mine is not a big organisation). Many of my colleagues lead more interesting lives outside of work than within, and we are otherwise as 'typical' as Singaporeans can possibly be.


Even a recent survey by the "National Building" press showed that many are dissatisfied with local companies. The phenomenon of pretending to work is not new. Many bosses in Singapore do work on the basis of rewarding on how long one spend time in a work.

In my adopted country, working from home is quite a norm. Flexi working is also quite common nowadays. It is hardly a norm in Singapore.

In your case maybe it is indeed a not typical case! The word typical here does not imply all the same. There will be some that are not. Such as yours.

There is often an implicit suggestion in positions such as yours, that choosing to remain Singaporean is an objectively inferior decision. And that yours and only yours (to immigrate) is correct - everyone else who remain are 'inferior' to you.

If you choose to read my message this way this is your prerogative.

But it is worth noting that life is not a two-sided coin or black-and-white. Just because one present one side of a view it does not imply that the other side is true.

This is no different from Singaporeans who like to attack the decisions and rationale of those who choose to immigrate. I just don't see why there is a need for such denigration of the 'other'.

As I have said in my comment, basically, the atmosphere in Singapore is that of being paralyse by Inertia. You can see from the example I have illustrated. The point is if I had not emigrated I would not have found a different mindset that would have inspired me to be different from the ones I found had I chosen to stay as a Singaporean.

Now if Singaporean don't feel the Inertia is a form of denigration than so be it. I have not intended that to be the case, explicitly or implicitly. You have chosen to read it that way than so be it.

jimmy said...

In total agreement with Mr Wang.

If there is any hint of war or invasion of S'pore about a million newly sworn (past 10 years) FT to S'porean citizen will have packed up their bags and vanish from here. No thankyou notes, no nothing.

So likewise, for my family's sake. I'll pack my bags, ready to go and leave on a jet plane. Pronto. Afterall, I am doing what the PAP highly coverted/praised FT (most if not all) will be doing. No?

As for the real fighting itself. Maybe the PAP govt can get those FT who are the real professional soldiers with actual figthing/war experience. I mean this is what the PAP has been telling us locals. Isn't it?
We need these FTs who have the experience and ability to do the job. In the work place, in sports...so why not in the battlefield too?

What is a couple of billion of dollars to get an army of FTs to fight for S'pore. We lost billions(or tens of billions already) in investments in less than 12 months!


jimmy

Anonymous said...

another singaporean in Vancouver

Mr Wang, thanks for reminding me the medisave part, I have not forgotten...
I just wish to hi-light to all those who think that medical is really FREE in these welfare state.

To all who think and thought of immigrating. If there is no compelling reasons, don't leave. Leave only if you are adventurous enough to experience new things in life. And if you have left, don't deminish those who are still in Sg. Afterall, S'pore did give you the edge/education to be qualified in the immigration point systems as foreign talent in these countries.

Most of the SG immigrants we met here are in their 40s and above already. We hardly meet couples in their early 30s (not considering those who came with parents while they were young).
Coz at that age, I guess one could be soaring in their career in Sg, no reason to pack up and come to Canada and start from bottom once again.

There are just too many things to compare when you immigrate, but again, once you start comparing, you will lose sight of why you immigrate in the begining. I say, go try out this immigrant life, and if you don't like it, you can always pack up and go back to Sg as "foreign talent". At least you won't be living for the rest of your life with this regret....Who knows, we may come back someday...

Afterall, what works for me may not work for you.

Anonymous said...

He He, when your son who is drafted into the SAF flies off with you and your whole family to the cayman islands at the imminent threat of war, I am sorry to say this, he can be shot as a deserter.

And you are not thinking straight. At the airport there will be pandemonium. With your weak heart, you don't want to risk it!

I suggest you stick it out and get your son to bear his responsibility like a man, not a wimp. In any case, F15s and F16s will be taking off from the US seventh fleet soon to come to our rescue. LMAO!

Mr Wang Says So said...

A past post about NS and employment: Link. It illustrates the difficulties I've mentioned.

Here is another post of mine about NS, which I understand had been sent personally to the Defence Minister via the Government Feedback Unit:

Rethinking NS - Part 2

Here is Part 1 of the above article. (Part 1 was not sent to the Defence Minister): Link. <--- I highly recommend this one, it's definitely one of my most thought-provoking pieces.

Not directly relevant, but quite interesting - so here's another post:

Should NS Be Counted As Working Experience?.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Dear Mr Wang. I am first batch NS so allow me to say something about NS. Is it worth talking about NS? Of course! Otherwise wh have it? In the very first days of Singapore as an independent nation the analogy of our defence and of NS was that of a poison shrimp."

I realise that the point may be too subtle for some readers to understand. However, this question:

"Is NS necessary for Singapore?"

... is an entirely different question from this one:

"Does NS disadvantage male citizens?"

.... which in turn is related, but still quite distinct from:

"Should I regard NS as a relevant factor, in my personal decisions about whether to emigrate or not".

Anonymous said...

In every war, there are only two kinds of people who fight:

1. People who have no choice; and

2. People who are stupid.

The rest will run away. They are known as refugees. They are sensible people. Most human beings are intelligent; therefore in every war, there are large numbers of refugees.

War really happens because of a few powerful leaders fighting over lines on a piece of paper called a "map". Every soldier who fights in a war is merely a pawn of one of these leaders.

War is a tragedy. War is Man's greatest mistake. There is no glory in killing the "enemy". The enemy is a human being too; he has a mother, a sister, a brother, a family just like you do.

Anonymous said...

another singaporean in Vancouver:

Since we are on this very provoking topic. Won't it will be lagi interesting to hear from those who actually immigrated and returned back to Sg eventually. How are you coping with the new influx of FT? I wonder...

Mr Wang Says So said...

"He He, when your son who is drafted into the SAF flies off with you and your whole family to the cayman islands at the imminent threat of war, I am sorry to say this, he can be shot as a deserter."

Naturally, we have to manage to make it there. If we don't, that's too bad. I guess we'd have to fight then.

I am quite Buddhist in my thinking. Human life is very precious. It is much better to be a live deserter than a dead soldier. Killing others to save myself is also a very distasteful idea to me.

As Anon September 5, 2008 3:49 PM had said, the "enemy" soldier has a mother too.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Mr. Wang thanks for letting the whole world know how you feel about ns for your son and running away with your tail between your legs in the event of an imminent war. Sadly, you reflect the thinking of a vast majority of people on this island."

If my thinking really reflects the vast majority of people on this island, then that is a good thing.

For if a war occurs, the vast majority of lives on this island would be saved. They would all run away to a safer place.

"If you were an immigrant to the US, Canada or Australia and if you still hold on to this view, you may put all potential Singaporean emigrants in a disadvantaged position because these countries would certainly consider that the majority of singaporeans as "Talk or write cock can, stand and fight? No siree" Which country values such immigrants?"

How ironic that you should mention these three countries - the US, Canada and Australia.

These three countries were the world's top 3 countries, in accepting the highest numbers of refugees (the "boat people"), following the Vietnam War.

In contrast, Singapore refused to help, and turned away almost all the boat people. We used Navy gunboats to chase them out of our waters. Many of these Vietnamese died at sea; their overcrowded boats sank and they died.

Perhaps this reflects a fundamental difference in the way Canada, Australia and the US regard human beings, as opposed to the way that Singapore regards human beings.

It may also reflect something about why the 1st 3 countries are such popular emigration destinations for Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

"btw, US dun have the draft anymore."

What's the difference bt conscripts and regulars?

Able-bodied S'porean males have to be drafted or conscripted into the army to do 5BX so that manhood can be pronounced upon them. In other parts of the world (it's more challenging) if you watch Discovery Channel - boys become men when they face lions with only spears, spar bloody with each other using bamboo poles, dive from a tall tree to hit the earth and walk away limping, cutting the penis skin without anesthesia, etc. Yes, to become a man!

I salute the American teenagers today who are not drafted but volunteer to join the US army. These brave lads join with their eyes fully open knowing full well that once their military training is over they will be inserted into Iraq or Afghanistan to do battle! And mind you the "enemy" is not even not on American soil!

Alas here in Singapore some ayam kaki conscripts are whining and complaining all the time abt NS as if they put their great lives in peril. Yes. History never, never, forgets hungry, invading victors first savaging the defenceless females - your mothers, wives and daughters.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps this reflects a fundamental difference in the way Canada, Australia and the US regard human beings, as opposed to the way that Singapore regards human beings."

It may also reflect that AT THAT TIME, Singapore had no more space for new immigrants being an overcrowded tiny red dot and that the three countries mentioned were so huge as to merit them being described as continents.

As with the stop at two campaign our wise men have now retracted their positions and say that we are now underpopulated. I dare say that if the vietnamese refugees appear now, these same wise asses would have a hard time explaining why these refugees are turned away whilst dubious foreign talents are admitted daily by the planeloads.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"I salute the American teenagers today who are not drafted but volunteer to join the US army."

You have not heard of the Montgomery GI Bill?

It is the reason why young Americans suffering from socio-economic disadvantages often end up joining the US military.

If you are too poor to go to college, you can sign up to join the Army. And after you complete your contract, you will get a financial grant (up to about USD 36,000) to do your studies.

This is why they sign up. I dare say that if the SAF gives each NSF USD 36,000 for completing their NS, much few Singaporeans would complain about NS.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Able-bodied S'porean males have to be drafted or conscripted into the army to do 5BX so that manhood can be pronounced upon them. In other parts of the world (it's more challenging) if you watch Discovery Channel - boys become men when they face lions with only spears, spar bloody with each other using bamboo poles, dive from a tall tree to hit the earth and walk away limping, cutting the penis skin without anesthesia, etc. Yes, to become a man!"

If you feel you need to do such things for the sake of your self-esteem, then by all means go ahead. Personally, none of the abovementioned activities appeal to me. I do agree with you that certain NS activities can be quite violent, brutal and mindless, quite similar to your example of diving from a tall tree to hit the ground and injure yourself.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"What's the difference bt conscripts and regulars?"

Oh, it's something like the difference between committing rape and making love.

"Consent" is the key word.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr Wang Says So said...

In my opinion, it is better to be a live wimp than a dead idiot.

And actually I find your concepts about "manhood" and "bravery" etc quite .... naive.

If my son were interested in competitive judo, or mountain-climbing, or rugby, I would say, yes go ahead.

If someone tried to bully him in school and he boxed the bully on the nose, I wouldn't necessarily approve.

And if he wants to stick around to die in a war for a country, I would protest. And if I could, I would tie him up and carry him off with me, to the Cayman Islands.

I do understand that you may not be able to see the differences.

By the way, I consider you to be excessively rude. Therefore your comments are deleted.

Anonymous said...

"All human unhappiness comes from not facing reality squarely, exactly as it is." Old Buddhist saying.

Anonymous said...

100 comments, mr wang? Singaporeans are really obsessed with immigration, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

"I dare say that if the SAF gives each NSF USD 36,000 for completing their NS, much few Singaporeans would complain about NS."

And this is on top of their repectable monthly pay that each of them will be getting. During my service I get a recruit pay of only $90 and a officer pay of $250. The SAF even discontinued CPF payment in the midst of it all. Orders by none other than the "great" defence minister in the late 70s who deemed the CPF payment as unnecessary as we are doing a "national service" and by this warp logic we were denied our dues.

Even at that time, the "pay" was totally inadequate and sadly have to rely on our parents to survive to the end of the month. $90 per month! Scheessh!

Damn right, I'll be totally without any complains is I get a reasonable monthly pay and a lump sum of US$36,000...revert to the late 70s cost of living to make the argument correct.

On top of all that, there is the annual reservist that need to be calculated as well.

Anonymous said...

"History never, never, forgets hungry, invading victors first savaging the defenceless females - your mothers, wives and daughters."

If u read history, the recurring theme is a professional army routing a much larger but poorly led army of conscripts\slaves. From Sun Tzu to Mongols to Gulf War.

If you are really worried, you should petition for a professional army and get rid of our paper generals.

Having said that, we do have an professional army in SG. They are known as the Gurkhas. and they answer to you-know-who.

Oh wait, isn't this a thread on emigration?

Anonymous said...

"In contrast, Singapore refused to help, and turned away almost all the boat people. We used Navy gunboats to chase them out of our waters. Many of these Vietnamese died at sea; their overcrowded boats sank and they died."

I dun think this is in National Education :-p

Anonymous said...

Re: posting
"100 comments, mr wang? Singaporeans are really obsessed with immigration, aren't they?

September 5, 2008 5:37 PM"

Yep. This is a symptom of the underlying but papered over tensions within Singapore society. We do not have problems in Singapore because everything is sorted out, thought through and resolved - like the ERP. Or so we are told. Even a cursory reading of the postings shows that the discussion on "immigration" is throwing up a whole lot of issues. Of course the gahment is quick to dismiss all these as merely unregulated (ahem, here we go again) sounding offs and ramblings that have no basis in rationality or factuality. A pity that those employed by the various ministeries to monitor public opinions and feedback choose to ignore these "inconvenient truths".

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

I applaud your stand on war.

All this talk about defending country to me is meaningless.

Wars are made from selfish agenda. Becoming soldiers only perpetuate these selfish agenda of some.

If no one fights, there would not be war. Why should lions die for lambs?

Cheong Wing Lee said...

Dear Mr Wang,

Apparently my letter regarding my personal experience in Guangzhou and Vancouver has touched raw nerves amongst blue blooded true Singaporeans. My apologizes if I have offended them.

My letter was intended to give a fair and honest picture of my retired life in GZ and Vancouver to balance the doomsday scenarios painted by Philip Lee. It was never intended to brag how wealthy I am, especially when I am not.

In fact I was trying to tell potential immigrants how cheap one could live in GZ and Vancouver.

I did not encourage Singaporeans to immigrate but if they do, they have to work hard, stay positive and stop complaining. Nothing comes easy.

It is wrong to assume that I have make lots of money in Singapore and left like an ungrateful child. I left Singapore with little money. I lived in Taiwan for nine years and another five years in US before I immigrated to Canada but then the details would have stretched the letter far too long.

It may be difficult for some Singaporeans to imagine living the kind of lives I described. This is why I offered the press to send a representative to stay with me and find out the truth.

I am prepared to reimburse the press for the expense incurred in sending the representative if what I have written were lies. Will any of those blue blooded true Singaporeans brave enough to reimburse the press the expenses if what I have written is true? They have nothing to lose since they were adament that I was talking nonsense.

Please read my letter with an open mind and stay objective. Name calling is not going to get us anywhere.

Regards

Wing Lee

Anonymous said...

"This is why they sign up. I dare say that if the SAF gives each NSF USD 36,000 for completing their NS, much few Singaporeans would complain about NS."

Sure or not? Those lads who singed up as GIs to fight for their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan over $36k?
I mean you can really belittle peoples' patriotism for their country. Head-Tail you want to win. Ridiculous.

Let's see how many of our non-commissioned policemen will stay put now or if more will now flock to sign up as policemen given the $35k bonus after a short stint. Remember, just policing and not armed combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

To posting:

"If no one fights, there would not be war. Why should lions die for lambs?

September 5, 2008 7:19 PM.

Just a slight gloss. Perhaps not lambs but donkeys...as in,

" 'Lions led by donkeys' is a phrase popularly used to describe the British infantry of the First World War and to condemn the generals who commanded them. The contention is that the brave soldiers (lions) were sent to their deaths by incompetent and indifferent leaders (donkeys). The phrase was the source of the title of one of the most scathing examinations of British First World War generals, The Donkeys by British historian Alan Clark."

Therein lies the danger.

Anonymous said...

"Sure or not? Those lads who singed up as GIs to fight for their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan over $36k?
I mean you can really belittle peoples' patriotism for their country. Head-Tail you want to win. Ridiculous."

Ridiculous!
GIs are professional soldiers who go where they are ordered to. They are fighting for a cause which even many Americans now believe to be misguided.

With oil above US$100, non of our neighbours are able to invade anybody in an conventional war. Indeed we need cut our ridiculous military expenditure and increase the number of men in blue to protect us from terrorists attacks. If nothing else, the folks at serangoon gardens would feel safer.

Overseas Singaporean said...

Something that didn't seem to garner a lot of attention, despite being announced at the end of August:

http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20080825-84202.html

No of applications for Cert of No Convictions rose from 5000 to 12707 last year. Assuming 68% use it for PR, that means 8000 applied for PR in 2007.

yh said...

anon September 5, 2008 7:40 PM

Most people who signed up are poor. Surely not a coincidence?

Do you know how many sons of the rich republican senators, who think that the wars are so important, went to Iraq and Afghan? mitt Romney has 4 sons, how many did he send? Did George W. Bush send his daughters?

Will LKY, also a supporter of the war, send his sons and grandsons?

There will be no war if supporters of it have to send their sons.

Anonymous said...

Didnt our Health Minister said 1-2 years ago that the govt expects non-elite Sporeans to eventually retire in Batam as a solution to combat rising health/living costs? So the majority of citizens want to escape the country and the govt do not want old pple around. Perhaps a sixth star should be added to the national flag to represent the goal of "Emigration".

Anonymous said...

Wing Lee, those who wilfully criticised your very reasonable article are not true blooded Singaporeans. They are pap stooges paid to cover up the rotten arses of their masters.

yamizi said...

Good morning Mr Cheong,

Can I visit you in future if I am travelling to Canada/Guangzhou?

I am not a media work though

=)

Anonymous said...

Cheong Wing Lee said:"This is why I offered the press to send a representative to stay with me and find out the truth.

I am prepared to reimburse the press for the expense incurred in sending the representative if what I have written were lies."

Relax Mr Cheong,

I don't think you should be so concern. The basic point about any controversies about emigrating from Singapore is not specifically what you have written. A raging debate will happen each and everytime such articles are written.....the basis of which all pointing to PAP and it's governing style (as GCT puts it) of control and oppression, its various unpopular policies, etc.
Futhermore, I seriously don't think it'll such a great idea to offer your kind hospitality to a reporter to experience your life style first hand.

What's to stop them (PAP) from sending former ISD personnel now turned(seconded)reporter from SPH to pay you a visit. Do you seriously expect such a reporter or any reporter sent by the PAP govt controlled SPH to write about your lifestyle without any bias? Hell! We have seen such bias in the PAP controleed SPH/Straits Times reporters for decades!

So don't waste your time and money on them. Seriously, it'll than create controversy on a personal kind which you definately want to avoid.

It's not about your emigration and life in another country. It's all about the PAP and it's extremely extremly unpopular governing style and policies.

dennis

Wing Lee said...

Hi Yamizi,

Friends are always welcome but I have no time for brain-dead hooligans. How do I know what and who you are?

Can Mr Wang help out?

Regards

Wing

Anonymous said...

dear yh,

mccain's son is in iraq.

just google if u dun believe.

The said...

/// Anonymous said...
People are free to come and go. Get this into our thick heads. Stop whining and asking for empathy or sympathy. It's getting nowhere. Why make a big fuss? This is not North Korea where its people are shot on sight trying to leave the country.
September 5, 2008 9:23 AM ///

Anon at 9:23am - I think you are missing the point altogether.

Of course people are free to come and go. The "whining" that you referred to reflects the fact that most of those who emigrated or are considering emigration, really did not want or do not want to emigrate. They are forced by bad policies to uproot themselves, wrench themselves from their loved ones and familiar surrounding to go a place which treat them better than what they get in Singapore.

This is the nub - if the Singapore government would just listen to its people and adjust some of the UNNECESSARILY unpopular polices, many of these prospective emigrants will gladly stay and contribute to Singapore.

Anonymous said...

About NS......Didn't LKY said that he will bring the military in if there was a freak election? I can't imagine myself pointing a gun at my neighbours for electing the wrong party!!!!!!

Also, when I was serving NS it was most unfortunate that I knew a fellow friend that died in training, rumours were going that his family was compensated 2k and a Singapore flag. Till today, his family is still suffering both emotionally and financially.

Dam, if they treat us as citizens then at least provide us with free insurance when we have to serve NS and reservist!!!! I have to pay with my own pocket from the $90 that I get everymonth for special insurance that will pay me if anything goes wrong when during NS! And this is one big reason why I am not keen to serve reservist.

yamizi said...

Mr Cheong,

Not in the near I guess. I need to save up a lot in order to travel =)

Wendy Neo said...

So, do something! Why just complain and complain? Emigration can be a tool too - just like a worker on strike. PAP cannot keep importing foreigners without coming to the bargain table, can it? Erm, maybe it can! Anyay, If you want to leave Singapore , come here to emigrate. If you want to stay and fight, come here.

If you are a new Singaporean who have just arrived, welcome! Here's your new Emperor, your new National Flag, your new National Pledge, and some quick National Education, introduction to our National Spirit, our National Song (KTV style) and the first (Betrayal) and last (Good Bye My Love) chapter of our national book to round off your quick orientation to Singapore. If you want to keep some pets in singapore, here's a frog, and there's a dog. Here are some of your younger MPs (who can dance damn well!) and there are the older MPs who look very dignified! For those sleepy ones, they are here. You will have a bright future in Singapore.

Oh, Singapore has lots of entertianment too - if you have no interest in politics and just want to listen to music, here's an old songs (just ignore that cry baby), and that's an even older one (just ignore those strange masks). If you are love poetry, you are in luck! If you are the sporty type, Singapore has it too. If you are the hardworking mathematical type, you will fit right in! Did I mention that Singapore also has Asia's most beautiful woman?

Finally, if you don't have enough money, don't worry. Our Ministers Money No Enough 2 (too). Just look around harder, there are lorry-loads of golden opportunity in Singapore!

Let's all Shine for Singapore!

utopia said...

hello Mr Cheong

i am seriously want to get out of this country.

if you really can afford it, may i have your email?

alex tan
www.utopia8787.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

overseas singaporean, 8000 may have applied for overseas PR in 2007. But of these, how many are native Singaporeans, new Singaporeans, Singapore PR or even just foreigners who have stayed in Singapore for some time, that we do not know. But PAP does know. And it will not release the data. Nowadays, our census board works with "Singapore residents", not "Singapore citizens", let alone "native Singaporeans"

Overseas Singaporean said...

Hi anon, yes you are right, they will never release the data. As it is, just getting the data for the CNCCs required 1 NCMP, 1 NMP, 1 non-answer from one of our million dollar ministers that spanned 2 sessions of parliament.

Then again, does that really matter? The fact that we can’t run away from is the number of people applying for CNCC increased from 3397 to 8640 (2.5 times) using the figures released in the last decade. Considering how SG is always painted as some sort of utopia, those figures really do say a lot on their own doesn’t it?

Anonymous said...

The important thing is to move abroad for the right reasons. Dont just move becos you are unhappy here. Move bcos you love the other place for various reasons.

If you are unhappy in Singapore, complaining about everything and anything, your attitude will follow you everywhere. You may be happy for a while but soon it is likely you will see the negative side of "the other side".

I know of frieds who complain all things about Singapore and thought that moving abroad will solve all their problems. Those individuals are now back in Singapore, with the same attitude.

Likewise, friends who are positive and proactive about their life here, are doing very well and happy when they work abroad.

Sometimes, you need to "migrate" your mindset instead.

cheers

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang

Lehman and ML gone in one morning.
U ok?
time to look at plan B\C\D (eg HK\Shanghai?)

NoName

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang;

astonished to find your blog 'TOC at Speakers' Corner(Hong Lim Park)' missing.

Would You share the Reason with your readers?

Yours Sincerely:patriot

Mockingbird said...

The lure of cheap cars and landed properties in foreign countries is always hard to resist for Singaporeans who can't get them in Singapore.

LT said...

Wow. It has been interesting to read these comments. :) I'm a Malaysian, and I'm thinking of emigrating, only because I'm tired of my government's racist policies. But Singaporeans, whom I thought had a better life, have the same desires too, but for different reasons.

I'm still uncertain whether I should do the jump. Because I love being with my family and I have a great job. I feel "forced" to move.... like if I stay any longer, I'll end up trapped in a horrible country.

Anonymous said...

As of June 2009, the serial number on the CNCCs issued by Cantonment has reached 6000/09.

fishbuff said...

i have setup a free forum for discussion on emigration and overseas living at http://forums.delphiforums.com/quitters

Jonathan (IELTS Singapore) said...

Those are interesting stories. I teach IELTS for people who want to migrate to other countries and have many students who want to migrate to Canada.

I'm wondering what the situation is now - whether it's easier or more difficult to do so. But as the articles show, there are lots of considerations we all need to think about.

Neurotic Ramblings said...

Excellent read.

I think the most important thing is to try it. Only then can most of us know if we truly love Singapore.

For those who never lived overseas but claim to love Singapore, it's akin to an arranged marriage IMHO. Mind you, not all arranged marriages are loveless. Of course on the flipside, not all voluntary marriages are happy.

Anonymous said...

Interesting foreigners come to Singapore, yet Singaporean want to go other countries, what the reasons?