Apr 21, 2008

Emigration Becomes A Business

I was at Raffles City today. A man was standing at the entrance handing out flyers to passers-by. He handed two to me. Here they are:

Out of curiosity, I visited their website. Basically, they help you to emigrate to other countries. Click here to see some of the services they provide.

I'm not sure how many such companies there are in Singapore. If there are more than a few, then it's really quite sad. It means that so many Singaporeans want to leave their country that a viable mini-industry has sprung up to help them do so.

Interestingly, OCSC is targetting Singaporeans who work in trades and occupations such as welding, fabrication, motor mechanics and so on. This is in sharp contrast to the typical profile that the Singapore government likes to paint of emigrating Singaporeans.

For example, in April last year, Lee Kuan Yew said that most Singaporeans are not actually able to leave. According to LKY, those Singaporeans who are able to leave are the "better-educated and talented ones", who represent the "top 20 to 30 per cent of educated Singaporeans".

It seems that this isn't quite true. For example, Australia does give priority to would-be immigrants who belong to a "skilled occupation". However, "skilled occupation" does not mean "higher education qualifications", but refers instead to skills which are actually in demand in Australia.

Australia's point system is described here. Motor mechanics, cooks and plumbers are awarded the same priority as accountants, engineers and lawyers .... and higher priority than life scientists, economists and mathematicians.


Anonymous said...

Yes, some speeches can be taken with a huge dose of salt. Did LKY think that the lower educated would rely on mainstream media news instead of checking info themselves online? Perhaps.

My take is that with the declining quality of life for the non-high flyers (not top 20-30%), the push factor to leave Singapore grows with time. "When there's a will, there's a way" to simply exit, educated or otherwise.

Eaststopper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CK said...

If you consider someone with 2 diplomas and a degree to be 'better educated', then I'm guilty as charged. I don't consider myself talented, but I'd say I'm extremely adaptable.

Sending in my final application forms today actually.

Anonymous said...

For one, there is nothing encouraging coming this portal.

But what are the alternatives and solutions for us?

Managing the tiny red dot is no masak-masak.

Everything costs money. From eyeing Islamist sleeper cells to being in a predatory green neighbourhood. From imported food, oil and water to job creation. From funding schools to the building of infrastructure.

Nobody owes Singapore a living. When we let the ugly genie out of the bottle then we may not be able to put the cap back on again.

Malaysia can go back to planting padi, rearing poultry, etc., to meeting food shortages so they say.

Singaporeans can judge and count their blessings that they are not starving like the Haitians, Banglas, Filipinos and other people in Africa, Asia and Latin America today.

Let's be united for divided we fall.

Ser Ming said...


Seriously if there's a chance, I'll like to leave too. Hehe.

Nigel Lin said...

i think it has been reported in the singapore papers that plumbers, cooks, etc are especially welcomed in countries like Australia.

The unfortunate (or fortunate depending on how you look at it) is that most of such people do not have the linguistic skills to move abroad.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang

Again you are destroying one of our national myths. It goes without saying that all the emigrants we are welcoming are the better educated and talented ones to replace the outgoing ones and this can be confirmed by checking on the qualification statistics of those granted citizenship. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

So our skilled workers are highly valued oversea.

Unknown said...

People think we're lying when we tell them that you'll have a good life in Australia if you're semi-skilled worker, but that you won't be appreciated if you're something like a uni postgrad with experience. The heyday for "highly educated" people migrating to Australia was during the Hawke/Keating years, and it only lasted a handful of years. Before, and since, the lucrative professions in Australia have always been in the trades.

The owner of a plumbing & drainage business in Victoria (Anglo Australian) even told me that he worked hard to put his 2 sons through university (where they got postgrad degrees in biotechnology and automotive engineering) and now, after years of not being able to find a job, they've joined him in his business. Our opposite neighbour had the same problem.

Australia is a great place for tradespeople to make a living, but not for more academic, highly-educated types.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes for a few hundred dollars less per month, your potential job now belongs to some foreign talent.

How would one feel if your own government is encouraging such widespread practices ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:22 am, you are not very clever. Who ask you to go to haiti, bangladesh, africa? Read the flyer lah. It says "australia", "US", "Canada". Aiyoh, if there are too many stupid singaporeans like you, the more we unite, the faster we will fall.

Anonymous said...

I know of a friend (ex-army) who has left for Vietnam. He is not a grad and is in sales after leaving the army.

He now works as a sales manager in a rather successful company over there. And is very happy. And is planning to bring his whole family over.

According to him, as a non-grad, he has a better chance of doing better there, where non-acaedemic qualifications are not so important, but rather skills and experience.

So his profile: non-grad, working in a semi-skill vocation, emigrating to a third world country. Because the opportunities there is better for him.

Anonymous said...

Me and few of my uni friends are trying to migrate to Aust, but due to our age (above 40) we aren't able to get that reqired points unless we get a sponsor.

Sometimes, we joke about the time wasted in uni, we should have learn a skill (like hair dressing, plumming, etc) than becoming an engineer, who could be easily replace by an FT.

Anonymous said...

I know of Singaporeans who have made it good in Australia as cooks and hairdressers. They only have a not so good O level. Yet the cooks (trained in Singapore Catering School) are making over A$60,000.

Anonymous said...

""According to LKY, those Singaporeans who are able to leave are the "better-educated and talented ones", who represent the "top 20 to 30 per cent of educated Singaporeans".""

Really sad.

The old man sees the problem but refused to reflect upon themselves(the PAP) Rather the PAP tried to solve the problem by replacing them with foreigners.

What about those majority who CAN'T leave? Sad.

They continued to be "shaft" from behind by policies that are not only oppressive but in recent years causes hardship to at least 25% of S'pore's income earning group.

And does the old man really cares?

We all have the answer.

Darth Solarion said...

Singaporeans can judge and count their blessings that they are not starving like the Haitians, Banglas, Filipinos and other people in Africa, Asia and Latin America today.

Let's be united for divided we fall.

Nonsense. This country was founded upon cut throat competition. If you fail to understand that fact, you will never understand how this regime has functioned for the last few decades.

Anonymous said...

"Let's be united for divided we fall."

How to unite when the leaders are more interested in looking after the their own interests and those connected and valued by them ? They paid themselves and those they elevated $millions but when it comes to helping the poor and needy they count pennies. They cut and lock up the cpf of the struggling wage earners while subsidising the business people. They cut personal income tax to benefit the rich and high income earners but increase GST.
If they want the country to unite they better examine and change lots of their own policies and attitudes. Singaporeans have delivered to their ends of the bargain to give LKY and his pap years after years of power but where are the pap promised of a good life and happy retirement ?

Anonymous said...

I am living in Australia.

Though I am not a tradesperson, I can vouch that a tradie in Austalia lives way much better than a tradie in Singapore.

I always wonder why the lesser educated Singaporeans want to subject themselves to so much misery in Singapore.

Do they really think meritocracy is still working in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

I'm also living in Australia.

Truth be told, these migration agents have been operating for some time in Singapore, at least since the turn of the century.

I'm not too sure about other countries, but Australia would be extremely welcoming of Singaporean tradespeople who would want to come. Their skills were, and are much needed. The only stumbling block then would be limitations in English, which would prevent them from assimilating easily.

Unfortunately, the Australians have since tightened up their language requirements, so people with such skills but limited will find it more difficult to migrate over now, even if they have the work skills.

Anonymous said...

Many people in Singapore see SKILLS = PAPER QUALIFICATIONs.

As an exile Singaporean, living in the UK, I known many people outside Singapore see SKILLS = ABLE TO DO THE JOB.Paper qualification is only an icing on the cake!

In the UK, they expect you to list your work experience and then your academic ones, only a one line. In Singapore you have to list the academic even back to A-Level. You then list your experience.

Only in Singapore are people so obsessed with paper qualification.

Anonymous said...

How about security tester ?
Someone as talented and smart as Selamat should have no problem emigrate to Australia as he is become world famous to escape from the famous highly-secured detention centre and evade capture from top brain and elite soldiers.

Anonymous said...

Adding on.....

I also know of a friend who is a waiter in Malaysia. He is a Chinese. He emigrated to Australia. Now he is managing some restaurants and foodcourt owned by some other malaysians.

Again the reason: he does not have a degree. He is only a waiter. He is a chinese. All these means he has less opportunities in Malaysia.

He also pointed out that aussies are less discriminating to his job as a waiter. He feels that people look down on his job in Malaysia.

Another malayisan I know who left: he is a bun maker. He does not speak a word of English. He left for Australia to work as a bun maker in a chinese restuarant (few bun makers in Australia). Why does he do so? Hint, he is a chinese and has 3 kids and he wants them all to go to university.

People leave for many reasons. It is not just because they are rich or connected or highly educated or upwardly mobile.

The most important factor is the opportunity to do so and the will to do so. And the reason to leave whether you are Malaysian or Singaporean is always the same no matter who you are: you are looking for a better life.

I see this in the people whom I know.

Seem to recall a popular blogger long time back (who passed away) who emigrated to australia. A previous IT guy, he went there and became a pizza deliveryman. Somehow, I don't think he fits LKY idea of the top 20-30 percent who left singapore to become a pizza guy.

Anonymous said...

See it from the $ point of view and it makes sense.

To emigrate, one needs money.

The process of getting an Australian visa and relocation easily works out to be $15k.

Then there's housing $. In other countries, you sell your house, move, and use the money to buy or rent. Such an option is not available to the typical Singaporean. 30% of the average salary that is rooted in CPF where it stays for a long long time. Thus the top 20% has the option to migrate, by virtue of their financial ability.

The odds are stacked against the average Singapore Joe to emigrate. Thus it is a wonder that so many still do.

Anonymous said...

And finally the eureka point.One might wonder with so much FT even cleaners and Beergirl coming in. Where are the original holder of these jobs.
What we have lost are the our sense of belonging to our homeland and Other countries are benefiting from it. One other place where Singaporean go to contribute is Dubai.
Their Port facilities are getting better all the time. Jobs like Painter for ship hulls and harbor crane operators and even sous chef are in high demand and paid significantly higher there.
And the Real reason some (including Degree holder) haven't left is because they are filial and want to take care of their parents and family members.
Another Effect Of the one is good two is marvelous, three is noisy population campaign. IE smaller family.
One could only hope that better quality controls are up. Esp regarding FT.
IE plug up the FT Sportman hole.

Anonymous said...

Last comment:

Singapore already is importing semi-skilled workers en masse. This trend is already entrenched in our policies. So I don't see why other countries won't do the same. As long as there is opportunity and you have the will to do so, you can emigrate.

Notice how many retail shops and food court stalls are now run by chinese nationals?

You don't need an accountant degree to operate the cashier or a diploma in culinary skill to cook wanton mee in a food court.

(ok.... the only "qualification" that you need seems to be that you must come from China --- but I digress..... and no one flame me please for being racist cos this is not a racist comment)

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the gulgafrinchems getting rid of what they considered the useless third of society (lawyers, middle managers and telephone sanitizers) only to be wiped out by a virus caught from a public phone.
The last one to leave sg please turn off the lights.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fellow Singaporeans;
maybe emulating one of our Former Head Of State, who migrated with all his kins, will be a very wise move.

Who is to ensure that the peace and stability of this sterile, infertile(including procreation) and restrictive tiny dot will be maintain for long.

As it is, Sg is afflicted with many controversies between the people and the Leadership over rising costs of living. Mas Selamat Escape, Foreign Immigrants, Charges of Nepotism, Dynastic Rule etc.

Jobs and space(physical/emotional) are getting lesser and lack of Nature(land/vegetation/scenery etc) make living, hell.

In any case, other than the Ex Head of State, I mentioned earlier on, we also have offsprings of our top Leaders marrying foreigners and residing overseas. Parliamentarians have foreign spouses too, though residing here.

Do not be surprised if our leaders themselves greatly harbour the wish to migrate themselves. They will be able to live in luxuries, having accumulating huge fortunes here. And like everyone else here, they know the inherent fate of this state(Sg). In fact, they should know better as they are the people that run it.

Go! The World is big, no reason to remain in a tiny dot when You can live better elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Do you find it interesting that only rich English-speaking countries are listed?

Notable absent are the Scandinavian countries...

Anonymous said...

My profile:
I am currently a healthcare professional in US. I earned my dues by breaking my bond, quitting my comfy and boring engineering job in Spore, and studying in US on my own hard-earned savings.

I am in a respectable and well-paid profession; enjoy a spacious home (not your Sgp 99-year 'lease') with a view and privacy.
In Singapore, I would just be one of the worker bees, working so hard to earn my dough and feed the maid to serve my children.

I rather take care of the sick in US, than to serve the elitist system in Sgp.

We can make authentic Singapore dishes ourselves, without returning to Singapore hawkers to satisfy our taste buds.

Goodness knows how much we’d gone through to settle here. How much friends and family support did we get then? Now that we become more accomplished, some of our family members try to bond us with their children/grandchildren. They want to know when we become American citizens, so that they can get a piece of our CPF money or help with bringing their kids to North America.

Anonymous said...

There are indeed pros and cons living elsewhere. I fitted well in Thailand. The Thais are real friendly people who see Chinese as themselves I must say. In the West? Like Australia, we have to at times bite our teeth and shut up when some white bum for no rhyme or reason barked "Chink", "Chinaman" or "Cink-Conk Man" loudly into our faces. Well, that's Australian life some yellow people can sheepishly accept coming from ang mohs.

April 22, Anon 9:22 am - "you are not very clever. Who ask you to go to haiti, bangladesh, africa?"

One doesn't need to go there. S'pore, if not careful, can plunge without return into another Haiti, Bangladesh . . . "

Oil today has crossed the US$122 mark and many, many larger and resource rich countries are in deep shit - food riots, transport standstill, etc., cos everything revolves around OIL. Even the US is not spared! Check out http://nysun. com/news/food-rationing- confronts-breadbasket-world

Mind you Singapore has to pay for every drop of imported oil! This is no mean feat and no ordinary government. The facts speak for themselves. The world sees and judges. Therefore, come 2011 will any sane person want to vote in a chaotic banana republic and enable say, our neighbour by excuse to take us over by force (by Separation treaty, if you are unaware)?

Anonymous said...

> It means that so many Singaporeans want to leave their country that a viable mini-industry has sprung up to help them do so.

I disagree. I think Mr. Wang has drawn the wrong conclusion. In my opinion, it simply means that there are many *foreigners* in sg treating sg as a stepping stone in their quest to emigrate to the west - so many of them, that a viable mini-industry has sprung to help them get to where they have always wanted to.

The flyer distributer probably mistook Mr. Wang as someone from China?

Anonymous said...

> in sharp contrast to the typical profile that the Singapore government likes to paint of emigrating Singaporeans.

And the government has not lied. The typical profile targeted in those flyers are the typical trader from India and China that we import by the thousands but whom the govt chose not to report in the newspapers because they are not "foreign talent" academic wise. As far as emigrating *Singaporeans* are concerned, lky was spot-on and candid when stating their profile.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Do read my post again. And click on the link I provided as well.

LKY said that the Singaporeans who can emigrate (ie those who will be able to qualify for PR or citizenship elsewhere) are those who are highly educated.

I am saying that this is not quite correct. Australia, for example, prefers to plumbers over life scientists, and motor mechanics over economists.

Anonymous said...

IMO, the reason why it is seen that only elite singaporeans are able to leave singapore is due to their "elite" status which allows them to do internships and gain work experience etc. i remember when the o'lvl/a'lvl results came out this year, pages and pages were splashed over how the elites were going to be able to go to Ivy Colleges or wail and whine over not being able to, despite their "dedication" to contributing to their society.
(note: ST also had an article over how students would do volenteer work to add something to their resume but not come back to volenteer after being admitted to the college of their choice.)

with such emigration trends, where elites go overseas and dont come back, and with the skilled workers being in demand overseas... i say, it is the middle-line workers who are suffering the most. those that are not a high level executive but does office jobs etc.

Anonymous said...

"Therefore, come 2011 will any sane person want to vote in a chaotic banana republic and enable say, our neighbour by excuse to take us over by force (by Separation treaty, if you are unaware)?"

Mr Wang, the irrelevant guy is back again. Why don't you just delete his comment.

People are discussing emigration and suddenly he goes off-tangent and starts blabbering about voting banana republics and war.

He's a bit crazy, I suspect.

Anonymous said...

The acceptance of the fact that the majority of those who come here will take this place as a stepping stone speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

the hot weather here probably is a big push...& you cant even sleep probably at night if you were those thousands of poor without air-conditioning.. plus high population density & moist humid hot weather may promote faster spread of diseases like dengue fever via their irritating mosquitoes. rising sea-level due to global warming may flood the land. plus it will be difficult for those people who cant accept the industrial recycled NEWEST water for drinking in future to come.

god bless

Anonymous said...

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

-- John William Gardner

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang;
me thinks that MM Lee KY was right to say that those who successfully left Sg for good were from the top 20-30%. These are the people who migrate to live a life of luxuries after making their tons of money here. Maybe some of their fortunes are left here for safekeepings.

You are also right in the sense that a very high proportion of the population want to migrate. But few would make the grade and hence their wishes cannot be fulfilled. However, they do long to go.

Others have also rightly said that filial piety, kins, relatives and even friends have prevent migration of the locals, not that they do not long to go.

Personally, I feel that Singaporeans are not adventurous in the Asian and South East Asian Regions. This sadly is due to the fact that Singaporeans are proficient in the English Language and not the various Asian(Chinese/Malay/Indian/Korean/Japanese/Thai/Burmese/Cambodian/Vietnamese etc).

Malaysia and Borneo and other South E. Asian countries are also look-down by many Singaporeans, who tend to consider them 'backward' and corrupt. There are no basis for such views as far as I can see. Singaporeans' weakness lies in their superiority complex which is a self believed false pride. Cannot blame them for they are by and large brought up in the manner.

Many indeed want to go, unfortunately not all or rather only some successfully did.


Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, if graduates are not talents and over-produced in overseas countries, are we not then helping other countries to solve their structural unemployment by instituting their non-talents or trash into our jobs to create structural unemployment for Singaporeans?


Now I finally understand why the Ministers always say, "even if they do not become our citizens, they will have good impressions of the country and bring along goodwill to pay back". I see how sending our scholars overseas and putting them into high level civil service positions surely verifies the Ministers' words!

Anonymous said...

Designer in Japan.
I certainly don't fall in that 20-30 percentile.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

Thanks for this post. It's a utmost relevant post for someone such as myself - no longer studying or working in Singapore and with no intention to return, but harbouring just *that* little nugget of interest for the little humid island.


Anonymous said...

The downside to migrating to Australia now are :
1. high income tax. Of course this is offset by the free medical and welfare for the poor and unemployed.
2. High property prices. Property prices are about at the highest ever after over 10 years of prosperty. Those who went earlier are sitting on huge capital gains. Housing is becoming less affordable. However the Rudd government is taking some serious actions to address this acute situation.
3. High cost of living. There is a shortage of housing and rentals are high and going higher. Food cost more than Singapore. Cars are much cheaper. Petrol cheaper. Hired labour is very expensive. Certainly no cheap maid.

Miao 妙 said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm sure I'll need to solicit the help of this particular agency in future.

Anonymous said...

While there's much that people find wanting in SG, I urge those that seek other options to exercise caution and leave bridges intact. Go see the world, try it out and find out if one is able to fit into the scheme of things over there.

Sometimes, the thing that bugs you most may be the thing that you miss most when it's gone.

Australia is the land of milk and honey for some but a huge disappointment for other migrants


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Watch -


and up and coming, our very own Kishore interviewed today.

Anonymous said...

today's news put ten of thousands of chinese in Oz rally around the olypmic torch..hmm..seems like there is a good active chinese community there...

anyone do you have comments about demand for finance industry in Oz?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Thanks for the info. I think I qualify as a tradesman. Will go to Australian High Comm next week and check it out and get the necessary application forms.

Anonymous said...

notwithstanding the prominent trade skills demand, may i know is it highly possible to do a postgraduate course in australia in area of finance and hope to be able to seek to work for a living in australia in that discipline and thereafter lead a better life there if is okie?

Anonymous said...

To anon 10.25 above.

You can come to Canada. The Fed Govt here just past immigration law that allow international students graduated from Canada Universities to stay here to work for 3 years and while working, apply for PR. As in Australia, Canada is also short of trade workers.

Anonymous said...

To anon 1.43

I am grateful and thank you so much for the information. With knowledge of law, one can live more confidently , may I know the relevant URL in order that I may find out more?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.01

For Immigation Canada check this site out.


Anonymous said...

Hi does anyone know whether a study says a postgraduate course of 1.5yr or 2yr may enable a foreign student to be granted PR in Oz after graduation in Oz?

Anonymous said...

recently went back to Singapore for a holiday after living in Perth for almost 7 years. don;t think I will be able to live in Singapore anymore and realise Singapore might become very China. My children did not want to go back to Singapore. We were talking saying if we were to continue to be living in Singapore my children will become more branded cautious, and spent more $. Instead coming over to Australia, we can save and better quality lifestyle.