Let me contribute a perspective about what happens *after* these Singaporean PRs are done, and decide to move on.

Australia, as some of you may realize, is an incredibly cosmopolitan country, and far more multi-racial than Singapore. It is not uncommon to find office colleagues whose ethnic origins come from just about any continent (except Antarctica), and in the true Aussie spirit, everyone has a chance to “have a fair go”.

However, in the last two or three years, I have begun to notice an increase of colleagues who happen to be ex-Singaporean PRs. By this I mean that some of them come up to me and ask me, “Are you from Singapore?” when they recognize my Singaporean slang, which I have not lost even after many years here. These are, invariably, migrants from India, China and the Phillippines.

When I tell them yes, they almost always respond on a happy, positive note along the lines of, “I could recognize your Singaporean accent, because I worked there for ‘X’ number of years, before I came to Australia” – X being a number usually between five and seven. They would tell me what a great lifestyle they had, how generous their remuneration was, how easy it was to find work there, what a great country I belonged to.

And as I listen to them, with a forced smile and nodding like a fool (as these are my colleagues and I still have to work with them), in my heart I am thinking, “You have taken jobs away from my countrymen, you have consumed the welfare and entitlements which would ordinarily be reserved for citizens, you have unwittingly contributed to the misery and hardship of my compatriots – and then when you had the chance, you packed up and left.” It was not directly their fault, but rather the government for creating the conditions that allowed them to benefit.

One of them even told me, “I regret moving to Australia, because my pay is lower here. Back in Singapore, I had a good package, my boss took care of me, your government gave me a flat, our quality of life was better.” It goes without saying his boss, like himself, was also a PR and came from the same country. When I asked him why he left Singapore if it was so good, he told me – and I kind of expected it – it was because his son was born in Singapore, and didn’t want him to do NS. Of course I had no sympathy, and good riddance. (I have no idea what he meant by our government “giving” him a flat. I think he might have meant “allowed to rent”, rather than literally being handed the title deed.)

Some also said that they never intended to settle in Singapore, that for them it was merely a stepping stone (and a chance to polish up their business English) before moving on to a “Western” English-speaking country. Again, no surprise there. It is almost as if our government has turned our country into a whorehouse for foreigners to come and go as they like, and enjoy themselves while they are here, at the expense of the citizens.

I may not physically be in Singapore, but my heart and thoughts are never far from her. When I see this happening – this diaspora of ex-Singaporean PRs – it bothers me greatly. It demonstrates that the government’s policy of an open-house PR is not beneficial to the country, neither in the long- or short-term.


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