I bet a lot of Malaysians who say they’d rather be Singaporeans have never ever lived in Singapore before. They have this utopian, idealistic view of the city-state, and they even think that the high GDP per capita actually trickles down to ordinary folks like them (har har har). Then they cite how many Malaysians become Singaporeans instead of the other way round. The only thing that they overlooked is that Singapore has a very liberal immigration policy to the Chinese, which Malaysia doesn’t.

The truth is that Singaporeans are stuck despite their strong Singapore dollar. They’re STUCK:

1) Funding S$500,000 flats smaller than even the upstairs area of your terrace house… that they don’t even own or have full control over the flat (for 30 years, I might add);

2) Begging for the government’s permission just to own a car and are resigned to riding trains that break down so often yet keep increasing in price — but it’s a monopoly, so “boh bian;”

3) Wasting their best prime years serving out a de facto prison term on Pulau Tekong — and it’s compulsory — making them bitter, cynical individuals early on in life;

4) Competing fruitlessly with foreign talents who keep stealing their jobs and university spots;

5) Resigning to their corporate jobs because their monthly commitments, even as singles, are just so expensive. Rent for a single room even far away from the CBD costs S$700 a month. Here in Los Angeles, I can get a ****ing studio apartment with kitchen and bathroom for that price;

6) Paying chunks of their income into a compulsory saving scam, I mean scheme, called CPF. CPF is very unlike your EPF, which you can withdraw as a lump sum upon reaching 55 years old. The CPF has a higher withdrawal age (65 now? Or 68?) and has a nonsensical “minimum sum” requirement that disallows Singaporeans from touching the money unless that arbitrary minimum sum is reached. By the way, when you finally CAN withdraw your CPF funds, it’s done by installments. There are so many instances where even the heirs to dead people who failed to access their CPF funds during their lifetime also fail to access the funds of their parents, even after they died. Good jod, PAP — what a Ponzi scheme you’re running there.

And I’m just getting started with these… You don’t have to deal with these in Malaysia, at least not to such extreme extents. You can buy one of those condominiums in Rawang that cost even less than RM50,000 if you want. You can buy a secondhand car for RM10,000 and own it for 30 years if you want. No one foreign is going to steal your rice bowl in the private sector; we don’t have an insane immigration policy like Singapore. Our National Service is a walk in the park (3 months? 6 months?), and many have fond memories of it instead of cursing it. Our day-to-day cost of living is high, but at least the biggest things — transportation and housing — is more affordable. Hell, you can rent a room for RM250 in Kuala Lumpur; what more do you want? And lastly, our EPF isn’t a Ponzi scheme to fund god knows what. You retire, you get your money. No arguments. You die, even if you die intestate, your heirs get your money. No arguments.

In return, they can only brag (read: rationalize) about:

1) Having clean streets (Who cares? What matters is that you live in clean homes, which is your personal responsibility.);

2) Having safe streets (sure, I agree);

3) Having a world-class education system (that you can’t even gain access to, forcing many Singaporeans to study in Australia and England?);

4) Having an honest, efficient, and incorruptible government (Hahahahaha, good joke… The only one I can agree to is “efficient,” and it’s well-deserved.);

5) Having the strong Singapore dollar and greater spending power overseas (Yoohoo, you live overseas or what? You live in Singapore. You should be talking about the purchasing power of your currency, locally, not the absolute strength of it vis-a-vis other currencies! Zzz…); and

6) Having expensive Orchard Road malls and the fancy casinos that they can’t even go into if they don’t pay a S$100 cover fee or something (this only applies to Singaporeans).

I was offered Singaporean Permanent Residence in 2007. I tossed the letter into the rubbish bin. I had no intention of becoming a cog in the wheel to fund the CPF, Temasek Holdings, and your ministers’ million-dollar salaries.

Alvin Tan

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