Certain details have been omitted, though I do not think it will help much.

A few background details about me:
– Have been staying in Singapore for almost 2 decades
– Was never offered PR / Citizenship
– Did not serve NS (Could not serve even if I wanted to, CMPB do not allow foreigners to volunteer, accurate as of 2012 because I called them)

I took up the tuition grant bond from them back when I started my studies in a certain polytechnic. For those who are not familiar, the tuition grant is where they will waive a significant portion of your school fees (approx SGD $12k) per year, and in return, I am required to work in a Singapore-based company for 3 years upon my graduation.

After graduating from the polytechnic, my parents and I decided that its better for me to further my studies, for a better future / prospect. But because my GPA was only average, my only option was to study at a private school. So I went ahead with it, I went to study in a private school which awards degrees from London .

As I was under the tuition grant bond, I am required to apply for a bond deferment. I was given 2 options, 1st is to provide 2 guarantors, 2nd is to provide a banker’s guarantee (approx SGD $48k). So I applied online through the online portal, stating that I want to defer using a banker’s guarantee and I submitted it along with the required documents. I checked on the status once a week, for about 3 months, no officer followed up on my application. All it says on the status was “Pending status from officer”.

School has started since then and I did not log in to check on it (yes, negligence on my part) because I believe that:

1. If they have any issues with my application I am easily contactable. They have my updated particulars, and I am in Singapore all the while. Its not like I am overseas.

2. For that 3 months, nobody checked on my status. I mean if you are going to implement an online application system, at least make sure someone checks on it once a week or something? If not what’s the point? And surely I will get some sort of notification if an officer followed up on it.

So I finished my 1st year, though the results were pretty bad (second lower / third class). 1 year has passed, they did not contact me.

Studied for my 2nd year, but I struggled as I could not cope with the amount of modules. I did very badly, only passing half a module. And during this time, my family have some financial issues as business were poor back in my country. So I wired back the money to them as they needed it. And because of this they were also unable to fund me for an additional year of studies. So I had to put my studies on hold at that moment. 2 years have passed, they still did not contact me.

My parents then sold their apartment here and decided to move back, and over the next few months I was flying back and forth, helping them to move their stuff and settle down over there. Came back early this year, applied for a pass to allow me to stay for 1 year, and I have been searching for a job ever since as I know that I still need to work for 3 years here. Just over 2 months ago, I managed to secure a job from Company A, who then proceeded to apply for a S Pass for me, but for some reason it was rejected even though I meet all the requirements listed, and they decided not to appeal for me. So I decided to email them, to see if I am able to obtain a supporting letter or some sort so that my chances of getting an approval will be higher.

So I explained to them what I have been doing since my graduation from polytechnic, and the 1st guy I was communicating with was quite friendly, he knows that I did not complete my deferment and he also knows that I did not receive any notifications regarding my deferment back then (turns out it was rejected, when it was rejected I do not know), but he told me that the upper management is currently looking at my case. Well at this point of time, everything looks ok.

Went back to job searching, and last month I managed to secure another job offer, this time from Company B, signed a contract with them the very next day, and they proceeded to apply an S Pass for me. They were very keen on hiring me, saying that they will appeal for me if its rejected. Since the supporting letter will not be issued in time, I emailed them saying that I got a job offer from Company B, I am signing the contract the next day and so on. For 2 weeks, they did not reply to my email at all. I mean to me its fine, since I was only giving them a heads up, I was not expecting any replies anyway.

So my S Pass was rejected once again, but Company B kept their word, and have already appealed for me. Everything really looks good for me, I just have to wait for the outcome of the appeal. Once its approved, I can start working and serve the bond. Everyone is happy…?

Then suddenly out of nowhere, they emailed me, saying that I have went for further studies without their approval, and as such my bond has been terminated and I am required to pay liquidated damages of SGD $50k, and I am only given 2 weeks to do so.

I was shocked when I received that email of course, was totally not expecting it. So I called the guy (2nd guy) this morning and tried to explain that I did apply for deferment, yes I did not follow up, but neither did I receive any notifications at all. He insisted that they sent out an email, but I check my emails once a week and I said no, I did not receive any. He said maybe its in my junk folder (like, really? WOW). But then I asked him anyway, is there any alternatives for me? Such as slowly paying off the liquidated damages by instalment once I start working, because at this point my family’s financial situation is still not healthy, there is NO WAY they can come up with that amount. But he insisted that no, I must pay the liquidated damage in full by that specified date, or they will take action. He told me to “find a way to get the money”. He sounded pretty hostile at that point, and since I find that the conversation was going nowhere, I ended the phone call.

Well, time is ticking, and I do not know what to do at this point. I don’t even know what to tell Company B if my S Pass is approved. I barely have any savings myself, how am I supposed to raise $50k in 2 weeks? Is he expecting me to rob a bank? I do not know what is going to happen to me after the payment deadline. I have written in to PMO out of desperation but I do not expect anything positive from it.

1. It took them almost 3 years to notice that I did not successfully defer my bond back then? Heck, I think they wouldn’t even have noticed anything if I did not email them to request for a supporting letter in the first place. So I went under their radar, who else? How many more? I am sure you all have heard stories about how people from a certain country, come to Singapore to study, undertake a bond (sometimes 2 bonds even, once in polytechnic and once in university), only to run back to their home country upon graduation. Its approximately $36k per head per bond before compounded interest, its not my money, its taxpayer’s money (YOURS). And right now, when I choose to stay and serve my bond, this **** happens.

2. Yes, no doubt it was due to my own negligence for failing to follow up on my own. But really, 3 months and no update, then what’s the point of the online system? For show? And apart from the so called email that they sent (which I never received) I did not receive any other form of notification, no sms / calls / letters. I have been in Singapore all the way, its not like I was overseas, trying to avoid serving my bond. It has been close to 3 years since I graduated from polytechnic, and they didn’t say ****. And you know what’s the best thing? Now that they have terminated my bond, they actually bothered to send a letter this time, registered mail some more. So now suddenly got money to pay postage?

I am posting this here because I feel that I have nothing else to lose. I don’t expect special treatment just because I have been staying here for such a long time, and I know what potentially many anti-FT comments are going to come in. But I do feel that I have to share this with others. All I wanted was my S Pass to be approved so that I can start working, serve my bond and be financially independent, I never expected things to turn out like this.

A.S.S. Reader

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