HOW MANY SINGAPOREANS ARE ACTUALLY LIVING ABROAD?

Dear Editors

I refer to the article “Study to find out mindsets of overseas Singaporeans” (Straits Times, May 16). It states that “A fairly high proportion of about 6 per cent of Singapore citizens also live overseas, he noted.

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The number of Singaporeans residing abroad has climbed 24 per cent in the past 10 years. The latest population statistics show 213,400 Singaporeans lived overseas last year, compared with 172,000 in 2007. Since the 213,400 are “Singaporeans with a registered foreign address” – does it mean that those who have kept their local address are not counted?

Many Singaporeans effectively living overseas may not register a foreign address for various reasons, such as:

- for convenience, because they still have family members, relatives, friends, etc, in Singapore
- various benefits like GST rebates are linked to local addresses
- with 2-factor authentication now for almost everything – like access to your CPF records, bank transactions, etc – it may be very inconvenient to not have a local address
- according to a major telco – the mobile phone number account must be a local address, even if one is residing overseas – in order to receive the 2-factor SMS access code
- tens of thousands of students studying overseas who may eventually stay on overseas, but maintain local addresses
- possibly tens of thousands effectively living in neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, who maintain local addresses
- media reports have said that more than 4,000 successfully apply for residence in Australia in a year (and this is for just one country!)
- to totally withdraw one’s CPF – one has to give up Singapore citizenship – but one must obtain citizenship of another country first. So, there is no reason to register a foreign address, instead of a local address

In view of all the above, an estimate of the number of Singaporeans living overseas may be about 400,000.

Leong Sze Hian

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