Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Does your country make a fuss about emigrants?

Question as posed in the title to our international audience. I know we get readers from all over the world, and I would really like to hear your views. Do read on to understand the Singaporean context and mindsets when it comes to dealing with the subject of emigration.

To my fellow true blue Singaporean readers, I am trying to understand the artificial stigma that our Gahmen has cast on Singaporean emigrants, or those who want to migrate. To any new citizens or PRs who may be reading, if you've ever been labelled as a "quitter" of your own country and somehow don't know why, this should clear things up a little.

My sensing is that we are Uniquely Singapore, that we are the only country in the world which had its (then) Premier publicly criticise Singapore born-and-bred emigrants, and the act of emigrating.

"Quitters" - that was the infamous term he used. It is a term heavily-loaded with negativity. Just check out the following definitions I have culled from the 'Net.

"One who gives up easily"
"Defeatist, deserter, or shirker"

This has had a trickle-down effect. From the rabid professional PAP Internet Brigaders who go forth and spam blogs - including ours - Facebook and forums with criticism of quitters, to the average Singaporean who has been poisoned by indoctrination from our highly-esteemed mainstream media. We have heard the whole gamut of tirades against quitters, and to a lesser-but-no-less-amusing extent, tirades against married couples who refuse to have kids.

On a slightly unrelated note, the influence of the MSM is so pervasive that just about everyone I've spoken to who hasn't lived in Australia, thinks that food is very expensive there, and that everyone is racist. Even people who plan to migrate there harbour such beliefs. Such as A and I. Of course, such beliefs have been partially dispelled by reading The Wrong Things, and hearing from people who have actually lived in both Australia and Singapore for reasonable amounts of time. But we really need to live it for ourselves before we can discard our hang ups completely. It's really not easy to undo a lifetime of propaganda, even when you know that The Right Things which the MSM have been feeding us are largely biased B.S.

In the short time I spent researching for this post, I didn't manage to find any other country which puts down its own people thus, merely for leaving the country in search of a better life. Which brings us back to my opening question.

Of course, immigrants face opposition in Singapore and many other countries, even in way less crowded places than Singapore. See the links here, here and here. I may have mentioned this before, but it deserves airing again: Singapore has the World's 3rd Highest Population Density, with a steadily-deteriorating public transport system and rapidly increasing housing prices, as well as the World's 2nd Highest GINI coefficient (a measure of income inequality - higher means worse). That immigrants are claimed to have nothing to do with any of these (according to one of them anyway) is a huge stretch on credulity.

So if you have been complaining about the influx, rest assured that in international benchmarking that our dear Gahmen is so obsessed with, you are perfectly normal. In fact, given the ridiculous strain on the infrastructure and the sheer population density, I'd have expected even more complaints and protests from true blue Singaporeans. But I guess everyone here is too busy earning their keep to actually try and make a stand for their future.

At the end of the day, if you are gonna scold your citizens for Giving Up Easily and being Deserters or Shirkers, you should recognise the  sheer irony of importing even more quitters from other countries to take our places.

"For every one person leaving, Singapore takes in eight - most of them equally skilled." - Fight or flight, by Seah Chiang Nee, 26 August 2002
Although I have gone a little off-tangent, let's steer right back to my original question! Is Singapore unique in criticising its citizens who emigrate? Do drop a comment!

- S


  1. From my experience living in WA for a bit, yes food is definitely way more expensive than what we are used to in Singapore, or even Germany where I am now. Racism like everywhere else, exists. The point of contention is, from which context/background are you assessing this from? And who is this new group that is the target of racism, would you now fit in that category?

    1. Hi Anon,

      May I ask if you earned more (after tax of course) than in SG? Was that able to cover for the "way more expensive" food? I need more useful data from people like you who have lived in both countries.

      You answered my question with a question. Now I will return the favour. When you were in Western Australia or Germany, were you the target of racism? I do have actual (i.e non-anonymous) contacts living in Sydney, Melbourne, and now Perth and Adelaide. So far so good, though that's no guarantee of my future experience.

      Obviously I am ill-equipped to answer such questions. So I wouldn't know what target categories there are to fit in, or whether I would fit at all :)


  2. Per meal, you're looking at about 12-15$ in melbourne, that's if you're not too fussy.

    In singapore. $6 to $8.

    You earn a lot more in 'straya. So i'd say its on par. ALTHOUGH. Dining out at mid tier restaurants, melbourne will be cheaper.

    1. On par, until you compare public transport costs, then SG comes out way ahead...

      Throw in car costs, Oz takes the lead again.

      Cooking-wise, my sensing is that if you really go cheap, SG is better. But if you toss in some quality ingredients here and there, the gap narrows.

      Both of you sound disturbingly familiar.. Do buzz me on FB if you are who I think you guys/gals/gays are ;)


  3. The PM of NZ a few decades back did say that Kiwis who moved to Australia helped increase the IQ of both countries.


  4. Over the years, we've heard all the reasons from family and friends in Singapore about why they would never emigrate, the most common being: you have to do all your own housework (no maids to clean and look after your kids); you have to cook every day (interestingly, this is the single most popular reason we're given); the education system overseas is nowhere near as good as Singapore's (nowhere near as vigorous or academic - yes. Agree. Nowhere near as GOOD - debatable); you are taxed to death and everything is expensive (taxed more - yes, but you also get more in welfare, presumably. Expensive - it depends) and your kids will be led astray by those horrible, rough Western children; and the good old 'Westerners are racist' line.

    I've lived in NZ for approx 21 years, since I was about 7, and I've never encountered any racism. To my knowledge, neither have my parents. That's not to say it doesn't exist - don’t get me wrong – NZ has its bigots and racists, just like anywhere else in the world. You can't escape racism. But, honestly, I have to say that Singaporeans are probably some of the most racist people I've ever met. I have cousins who post on FB about 'f****** PRCs', and more than one person told me, when I was in Singapore on holiday last year, to try to avoid sitting beside Indians or Bangladeshis, because I would smell like them, which I thought was appalling! Try saying something like that over here!

    I think a lot of the time, it may just be that the racists are more vocal. I mean, you might often go into forums or read opinion pieces about Asians buying up all the housing stock/pushing prices up or immigrants setting up ghettos and not integrating into society, and you'll read the hundred or so comments and think, 'Gosh, this country is racist!' But people should remember that it's probably only a small fragment of society who feel that way, and it's not really indicative of the majority, who are generally accepting and friendly towards immigrants, if - and this is an important point - you try to assimilate into society and are seen as making an effort to learn the ways of your new country instead of, for example, not bothering to learn English.

    But anyway, this wasn't really the point of your post. lol. Back to topic - I find it funny that the SG govt is criticising its citizens for emigrating overseas. Surely what they should be doing is finding out why people want to leave and how to improve things instead of labelling people 'quitters'! That doesn't help at all! For a while now, NZ has been suffering a brain drain of skilled workers, mostly to Australia. The NZ govt acknowledges that, and as far as I know, they're trying to address the problem and stem the flow (not really succeeding, but points for trying?). No blame, no name-calling, no criticism. People are free to do whatever they want, and if their country is not working for them, then it's their prerogative to leave.

  5. Hi JWL,

    I enjoyed reading your comment! Thanks for sharing your observations with us. And for being the first to answer my question.

    Actually CK did mention that in the past, your then PM made a remark that was IMHO, rather mean. But that jibe was equally at the Aussies as well.

    PAP will never dare to insinuate such things about its beloved FTs. Other than some off-colour jokes made about China's air quality, which has nothing to do with the issue of emigration/immigration

  6. If I'm not mistaken, that was Muldoon. I'm not sure if it was a joke or not, lol but he was PM of NZ before I was even born, so it was a long time ago. But honestly, until NZ achieves pay parity (or close to) with Australia, people will keep leaving. That's a fact. But then again, I think I read somewhere recently that more people are coming back home, as the Aus economy is looking precarious and NZ seems to be doing relatively well.

    Congrats on our PR, by the way! Good luck for your new life in Straya! :)