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Saturday January 13th 2018

If you can leave Singapore go…(Temasek Review)

By Lawrence Pek

As I am writing this article on my way from Shen Zhen (where I am based now) to Shanghai, my heart is heavy. Too much has transpired in the last 18 to 24 months. Almost every conversation that I have with my family, my friends is about where this country is going and how things have changed. Besides the usual rant on immigration policies, what troubles me is not how and why the PAP has formulated these slew of policies with considerations but without deliberations with their electorate. Rather what we can do about it with these “given conditions”.

My thoughts turn to what we can do about the current scenarios. In the short run, we are faced with pro-foreigner policies and in the long run, how we can change ourselves, to be better to be more value added. My thoughts are about what we can do ourselves, take actions ourselves rather than wait for more policies, rather than continuing to believe that we will be taken care of.

If you are 25 to 40

I would like to take this opportunity to propose a radical idea – If you are between 25 and 45 (male or female), just leave Singapore and make your careers, your money and livelihood outside of Singapore. Yes, if an opportunity exists, just take it and leave – if there is a biz opportunity and it makes sense to you, just seize the day and take the plunge. If your employer offers an opportunity to work overseas, just go (may it be in Dubai, Shanghai, London or Chicago), may it be a Local or Expat package.

My reasoning is simple – with the current economic climate (internally and externally) – I will make the following assumption – My value, your value, our value is higher overseas than staying back in Singapore. With the huge influx of cheap and cheerful labor force, we need to consider where and how to maximize our value. Given Singapore’s limitations of size and natural resources, given that local jobs are getting cheaper and cheaper (hence so many cheap and cheerful foreigners), staying back and sighing over a cup of tea-c is hardly productive, for yourself, your family or for your country.

For the Local Born and Bred Students

If your sons and daughters are entering or finishing college, please do consider to send them overseas to further their education. Having lived in China for so many years, I am clear that besides the language barrier, the local Chinese lacks the single most important element – Exposure. You cannot read this in any tertiary institution, you cannot buy this off the shelves; you need to be mentally and emotionally be ready to invest in your children’s future. They will learn to interact, to speak a different language; they will see the world and hence react differently.

I never liked the local tertiary institutions for 2 reasons. Firstly, their curriculum does not foster cutting edge technology R&D nor Creative Arts and Design talents. 2ndly, upon graduation, these graduates will be herded “factory like” into the Singapore local workforce and be instilled with local paradigms and culture. The funny reference to “kiasu and kiasi” – these may be funny reference to local mentalities, but it is not funny after a while, if you need to compete globally.

Yes, I am sensitive to several issues that my idea will encounter, working parents will need to bear with temporary separations, and the all important family unit will be temporarily disrupted. Spouses will pine for each other and parent will miss their children. Even though there will be tears and pain but there will also be joyous reunions every holidays and family visits.

However, please consider the long term value add to our people and our country (above and beyond the ruling PAP). We will have seen, experienced and become more exposed to the world beyond Changi Airport. With our opened eyes, we will know what is right and wrong, what should and what should not be.

My vision is to see locals returning to Singapore not just with value added global exposure, which will propel our economy forward. Furthermore, they will be more willing, able and capable to take their destinies into their own hands. To decide what the issues are, what the policies should be, who they want to see as administrators for their neighborhoods, their districts and their country.

My conclusion is a simple summary, if you can go, please go. If your kids want to go, let them, There will be risks, there will be pain and tears. However, by doing this, we evolve and we will better take charge of ourselves, we will be better equipped to vision and administer ourselves.

The Winds of Change are Blowing….Singapore for Singaporeans!

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Reader Feedback

96 Responses to “If you can leave Singapore go…(Temasek Review)”

  1. Allan says:

    Dear Lawrence Pek,

    Well said. I personally agreed with you as I had taken a tough and painful venture into Vietnam leaving behind my family in Singapore in sacrificing myself for my family’s future.

    To everyone out there, “Leave Singapore if you have an opportunity”.

    Best of luck.

  2. Simon Chen says:

    Hi! I’m a Malaysian. I agree with this article. It is just a few hours across the causeway to my country, Malaysia. Try apply vacancies available in there and don’t be let down by your nationality. Sell you value, your skill. I see a lot of vacancies that has offerings for Singaporeans with the talent, certifications who come this site. Why not Malaysia? After all, historically, we are and still neighbours and I don’t think it costs that much to come over here for you hardy folks. I hope this helps and try this and this Just helping.

    • Si Han Chen says:

      Hi Simon,

      Nice of you to make suggestions, but if working in Malaysia was a feasible option, many Singaporeans would be flocking over to Malaysia to work by now.

      There are too many hampering factors. The greatest being that it is unlikely a Singaporean working in Malaysia would be drawing a salary equivalent to that of Singapore’s.

      It is to my knowledge that Malaysia workers of the managerial level hardly get paid over 3-4k ringgit,

      Thats not even enough to make ends meet in Singapore.

      • JT says:

        As a Singaporean working in Malaysia i can say it’s actually its quite feasible, at least for a single or a couple without children. of course for those expecting to feed their family in SG while earning ringgit is probably out of the question. lets just break it down based on a 4k income.

        RM 1,200 – condo rental (studio to 1 bedroom)
        RM 1,000 – car + maint.
        RM 1,000 – monthly expenditure

        i bet the quality of life here in Malaysia will be better than if you’d be earning the same amount dollar for dollar in SG, not to mention Malaysia has better food. if both husband and wife are working, you’ll see that life would be much more comfortable.

        • John Lim says:

          I am a 43 yr old singaporean working in Malaysia(malacca) on a local package. I am working as a manager and earning around rm130K per year. Back home in singapore I am renting out my 2+1 hdb apt for SGD2100 per month.

          While the salary is meagre as compared to what I used to earn in singapore before (SGD100K), my family (wife & 3 kids) are enjoying their life here.

          We can afford to buy a bungalow house easily worth millions in singapore and owned 2 cars (1 MPV and 1 saloon).

          I have altogether 5 properties here in Malaysia (1 bungalow, 3 double storey terraced and 1 double storey shop house. My wife is also taking care of my business and generating a RM200k gross sales per month while I am working in a multi national company and earning a decent paid salary…

          Get out of singapore if you can..the grass is always greener on the other side…

  3. Ed says:

    Hello fellow Sg,
    I am age 55 and have just left Sg a few months ago
    With my spouse and two young primary school children,
    And presently in UK.
    I left Sg after my NS in 1979 and was in and out
    Of Sg till 1995.
    I had PR in USA, Aust.,NZ before. However,
    To cut a long story short, I am planning to go
    To Germany or Hong Kong. Let me know if
    You are interested to go study in Germany or Hong Kong,
    If you have an IT degree and plan to do postgrad.,
    Bring your immediate family, if you want to
    Keep in touch, email me at
    I can give you some ideas to leave Sg depending
    In your profile,
    Good luck and hope to hear from you.
    You will gain more respect from our Sg govt
    Or otherwise be disrespected im Sg by Foreigners

  4. yume says:

    agree! i know many singaporean succeed in overseas at their 30′s, especially in china. explore urself, value up, achieve higher position and earn 3 times more than ur ex-class mate in sg seems easiler (of course no pain no gain la)
    If i can get an offer, i will go rapturously
    so sad that i’m not a man, they refer male most of time lie

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  6. Blaze says:

    Yes, leave when you have the opportunity. I don’t know why people always leave out Japan or Korea as a must go for jobs that pays well, espacially in the Electronics and IT sectors.
    For the past few years, these countries are opening up their doors for foreign talents, and Singaporeans have the billingual advantage. Our “clean and efficent” tag (not the place, bt the working population!) is something that sells, and they pay MORE THAN TWICE of what the surpressed wages in Sg can ge you.
    I am living out on what I have written the above and my only regret is that I should have done it EARLIER!

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  14. disgusted says:

    This is sick I can never find another country like singapore again being born here my roots are in singapore my motherland. Why am I forced to go overseas for opportunities not because there are none in singapore but just because the govt here probably has a phobia of loosing at the elections they have to resort to buying votes by giving new immigrants citizenship. I can’t understand how any government can endorse this or just say “I am not responsible after bringing millions of immigrants in & say that they do not compete with locals for jobs but help create good jobs for singaporeans instead”, well do they really care & have a heart towards their own citizens at all.

    • Talk says:

      Hello SpringBoard.COM. SG is just too small and without natural resources … and small-sized lifestyle many Singaporeans are used to, make it hard (not difficult) for relocation.

      On the other hands, those who hang around: Why not optimize the opportunities on the foreigners who are not familiar with SG (with the gov’s banner to promote you)?

      Widen your net (with the gov’s blessing)

  15. C Ananda says:

    My husband and I left SG 4 years ago, first to Sydney and now we are posted to KL for 3 years. Don’t know where to after this. We are glad we left – we learn different perpectives and our kids are alot more tolerant of change and of different cultures and so on. Do I feel for Singapore? Of course. Its my home, I was born and brought up there and I am the 6th generation in my family ot have been born in SG. But that really does not mean anything now. Its not the fault of our foreign friends who have come to SG to work and live. THey are provided with an opportunity and they took it. No point taking it out on them. The government should have calibrated the flow to a more acceptable rate. They did not take into account that managing perceptions is absolutely critical. Crux of it is that the government did not take pains to show that they respect their own citizens. The Sunday Times piece by their senior editor from yesterday sums it up pretty well. Singaporeans are worried about being displaced. No point telling Singaporeans that we need foreigners for the economy and all those high flown things when at a ground level, they feel marginalised in their own country. We can;t really turn the clock back and tell all foreigners to leave – that is committing economic suicide. The foreigners, by and large are decent folks who are here to make a living and if they want to settle here permanently, they should be welcomed. There are of course a few who are nasty and arrogant and unfortunately it is their antics that get broadcast. HAving cool heads is important. In Australia, sure I felt there were undercurrents in certain sectors against foreigners, but certainy, there were no doors that were closed simply because you werent born in that country. However, I will say that a country like Australia or the US is big enough to absorb many migrants. Singapore wants to be like that, but unfortunately, we are too small a country to take in so many so quickly. I hope the SG conversation will go some way to getting all voices heard. The government needs to listen sincerly with their ears and hearts open. Perhaps this will prove to them that Singaporeans are not apathetic.

  16. sal says:

    As we all know a 60/40 % parliament is good as every policy that raise will be debate and scrutinise. The public will know from the debate whether its good for them or not….as a develop nation.

  17. Patrick Wang says:

    I started to base permanently in China since 1992 and I fully agree with the writer on he said.

    I came out to work with only a GCE at the age of 16+ and I will be still a “nobody” depriving of further education or opportunity if I did not take up a job in China in my early working days and insisted to stay put in Singapore.

    I was a victim of PAP policies such as education (no chance to go to our Singapore U), forced to stop at two (I married a Malaysian)… the list could go on. Today, I am a Master degree holder, had worked as senior executive for world class companies, possessed some wealth, two children who are successful in their careers with happy families (they studied overseas).

    Get out from Singapore if you can and you will be in a better position and available with choices and opportunities. You could leave Singapore anytime if you are forced or don’t like the country where you were born anymore….

  18. David says:

    Hi everyone,

    I spent equal amount of time in Malaysia (was born in there) and Singapore, about 19 years.
    - Yes, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Singapore.
    - But something tugged @ my heart (stress, kid’s education and the kiasi, kiasu mentality of Singaporeans).

    - Yes, we pack our bags, log, stock & barrel and migrate to Australia. (So, I’m a Malaysian, Singapore PR heartlander who’s a loser in many people’s eyes);

    Hey, braders/ sistas! It’s not a bed of rose for the many of you who are contemplating to leave Singapore, especially if you’re 30s and are in IT/computer/marketing background.
    Don’t hold me accountable, but from my reading of the tea leaves, at least 2 to 3 out of 10 Singaporeans will queietly move back to Singapore after not so queitly announcing their departure from Singapore.
    The reason is simply this (and I think Uncle Gilbert will identify with me) – Singaporeans lack the TOUGHNESS factor! They whine, whinge, complaint, and think everyone owe them a living! They can’t find IT related jobs, accountant cannot find accountant jobs, marketers cannot find marketing jobs and they kau beh kau bu – they can’t ADAPT!
    The malaysians sUMA toh tak!!!!!
    become taxi driver, wash vegetable, etc!!!!
    I , a ridid, highly dominant ass hole too, learnt too in the process to be humble, and in due time , I had a great opening in a multinational from USA.

    The sum of all fears (kiasu and kiasi) needs to be eradicated if Singaporeans are to go anywhere and be operationally ready to settle down with their family!

    Otherwise, they will always complaint – don’t have maid lah, salary very low lah, neighbor kids go better school they get red eyes for 3 months la!!!!!!

    Wa lau!!!!

    So, in conclusion – we’ve got to learn to be ADAPTABLE!
    This applies chiefly to me, muar & myself!
    And then, this lesson also applies to all Singaporeans @ lovely Singapore
    Obviously, this applies too to the oversea Singapore students, the worker, the quitters (and half Singapore PR quitter, yeah, I wasn’t a Singaporean)and even those who had 3 million bucks bankers, retired senior managers of multinationals, etc!

    If we’re adaptable, we can go anywhere, climb any mountain, mate!!

    When I first read Uncle Gilbert’s trasitioning website, there is this young 20 something guy who is a security officer, who complaints about his salary! Ah boy! Stop whinging la! You have hands, legs, and a brain! Go and figure out what you can do after all the sessions of counseling, mate!

    you have a SPINE too!

    All the best, everyone!

    Should you need to migrate, is your first port of call for those who are contemplating to come to Australia.
    Remember – in Australia, no maid, no hand holding, no cheap labor, no plumber for SGD$30, no SGD$4 char kway teow, not many good medical GP, income tax starts at 33% , pay as you go (not to be paid annually after your 15 April tax returns), no Chinese majority, you are a second class citizen (although the OZ gamen has non discriminatory policies, but hard to enforece).

    Ta ta,

    David, Perth, Western Australia.

  19. dave says:

    you are very right buddy. the faster one can leave sg the better it is for his or own state of mental health.It is getting downright depressing daily if one just think what is becoming of this supposedly homeland with this degradation
    of its own citizens right before your very eyes with a gutless and pathetic sinkies.

  20. Cecilia says:

    I really like comments from David and C.Ananda. Both are so true. I really agree with educating kids overseas, it’s important to get your kids different exposure and understand both the good (where in western country you get such low tax, full time maid for $450/month) and bad sides of Singapore (no minimum wage when unemployed, work stress).
    It just depends on your own personal situation

  21. turned 55 says:

    Hi, well said indeed.
    just to share a little. M an ordinary local citizen and had travelled while representing past employers. It does truely get to have that sort of experience in life if u can think rationally to understand what is right and wrong and whether its good or bad in life.
    During my late 30s into 40s, I was already pretty skeptic and pessimistic abt much of policies frm our gov. Though I had my ups and downs in my past career paths, I only thold myself I am not smart enough. I also told I will strife to achieve enough to survive after till todate elsewhere outside. At least, I m able to take control on my own and of my own finance. No matter how little or much, the most important issue, its that I m able to control and manage whats mine.

    I do also encourage those who can help, pls help the others to get the chance to go out, if better bring their families altogether, just like those PRC in SINGAPORE. Ignore the quality of life in other country for awhile, adapt and I confidently say, it will be better in the long term.

    JUST REMEBER, DO NOT BE KIASU N KIASI. Just be youself and strife dedicately and with some hardship. Its better than our hometown for sure todate.

  22. kookooo says:

    Don’t be conned by these msians. Most msian work in sgupon graduation.How come they don’t work in msia? What is the problem with the govt?

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