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Tuesday May 15th 2018

29-Year-Old Malay Engineer: 5 Reasons Why I Decided To Look For Work Abroad

Each year, thousands of well qualified Singaporeans move abroad to look for work and a large majority of them stay on with many becoming citizens of that adoption country. Today, we feature Fadil, a Malay engineer who could not find ready employment here and yearn to search for opportunities abroad. There is clearly some form of racial discrimination against the Malay community here.

Describe a bit about yourself e.g. personal particulars, educational qualification, work experience.

I am a Malay man reaching 29 soon. I have an engineering Master’s from a local university, a year’s experience in project management (contract job) and have been in the wilderness of unemployment for 2 years now.

Where are you living now and why do you choose that location?

I’m still here in Singapore. Your article on Ms Asha was quite inspiring, so I’m taking baby steps to apply for a work visa as per our email correspondence. Sometimes I wished I made the move much earlier to spare myself the tedium of job applications and fruitless interviews.

It is a downright depressing experience – most of your readers will readily identify with this classic line delivered with conviction andHollywoodpanache. “You will hear from us in 1 or 2 weeks”, a month or more has passed and still not a call from them.

Did you face any adjustment problem initially when you make the move? Any regrets so far?

Not applicable.

How is the family coping currently? Are they happy or do they want to move back to Singapore?

All of us are still based in Singapore unfortunately. My family’s financial situation isn’t too bad, but I’ve long sensed that my contribution was sorely missed. I have been actively looking for a full time job, but nothing has come out of it. Employers conveniently give the lame excuse that I am overqualified or not experienced enough for any entry-level jobs.

The truth is employers have only foreign workers in mind. Even if they can barely muster a proper statement in English, to employers they’re gold. The government must be held solely responsible for this and much more, but their “efforts” (if one can call it that) to correct their mistakes are at best, commendably laughable. There will always be loopholes that employers can exploit.

What precious lessons did you learn from living abroad? Will you do it again if given the choice?

Although I have never been overseas before, I’ve talked to a few of my friends who had such experience. They gained independence, learnt to view life and work differently and more positively as opposed to the Asian mindset and most importantly, are maximising their potential to the fullest.

Opportunities like these do not exist here inSingapore, more so for people of my race.

Was it difficult to get jobs while staying abroad? Describe your job search experience and how different it is from Singapore.

The general feedback is that the job market is far more positive and employee-friendly in Australia/New Zealand as compared to Asian countries. Please let me get back to you on this once I’m inAustralia?

Do you want to return to Singapore eventually or prefer to settle down in your new place permanently?

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose to leave Singapore at all. My parents are not in the best of health, especially my mother. I can’t event count on my siblings to take care of them either. Ideally I would be close to my parents while raising a family of my own.

Now it seems that too many factors have conspired to drive me out of my own country. The foreign “talents”, high costs of living, the very thought of taking out enormous bank loans just for a house, racial stereotyping and discrimination, the list goes on. It is often said that the problems of today are harsh indicators of the state of the future – I can’t find any evidence to dispute this statement. It will probably get worse in the future, so the only logical solution is to settle down in Australia permanently. When my financial situation is more stabilised, I will bring my parents over to retire in comfort. They deserve it.

What are your main reasons for wanting to move overseas?

Here are my top five reasons for wanting to move overseas.

Top of the stack – the unfavourable job market and job security. Other than the obvious social problems associated with the foreign “talents”, employers generally (or prepare to) drop you at the most minute sign of economic hardship. Your contributions count for nothing if you’re not at the top of the pecking order. With employers are mercenary as them, is it any wonder staff loyalty is now a luxury premium?

Second, the Asian mentality that is terribly obsessed with work and professional success. The whole “work-life balance” concept is nothing more than a farce. Employers literally drive their subordinates to the floor. They are expected to work harder, faster and for longer hours. All in exchange for measly petty gains like a miniscule profit margin. If you don’t comply, there is that Filipino, Indian, Chinese or Myanmarese who would gleefully take over your position. Reservist makes it even harder to swallow – be gone for two weeks and you might find your position usurped.

Worse is this insistence that one is equally conversant in Mandarin. The stance that most employers take is of blind and illogical subservience to all thingsChina, as if they are going to conquer the world one day. To me, only English is the medium of instruction and business, while Malay is our national language.

Third, the ever increasing cost of living. I don’t think this needs further explanation.

Fourth, stagnant wages. I can’t stomach the fact that Singaporean professionals, except those in finance, are amongst the lowest paid in the world. Further, in tough economic times, you would receive a sizeable pay cut (if you’re unlucky to survive retrenchment), but employers keep theirs to the minimum. When the economy recovers, theirs would be the first to be reinstated to pre-recession levels and even receive generous bonuses. Where is the justice? I would rather work in a country where my skills are recognised for its worth, and not just serve as some disposable statistic.

Fifth – 30-year loan for an HDB flat. Add 10 years if you’re buying your own car. How does one start a family while servicing hefty loans? Plus, not even first time couples are guaranteed a roof over their heads.

All five reasons are highly inter-related, even a secondary school student can see there are some political undertones. In any case, it would be hard enough if not impossible, to carve my future inSingapore.

What is your advice for those Singaporean migrants who have newly move abroad?

First of all, my heartiest congratulations. You’ve made that bold step towards achieving your dreams and aspirations. It also means that such opportunities to pursue that passion or interest probably don’t exist inSingapore, which is hardly surprising.

My advice is, as a guest or a newly minted citizen in another country, you should do your best to assimilate into their culture. It doesn’t mean changing your accent overnight or pretending like you’ve lived there all your life though. Many of us felt highly indignant at the way the immigrants and foreign “talents” have muddied our national identity and attempted to turn our own country into their backyard. So spare a thought for your newly adopted country.

Any last words from you?

I used to foolishly think that we were living in the best country in the world in terms of security, jobs supply, education, political stability and whatnot. But I’ve woken up, this is the new and constant reality. We Malay graduates, no matter how highly qualified will always face discrimination or unjust stereotypes in the workplace and society. The labour market here is intensely cruel, our political leaders no longer of the character, integrity and humility our country deserves and the weight of expectations from a time long past will surely crush your backs in today’s context.

An ex-university mate succinctly described my situation in one line. “Why restrict yourself toSingapore?”. I was dumbfounded.  I realised I had unwittingly set invisible limits on myself. Fortunately, I still have youth and health on my side, so I can still afford to take a gamble by venturing overseas. For my Singaporean brothers and sisters, I would encourage you to do so too, especially if you have a young family or are still single.

 End of interview and thank you.

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Reader Feedback

45 Responses to “29-Year-Old Malay Engineer: 5 Reasons Why I Decided To Look For Work Abroad”

  1. Kev Jang says:

    To the engineer mentioned above, I have gone through a similar situation to yours here in Singapore. The situation here has actually evolved beyond merely race discrimination or whatever to include a refusal to employ anyone who is “overqualified”(which includes those with Master’s and PhDs). Unless you are one with networks of people who can help you to get a good job somewhere, it might be better indeed to learn to move out. I am not sure if it is that bad in other Asian countries compared to the west. While it is true that there is generally better work-life balance in the west, because they value family and allow people to knock off on time to take care of their family, some people work 2 jobs to make ends meet owing to high costs. That was what I observed in Canada largely. Gone are the days when one could just stay on doing only one job and think that it could earn them enough money , owing to the wage cuts and hiring freezes in companies. I am for the idea of you moving out though, and leaving behind Singapore, even if it is to a nearby country (Malaysia, Indonesia, or so on). A lot of Singaporeans are still used to the comfort zone mindset and have not learnt to explore other Asian countries in the fear that their quality of life could be compromised, but some of these Asian countries actually treat Singaporeans well and pay them at expatriate rate better than in the western countries sometimes, owing to need. My advice is this, just like what your friend said: do not restrict yourself to only one country; take a variety of options, so that you can decide later what you want. One poster on another entry has said that there are many Singaporeans who have taken advantage of this window of opportunity to move to other Asian countries to work for the experience and so on, and that this window of opportunity does not last forever too. I hope that your life picks up soon in this area of job hunting! No one wants to leave Singapore per se, unless he or she has issues with the social system(which is what we are going through), but till things change on a major scale, we have to work our way around and find alternatives.

    • Fadil says:

      To Kev,
      Yes you’re right to say we SGians are too used to a life of comfort at home. I think one hurdle to making that all important step towards greater freedom and independence overseas is homesickness. It will affect all, unless we could bring 1 or two of our family members along.
      Also agree on the new norm of job hunting – building a network we can readily tap on if somethung unfortunate occurs during our present career. Gone are the days where job ads in the newspapers and job agents were sufficient to get by.
      Woah I’m not exactly sure about the employment prospects in Canada. Last I heard, a fresh grad engineer working in the mining industry could earn at least $100K pa!! I’ve also observed that this golden window of generous pay packages won’t last forever, hence we should mobilise ourselves for our own good. It does no favour to anyone, especially ourself if we were to remain stuck here, deluded into thinking that the situation will improve. The govt is not here to help empployees;they’re only here to help themselves and their tax revenue by securing the interest of employers.

      • Kev Jang says:

        Fadil, I understand your predicament especially because I am leaving myself to work in another Asian country for 3 years , in between applying for a Canadian residency. I came back around the end of last year before the New Year, and discovered a real whole world of a difference where Singaporeans are by far getting colder and more materialistic in the name of money. The most terrible thing people can do is to assume that your life’s worth is built on money, and some people assume that I entered my field of work–academia and research in university–for the sake of money! Until Singaporeans learn to let go of this materialism, I doubt that I will come back here again. I have been to various other countries like South Korea and the USA and Canada, and even these countries’ citizens do not worship money the same way Singaporeans do. Either way, when you do go to Australia or overseas, do enjoy the experience there. A person can actually go overseas not liking the experience and focus on the negatives, when there are about as many positives in it. Unlike you, I am the only one in my family who actually moved and still moves around overseas, and my parents are unlikely to want to migrate owing to age(my dad and mum themselves say that as much as they dislike this current government, and hates the social climate of ‘work till you die’, they do not have a choice but to stay because they are not versed like the younger generation in English), and none of my family members will come along with me on any of my moves, so I cope with greater loneliness than you. But this is a necessary rites of passage, especially since your family might not always be with you, and you just learn to make do with whatever you can have. My advice to you when you are overseas too is to find a circle of friends who can support and encourage you, since we can choose our friends. For one thing, I recently discovered that during my long-term stays overseas in Canada before, I have rarely stuck around with Sin gaporeans and a lot of my friends are actually Canadians, contrary to what some uninformed Singaporeans say about being a 2nd-class citizen elsewhere. The phrase is a stupid phrase for me, and also, Singaporeans do not obviously want to stick around with other people and fail to admit their narrow-mindedness mostly. When overseas, do find people of an international background, even should they be non-Asians. That much is an experience you won’t have in Singapore.

  2. Teo says:

    Be realistic when you get to Australia (for that matter any developed country). Whatever experience you may have in Singapore does not count all that much and you may start lower than what you were in Singapore. After all nobody can verify your experience in Singapore so companies will be conservative and offer a lower salary with the intent of increasing it when you have proven yourself. If you are prepared to work your way up and take the time to prove yourself you will do well. Just be aware not to fall into the same trap that most Singaporeans do and compare it with what they left behind. Just as an example, my salary went up by 50% in 4 years and the company broke its own salary adjustment policy by adjusting my pay within 6 months instead of the normal 12 months after I had proven myself.

    Take the time to know the locals and assimilate. When we first moved to Australia we refused to mix around with any Singaporeans (neither did we seek them out) but built a circle of friends and did our best to become Australians. Australians are mostly colour blind and will treat you as who you are, not your skin colour or origin, as long as you do not try to prove yourself as better than them. I have NEVER experienced any racism in my four years here (my son’s best friend was Romanian and my daughter’s are Russian and British), and they respect you for who you are, not how you dress and where you live. We still do not seek our Singaporeans as we no longer see ourselves as Singaporeans (we are now Australians and have given up SG citizenship). We raise our kids as Australian and they are proud to be. The second class citizen nonsense is just PAP propaganda.

    Australia is not a cheap place to live but neither is it expensive. The country is big enough for you to live the way you choose to, and you can live affordably or splurge. The society does not drag you along and Australians are more than happy to accommodate you as long as you do not impose unduly on them. Take your time to search for a job that you are interested in because you love the line of work. As your friend had told you, the world is big, so do not restrict yourself to Singapore. Once you are free of the place you will realise how constraining it was. Lastly, for mining industry, yes it does pay very well but there are sacrifices. Just make sure you are prepared for that sort of life style before you step into it. Fly-in fly-out and living remote without access to anything is not for everyone, but it is a good way to save some money and get a head start in life.

    • Kev Jang says:

      @ Fadil, as someone who is moving to work in another developed country but farther up north(Japan), I would also recommend the same thing that Teo gave to you as a piece of advice. We must put aside the usual expectations that we have in Singapore, and remember that our experience in Singapore is not the same as local experience in that country. I knew a taxi-driver from India who told me that his wife had a PhD from India but had to start from scratch in a pharmaceutical company before they promoted her to the head of her department. She proved herself though and is doing very well.

      Also, you would do well to accept their culture and their language(if there are language barriers to be surmounted, learn a new language by all means, although I believe that it is probably unnnecessary in Australia with the emphasis on English, although you might want to really pick up Aussie English and learn to get used to it). I have lived in Canada for years and did not find any of the problems assimilating with them, and have many good friends who are Canadians. In addition, I can speak relatively well in North American English if I am called to under circumstances. It’s a part of assimilating and you will want to put that on your priority list when there. Forget all the crap that the media in Singapore has put into us about whatever American English or British English being important. That is total bull.

      (I find that Canadians and North Americans in general are more willing to accept what we have been used to calling “failure” in Singaporean terms, and while working towards my residency in Canada, dependent on any links in terms of jobs–even though I qualify for the skilled labour category and also have lived there long enough–I believe that you would do well to remember that.) Australians are rather similar in this aspect of the adventurous spirit as I discovered from a few co-workers there who actually have dual(AUS-CAD) citizenships. Also, do read up as much as you can about the country and the area you are moving to, and get to know more people who live in the area as potential contacts and friends before you move. That will ease your transition more smoothly. It’s not a must, but it really helps. Like what Teo also said, do not stick around or look around for Singaporeans. You will appreciate it in fact when you meet people of various stripes and nationalities because you will enjoy the multicultural social circle you are in. Australia and Canada and the USA are by far amongst the most multicultural societies in their cities (although I won’t say that applies to towns and suburbs), and the people there can be a big welcome change from the homogenuous society we have in Singapore, which seems rather manufactured in fact in contrast with other homogenuous societies like Korea or Japan(which is by default owing to uniformity of race and language, unlike our race-engineered immigration policies).

      All in all, because I understand what it feels like to have to leave for your own sake and family’s, do your best! No one wants to live life with regrets. The worst thing you can have is wasted potential that never gets explored or developed. Our government and country has totally failed on this count of recognizing the potential in our citizens and allowing them chances to develop it.

    • Fadil says:

      Thanks Teo. There is truth in your advice, I concur wholeheartedly. I think we all know by now that the ruling party has tried all sorts of nonsense to discourage us from moving abroad. It’s hilarious coming from them!

      No matter how low the pay would be, it definitely beats whatever MNCs or local organisations in Singapore would offer, if they ever offered a position miraculously to me instead of a foreign “talent”. I understand this is in part due to the high tax imposed on Aussie workers.

      But I’m fine with it, I just want to be in a country which respects me for my academic achievements (which I really fought hard for, being a polytechnic graduate)and what I can bring to their plate, instead of being a worthless commodity. By the way, I mentioned the mining industry as an example hahaha, though to be truthful, whatever job comes my way I would be really thankful.

      • yan Chang says:

        Hi Fadil :
        Yr employment situation is an issue that resonates with me so I would like to share a market info with you. I live in both Sydney and Melb. According to my Aussie friends here in Melb, it seems that it is easy to get jobs as dishwasher/kitchen-hand at mining plants or companies in Perth. The pay is v good : A$80/- per hr(gross before tax).
        But the disadvantage is that such workers are required to live within that mining township, without much social life or amenities for recreation like metropolitan cities elsewhere in Auss. Some of my uni friends, go for such work to earn a few yrs of savings, then stop work to study or look for proper prof jobs.

        Mining industries in Auss will be short of workers( of all types) in the coming years ahead as Australia has signed many longterm contracts to supply China and India. Offshore petroleum companies on rigs( off Western Australia also need skilled engineers, cooks, technicians, electricians etc) and they pay v well. Quite a few of my friends whom I worked with at nursing homes in Sydney(a few yrs ago) are now working there, with v gd pay, with work visa or PR offer.They are young Indian technicians or engineers. They struggled against all odds to grow roots into Auss successfully. Try to look out for such industries to make inroads into the Auss employment mrkt. Don’t have ego about your academic qualifications as the employment criteria is v different to SG. Social citizenship, community values and good relationship with fellowmen are impt qualities that Australians will gauge you by. Hope you will find something suitable to survive in Auss, to grow your career path. I wish you all the best, Yan

        • Fadil says:

          HI Yan Chang!

          Thanks for your feedback and advice. I also have friends working in the energy sector. They had nothing but praise for the system there too.

          Well, I don’t exactly have a life here in Singapore either! Most of the time, I’m stuck between the four walls of my bedroom. So, I think it won’t be much of a culture shock if it ever came to that! My frieds have also seemingly disappeared predictably. Either they’re married and busy running their lives (understandable), or can’t be bothered to hear from me again (true account).

          I can readily identify with Aussie values, as a person who has some religious beliefs and that life does not revolve around work. Personally I can’t stand the Asian mindset which the govt has tried to drill into our heads throughout our schooling years. It placed an unhealthy emphasis on the “nobility” and importance of work, results and economic growth and ended up overtaxing our mental well-being. All other things, eg. family, personal life, takes a back seat.

          Lastly, I rather work for an employer who does not see my high qualifications as a shortcoming (threat, bargaining chip to negotiate for higher pay, or ego trip) but recognise it as a personal achievement and a sign of self-motivation. One of my friends has not one but THREE degrees and his Aussie employers were fine with it.

          But, just as you’ve mentioned – he got the job based on his personal ethics and merits that echoed Aussie views, not just on the strength of his academic achievements.


  3. Christine Sng Mechtler says:

    I am so sorry to read of your situation and i wish you nothing but the very, very best. Go for it! Do well and don’t come back. Let your descendants have a better life.

    • Fadil says:

      Thanks Christine!
      I guess I’m not the only young graduate to face such a problem. Every SGian is affected, from fresh graduates to mid-career professionals. Even the elderly are forced to work till their coffins beckon! This is inhumane treatment if you ask me. No doubt, my future no longer lies in this country ruined by ill-considered policies.

  4. Sharil says:

    We are distributor for components looking for engineering graduates interested in QA position.
    If you’re interested, please email at ibnu_amir @

  5. Malik says:

    Hi fadil,
    Glad to hear your moving on. I’m too stuck in a precarious situation. I’ve recently completed my degree in a offshore Murdoch campus. I would like to seek your advice on how you managed to find a job in Australia? Kindly contact me at your help will be greatly appreciated.

    • Fadil says:

      Hi Malik, and everyone else who have read this article!

      Please pardon me if the article is a little misleading. I haven’t found a job yet! I’m still taking baby steps, and gosh they are tough. One reason why I’m still stuck here in sunny Sillypore is because the Aussie work visa is expensive. S$4000 to be specific as an independent candidate (meaning you source for your own home, job and other necessities). This sum of cash will not be refunded in the event the visa is not approved. Gilbert also commented it will take some S$5000 to get a migration agent to do the nitty-gritty.

      That’s why I’m sending out my CV to the companies in Aussie straightaway, hoping to secure an employer sponsored nomination (they will pay for your visa if approved).

      Plus, you need to get copies of your essentials eg. NRIC, educational certificates and so on, certified by legal professionals appointed by the Aussie Govt. Its not cheap – S$35 PER page. I don’t have that kind of money to splash. There are also plenty of things to do once you’ve secured a visa and job.

      FYI, the approved legal professionals/government servants are:-
      Justice of the Peace
      Commissioner of Oaths
      Staff of the Australian Embassy
      Notary Public (Lawyers who can practise internationally)
      A member or staff of a professional body in Australia
      (eg. Institution of Engineers, Australia if you’re an engineering graduate)

      In any case, do read up on your eligibility and the requirements you need to fulfil on their website. Its if I’m not wrong. In case you’re wondering, the visa and job application is such a tedious and painful process, but that is to be expected of any country seeking to control and better manage influx of talented migrants. I can’t understand why our “first-class” govt did not do the same. The end result is, we are paying a heavy price for their mistakes.


      • yan Chang says:

        Hi Fadil and Malik:
        Pls contact me :
        I think I can refer both of you to a wonderful couple(wife is SG-Malay Muslim and husband is NZ-Caucasian Muslim convert). who could network both of you into work possibilities in NZ… NZ is the stepping stone into Auss. Once you get work visa from an employer there(Auckland-Hamilton-Wgtn) and work for 3 continuous yrs, you can easily apply NZ PR. On this, you can transfer into Auss as NZ PR, which is equivalent to Auss PR in work eligibility.

        I have known them helping other Asians connect, out of goodwill. I will dig out this contact for you from my CHC diary…If you get job offer first, then the work visa expenses can be negotiated. Another landing pt is Fiji and Mauritius : both places are v close to Auss and NZ and they use Auss currency so you don’t lose out. Fiji residents come in and out of Auss like Sporeans into Malaysia or Batam island… Open your mind… things will open up for you. Be positive. Regards, Yan

        • yan Chang says:

          Hi Fadil :
          It may not be a gd idea to send out yr CVs to Auss companies “blindly”… most get thrown every morning by the receptionists who clear the overnight emails/faxes each morning… I have heard so many talk about this …

          You do need “inside” knowledge or contact points with someone in whatever firms, who is keen to try you out or refer you to someone he/she knows may need a new staff. The common folks here can be said to be “closed minded” as they don’t wish to be troubled on other people’s affairs.. which is common also in SG.

          Hence, you need to do networking with known individuals who are Asian-friendly, with gd EQ, with a rich life experience and strong sense of humanity : people with religious values from the 4 main faiths of this world canbe starting pts for you; and others who like to serve their fellowmen in the community(think “Vincent Wiujeysingha” etc). Start communicating on email, FB..
          I will give you some contacts. Email me. regards, Yan

          • Fadil says:

            Yan Chang,

            Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, thinking back I think you’re right. Perhaps it was a bad idea after all to dump my CVs on the companies.

            Really appreciate your help! I have no preference, NZ sounds as good as Aussie.


  6. admin says:

    Hi Fadil

    I think if you use a migration agent I am sure that he will look into all the tedious processes.

    Hope this helps and yes Sydney is nice now with it’s cool weather and cosmopolitan culture.

    I also read that there is still the huge need to hire engineers here especially in the mining industry.

    I will try to look out abit for you here.

    Cheers and don’t give up k?

    Gilbert Goh

  7. nora says:

    Hi Fadil, I understand where you are coming from and have been in your position. Don’t give up hope. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. If at the moment you do not have any ‘responsibilities’ (family, kids, mortgage), perhaps you should look into a working holiday visa for Australia.

    It is not a full work permit, valid for a year (although you can re-apply for a 2nd one) and you are only limited to certain categories of jobs to fund your holiday. However, taken in the right spirit, it might be an invaluable experience. Employers usually look favourably on candidates who has a little local experience. Plus it would be a good chance to see whether you can hidup merantau.

    Living ‘merantau’ is not all a bed of roses. There are sacrifices and hard work, of course, but let me assure you the days are exciting and everything is a new adventure.

    • Fadil says:

      Hi Nora!

      Yea I mentioned somewhere that homesickness is a stumbling block towards independent overseas living. I know it’s not easy, but it must be done. It’s hopeless here in SG.

      Working holiday visa…hmm ok I shall check this one out. Thanks for this info!


  8. Nava says:

    There is the employer – recruitment agency nexus that has to be additionally considered in trying to understand why so many locals are passed over in job placements. When a foreigner (the so-called FT) is hired, the recruitment agency collects at least one month of salary from the newly hired. This revenue is not available to the recruitment agency in the event that a local is hired. Why put a local into the job when a placement of a FT would bring in that extra fee? One cannot help but get upset with the government for throwing our local boys and girls to the ‘wolves of the ‘market’.

    In years long past, government departments knowingly served as training grounds for young graduates without experience. How else would they gain experience without a job to start with, when every job requires one, two …. years of experience. Today, even jobs for government(-related) bodies seem to be routed through recruitment agencies. It is being said that applications to even the civil service do not now care for the applicant’s place of birth; what matters is only if the applicant is a citizen. That is, in the case of a ‘citizen’, it does not matter if one is born in Singapore or not. It seems that the place of birth matters only in the case of male ‘citizens’ for the purpose of drawing them into National Service, initially for two years (full time) and thereafter for up to 20 years or more of in-camp training, IPPT, etc.

    Such are changes that have been progressively worked into the system, whilst the people were distracted by their trust and faith in their political leaders. Those changes are now hitting our locals real hard in the job market, apart from the handicaps and disadvantages they have to bear with while making their way through the education system.

    It is really a very sorry state of affairs. We (the citizens) elected a new Parliament more than four months ago, in May 2011. It looks like a long time now since the General Election, under the crushing weight of the problems faced by ordinary people, Yet the newly elected Parliamentarians have still not assembled in Parliament House to discuss and debate, and find solutions to the woes of the people! Whilst those among them who have found (re-)appointment as ministers are already making (or not making) or amending (or not amending) policies and rules. Even as the Parliament that is meant to serve as the voice of the people is still in sleep mode!

    What’s happening?
    Who is really and ultimately running this country and for whose ultimate interest and benefit?

  9. Ervin says:

    Hi Fadil,

    I’m 28 this year, I can relate to how you feel, because i’m facing the same situation you’re in as well. I’ve obtained a Masters degree in Finance from Australia back in Dec, 2009. I stayed for a couple of months more to look for a job, but the banking sector were badly affected.. and I returned home to SG. It took me more than 6 mths to land my first job in a Bank, dealing with bank operations (settlements). Before this, I wasn’t even selected for a single interview.. just when I thought things are just beginning to look up for me, I found myself out of job.. again. It was a 6 mths contract position and the bank didn’t have the headcount to offer me a permanent position. Of course i’m disappointed. Currently, I’m also experiencing what you’ve mentioned.. its been 6 mths and I’ve been applying for jobs here.. going to interviews but to no avail, they either tell u that u’re not experienced enough or over-qualified. It’s really frustrating that they would give you the impression that they might employ you, but you’ll never hear from them again. Its really ironic that the bank which I previously worked with, employs quite a handful of foreigners who are a few yrs older than me with no experience at all. Why would they give foreigners with no experience a chance to work, but turn back on fellow S’poreans?

    I was really shocked when I came back here 2 yrs ago to find the massive influx of foreigners.. it wasn’t that bad when i left SG in 2008. It feels like a different SG back then.. yes, my friends and family are still here.. but somehow it doesn’t feel like the place I used to call home. You can see crowds everywhere, people speaking in unfamiliar languages.. Sometimes, there are hardly any breathing space when u take the public transport. Housing, food, and the ever ridiculous car prices are sky-rocketing, I feel that they are definitely not worth the price you’re paying for.

    I’m also looking into overseas for job opportunities.. I know its tough because I don’t have any contacts. sigh.. but at the same time i do feel hopeless in SG. I’m still at loss.. Anyway, I do hope that you find something outside SG, live the ideal life you’ve always wanted to!

    • Fadil says:

      Hi Ervin!

      I know exactly how you feel – that sickening feeling of betrayal by both the govt and employers. Believe me, during these 2 years, I had a smattering of interviews amounting to less than the digits on my hands. One position which I interviewed for 3 rounds was readvertised 3 weeks ago. Needless to say, my morale has taken a beating.

      I’m also at a loss to explain the sudden change in both the job market and the diversity of our populace (littered with too many foreign invaders eroding our identities). We’re the ones with better communication and presentation skills, yet we’re being overlooked by mostly foreign “talents” with zero working experience and inaudible pidgin English. Plenty of my friends have feedback the same observation. I definitely think all of this is politically motivated, but I shall hold my breath on this one lest the powers above decide to unleash their cyberdogs on me.

      Why did you leave Australia after just 2 months? You could have stayed a little longer – a SGian friend of mine also took a while before he got his job in the mining industry. But I guess its not too late for you – quickly apply for a work permit in Aussie (if that’s your intended location). You have invested in their education system and that is always an advantage.

      Come 2012, the Aussie govt will introduce drastic tightening of their visa policies. It’s called “Expression of Interest”. While bordering a bit on the draconian side, it shows their govt is serious about protecting their people’s interests while ours still aren’t even after GE2011.

      I’m trying to stay positive too. I was morbidly obese for these two years but I’ve adopted a more healthy lifestyle since Feb (it started with Remedial Training ahhhahaha).


  10. Kev J. says:

    Fadil, I think that the EOI rule is similar to the one in NZ because NZ also applies that to aspiring immigrants and you have to chalk up points to be able to go there first as a person migrating on a work visa. Then you apply to convert the visa to a PR when you have a job there. It looks rather strangely weird to Singaporeans, but it is normal to protect the boundaries of one’s countries from migration. Don’t lose hope. The news and government have not been honest to admit their failures, but we know, and are working to improve our lives. Continue saving some money and maybe some part-time work can be done in the interim for yourself, so that you get by. All the best!

    • Fadil says:

      Hi Kev and Ervinm

      Is it true? Then this is the last year we get to apply for the temp visa. Next year onwards this very affordable visa will be scrapped in favour of this EOI. I’m also facing difficulty applying for the temp visa anyway as my university (one of the three local unis) is astonishingly not recognised by the DIMC. Funnily enough some unknown colleges from India and Africa are…logic goes out of the window again.


      • Kev Jang says:

        Fadil, I know more about the EOI by New Zealand. It’s not as complicated as it looks. You are highly-trained labour and highly skilled. Although the translatability of skills is an issue, and at one point, you might have to try to do this thing called opting for a lesser-paying job, you still are subject to minimum wage policies even in Australia and NZ. Millions are trying to leave Singapore, as much as the ones from elsewhere who want to get into Singapore. Sometimes, in this kind of situation, we probably have no choice but to opt for the most practical. But do be happy wherever you are. We owe that to ourselves.

        • Fadil says:

          Hi Kev and Ervin,

          Kev, could you explain more? Let’s communicate thru email. Mine is

          • Ervin says:

            Hi Fadil,

            I didn’t stay on becos the job market was really bad at that time, even my some of my college friends there have relocated to other states to try their, my student visa and rent contact were all expiring soon. Of cos i could apply for a temp visa, and try to find a job, but it could take mths, and i have no intention for my parents to be financing my expenses..

            I may be wrong, but I feel that it would be better to try and secure a job offer from nz/aust first and go there with a working visa, at least then you would have some sort of income to finance your expenses, and who knows you may just get lucky and they might just sponsor your visa. Of cos, the longer you work for them, the more points you can obtain = the higher your chances of obtaining a PR. I guess the real hurdle for me is that I don’t have the necessary contacts , and the relevant exp.. so that they are more willing to employ me.

            I’m not really sure about the EOI, but i think its some kind of point system they use to access your visa eligibility. For example, if you are opting for a profession or providing a skill the country desire, if you hold a degree from their college, if you have work experience etc. all these constitutes to the eligibility of getting a PR and the points vary.

            I found these from the web

            For NZ:

            For Aust:

  11. admin says:

    Hi Fadil,

    If you need a migrant agent here in Sydney for advice do let me know.

    I will try to get it for you asap.

    All the best!

    Gilbert Goh

  12. Fadil says:

    Hi Ervin,

    The temp visa is actually affordable, think its A$270. This was the visa I’m trying to apply for but found it hard to digest that they didn’t recognise my uni (but they recognised distance learning courses associated with their local unis).

    The EoI is not the same as the points system that qualifies one for PR/migration. According to the limited info available, basically you lodge your application with them, and it may be stored in their database for up to 2 years. From this database, the govt will select and invite only the brightest talents over, while the rest remain stranded. Mr Kev also mentioned earlier that NZ also employs the same system despite their dire need for skilled professionals.

    I don’t know of any other less costly work visas to apply for other than the temp visa/subclass 476 (the GSM as an independant applicant cost est S$4000, or FOC if sponsored by employer). But I agree that the best option is to get a job offer first before proceeding. As to how, I’m not so sure as I have been advised that ppl in Aussie too adopt HR practise similar to SG’s (must be a global phenomenon). So sending an online application is a no-no, at least in my case as I haven’t heard a whisper from them….

    By the way, I’ve just completed my IELTS paper…not sure how the results will turn out. Getting my undergrad qualifications recognised by the accessing authority is the first step…but other than that its a blur.


    • Gilbert Goh says:

      Hi Fadil,

      Looks like you are quite serious in moving over to the land of Oz.

      My advice is to come over first as then you are nearer to the source of employment.

      There are many job openings at the mines if you are keen and the pay is attractive: A$120, 000 a year.

      I am sure that if you are found suitable, they won’t mind doing up the work visa for you as there is an acute shortage of mining engineers there.

      It’s best, at first, to go for a temp holiday work visa which lasts a year. You can apply it here when you have landed.

      You can also rent a small room first costing between A$100 – A$150 a week. The one I am renting now at West Ryde (about 50 mins from city) costs me A$150 weekly. I can knock it down to around A$120 if I am staying on for the long term.

      This way you can go and apply for jobs with employment agencies and get into face to face interviews with them.

      If not, how are you going to attend interviews or get a work visa?

      Hope this has help you.

      Take care.


      • Fadil says:

        Hi Gilbert!

        Yes I shall apply for one soon. Indeed I am serious about gaining employment in Oz. It’s better than sitting around in Sillypore doing almost nothing.

        I was just following my PR friend’s advice-he suggested a phone interview first. If it leads to a face-to-face interview appointment (via actual premises or web conference) then this demonstrates the employer’s vested interest in me. So that was just part of my first step…along with getting the IELTS paper done and my qualifications recognised by the accessing authority.

        But slowly I think the working holiday seems to be a better proposition, even though the choice of occupations is rather limited.

        Thanks for the tip of rental rates in Sydney! Most probably my intended destination is still Perth as I can save on lodging with my PR friend. Never mind if I can’t get a job as an engineer immediately (though that would be ideal), I think even a job as a cleaner is OK ahhaha.


        • admin says:

          Ya ok Fadil Perth is nice too and they have a little Malay community there.

          The one-year holiday work visa will help you alot in settling down and also to apply for work.

          If the employers find you suitable, they will then assist by applying for a work visa 457 class (skilled worker category) for you.

          Its difficult to get work abroad when you are still sitting in Singapore.

          Hope this has help you and do email KW here who is now based in Perth and offer to help engineers find jobs – thanks KW!



  13. KW says:

    Hi Fadil, I have sent you an email at the address mentioned in one of your replies above. When there is a will there is a way. I know as I have uprooted my whole family from Wooodlands, S’pore to sunny side Perth in 2003 without any prospect of work. My wife and I just quit our careers, sold our HDB flat, pack our belongings and bought a one-way ticket for the 5 of us to Perth. With the help of friends (we do not have any relative in Perth) I managed to land a contract job. Never looked back since then. Proud to call Australia home now.

    • Ervin says:

      Hi KW,
      I admire your courage to leave everything behind, and decided to take the plunge into an unfamiliar land.. but i guess its nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m glad that you’re settling well and your family has been very supportive. I’m currently in a similar situation as Fadil and we have been communicating on this through email. If you have read one of the replies above (post no.9).

      I’ve been job hunting for 6 months and going to several interviews but to no avail. Some said I was over qualified, others say that i’m too inexperienced, which just keeps me wondering where am i gonna get the exp if they don’t want to hire me. The rest just tell me to wait for a week or 2 and never got back. I’m just trying to see if i can find any opportunities in Aust, because its just disappointing here. Btw, I attain my uni qualifications in Brisbane and have studied there for a total of 2.5yrs.

      Just wondering if you have any advice or contacts that might help.
      Please drop me an email at


  14. Malik says:

    Hey guys,

    looks like your one step ahead of me. I will follow your footsteps soon. Do keep in contact with me. :)

    I applaude your courage and determination to venture with your whole family who shared and believed anything is possible. :)

  15. admin says:

    Dear Friends,

    I have the contact of a Singaporean residing now in Perth who has an employment agency down under.

    Do email me if you need his contact.



  16. Nora says:

    Fadil, Malik and anyone who are thinking of migrating :

    Do check out Working Holiday visa in both Australia and New Zealand. It is usually much cheaper and less hassle than a full work permit. Certainly it would be cheaper than the $5K required for a work permit.

    The range of jobs you can take are usually limited and quite possibly you will not be in your dream job that utilise your degree, so to speak.

    Don’t be disheartened. Take this as a stepping stone. At least with this visa, you will be able to work (albeit in a relatively low-skilled job) legally which is very important. You are able to suss out the job market, network and most importantly, try living away from Singapore.

    At the very least, you would already be there to go for interviews. At the moment, no doubt companies everywhere are inundated with hundreds of CVs, not only from Singapore but all over the world and I will not be surprised if they automatically bin a CV where the applicant is not present locally.

    UK used to have a 2-year working holiday visa as well – it is renamed something else now and that was what I started with some 12 years ago.

    However, once you have the working holiday visa, the thing you must remember is you still would have to come to the country and find work on the ground. It is no good to have the visa and still try to secure a job whilst in Singapore. That will not happen.

    • Fadil says:

      Hi Nora,

      I checked with Ervin, another commenter on this article. The holiday visa doesn’t restrict the kind of jobs you can apply for. But, you can only stay with one employer for 6 months max, and its back to finding another employer for the next 6 months.

      Currently, I’m waiting for the IELTS results and then applying for IEAust membership. I have to settle lodging first, I’m waiting to hear from my PR friend but he’s caught up in his work. In any case, tentatively I’ll just find part time work over there while trying out for professional jobs. I’m also keeping in contact with like-minded friends who are fed up with life in SG and keen to make the move too.

      Both Gilbert and you are right on one thing – I need to be in Australia, mind and body, for any interviews…


  17. Fadil says:

    Anyway Nora, mind if you add me as one of your contacts? We can talk more, and maybe share your experience with me and my new friends.

  18. Kev J. says:

    I have a query related to all these comments, although not directly to Australian migration per se. I am currently in my new job somewhere in Japan, but plan to move back to Canada if possible, or somewhere else like New Zealand. The main reasons are due to my field of work(I majored with a PhD in the humanities and am trained to be a lecturer). There is a difference between the skilled labour (under shortage of classes of labour) and Canadian labour experience. Considering that it is relatively hard right now to enter under the slated category of labour classes shortage, do we then go with the category of Canadian local experience? I have worked in the capacity of a university level instructor and also done some other part-time jobs in Canada, and think that ideally as much as I would want to consult with a lawyer about this, I am bound geographically from doing all these, not to mention the language barrier here in Japan. What is the means of language testing done for Canadian immigration? It might differ from the IELTS in Australia.

    • Fadil says:

      Hi Kev,

      I hoped you’ve managed to book a date for the IELTS paper. Don’t worry – the paper isn’t half as tough as the O-levels. You will surely ace it. Personally, I’m still wondering why our O-Level results for English doesn’t suffice for visa application.


  19. Still vote for PAP? says:

    Gov linked companies such as Singapore Technologies are extremely racists against Malays. The say due to security reasons they cannot employ Malays to work because their jobs are concerning security!

    Even thought the gov said cannot discrimate, these companies still discrimate, some times they let their cats out of the bag for the case of Certis Cisco……..


    Majulah Singapura!

    • Fadil says:

      Yes I can attest to that and more. There are lots of incriminating job ads making their rounds and the employers are hastily changing tracks to make sure they don’t get caught red handed. But then again, they will be let off with a light warning…now way will the bloody govt do anything to compromise their relations with employers.

  20. Hack Pou says:

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    Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

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