Letter from Shitty Times Journalist

Comment by Elgin on original post [link]

etoh31 October 2012 14:02

Hi asingaporeanson,

Elgin here. I wrote the piece in ST that you commented on above.

Two points I wanted to highlight, hopefully adding to the debate here.

1) The piece points out that quite clearly that new PRs from Singapore fell even as new PRs from Malaysia, China and India rose. So if your explanation is that Australian immigration policy has been tightened, you also have to explain why the tighter policy is showing up in the Singapore numbers, but not the Malaysia, China and India numbers.

2) The piece also points out that it is not just actual PRs awarded that fell - applications for PRs from Singapore also fell. I can provide some extra numbers here, that were sent to me by the Australian immigration department. In the last 10 years, applications from Singapore fell by about 30%, even though in that same period, applications from China and India tripled and applications from Malaysia rose by about 50%.



Dear Elgin,

We have to understand that applying for an Australian PR visa is not applying for the National Day Parade tickets online. It is not a try for fun or take a punt process. An application costs easily from $3.5k - $8k these days. There is no refund for a rejected application. Thus assuming humans are rational, the key is to look at the correlation between the number of qualified Singaporeans to Australia's tightening policies.

1) The majority of Singaporeans who qualify for Australia PR visa have been PMETs. This has never changed through the years. In fact, the percentage of Singaporean PMETs to skilled professionals (we call them 'blue collar workers' in Singapore) is steadily increasing, because the number of blues are quickly decreasing.

Over the years, as part of the tightening of immigration criteria, Australia removed many PMETs vocations from the SOL list. For example, Aborist used to be on the list but it is no longer today. The number of occupations removed affect Singaporeans adversely, particularly in the engineering field, among the others.

Singapore does not have a diversified education culture as compared to Malaysia, China and India. It is rare to find an Actuary, Land economist, Landscape Architect (that's not a horticulturist), Cartographer and Spartial scientist to name some occupations on the SOL. Whereas you can find plenty of such professionals in Malaysia and especially China and India. You can even find a rocket scientist in China. Let's go into the skilled professionals part. I believe you can see my point now. I've personally known ex-colleagues who obtained their PRs as welders. You may want to look at Korea's figures as well. I'm sure you'll find an increase in Australia PR applications, granted or otherwise.

So does Singapore has her fair share of boilermakers, car mechanics, carpenters and plumbers to name some on the SOL, to apply for the Australian PR? Not a chance. Do Malaysia, China and India have plenty of skilled professionals? I'll leave you to answer that.

That explains 1)

2) The world has seen the growth of China and India for the last 10 years. Gigantic growth is probably an understatement. Can I pose a simple question? Would you accept the fact that through the last decade, Malaysia and particularly China and India has produced an unprecedented of highly educated and qualified people? I'm sure you can, as we can see the spill over effects reach the shores of sunny Singapore.

Is it common sense to conclude the exponential increase of qualified people from India and China translates to an increase in PR applications in Australia, and probably everywhere else in the world?

In contrast, have the number of qualified Singaporeans to Australia's selection criteria increased ? No. In the first place, the fact that we have a dwindling population (I'm referring to REAL Singaporeans here) which already makes it a reality that applications counts are not going to increase, let alone by 50% or 200%, assuming conditions in both countries remain stable which was the case for the past decade.

I'll repose my question to the Straits Times. How did the Straits Times come to conclusion that a falling application rate equates to Singapore being a better place to work and play? If you want to know more 'Jake Teos' of my side of story, I will gladly provide you a wide selection.


  1. Hi asingaporeanson,

    I think we've both expressed our views clearly. What I sought to say has been said both in the original article and in my previous posting.

    I'll leave it to your readers to decide which explanation they find more persuasive.

    But thanks for your feedback.


    1. Yes... I think one can easily discern which explanation is more persuasive, and which is propaganda.

      I understand your predicament, Elgin. You need to protect your ricebowl; those reporters failing to toe the line end up in newspaper Siberia. No worries, mate... have a good one!

    2. Can always quit and be a taxi driver. $7,000 a month salary leh.

    3. sure Elgin, in your report, we all know that in the interests of space, whatever you write is ALWAYS edited by your higher ups for "clarity and conciseness" whatever that means.

      And asingaporeanson has all the space to write thorough and detailed posts and mind you he's not even paid for it or precisely because he's not paid for it! Suggest you start blogging too

  2. This is getting very chim.

    Wasn't there a report by the same paper about 2 weeks prior; "200,000 Singaporeans living abroad. 27% rise in number of citizens overseas since 2003, with Australia the top draw"?

    Where "living aboard" refers to having a registered foreign address or away for a cumulative period of at least 6 months in the past year.

    Any clearer expression of views?

    1. Hi Sydneysider,

      You are referring to this:

      We'll have to get Elgin's colleague, Theresa Tan to enlighten us what's behind the contradiction.

    2. There is no contradiction. Theresa's article - if you read it in full - says Australia has the largest number of Singaporeans, of any foreign country. They have 50,000, out of 200,000 overseas Singaporeans in total. My article - if you read it in full - quotes that exact figure. 50,000 is the whole community. But the rate of change, which is what my article focuses on, is falling. Bew immigrants are falling every year. But because historically migration to Australia was high, it will remain the foreign country with the most number of Singaporeans for many years to come.


    3. I think the article could have been more 'balanced' if it had been discussed in a more 'wholesome' way. It does sound alittle one sided. The figures you may have quoted maybe correct. However, it is does not speak for everyone and in this case, is seen misleading for some who has read it. Personally, the new rules for migration, "by invitation" is a big enough deterrent for those who may have thought of migrating. Thank God i have gotten it! ;)

    4. Elgin,

      If you are studying rate of change, you cannot ignore tightening of immigration policies as a key reason behind the dip. Read this:


      Do note that there had been such changes to immigration rules annually since 2006 which is not on this blog, as I began blogging only last year. There are many Singaporeans who were previously eligible to apply, no longer eligible. That includes myself. There are applicants who were so confused with the ongoing changes that they simply give it up altogether.

      How do I know?

      Since I began blogging, I received 1 year's worth of qualitative data via emails from Singaporeans who seek advice on how to beat the system to come through. These are the people who are missing from your statistics, the people who realised they were no longer eligible and did not submit the costly application which they knew would yield no result.

      It seems apparent that ST has not been objective in interpreting statistics and set their conclusion before seeking for supportive data such as the selective interview of Mr Jake Teo. I am not telling you how to do your job. In real life there are much more to know than what plan statistics can tell.

      If you are interested in this topic, you can further read:




      And an entire blog on this : http://musingfromaotearoa.wordpress.com/


    5. Oh that last link there might be a bit iffy. I'm quite sure an article will be written about how unsafe NZ is and in comparison, how safe Singapore is.

      Which is great, because NZ is full and it's better for Singaporeans to consider the rest of ASEAN as possible destinations, since in 3 years time they'll probably be free to move around relatively freely: http://www.aseansec.org/18757.htm

    6. Yep, that is why is Chim.

      “…rate of change …falling” that caused a “Sharp Drop in Singaporean becoming Aussie PR” has no effect or maybe supported the “27% Rise in number of citizens overseas since 2003, with Australia the top Draw”?

      (Or the Rise is due to citizen overseas having children quicker and in greater quantity, with the most productive ones in Australia)

      Then perhaps “Better opportunity IN S’pore....” must be the reason why the “200,000 Singaporean living abroad, up 27% from 2003”?

      (Singaporeans is leaving because there are too may jobs or money making lobangs IN S’pore)

  3. Yup. Getting confused. Maybe Australia not so good example. If you take Canada, Singaporeans migrating there are increasing! Fact is many locals are migrating abroad whether you like it or not. Maybe Winking doll - your regular reader could tell us more? Hope she will comment soon.

    1. As Elgin has pointed out, his colleague Theresa Tan has written an article on Oct 14, 2012, stating that more Singapore citizens are overseas now compared with year 2003.

      Quote: "There were 200,000 citizens overseas as of June - a 27 per cent increase from 157,100 in 2003."

      Now the next question we need to ask is, has the number of Singapore citizens also increased by 27% from 2003 to 2012?

      According to Statistics Singapore, in 2012 there are 3,285,100 Singapore citizens.
      200,000 out of 3,285,100 = 6.09% of Singapore citizens are overseas.

      I don't have the exact figure for the number of Singapore citizens in 2003, so let's approximate using the 2000 Census figure from Statistics Singapore.
      2,985,900 Singapore citizens (which technically speaking would be lower than the 2003 number given the population trends).
      157,100 out of 2,985,900 = 5.26% of Singapore citizens are overseas.

      In short, the facts: Increasing number and percentage of Singapore citizens reside overseas.

      IMHO: Despite the fact that increasing number and percentage of Singapore citizens reside overseas worldwide, ST selectively chose to a SPECIFIC country (Australia) with decreasing number of Singapore PRs to frame a story it has about the attraction of the growing Singapore economy to its citizens.

  4. My nephew and his spouse came to visit their maternal grandma just last month from Sydney where they have resided and worked for about six years. In our conversation about living in Oz, they said that immigration to Oz is not a easy matter. Only people with the skillsets needed there stand a chance.
    By the way, many Singaporeans have gone to work all over the World either doing their own businesses or sent by their employers. The bulk going to China, India, Hong Kong, Vietnam and elsewhere. Others who are gainfully employed here naturally will not want to leave their families and friends here. So, there should be dwindling emigration of Locals to other lands including Oz. Taking all factors into consideration, it is reasonable to expect less Singaporeans going to settle oversea.

  5. I dunno stats and what nots. And equally confused over articles as such that I read.
    Here's the scenario: My hubby casually mentioned to me about this article (purely reading the caption).. My thoughts were:"... huh?!?! that sounds 'wrong'... no I meant WRONG! "

    ok honestly, I was quite worked up when I heard what hubby mentioned and i will explain alittle why. We were both quite torn about moving.. anywhere outta this sunny island (Me being the one keen to go). Now by hubby reading out this caption, sounds like:"Woman... you have just made a HUGE mistake!" (thats not a fair statement to imply if you are the woman in the house trying your best for the family, trying to make ALL the right decisions, never mind if it comes with some form of risk. I rebutted hubby, to that caption (although not his words):"DO YOU THINK ANYONE WHO EVEN DARE DREAM OF GOING.. CAN GO? Do you think tom dick and harry, for all their worth can say, can confidently declare, THEY WILL SURELY TAKE ME? (Honestly, I think hubby's balls shrunk hearing my rants! becoz he probably did not meant it that way, reading those captions that I took v seriously!) I had to pick up those papers and read it myself, which explains why this article ends up here.

    To be fair, all of us are entitled to our share of opinions on this little sunny island.

    For us, We grew up here. Our families and friends are here. We spent all our lives here. All the memories and what nots. It is V HARD TO LEAVE. TO TEAR YOUR ROOTS AND SAY GO .. JUST GO. There is just no way I can ever do that, which explains 'MY PERFECT PLAN' .. thats a separate chapter. But my point is, if I can stay, and little sunny island is perfect, why would any one in a sane mind wanna leave? Anyhow, to keep the long story short, I do not think the caption paints a fair picture. "SHARP DROP IN SINGAPOREANS BECOMING AUSSIE PRS"... Yes. But those in smaller prints... Nope! I dun think so...

    At least for me, "BETTER OPPORTUNITIES" is non existent for my child with special needs. You can argue with me til the cows come home... you will NEVER make me believe what "BETTER OPPORTUNITIES" you can provide my child in the next 10 years. and i'm saying this because I have had this debate with high authorities in MOE on this matter. I can only say: "IS THAT ALL YOU CAN DO?" (Ok call me biased if you wish but in my thoughts I will turn this caption into "BETTER OPPORTUNITIES... DOWN UNDER" (I dunno if its best.. but i am sure its going to be better, at least for our child so maybe that can give ST another idea of what to write in your next article, on special needs opportunities on sunny island. I would love to read that.)

  6. Ok back onto the article, my side of the fence is,

    1) Not everyone can afford to TAKE THE CHANCE
    2) "Not I dun want... is I CANNOT!"

    Here are what some of my friends commented when they heard about our decision when we first applied PR:
    "Wah so good. ya lo, here the education system and jobs are so competitive.. if i can afford, I will also go.. better life for my kids."
    "Uh, i think i will not make it for this point system" (still counting on the scorecard)
    "What? pay so make not guranteed entry? Might as well buy 10k toto!"
    "I heard that place is racist.. and alot of crime... are you sure you can handle it?"

    To be on the fair side too.. Some even commented:
    "Aiyo why you wanna go.. Singapore no good meh? How you know there is better?"

    ****** After I got PR:
    "eh.. what is the contact number of your agent arh? we also wanna try!"
    "eh.. my friend's friend wanna .... whats the number of your agent?"
    "eh.. do you think they will accept us? we are bankers and we definitely have enough qualifications and savings to apply.. can you please recommend your agent?"


    To date, easily 10 separate ppl have asked for my migration agent's contact since some 50 friends out of the hundreds i keep in touch on FB knew about my PR. I think he is swarmed with good bizness! (Darn I should ask for some referral fee!)

    This is just my half a cent worth, of own rants... please do not 'shoot' me.. because, you have a choice to ignore or skip this post.


    1. I wish you and your child all the best in Australia, Singaporean Mum M.

    2. M,

      Congrats on your upcoming move to Australia. I'm sure your son will blossom in Australia. You are one brave mummy!

      PS : it is working out great between my son and Ros, thanks very much for your help :-) We are working on Plan B, first small hurdle crossed liao (juz yesterday!).


      Look at the new Australia PR req'. It is based on a invitation-to-apply system and points required are higher now. It is not easy to get selected with the new points system. With PR application costing 4-10k, practical singaporean will calculate, know that chances are slim, and will not even apply. I'm with winking doll that ST is doing selective reporting (again) to give the impression that we are living in heaven-on-earth. Except this is 火焰山, environmentally and financially. The debt burning strong and bright ensures common people are running on the tread mill constantly juz to keep up. With a 30 - 35 yrs loan, keeping the rice bowl is a high priority... when one is so busy earning a living ..talk what politics.. talk what income inequality? Where got time and energy? For debt is the best non-violence (and legal) way to chain up your electorate

    3. Thank you, dear! you have my contact! keep in touch!!! ;) will love to hear your good news soon too! Brave mummies UNITE! hahahah

    4. By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise. - Adolf Hitler

    5. Hi M,
      Can I pls ask you some questions? I hv 3 kids and 2 are special needs kids. I've spoken to an migration agent and I do qualify to submit an EOI. Pls drop me an email at my3kiddosmylife@gmail.com. thanks so much. Btw I've been an ardent reader of this blog.


  7. http://www.aseansec.org/18757.htm

    Off topic, but I suspect elections might be called before the ASEAN Economic Community gets underway in 2015 - where skilled labour will be free to move around ala the EU.

    Expecting wages to be further depressed once that happens. Only good thing is that Singaporeans can now move to Cambodia, Lao, Philippines, etc. Anyone?

  8. Hi Asingaporeanson,

    Indeed a highly stimulating exchange between you and clowns from PAP's propaganda machine. The difference in your intellect and analytical skill is so glaring. It is very heartening to see how bloggers like yourselves are now beating the ST clowns in their games hands down. Once again, Congratulation.

    Nick Lim

  9. Just adding my thoughts to this debate and maybe Elgin can give his views to this. (do pardon my language and sentence structure cause my England not very powerful)

    As a social science student, I have always been taught that numbers will never tell the true picture and when I first saw the article, I could not help thinking that something is not right given current sentiments I gather from people around me about Singapore. (although I still can't figured out what is "wrong")

    Nonetheless, it seems that based on the numbers provided, it might be true that less people are applying to be PRs in Australia but can we really then say life is better in Singapore? Given how Singaporeans measure quality of life(shitloads of $$$ being the proxy for happiness) and the economic conditions and job opportunities in Singapore compared to Australia, it is not a surprise that the last few years, people would rather work in Singapore. Does this mean that more people are happier in Singapore? Does it mean the overall quality of life better? Or is it the perceived financial security that skews their perspective? I don't I am too far off in saying that if a Singaporean has the same job opportunity in Australia, more will chose to leave Singapore due to the difference in overall quality of living.

    Anyway the main issue I have with the entire article is that it seems to give the impression that Singapore is a much better place just based on numbers alone (thus giving the feeling of propaganda?) Which is why my first thought when reading the article is "whats the rationale for the article in the first place?" Correct me if I am wrong, given the falling numbers of PR to Australia over the years, why is there a need to highlight this now? If people are really so happy in Singapore, why bother talking about drops in PR applications? OR Is there a genuine fear that MORE Singaporeans are DISILLUSIONED about the direction the country is moving towards thus the need to come up with figures/story to convince them that the grass is not greener elsewhere and reassure them that Singapore is the "right" place to be in? (as they say in army, sell koyok)I don't need to know if my analysis is correct but please offer your views if you think it is totally wrong.

  10. http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/11/02/dwindling-aussie-prs-from-spore-reports-do-you-believe-st-reporter-or-blogger/

  11. I am a proponent of the Singapore system. I grew up in it, I lived in it and I spent my life in it. And anyone who knows me will know that I will take up sword and fiercely defend Singapore when anyone dares to even hint at the failures of her policies and systems.

    I am not one who quotes data and statistics; this has been done to death by the people who have commented above. All I have are experiences and although I know the difference between causation and correlation, all I wish today is to share my experiences.

    I would not deny that statistically, it is a fact that there is a decreasing number of Singaporeans gaining Permanent Residency in Australia. I attribute it to two reasons;

    1) the criteria for applying for PR have been increased as well as,
    2) less people applying for PR (though admittedly if less people applying could be a result of the first reason is lack to be known).

    Singapore is not bad, it is not bad at all. In fact, as I’ve always said, it is very good. It is a good, safe and peaceful country to live in; a bit bland sometimes, but still good nonetheless. We have (relatively) good governance, good education systems, good policies in place.

    This question has been asked to death before, why then would I choose to be an Australian PR? Or a similar question, why then am I an Australian PR? And why did I come back to Singapore? I could go into a long detailed story but it can simply be summarised as – life doesn’t always seem to work out the way we planned. I was happy in Singapore, was happy in Australia and now in Singapore, I’m trying to be happy. If you ask me again, where would I be or where would I want to be in future, I would tell you that I wouldn’t know, wherever life takes me.

    Heresy doesn’t count for anything. And one man’s solo experience is not representative of the population. But there are an increasing number of people who wishes to migrate or leave Singapore. However, I have to clarify, wishes to migrate does not equate to taking active actions to migrate. Furthermore, even those taking active actions may not meet the requirements to migrate. There is also this group of people in limbo (Go google “Australia Skilled Migration Group 5”). They have applied for migration and have been waiting up to 4-5 years for their processing.

    I also acknowledge that Asia and Singapore is now the hotbed of the world’s economy. Low taxes, easy for global companies to set up branches here, we are able to attract the best from the world (including our own).

    However, in this society, is there anything really permanent? We move and live and adapt where and how is needed. The Singaporeans who came back or remained here may do so out of sheer necessity or because they really love this country and want to be here or even because of the promise of strong economic growth. In time to come, they may move on to Australia or Canada or even China. We will never know. Everyone has a different story to tell and no one story is representative of everyone else’s.

    I realised my reply and comments have detracted from the topic at hand but I just thought I wanted to share my two cents worth.

  12. Dear Elgin,

    Thank you very much for your article. It has been a good confirmation of our hiring portfolio for the past 2 years in (and out) Australia.

    In short, the numbers back our belief that Singaporeans in Singapore are much lacking in their knowledge, ability, creativity and will to migrate compared to other nationalities of other countries.

    Erecting the filters (migration criteria, SOL, etc) is not the issue.

    Quality migrants is the issue. Now when you choose to compare immigration numbers consisting of fellow quality migrants from other countries the unintended consequence is painful truths: you're showing that statically Singaporeans suck more.

    What is truly ironic is using this truth to imply that Singapore is a better place to live because of this.

    Enjoy your well.