Herbal Soup for the Singaporean Migrant Soul

This isn't a touching sob story to motivate you. This is not going to leave a warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy. If you expect that from the title of the post, I apologise for the misled. Indeed, we need healing soup for the broken soul when the tough gets going. Being born of a Chinese family, when we get sick we take herbal soup to get well. The elders used to tell us the more bitter the herbal soup, the more potent. So it had been instilled into us that bitter might not be a bad thing in life. At times, it was even necessary.

So you wanna migrate. But you are unwilling to do the field work that everyone who walked the path before you did. You feel that migration application fee is too high and you doubt the feasibility of the idea. You want a guaranteed job, one which pays you higher the current, before you are willing to move. Migration can be arguably the biggest transition of your life other than death. It takes so much away from you mentally and spiritually  Even getting married doesn't come close. it does not render you physically apart from your family, loved ones, buddies, the land that you love and the memories that you cherish. Well ok, maybe it does for some cases, if you choose to marry a disaster. Yet you know how to customise your own wedding to a dream with no prior experience. You can design the renovation of your HDB flat like an incarnated professional architect. You buy a >100k car after wading through a maze of technical specifications. When it comes to migration you don't know anything, you don't know how to and expect to be spoon-fed.


Remember the above url. Print it out, burn it into ashes, mix it with water and drink it if you need to. That's your technical manual. That's your 10-years-series. All you need to know is there. Nothing less, nothing more. Go to a migration agent if you want to save the trouble. Singaporeans do not like trouble. We pay money to get rid of trouble. That's why we hire slaves maids and engage migration agents. Else, if you walk up to someone and say, "I want to migrate but I don't know what to do, can you tell me?", be prepare to get "Stay at home." as an answer. And accept it.

Why am I so anal about this kind of thing?

The entire blog is about a migration story. If you read, you'll come to understand that the migration application is a very small part of the whole thing. In fact even at the stage where I am, I cannot see the entire picture. I did not publish every single misadventure I had here but that did not mean my life had been smooth going. So that is how far the path leads and that was why I stressed a great deal on managing your mentality. If you are unable or unwilling to change the old Singaporean mindset of thinking nothing out of the text book, take my advice: stay at home. For the road ahead is far more treacherous than you will appreciate. If you cannot hold a rudder by yourself, who will be paddling for you when you set sail? Advice is aplenty out there. Even good free ones at times. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. When you are downed, strangers will come to revive your spirits. No one will lend a helping hand if you sit in your broken-down car, until you begin to push it yourself. Ok. If you are the holy type, then you'll have heard that God helps the one who helps himself. Little miracles happen to people who take action. It happened to so many people who came to me and share their own stories. To take action, you need to set your mind to it. So we are back to the roots once again. Your mentality. Do you want it hard enough? Why do you want it? If you do not know why, you will not figure out how. Think it over. It all begins with a thought.

I've met so many people who shouldn't be here in the first place, myself included. I have asylum seekers working under me. A brick layer bud who wouldn't meet the requirements if he went through the 'proper route'. Unqualified people who married qualified persons - like myself and Mr E. People who came through business visa, study visas, work-holiday visas, tourist visas and who knows what else out there. I am not sharing these to encouraging anyone to do anything illegal. I am making a point that there were people who wanted it hard enough and got it. Go legit if you must. Again examine your thoughts. If your mind is set on seeking adventures abroad, Australia need not to be your only destination if you do not qualify for it. New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan and even other paths much less traveled. The world is your oyster. Who knows, I may be venturing to Indonesia or Myanmar one day. Why not? And why not you?

If you are determined to leave, shed the cotton wool around you. If you want to go camping but expect no mosquito bites, stay at home to play Nintendo Wii. The more you are willing to take it down your throat, the more options you open for yourself. The countries you can go to, the jobs or businesses you can do, the lodgings you can stay in, the kind of activities you do for leisure. The limits of the array is entirely up to how much you are willing to sacrifice. Remember, you are not making sacrifices for nothing. One day, you reap what you sow.

Leaving for a better place. There is no better place in the world. There is no racism in Singapore. We pay low tax. We are first class citizens. The country is clean and green. Our public transport is one of the cheapest and most efficient in the world. Our government is effective and free of corruption. Menial jobs that Singaporeans do not relish are outsourced on the cheap. The country is safe and secured. Crime rates are low and it is safe to go out late at night. There is neither riot nor protests, not a trace of civilian unrest. The relationships with our neighbours are cordial.  The weather is stable and the land is shielded from natural disasters. The country maintains a high level of hygiene and low level of mortality rates. Life expectancy has been increasing steadily. The majority of people have a roof over their heads, as well as jobs. The city and heartlands are well maintained and kept presentable. The foundation of the country is strongly built, based on justice and equality. The people are happy, prosperous and their future, progressive. Majority of the population has confidence for the future and will be expecting more good years ahead, promised by a capable government who will be always here for us. There is no better place in the world, fellows. All that glitters is not gold. So if you choose to leave the best place in the world, why do you worry which worse place you ended up at? What do you worry about if you made the decision to forsake your blessings?

You don't feel happy. A wise man once said to me, "Contentment is the key to happiness." If that is true, it is not difficult to understand why Singaporeans are unhappy. It is difficult to cultivate contentment, if we live within a viscous cycle of vanity and pride. Better off moving to a country where you are able to embrace simplicity - and truly feel contented with something as simple as a bowl of rice on the dining table. That is why you get the retorts from your best friends, "If you hate Singapore so much, why don't you fuck off?" But if you intend to move to Australia or anywhere else in the world to indulge in the same bad practices once again, why not play a simpler game? Buy a house in Johor Bahru post pictures of it every day in facebook. Do that to the second house as well. Or better, stay at home and continue the material chase. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

A stitch in time saves nine. If you have real desires, do not delay. Circumstances change. You may be made ineligible by a change of migration rules elsewhere. Do not assume we will always be a coveted nationality. After all, the father of modern Singapore said our mothers and sisters may be maids in the future. The red carpet will be there for only a limited time. There is never a right time. There is never a wrong time. Only one golden rule, time waits for no man.


  1. Dear Sir,

    How can you stop writing? It is in your blood lah. A well-written piece that deserves appreciation. I hope it is not due to the hot weather you are experiencing now.

    I totally agree with your article, except of course your description of Singapore. LOL. That paragraph is a perfect lie meant for perfect people.

    Since I am not perfect, I can't lie.

  2. I do agree that if a person intend to migrate and expect it to be 'risk free', then it is better to stay in Singapore, save himself/herself the trouble. Self research is always better than advices from others. A river may be too deep for a squirrel, but an elephant will find it shallow.

    Every step we take when we try to migrate, is a leap of fate. We can reap bountiful harvest like you or be like one of the person in your story that encountered a famine and had to head back to Singapore because he couldn't find any job in the country he migrated to.

    The only thing I had disagreement is the same as Luca Morgen.

  3. Can't agree more on this.

    As you had always stressed this on your blog, get out of the comfort zone and start to enjoy the most basic things here as long as you are willing to change the mindset.

  4. Nix,
    I like your "warts and all" advice to those who want to take the quantum leap. I took the leap more than 40 years ago and still enjoying the free fall. Heehee.

  5. Hi ASingaporeanSon,

    Your last paragraph rings so true. I had friends whom I told of my plans to emigrate back in 2006. Some were interested but held a wait-and-see approach. When I got my PR visa in 2009, the rules had already changed and some who heard of my plans earlier could no longer qualify.

    If one is serious about emigration, get started. There is no better time than now.

    Cheers, WD.

  6. Hi Asingaporeanson,

    Fantastic piece! Straight from the heart.

    Just after my first son was born many years ago, I did a scenario projection for the next 20 to 30 years using simple spreadsheet-projected income versus future cost of living,housing,median salaries,etc. The result was scary, and those projected figures I used back then were found to be conservative by today's standard in Singapore. A decision was then made almost instantly to plan a way out-it is a matter of survival, before it is too late.

    We have been out of Singapore for many years now and life has never been better.

    Nick Lim