Meeting the Third World Doctor

Hi asingaporeanson

How are you? I read your blog with alot of interest after stumbling on it during Singapore's National day. You are certainly a very interesting person and have benefited many of us with your insight.

I too came with the pre-conception that I will be discriminated against as a second class citizen in Oz. You are probably right when you say that the Aussies are far more gracious and hospitable compared to Singaporean Chinese against the minority races / or even fellow Chinese immigrants from China.

I came with a coloured perception on all this and this was exacerbated when I landed up with job difficulties here in Melbourne where I am now based. As a doctor, I learnt with horror that our own government has betrayed us . The Australian Government actually wanted to accord us preferential status like the American , British and Kiwi doctors as we have a comparable health system in Singapore and wanted to give us accelerated registration with the medical council in Australia. However , the Singapore Government together with the South African government unilaterally asked the Australian government not to accord us preferential status and instead forces all Singaporean doctors to retake the registration exam like other doctors from Third World countries.  The reason ? They were afraid of losing doctors that they spent money training for in Singapore to other countries like Australia. I saw this in a white paper on medical registration as well as a medical journal and couldn't believe my eyes!

So I am in a way stuck too. With two rejections out of 3 applications and further applying for two other attachments ( where I will work for free) but am still waiting for the outcome. You have given me strength and the stories you shared of other people with their experience also gives me reasons to be contented and feel blessed.

I landed in Melbourne 10 months ago together with my wife and children. We were very blessed as my wife had gotten her registration as a dentist and found a job within weeks of arriving though the job situation here was less than ideal. 
We bought the house across the road from my Uncle just before 1 July last year and enjoyed the $15 000 First Home Owner Bonus and Grant and enjoyed the social and family support with close relatives nearby.
Luckily , within a month I got my two kids into full time childcare ( which took the load off my wife who will be working full time) and I left home to Singapore after just 1 week.

I have since been flying to and from Singapore until about 3 months ago when I decided to take no pay leave and came to Melbourne to  look for a job. As my 4 year old daughter was getting bored in Kindergarten, she managed to scrapped into Prep/ Formal schooling after taking IQ tests with a psychologist (about 1 year earlier than her peers)  and that saved us quite a lot of money as childcare is expensive here. According to the many friends we made at church and through social gathering, we found out we were really fortunate as the school she got into was one of the best in the western suburbs and apparently required most to be on the waiting list since birth. But we only just arrived really and my daughter getting in means my son will get in in two years time without a problem.

So in a sense , I have got nothing to complain about. My wife is working full time, my children got into good schools, we have a house and a roof over our head and did not have to worry about renting and references. However, coming from Singapore General Hospital where I was working as a surgeon, it has been a frustrating journey for me. I could look for other jobs but has never done any jobs other than within the healthcare. 

Many times , I told myself I will just return to Singapore where they would welcome me any day- as they are short of staff. And continue the ad-hoc arrangement of flying into and out of Melbourne every 3 months to visit my family. Rather than what i felt was wasting my time here, waiting in melbourne with no great prospect in the immediate term.

I will really like to meet up with you as I go on a clinical attachment in Perth this week , perhaps to have a cup of coffee. Or some time out or to eat Corica Apple Studel. I can cook rather good Hokkien Mee ( the sweet black sauce type) too. I will be staying at a friend's place for the initial few nights but will go around hunting to stay at a youth hostel. Will it be ok if you send me a text message at [deleted number]?

My home number is [deleted number] and my wife's number is [deleted number]. ( she is not travelling with me though as she is still working in melbourne and also with the kids who are schooling.) but if you could not reach me when I am in a flight via tigerairways , let my wife know and she will send me a text message.

Sorry for my long email, but do edit my email as I wish to remain confidential for now , wishing you a wonderful week ahead! See you soon !

Till then,



Come to think of it, J*** must be the first medical doctor I talked to outside a clinic or hospital. I left this email (together with quite some others) in the inbox for a long time, due to laziness and the recent hangover from the Singapore trip and the trauma from being locked out from my daily warm water bath. And you know in Singapore, there is this unconscious class system playing in our minds although nothing has been discussed or researched about it before. There is this thing that goes, "Woah he's a doctor/pilot/lawyer/whatever," that Singaporeans, especially our Singaporean daughters, tend to engage in. That's the way it is. Prolong meritocracy will always lead to elitism. Yes always. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise because no sociological framework is particularly good or bad but one thing for sure, it evolves after implementation. No exceptions.

In the normal Singapore settings, no doctors in Singapore will want to meet up with me for coffee or offer to cook Hokkien mee for me. But in Perth, things tends to work a little differently here. Sometime back, I met the lawyer who refused to take up her profession again after she came to Perth and rather take up a massage course, go into semi-retirement and made sure I never hear from her ever again after the first meeting. That may sound odd to most of you but I can perfectly understand her. In fact, I saw myself in her whenever someone ask me why don't I find a job as a project manager or engineer in the construction line. I don't want to even talk about it for now.

Anyway when someone gives you his mobile, home number and his wife's mobile number, you've gotta meet up with him and so I sent him a text message very last minute for the Saturday birthday surprised planned for the Duchess of the Brook. He gamely took up the invitation and turned up without a fuss, finding his way better than some of us Singaporeans in Perth. Regretably, I didn't have the time to talk to him beyond a couple of greetings. Fortunately the others did because everyone was curious about the new face. My apologies for the bad hospitality, J***. Hope the coffee talk can still happen in the future.

There was still thing in your email that caught my attention, which was about how the Australia Government wanted to include Singaporean medical doctors in preferential status but the Singapore Government stopped them. I heard a similar tune from the lawyer I met previously. Let's think positively, our dear leaders probably do not look at you guys as Third World professionals and actually very much love you very much and want you to stay by their side. Maybe you should. So why are you roaming around in Melbourne? That was the question I wanted to ask you personally but didn't have the chance.

I don't mind revealing my intention to write to the Australia Immigration to inquire about why young Singaporeans under 30 are not eligible to apply for the Australian Work-Holiday Visa (Subclass 417 and 462) while people from these countries:  Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom; are eligible apply for Subclass 417 and people from these countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, the USA and Uruguay; are eligible for Subclass 462. After your sharing about how the Singapore Government moved in to stop foreign governments from recognising our professional credentials, there is no need to send in that email anymore.

The people of Singapore is more Third World than our friends from Bangladesh. Fortunately most Singaporeans are blissfully unaware of it since it does not affect them in any way.

** A Reply For the Doc [link]


  1. Speaking of Evil... forwarded to a buddy in SG - -"

  2. that is correct. Doctors from Singapore and South Africa will find it hard to get their skills recognised in Australia.

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