A Young Singaporean Son's Journey

A Singaporean Son - 

Dear SG son, I am flattered that you have asked for my story - I am a young grad just starting out and to be honest, I have no rags to riches or inspirational story to share - just one of someone who was lucky that my work paid off, and someone who thinks a lot, and gets frustrated with a lot of things in general.

I have a whole collection of my private writings and rants that I usually write in my own private blog / Facebook, and I do write quite a fair bit as a hobby in my spare time as well so this will be a combination and short summary of both my story and everything that I feel is wrong with the system in Singapore - in other words, all the push factors that brought me to Australia. 

I'm your typical middle class kid - all the comforts and pampering through the 90s when the economy was booming, my parents held good professional jobs, all my older cousins and relatives graduated from university, started professional jobs and rode the wave of the economy and did well, and the same was expected of me - anything else was ITE - It's The End.

I struggled through the education system despite always getting praise for my writing and oral communication skills, simply because I wasn't good at memorizing textbooks, and I know a couple of friends who went through the same thing. This caused a considerable amount of grief in my family especially with the pressure created to follow the Singaporean dream of going to university and getting a comfortable office job. I even started to learn to fix cars in preparation for my possible failure at O levels! 

On hindsight that was a blessing in disguise as it made me realize I was different, and so are many other people - just because someone is in ITE, elite JC, or whatever - doesn't make someone better than the other person - it is the rigidity of the system that had failed to cater for the diverse needs of a population, and it will be this rigidity and inability to adapt that will eventually see us lose our competitive edge after all these years of success. 

After all the doom by my teachers and parents, I managed to get into a business course in poly with decent O level results. I did well in the first year, before getting dragged down by rote learning subjects in the 2nd and 3rd year and to me, a pointless internal attachment year. I ended up with a decent GPA, but apparently only the top 5% of each poly intake goes to university. This pretty much scuppered any hopes I had of going to local university (despite all the promises when we signed up - this is one issue I have always had with the polytechnics that I have written at greater length about - don't mislead the students! Also, there is a general perception that poly students are half past six and struggle in university - well it's the system's fault then isn't it?) 

So at this point I had to convince my fervent pro-establishment mother to send me overseas. Now she is the type that has all the best intentions and no one else is allowed to criticize her but me, but she is basically the type that has been brainwashed by stories of how "quitters" like us go overseas, take drugs, spend parents money, etc and it took a lot to convince her that to get that decent Singapore dream, I had to go overseas for studies (especially since they could easily afford it). 

Life in Australia was good - I worked part time earning minimum wage while being able to play sports and write in my free time, even landing a gig writing for a large organization in Australia. And drank lots of beer. 

Of course, as Singaporeans back home always said, it's easier in Australia, just as is everything that everyone else does. This condescending attitude and "sinkie-pwn-sinkie" attitude was brought over to Australia for most Singaporeans - I personally found most of the Singapore club members to be a bunch of wankers who only seemed interested in talking to this ah Beng after they found out I had good grades (which I forgot to mention, lol). 

So anyway, I ended up mixing with a whole bunch of other people - Malaysians, HKers, Chinese, and Singaporeans equally disenchanted with their fellow Singaporeans. Like I said, I got good grades through a mix of luck and hard work, studying while my friends were out partying, taking instagrams of their food, or joining those wanker international student club activities - not that I didn't go for the odd party every weekend.  

The good grades turned out kinda useful, I got a few minor grants / scholarships as an international student (so much for not being good enough for Singapore's education system), got through (but ultimately got rejected) numerous Australian company interviews as a graduate. At least I got through to the interview stages, I didn't even get any replies from Singapore and was feeling pretty demoralized by the end of graduation - caught in the middle as an international student who finds more barriers in the foreign country, but with no home advantage in Singapore either. 

In the end, I managed to pass IELTS and get PR, and my relatives managed to pull some strings to get me into a Singapore company. I worked for a year in Singapore before finally getting a job in Australia that paid double and was a "promotion" in a sense - doing something I was much more interested in, and with an equally good promotion track, and moved over. My Singapore bosses lamented how I was on the good promotion track in the firm, but totally understood my decision to migrate. 

The only thing that left a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth was how I had to go one big round to be recognized - and the frustration I would have faced if my parents didn't have the resources available to send me overseas. 

I feel this says something about the system that I previously mentioned - because we have been so focused on economic growth, we have been concentrating all our resources on a certain type of individual without catering to the positives that a diverse population can bring - and now, caught out, we resort to bringing in expensive expats who exhibit exactly these characteristics we didn't give a shit about previously. Let's use an analogy, playing scrabble - you are holding out for a certain word, but you are so obsessed with getting this word u discard all your other good cards and when u realize u need those cards, u go oh shit - and end up paying a large premium for those cards u originally had but discarded. 

That is the irony of someone like LimpehFT, who has a large following on his blog, who is inspirational - I look forward to the day I return to Singapore as an expat, telling people how they need my "expertise", ha ha.  

Thank you for listening to my story -my advice to anyone making the move, especially younger grads, like has already been said countless times is to open your mind, be humble, listen to people but have a mind of your own to filter out what is right and what is self-interested bullshit. 

Don't listen to the oldies who tell you Singaporeans of my generation are soft - what did you expect me to do, throw away all my certs and start working as a cleaner to prove a point to someone I don't give a shit about? The expectations of my generation are much higher than those of the previous ones and it is about making the most of our opportunities. Like I said previously, everything done by others is always easier - this is just self-interested bullshit by the older generation to prove they are better. 

Don't follow the crowd, and do what other people find too tough to do - best of luck to everyone else! 

By the way, I am an accountant based on the nominated skill list - I got in through the graduate visa scheme. 

Yours sincerely, Yoda


Yoda, hi.

Truly inspiring to me, your story is.
Do. Or do not. There is not try.
Young not make one unqualified to seek for the future he proclaims.



  1. There is no perfect place on earth just like there is no perfect system, person, relationship etc. Home is where the heart feels at ease.

    1. So completely true. " Home is where the heart feels at ease." Wherever it may be!

  2. I wonder if you are aware that Australia is heading down the path of no return in terms of being a future candidate for being the hardest-hit victim in this part of our world as a result of the changing global climate? Are you aware that it is absolutely possible that the entire country of Australia may become inhospitable one day? I kid you not. All the signs are already beginning to show. And that many savvy ultra-rich investors(both in the Western world and in Australia itself) who are observing the ultra-long-term horizon for opportunities, are already well aware of this fact? Truth be told, even as I am typing this, many ultra-rich and savvy people from the Western world are now already making the early strategic chess move to strike Australia out as a possible candidate country as a possible emigration destination. In fact, even some notable ultra-rich Australians have already taken off, just like how you took off from Singapore. Are you aware of this? And, of all the places, do you know where to? Singapore. Yes, the same country from which you left. I know that this must seem like one cold joke to you now, but I am not making fun of you or mocking your decision to give up Singapore and choose Australia, or anything like that, but the truth is, 30 years down the road, many of those Singaporeans who have given up their Singapore citizenship for an Australian one, will regret it. I say this with a lot of conviction and certainty. And I can tell you, it will be a very very big regret, I kid you not. Mark my words.

    1. You looking at your CPF statement and feeling rich there, cobber?
      I heard the grapes from Temasek's vineyards are pretty sour, :-)

    2. Talking to me?

      No, I am not aware that Australia is heading down the path of no returns in terms of being a future candidate for being the hardest-hit victim in this part of our world as a result of changing global climate, whatever that means.

      I am guessing you meant inhabitable in your second question, as Australia is already inhospitable as it is I can't see it from worsening. Especially the creatures and critters which can kill any of us in 3 seconds.

      Rich Aussies moving to Singapore for other reasons than avoiding tax? Climate change? That is indeed new to me. It is very difficult for me to imagine how Singapore's weather would be stable if Australia gets meteor showers every day (I'm sorry, you weren't specific so I have to guess) After all, it's only 3898km away from where I am, not that far considering USA is bitching about radiation as far as Japan, which is almost 3 times as far as the Perth to Singapore. So if your prophecy comes true, will you be happily sunbathing in Singapore, enjoying your strategic chess move? I seriously doubt so.

      Please. Don't start on the topic of regret. I've spent more time thinking and writing about this topic than your environmental thesis. Don't even get me started the situation in Singapore in 30 years' time.

    3. They will head off to NZ. Anyway, there is no ultra rich in Asia. Those are only the rich not ultra rich. Most ultra rich still prefer to party in europe and us.

    4. Heard about the climate change theory before alongside with the doom day predictions by the Mayan but nobody is spared anyway. Will rather believe the visionary makers of the movie Total Recall (2012) where only two locations are habitable - the United Federation of Britain and the Colony (Australia). Oz friends, we are the labourers for the elite poms in this movie. Hmm, or should i trust Zhou Run Fatt in Pirate's of the Carribean "welcome to Singapore". Confused, such a hard decision to make. Need to go into my Narnia's Wardrobe and consult Harry's Goblet of Fire

    5. Hi c4049425,

      30 years down?

      ASingaporeanSon's daughter, Albany, would be 31. As an Australian citizen, she would possibly qualify for Working Holiday visa to Canada -- the cold-country up-North predicted to benefit from Global Warming.

      Singapore citizens? Nah, Sinkies are not even welcomed to Canada on Working Visa right now. Your guess is as good as mine why -- when even Hong Kongers are welcomed.

      I hope you enjoy the fruits of your CPF contribution 30 years down the road. In the meantime, would you kindly check with your bosses to see if they can allow young Singaporeans to get on the Working Holiday Visa bandwagon to Canada and other countries? It would benefit the youths to have more worldwide-exposure, just like the way Singapore ministers claim to learn from the world's best systems from their overseas trips.

      Cheers, WD.

  3. Hey c4049425, who r u ... I so scared...u disciple of con hee ah ...

  4. Climate change is hitting everyone and everywhere. No place is totally protected from climate change.

  5. I have a similar story. I had good grades at 'O' level - three As and 2 Bs could have gone to JC if not for my shitty second lang results. So I opted for the poly as I did not want to be in a situation scoring As at JC but not getting into uni because of my second language. I took a diploma in Hospitality Mgt in TP (first batch). Did not do too well - but managed a 'B' average. Went out straight too work in hotels before landing a dream job as a hotel inspector for a company run by British expats. Worked there a couple of months before taking my savings over three years to do a top-up degree in the UK. I had an advantage as I only had to cough up for fees; my sis had been staying there for over a decade so I crashed at her place. I worked part-time to pay for food and expenses. Basically helped out in the house in return for a roof over my head. After graduation, I went back to hotel inspecting before meeting my BF (now my hubby). 1.5 years later we got married, and I got my UK PR. I am part-English part Singaporean BTW, but I always felt like an outcast in Singapore - my British grandad and my Eurasian grandma raised me - my god I was the only kid in school who had afternoon tea with biscuits and real tea! I was raised to be British and it was only when I moved to London that it suddenly clicked. I was culturally English! Don;t get me wrong - I love Singapore. But the Singapore I once knew when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s is long gone. There are but memories. In 20 years, when all my childhood places are gone, there will be nothing to anchor me here any longer. My sister is still abroad and my mum & dad are keen to move to the UK if they can.

  6. Yea, if you are not good enough to be successful in Singapore then you should probably move to Australia.

    1. Lovely comment really. If you're successful enough to be in Singapore, your litmus test would be to try and attain a PR in a "properly" developed country.

      Why don't you try it?

      I've noticed those that cannot move to Australia or elsewhere, will be very sour. Only those who genuinely do NOT wish to move, will wish their ex-comrades well in their journey for life.

      I was really laughing when I read your post, thanks for the good 'un.

      Had a bad day in an international concall (luh). :)