I'm Glad I Left

Just some buildings and water
In response to "I'm Glad I Stayed", with due respect.

It has never been a matter of whether Singapore will make it or not. In fact, much of the fear lies in Singapore making it. Contrary to popular beliefs, Singaporeans leave for Australia due to factors related to Singapore's success rather than failure. A brand new 250 sqm house on a freehold 500 sqm land for $500,000, very good air quality and pitch silent nights for good sleep all year round are fitting glowing terms, neither fabricated nor exaggerated. The only reason to slap on my face is Summer flies, not the dilemma of admitting the mistake of moving to Australia. Much as I am willing to, I can't admit a mistake that does not exist.

I could have stayed.

I know my departure is not a mistake. This entire blog has been a database of qualitative data. The question is whether my inputs are objective or lies. Over 1000 posts of lies? I deserve a Guinness if I could manage that. I'll leave that to your gut feel.

The notion of a first class citizen is an interesting one. Let me explain this to you how it works. A first class citizen is neither a title nor a specific kind of treatment. 

It is a feeling. 

If you work as a cleaner in Singapore, the chances of you feeling like a first class citizen is zero. Zip, zilch, nada, nul, kosong, ling. Cleaning the casino at Buswood for $25 an hour in comparison would feel rather first class indeed. Ask the average Malay or Indian Singaporean if they feel being treated like a first class citizen in Singapore. If a doctor and a nurse migrate to Australia, guess who will feel like a second class citizen and which will feel like a first class one? When each of your neighbour give a you wave and call out, "G'day mate!" just like they do for everyone else, including the first class cleaner who migrated here, a doctor's socially acceptable response may be, "I'm surprised." (Why the hell nobody addresses me as Dr here like back home?! Chee bye!) He tends to return to Singapore because he has been treated as a second-class citizen. And they are racists too. And high tax. And hailstorm. And bushfires. Sharks attacks. Bad place, this Australia, excuse me, I've gotta go.

A feeling, is subjective.

There are many places one can't venture into in Australia. Such as a dingo den. The question is why does a man ventures into a place that he doesn't want to venture into in the first place? 

Night is the time to sleep. Evening is the time to shop. Late afternoon is the time to knock off from work. Don't complain about work-life balance if you dig late night shopping, 7 days a week. Retail workers need to sleep too, instead of out there serving customers with insomnia.

Garbage get collected once a week in Australia. It is a perfect arrangement unless you are somebody who creates 7 times more garbage daily than the average Australian dweller.

We cook because we have the time to and do not regret it.

Ice cream can be bought at $0.20/L. We pick fruits from trees and drown ourselves in juice. Life isn't just about eating, anyway.

We lie on the ground and listen to the whisper of the breeze, not that Pinoy singing his folk songs to his ladies at East Coast Park.

We fly kites without the need of crushed glass.

Our dogs are able to go unleashed because there are unlimited open spaces and parks we can have by ourselves with no human being in sight.

We build our houses and decide each and every detail to the last brick. From that, we understand the difference between home and modular hives.

Our children play in sand not synthetic rubber.

They learn to compete, not compete to learn.

We see galaxies of stars at night. Some spend more than their late night shopping budget to fly out to see this.

There is no doubt that Singapore is the envy of the world, in terms of economic success. The figures speak for themselves. Although Singapore hold one of the top ranks in the cost of living as a result, it is by no means a bad place to live and work in. In fact, it is one of the top preferred immigration destination.  Each of us overseas Singaporean is a rarity. To date, the number of Singaporeans living overseas is around 200,000 or so, barely 1 in 10 of the Singaporean population. This confirms that the majority of Singaporeans recognise Singapore as a fine country.

However, leaving Singapore is rarely a pure economic decision. We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us. The intrinsic experience of living abroad long term cannot be compared to a holiday trip or retreat, regardless how regularly.

When we leave our country, we don't lose it all. There are trade offs. You lose some, you gain some. Every Singaporean who left accepted the trade-off. Those who had the opportunities to move abroad but rejected them decided the trade-off isn't fair. That is how it works. One man's adventure is another man's mistake.


  1. Good on you asingaporeans son I am still waiting to qualify for aussie pr

  2. Every country has pros and cons. Live and let live.

    1. and in each and every one of these countries, some has more pros than cons, the rest has more cons than pros ... won't it be better to "live" in the formal and "let live" for the others?

  3. Interesting piece - some being glad to have stayed in sg, some glad they left.

    Stay/leave, good/bad, more/less, such comparisons we make, some to convince others, some to convince themselves but in the end we all die. Such is life.

    Some observations:

    In au, I've the chance to want to learn more about my own roots. Over the years I did learn something and found myself more rooted. I know I can do that in sg but it takes the 'contrast', the living and working in au itself, the necessity of adapting to people who are very different from you, that 'moved' me towards learning what cultural inheritance mean.

    The contrast Nix made about the open spaces, the night full of stars strikes a chord with me - it's true there are plenty of open spaces in au and I believe it makes a difference to one's sense of well-being.
    But it's not a paradise here in au; there is no such place.

    Sg is great if you are at least upper middle class and you don't mind the structures the govt had put in place - the education system, their version of meritocracy, leased hdb flats, level of social control, etc., and bear with the 'collateral damage' in terms of maids, foreign workers and the sight of very old people working in foodcourts, toilets, collecting cardboards. If you can you enjoy relatively safe late night outings. And yes the cheap food - made possible with dirt cheap old labourers cleaning up after you.

  4. > Garbage get collected once a week in Australia. It is a perfect arrangement unless you are somebody who creates 7 times more garbage daily than the average Australian dweller.

    Not sure about AU, in CA, garbage doesn't stink as much given the generally colder weather here and also that people are civic enough to separate their trash into various categories. So there is no need for daily collection. In other words, garbage collection schedule is not an apple-to-apple comparison.

    > Stay/leave, good/bad, more/less, such comparisons we make, some to convince others, some to convince themselves but in the end we all die. Such is life.

    I second Fai's observation.

    > I have seven relatives in Australia, three of whom were born there. ... Not a pip squeak from anyone of them. Not a phone call, not an email, not a single text message. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. ... Of course they would be slapping themselves in the face if they admitted that their leaving had been a mistake.

    IMHO, it is presumptuous of Lohcifer to conclude that no contact from his relatives over the death of LKY (which appears to be an important event in Lohcifer's own life), as evidence of their regret for leaving SG. E.g. As a "quitter", I did not contact my family in SG over LKY's demise either, not because I am not enjoying my life here -- on the contrary, my sibling who visited me in CA recently remarked that Canadian life fits me better, and it shows on my face. It may seem strange to Lohcifer, but simply put, LKY's demise has zero relevance to my current life now (other than idle "coffee-shop" talk amongst some (ex-)Singaporeans here); and I suspect it may be true for some other "quitters" too.

    Plus, I personally decided to cut-off contact with certain relatives because we clearly have very little in common in our values; and with emigration, I now have a socially acceptable "reason" to be MIA (i.e. be selective in who I spend my time/energy on) when it comes to those selected relatives.

  5. Most people are not making very good money here. And you are right. Most have been brainwashed into thinking that blue collars are second class citizens. Nothing could be further from the truth if they were only to peek out of their well. They don't have a sense of pride even when employed, and they certainly will not hold out well here. But they refuse to leave. So good luck to them. I hope to join you if I can. Racist be damned. A

    1. Strange there is no edit function. I will rather be surrounded by racists than morons