Bad Seduction

During my first two years in Perth, I went out very often with Jen, then later lugging baby Albany around everywhere we visited. 

I wanted to know more about the place I hardly know about.

It seemed crazy, even frightening, when I recalled the journey we traveled till today. It comes to a point I can hardly resonate with new Singaporeans moving to Australia anymore. 4 months down the road, I would be here for 5 long years. Thing changes in lightning speed in Singapore. Iconic buildings can be replaced by steel and glass in a matter of months. How much have Singapore changed over the 5 years I have been away? It is difficult to understand that in depth by merely making short visits to Singapore now and then.

Perhaps, no matter how bad the economy is in Australia, how hard it is to find jobs, how "idiotic" the new government is or how they change Prime Ministers like changing underwear, there are things you cannot take away from Australia that makes it attractive to live in. The beautiful weather, thousands of square kilometres to roam, the amazing scenery, the high quality of air, the dark, dark quiet nights - these are some things you can never buy with money in Singapore.

That was why during the first couple of years, there were so many instances when I was left alone doing my thing on a lazy afternoon, I wished my old friends were there with me. I wished for the buddy who will scream in delight, even at our age, as he runs through the vast amount of green with a football and kick the afternoon away like we used to. I wished for the buddies to be around to have cups of home made Teh C with me at each other's Alfresco area, enjoying the cool Autumn breeze, taking about the computer games we used to play. I wished everyone was around washing their cars with me like we used to. I wished that my family was here and that we can look-out for one another the same way we used to when I was still in Singapore.

After long enough, I stopped wishing. As I knew the wishful thinking would never come true.

In fact, I doubted I would ever see anyone that I knew personally in Singapore migrating to Australia, let alone my best buddies. Gradually, I stopped telling friends about my life in Perth. In fact, I got a little scared that one day, they might come here and found the place completely different to their expectations. I stopped. I stopped completely.

I made an exception recently. It began with a casual remark. He was a visitor, bunking in my place for a few days. I knew him for years but we weren't close. So we spent a few hours in the evenings talking about him. When I heard about his job experience, I made that casual remark, "Hmm, you can easily migrate here you know?" Young (enough), 8 years of working experience relevant to his Australian Degree in an occupation on the SOL. It was a no-brainer.

To be honest, he was one of the last person I would imagine being interested to migrating to Australia, let alone making himself go through the hassle. Part of it could be his wife's fault. She always painted him being a tad too "carefree" in our conversations. He didn't come across as someone who could muster the steely resolute to pull such a thing off. 

I was wrong. He had to walk through the fire with employers whom he parted way on not-so-good terms to get the necessary documents he needed for his Skills Assessment.

When his wife bugged me with expected questions like how to get the documents certified true copied, I realised they were not clowning around. In a blink of the eye, she sent me this (left), and they were at Stage 4. He aced his Skills Assessment (like I expected) and the only obstacle left between his family and their Australian PR was doing well enough for IELTS.

But why? I found myself asking both of them multiple times.

I wanted to make sure they knew what they were doing. They have 2 young kids and a successful start-up in Singapore. It isn't easy to give up a business. It isn't easy for anyone to migrate with 2 young kids in general, regardless of their situations. Do they know what they are hopping into? Are they caught out in the spur of the moment?

I feel they are being really brave. I saw myself in them. Soft Singaporean guy, fiery Malaysian wife. There I was at some stage in Singapore, tired, hopeful, clueless, reckless. Somehow that worked for me. Could they carve out a little space here for themselves? That takes us to the most important question any Singaporean contemplating the same thing could ask him or herself, "Why not?"

"Why not?" is a question that opens up secret doors never seen before with naked eyes.

It was the question that took Stephen the Triumphant to WA with just Secondary School qualifications. It was a story he would repeat over and over again and I wouldn't mind listening because it inspires.  He took a course in bricklaying here and started laying bricks on a work visa. He tried ways and means to get a PR but was caught in limbo for years. Eventually he succeeded and today, he is an Australian Citizen. He had no right but with his sheer determination and belief, he earned his right. He told me, "When I first came, I knew I couldn't qualify for PR but I didn't tell my wife that and just go." I suspect his wife was smart enough to know, but gave him the full support anyway.

When I need a reminder about how we can carve out a path for ourselves here as long as we don't give up, I think of Stephen's story. His was a classic case of sacrificing, risking everything he had and reaping what he sowed. How many Singaporeans are willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill their dreams? Not many, really.

I've seen my fair share of Singaporeans coming here and refused to give up what they once have or were having. Their jobs, their status, their achievements, their pride, their beliefs, their expectations. What they eventually gave up were their dreams. You cannot catch your dream if you don't reach out for it. To reach out, you have to let go of what you are holding.

I feel a little guilty of planting the evil seed in my visitor's mind a few months back, which grew rapidly into a sapling since. Whether it will mature and bear fruit eventually remains to be seen. I hope they will be blessed like the other migrants I met and had settled down well since.


  1. Will be visiting Western Australia early next month for my honeymoon. My fiancee has never really visited an ang moh country with the freshest of air, wide open spaces and lots of beautiful scenery. I am taking this opportunity to give her an idea of what WA is like and why I had fallen in love with it since the day I arrived as an undergraduate student. Through this trip I hope she can appreciate why I have always wanted to migrate.

  2. Also, I have been inspired by your posts in doing up your new place almost single-handedly. We're now in the midst of looking for an ID to do up the pigeonhole we just bought.

  3. Great article. I can feel the fear now at this age to move. When I was younger, I am invisible!!! Now Kia.