Singapore Will Always be Home

After living in Perth for 5 years, one thing never changed. Singapore will always have a special place in my heart. I feel bad though, because Perth has treated me rather well. To illustrate, after my last post, a petrol kiosk I drove past dropped their fuel to $0.0, free for me, as if to show me what they meant by REAL service. That was awfully amazing, I have to say I was almost swayed. Unfortunately, there was still no attendant assigned at the station to fill up for me. You know, like how they do it in Singapore, by giving our elderly the chance to exercise. When one of the uncles called out to me cheerfully and asked, "What you want to pump, Sir?" I felt upper class. Singapore just have the knack to make us feel at home.


Now that reminds me, I can't fathom why the folks employed to clear our plates in the Perth foodcourts are young and fit people. Our great leader PM Lee said Singaporeans are unwilling to take up such jobs in Singapore. As such, those vocations have been outsourced to either foreign workers or the PA Fit Club for the elderly. With a population of just 1.8 million in Perth, it is a shocker that I still see some of the local Aussies taking up these jobs. It doesn't make sense. It can only mean one thing, Australia is not as First World as Singapore. 


To comfort ourselves, Singaporeans in Perth tend to seek solace in the comfort of their houses. The common 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a double garage sitting on 450 sqm of freehold land on the median price of $500,000 seems more than adequate to mend the morale. Alas, after finding out this kind of money was only used to build a bin centre in Singapore, smaller than the garage where I park my satki Honda Jazz, I just can't feel upper class here anymore. I am contemplating moving back to live in a more expensive DBSS or EC to get the vibes back.

Winter days in Perth have been challenging. We have frost for a couple of mornings and thick fog occasionally. I debated with myself which is the greater evil. The fog in Perth and haze in Singapore. In the end, I tipped it towards the fog because for haze, I could wear a mask and pretend I cannot respond when strangers in Perth start chatting me up again. If only we have that annual haze festival in Perth. Oh well, I can't expect anywhere else to be perfect like Singapore. It is a paradise after all. Perth comes close, but not quite.

Spring is coming soon. I told Judy I would take her to view wildflower fields growing in the ... hmm ... wild. You know, those acres of land with no end in sight full of flowers. Down at Serpentine, you have a natural waterfall. Further down south, you have a Red Tingle tree forest, that holds giant vintage trees, one at 24 metres, the largest, living, girthed eucalypt known in the world. These will be fantastic to explore in early Spring, where the day temperature will be in low 20s and lots and lots more. Before I got carried away, Judy reminded me there is the billion dollar garden that has giant trees, flowers all over, an indoor waterfall all in a comfortable air conditioner setting. It costs only 1 billion dollars to built that but since it is a one-stop-for-all, Gardens by the Bay is well worth it. That way, Singaporeans can experience Perth without boarding a plane. Brilliant!


My friend Faruk told me he felt more racism during his days in Singapore than Melbourne, where he is living now. How is that possible? I wonder what Faruk have been smoking. Just the other day, the courier driver I met exclaimed, "Your English is really good mate! Where are you from?" So racist. Can't a non-white be decent at speaking English? Last week my Aussie neighbour knocked on my door with a wide grin and introduced himself. He told me he was sweeping up sand on the street abutting our houses and offered to sweep the sand on my side too. So racist. Did he think I was a sick man of south-east Asia? I told him I would join him to clean the street up to challenge his white superiority. I ended the clear winner with 3 wheelbarrows to 1. Take that. Now who is the hard Yakka, mate? Back in Singapore, I never feel any racism before as a Chinese and we have racial harmony day in schools.


Ever since the AUD began to fall, I haven't slept well for months. At this rate, I won't even be able to afford to send my parents to JB when the time comes. Since Marilyn is stuck in Singapore, I have to eat out and boy, the meals in Perth are bloody expensive! Gone were the good ol' days where I could sing my favourite national day song Count Money, Singapore. That feeling when the cute Indian girl in front turned around when I belted out the "Count money to buy the best of all!" part was unforgettable. She looked kinda annoyed, I still wonder why. 


Oddly enough, the Aussie blokes never panic about anything. "No worries, mate!" they said. Really? Not even when more Singaporeans are flooding into Australia every year? The nerve. They wear the same kind of work wear everyday and don't give a shit about what bling watch I wear or the brand of my shoes. They bring their lunch boxes to work and wolf it up during the 30 minutes lunch break, work hard and knock off on the dot. They don't give a shit how much my daughter scored in her Mathematics exams too, because there are no exams in Primary Schools here. I almost feel absolutely no pressure to keep up with the Jones here but as a Singaporean, I have to make sure the spurs are continuously stuck into my hide so as not to let my countrymen and our founding father down. I love these Aussie blokes but business is business mate.


Last week, the HR manager came up to me and told me, "Hey, you've gotta clear up some leave y'know." Talking about that, during my job interview I was told by my boss I was entitled "1 month's annual leave." Needless to say, I was delighted. So, imagine how cheated I felt when I found out it actually meant 20 days of annual leave instead of 30 days because "I only work 20 days a month." That was pure dishonesty. Also, I was told that sick leave is termed "personal leave" here. We can take personal leave as sick leave, as well as attending to other family related reasons, such as taking kids to the doctor, accompanying the wife to the gynae or taking her car to the mechanic. My company told me we are not required to produce an MC for a 1 day sickie. Some companies are okay with no MC for 2 days. That sounds okay to me, until I found that we are only given 10 days of personal leave. Compared to 14 days of sick leave in Singapore, that is robbery!


A few years ago, my friend Grace, who is a nurse, bid me goodbye before she went on a long holiday. I asked her, "How the heck can you go away for an entire month?" She told me it was her long service award and explained to me under the Long Service Leave Act in WA, an employee working in the same business for 10 years of continuous employment will be entitled 8 weeks paid leave. For every 5 years of continuous employment working in the same business after the initial 10 years, she will be entitled 4 paid leave. All these are too confusing to me. I prefer the down-to-earth approach in Singapore of 14 days AL and 14 days MC, never mind how often it took me more than 2 hours in a polyclinic to get my MC, leaving me just half a day to nurse that raging fever. They were already nagging at me to clear my annual leave, imagine the noise if I make it to long service leave. I don't just need a mask, get me some ear plugs too.


When I was unemployed for 8 months in Singapore, I sat along Clarke Quay one day watching the Singapore River. The river was constantly flowing and reflected the morning sun beautifully back at me. I wondered if I would ever find something better than that. The Swan River of Perth is a long one that divides Perth by the north and south, leading to the Indian Ocean at the mouth. According to Patrick who jogs along the river in his earlier years here, dolphins can be spotted swimming along as he jogs and gave full praise. Oh come on, we can see dolphins at the amazing Universal Studios in Singapore, captive and available any time. Nobody has time to wait for random dolphins wading by. Besides, I have yet to see a single tourist boat or Duck Ride along Swan River. It is breathtakingly peaceful but where is the vibrancy? You know, the waving tourists used to cheer me up a little during my unemployment in Singapore. They should spend 3 million dollars to rename Singapore River as The River of Hope.


Perth gives me weird vibes and that begins on television. Where are the weight-loss or hair growth advertisements? I've yet to see a single one in 5 years. Where are the bright kids who scored 298 for PSLE after drinking some chicken essence introduced to every Singaporean in the bus stops? As I learn about Perth, I found more shocking facts about the people here. When they buy their cars, boats, outdoor pizza stoves, they do not post pictures on Facebook! If people do not worry about their appearance, brag about their kids and material gains to friends, how do you feel the prosperity and progress of our society? All they have left is happiness, which is just not good enough.

With my life expectancy projected by the Singapore government, I should be still alive by the time we celebrate SG100. I wouldn't miss that for anything. In fact, I will be spending the next 49 years in Perth creating 100 handcrafted limited edition SG100 tissue paper so that I can bring them along with me, with my DIY wheelchair built with the tools I got from Bunnings. I'll be careful to set aside the nominal fee of $866.00 (corrected for 49 years of inflation) for my annual licence to sell tissue paper on the street. 


I know exactly where I would like to peddle my exquisite SG100 tissue paper - at the River of Hope, where the river always flow.



3 comments:

  1. Australia seems like a scary place

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  2. SG got 14 days sick leave meh? I tot it was 5 days in my time and must LAN LAN not use it (if sick use annual leave) so that you can get paid off for not touching one second of sick leave to get all 5 days paid out at the end of calendar year

    ReplyDelete