Turning Back

We had a nice chat at an unusual location on Christmas night. None of us who participated in the conversation qualify to apply for the Australian citizenship actually. However, I spoke to many who were not considering taking it up in spite of their eligibility. The reasoning is that Singaporeans here in Perth think that we have a bridge behind our backs. That we can return to Singapore anytime if anything goes wrong.  But things go wrong all the time, everywhere, anywhere. In the event of an economic crisis or retrenchment in Perth, are we going to get a job if we return to Singapore? That is something worth debating about. No matter how strong anyone's case is, the fact is - no one has an answer or can guarantee a better outcome if we return for Singapore for jobs.

Since things are uncertain, we may have a better yield going to Vietnam to repair bicycles if the only reason to leave Perth when chips are down is economic driven. In truth, we place Singapore in our thoughts because many of us still regard it as home subconsciously. Thusara and Alvin put me to shame with their latest Singapore news on Christmas Eve. I realised how 'detached' I was just a few weeks of not keeping up with Singapore's happenings.

The speed of change in Singapore is something that most of us here could not feel. It was amusing to see how each Singaporean here having a different image of Singapore in their mind. The differences were stark, according to how many years the Singaporean had been away. In time to come, a newly arrived Singaporean would be telling me exasperatedly, 'Nooooo. It's not like that anymore!' or 'The population isn't 5.18M long ago' or 'There isn't anymore HDB flats under 400k.' The first time I felt I have been away long enough was when I heard about the new COE prices. My eyes was dislodged from their sockets and left bouncing on Grace's new tiles.

Back to the Singaporeans' mentality of wanting two bites of the cherry. In truth, there can never been two harbour bays waiting for one ship. All these are illusions. Singapore would have changed beyond our recognition by the time any of us decided to return for good. The employment dynamics would have changed, so will the environment and the people. It will be a stranger in a familiar place, almost another migration all over again. Do any of us have the luxury of starting all over again, once again? Unfortunately it wasn't a case where we could discard changes, load the game and redo it.

Sure, any one of us can do a U-turn anytime we want. There is little to stop us for doing so. If we had made the difficult decision to leave the safe cosy shores of Singapore, we can do the same thing again. In reality, it is easier said than done. Until then the red passport is just a psychological relief that we hug to sleep at night and tell ourselves everything will be okay and if things don't go well, this little book to open up a portal to safe haven. If we sit down, disenchant ourselves and think over it clearly, most commoners will see one path ahead no bridges behind us.


  1. The pre-Christmas and Boxing Day crowd in Metro Vancouver's malls freaked me out. Then my Singaporean friend remarked that it's just like Orchard Road on a weekend. It occurred to me that I have become used to the space here. Moving back to Singapore would mean another round of adjustment -- which as you wrote, it's not unlike another round of migration. Nah, I don't want to carry that thought to sleep!

    1. Orchard Road on a weekend in the year 2000 may be a bit different from last weekend. It'll take a while for anywhere in Vanvouver to be as crowded as the Singapore. Perth is getting denser by the day too. We'll be able to enjoy the space till then. May it be later than sooner