If you make a move to Australia, all will be well and you will live happily ever after. I am sorry if I misled any of you to think that way, lest the Singaporeans already in Australia started demanding answers for "Why I no happy?"

It is true I may be happier here, but not the way you think. I didn't look at Australia with dreamy wet eyes before I came. I always knew things would only get worse, not better. The weather would only get worse. Standard of living would only decline. Houses would get more expensive and eventually priced out of the ordinary working class. Roads would get hellishly congested. The metropolitan region would gain density and size until it would be logistically impossible to stay efficient and yield to building upwards. School children would be stressed out with extreme competition and would face unemployment issues upon years and years of academic investment. The economy would go on a bear run for more than a decade (and I don't need an economist to tell me so). Locals would have their tolerance limits tested and eventually give way to (radical) xenophobic-ism. Ooh, what a painfully familiar story.

Since it will all turn out the same, or worse, eventually so why did I bother? Well I moved to buy the inches, the precious inches that are fast dwindling in Singapore. When the "Cheaper, Faster, Better" mantra came out, even atom in me told me I better go. A good bull fighter never lose sight of an escape route should his fight goes awry. The wise will never have their backs against the wall, for you need space to back down. Heck, you need space for a good momentum leap even if you decide to scale the wall at last resort.

Am I making excuse for "quitting"? No and there isn't a need for any. All of us were descendants of so call "quitters" that someone disrespectfully put it, including himself really. There is nothing wrong fighting for the inches that threatens our survival. We were in an environment where interest rates could not be cut much further to stimulate the economy yet we were told to celebrate prosperity. Our children were fighting in a pernicious arena where the PSLE score of 280 was no longer considered outstanding enough. Our roads were bursting at their seams that even an ambulance could not get to destination on time. Many of us were a critical illness away from bankruptcy. We were told to work more for less and we could certainly do so but the questions were, how much longer, faster and cheaper could we go? When things will not work out even if we work 24 hours a day, when even foreigners no longer accept being as cheap as they are, what then?

We needed a reboot, a place for the unhurried soul. A place where inches are still available and can be sacrificed for survival when the need arises. I didn't come here to "slack", for those days were merely clever illusions at the present, if they really existed in the past. I don't think any Singaporeans should come with the mindset of having an "easier life". Tell me, do you think I had it easy since I came? Things are definitely better than the earlier days but it is by no means "easier" than the comfortable managerial life in NParks where I hugged trees for a living. But the comfort didn't come cheap in Singapore, for I expended all the inches in the knapsack for it.

We were lucky to be a generation blessed with these inches but what about our children? Our parents slogged their guts out because they knew that would give their children a better life. They were correct and delivered. At the way things are going, not even the elites will have the confidence that their children will lead a better life than themselves, evidently so seeing how fast they send their children abroad, including the guy who called that act, "quitting." As they know the real hard truths, the inches are running out fast.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nix,

    I know this post is a little dated, but I just wanna say a big THANKS for the inspiring reads. I can relate to this particular post especially, since it's essentially the same thoughts that I've harboured for a long time. The funny thing is, I've never wanted to return to SG after my studies in Canada. I was already on the verge of getting my PR back then, but decided to give it up for family reasons and return in 2005...but my heart yearned to leave. Fast forward to 2014, and my family and I are in the final stages of our subclass 189 visa application - another two more months and I'll be looking at making the move to Melbourne. :d

    The funny thing is, I'm a civil servant (not for very long!), and hence I should have been "a part of the system"...well, let's just say that I've kept my strategic objectives well hidden these years. On the flip side of it, working in the government has given me insights on how narrow some of the policies have been - little, if any foresight - and the worrying future of SG that is to come...everything from housing, education, economy, manpower, etc.

    I often ask my friends who would listen - why are you fighting to gain a toehold in your career path? What are the gains apart from monetary one? Why are you sending your kids to enrichment/tuition/remedial classes when evidently they don't need or want it? I usually get the same resigned reply: bo choice, SG life is like that. Hence, they grumble and complain about the way SG life is everyday like a devout Buddhist monk's daily meditation, but they NEVER want to look for alternatives, or are too afraid to make the big decision, therefore, they deride the other countries as decadent, unsafe, racist, lack economic opportunities, etc. Truthfully, they are scared...they want those inches, but are too afraid.

    All I can say is...Life presents you choices. I have never personally accepted "bo pian" or "no choice" as an easy answer to life's decisions. It's amazing and yet disappointing to see so many Singaporeans resigning themselves to their own "fate" or "destiny" to fight for inches in an increasingly desperate environment.

    Yeah, they can call us "quitters", "traitors" or whatever negative-sounding names and labels...I don't give a flying f**k. I know life won't be a bed of roses in Oz (hell, it wasn't for me either in Canada) but at least I'll be happy and I can see a future for my family and I. At the end of the day, I'd like to see who will end up fighting for inches in the years to come in SG. At least I don't lose myself trying to fight for unworthy inches in a country that has long forsaken me. =))