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Plight of a Malay PMET: Singaporean dream shattered

Posted by temasektimes on March 26, 2012

A decade ago, when I joined this company, I was employed as an assistant engineer. Although the title sounds impressive, in reality I am paid relatively small despite my relevant working experience.

Over these years, I watched many foreign workers from China and the Philippines joined the company. Today, after 10 years, I’m still an assistant engineer with an insignificant jump in salary.  The Pinoys and mainland Chinese who came a few years ago are now my engineers.

With the increasing number of foreign talents, I fear quitting my job as I will face stiff competition from the foreign talents who do not mind having a lower starting pay as they have less commitments in Singapore. Their families are back home, and they only have to fend for themselves.

Unlike these foreign workers, I am married with 2 children. One of them is in primary two and the other is still a toddler. My wife works part-time as we want to ensure the children do not feel neglected during their crucial growing up years. I stay with my parents who are reaching their silver years.

With my income, I cannot afford to buy a house yet as I need to ensure the food, bills and children’s education are fully taken care. On alternate days, I work part-time as a despatch rider to earn extra money. This is a typical reality for the lower-middle income families.

Although Singapore has always experience economic boom, I honestly feel we do not benefit from the success.  The rising tide is not lifting any boat.  Definitely not mysampan. Trying to build a family and live in Singapore is not as easy. With the rising cost of living, I feel my pay has not gone up at all.

Even, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged this problem in his speech during 2011 Presidential Address Debate: “the most successful Singaporean will continue to do very well. The average Singaporeans will be able to make improvements in their lives  and are much better off than the people in other countries.  But at the lower end, incomes have risen far too slowly, especially in real terms.”

When the income of the richer households rise rapidly creating an expenditure cascade, there will be a surge in demand for bigger and better homes or luxurious cars. Inevitably, this pattern have resulted in new standards for those in the lower rung of the economic scale. Housing market is an example of this effect where median house prices become dependent on income inequality – that is the greater degrees of inequality may push up housing prices.

With skyrocketing HDB prices, the middle income group is having a difficult time to fund their safe haven. The excessive liberal foreign workers and immigration policies in the recent years are the culprits to the rising inequality and wage stagnation. High-income talent raises average incomes at the top while low-skilled foreign labour keeps wages at the bottom depressed.

Tackling the challenges of stagnant wages and rising inequality require more than just policy tweaks. A broader and more holistic rethinking of Singapore’s economic and social policies geared towards the well-being of Singaporeans will definitely receive a warm welcome.

Yazid

Posted in Commentary, Exclusives | 19 Comments »

PRC netizen rants at two elderly Singaporean aunties for cutting his queue at NTUC supermarket

Posted by temasektimes on March 24, 2012

Unhappy with two Singaporean aunties who cut his queue at a NTUC supermarket, a PRC netizen vented his anger on the Lion City Forum.

In a thread titled “Why are Singaporean aunties of inferior quality” (新加坡的老太太怎么这么没素质), “1pondo” described his unhappy experience which is not the first time:

[Source: Lion City Forum]

He added sarcastically that the Singaporean aunties are not afraid of ‘choking to death’ by buying so many things in their trolleys.

His thread brought a torrent of comments from fellow PRC netizens, the majority of whom concurred with him that Singaporeans are of ‘inferior quality’.

One netizen wrote:

“The more they lack culture and quality, the more they look down on outsiders.”

(哎,个别是这样,他们越是没什么文化,素质,他们越是看不起我们外来的。)

Another chipped in:

“Why didn’t they meet me? I won’t let them off.”

(怎么没碰上我,奶奶的,看我不收了他)

“Dawing” described Singaporean elderly women as ‘disgusting':

“I also share the same sentiment that Singaporean elderly women are most disgusting and always despise others especially those from small shops or selling drinks.”

(我也有同感 新加坡的老太太最恶心的 超级变态 狗眼看人低 特别是一些小卖店的 或者卖水的。。。。)

It is not known if ‘1pondo’ is a Singapore PR and new citizen. With the continued influx of large number of PRC immigrants into Singapore, such everyday conflicts are likely to rise in the future.

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Related articles:

PRC woman scolded by Singaporean uncle for placing child on food court counter

Singaporean scolds PRC sales assistant ‘dog’ as Sun Xu saga rambles on

PRC undergraduate apologizes for calling Singaporeans ‘worthless farts’

PRC girl living in Singapore despises Singaporeans

PRC man insults Singaporeans: You are not worth even a ‘fart’

PRC man punched Singaporean over staring incident at Chinatown

Posted in Commentary, Exclusives | 11 Comments »

Painful experience of a local PMET working in financial sector

Posted by temasektimes on March 16, 2012

Globalisation has reared its ugly head in Singapore for the past few years and many PMETs increasingly find themselves being replaced by cheaper workers from abroad.

I am just an ordinary true blue Singaporean who started work in the private sector in  1998 after having completed my Navy contract of six and a half years.

I wished to share my painful experience of  globalization in the financial sector – an industry that I have worked in for the past ten years.

I started as a contract IT engineer working in the local bank for almost 5 years since year 2000.  They name this contract job as “Fixed Time Hirer” meaning that the contract would only be renewed  yearly based on your service and performance.   Talked about a lack of job security here…

I have given my utmost best  to the clients I served and also taken a lot of projects from time to time to allow the employers to know that I am a good employee.

During this period, I was hoping to join them as a permanent staff  after working with them for so many years but regardless of how much effort I have put into my work, they would not consider me for a permanent role.

After 2 years, another IT company bade  for the contract and was successfully  awarded  the IT servicing agreement. We have to transit to this new company after negotiating the hiring agreement.

It has been a rough transition as there were many parties involved in amending the changes and processes eg IT policies , risks, services and charges.

After a while,  I resigned from the company as I knew that  the vicious cycle of politicking will never end even though  I love the job scope over there.

Fortunately, I have already found an permanent  IT job in one of the Swiss Investment Bank.  It was fine during the first and second year and  due to the career “mobility program” that the company has implemented across all departments  and also based on  my good performance –  eventually I moved over to a permanent role called  London Trade Support which required night shift duties.

Everything went smooth sailing until the year 2009  when  Lehman went down which led to Asian financial crisis but there is minimal  impact on my firm as they do not need any bailout from the government.

Surprisingly,  they made an announcement in May 2009 that  the whole operation department –  which consisted  of 200 plus mostly-local  headcount – will be deployed by departmental level  to India,

By Oct 2009, many cheaper  faster Indian foreigners were sitting side by side with us  for  hands-on  training conducted  by soon-to-be-jobless local Singaporeans.  The feeling is sickening to say the least.

Next, the management informed us to do a mobility interview so that we could be re deployed to India.

Many of us were also unsure how the mobility interview  will turn out as it is perceived as a political game played to smoothen the attrition process. Ultimately, I believe, that most of us will be retrenched in due time.

There is another minority group of people who really struggled to stay afloat by going through the rounds of mobility interviews  due to family commitments as they did not want to be jobless during this tough economic period.

Eventually, they also got  depressed  during this period   as they faced  competition from  fellow  colleagues fighting for the few roles which might eventually be also  deployed to India. Friends sadly became enemies and I saw the ugly side of humanity here.

As for me, after going through  12  rounds of interviews for 6 different roles and was not eventually selected for even one   though I have been working with the firm for 5 years – I felt totally lost and disappointed.

In fact, I am really ashamed of myself for not being able to hold on to a job all this while or tell anyone about my plight – I  have totally lost confidence in whatever I do now.

I have been trying to understand the problem in a fair, rational and objective way but nothing could make me feel that anyone here in Singapore has benefited from such an open-door globalization system.

I agreed that we should not be closed up and that globalization is the necessary by product to an increased GDP but our government should not over look the basic needs of local Singaporeans from gaining access to equal employment rights.

I have tactfully raised the issue on the hiring  of the Indian foreigners during the deployment exercise and asked the management whether  are they  really cheaper, faster and better?

Do they work more productively  in the workplace or are they simply just cheaper?

Do they really possessed special skill sets and creativity  that local home-grown Singaporeans lack?

The only lone answer we got from the management was: “They are cheaper.”

The Indian foreigners have nothing better to offer  as they started with zero knowledge in the financial sector  – I have to train them from scratch literally.

Not only do they displace our local Singaporeans from basic livelihood but we are also offered little protection from such massive re deployment exercise from our government. It was like you were been sent to the slaughter houses as sheep waiting to be axed and your guard dogs were not anywhere in sight.

I feel that the slew of work permits easily available to employers have effectively enslave Singapore to foreign investors. Its like selling our country away to foreigners out here to make a quick buck from our business-friendly environment.

More can be done to ensure that the basic needs of local Singaporeans are well taken care of first before we open up the flood gates of jobs to foreigners.

If we have to fight with our foreign friends for basic survival rights in our own country, how can I really conscientiously defend my own country when there is a war-like situation?

I don’t even feel belonged in my own country anymore…

Source: Transitioning.org

Reproduced with kind permission from Mr Gilbert Goh

Posted in Commentary, Exclusives | 6 Comments »

NTU MOE PRC scholar: I want to apply for Singapore PR to buy HDB flat

Posted by temasektimes on March 15, 2012

Singapore PR is a prized ‘catch’ for many foreigners working in Singapore not only because it helps them to find a well-paying job, they are able to use it to purchase a resale HDB flat which they can monetize eventually for a hefty profit after they leave Singapore.

26 year old Weng Kang from Liaoning province came to Singapore to pursue a Master degree in Civil Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University on a MOE scholarship.

Due to the abrupt change in government policies, he was not invited to apply for Singapore PR upon graduating in 2010 as was the norm in the past.

Mr Weng is desperate to obtain a Singapore PR so that he can marry his long-time girlfriend and buy a resale HDB flat in Singapore.

In an interview with a Chinese online portal, he said:

“It’s preferable to have a home of our own after marriage so that we will have a feeling of returning home after work each day.”

(不过翁康认为,要组织一个家庭,无论如何、无论大小,都应该拥有自己的房子。)

He readily admits he is unable to afford buying a private property:

“The  government introduced a slew of cooling measures last year which required foreigners to pay an additional stamp duty of 10 percent which makes private housing even more unaffordable for me now.”

(“政府去年底又突然推出房地产降温措施,外国买家须支付房产售价或估价10%的额外买方印花税,更让我买不起私房。”)

Mr Weng will be applying for Singapore PR again in April together with other fellow ‘comrades’ from China. Despite the introduction of more measures early this year to cool the property market, the prices of resale HDB flats continue to increase.

 

Related articles:

NTU PRC scholar threatens to break bond if his PR application is rejected again

NTU PRC scholar: 50 percent of scholars break their bonds

NUS students invited to mentor PRC scholars

MOE PRC scholar left Singapore to return to China

MOE PRC scholar chose U.S. instead of Singapore to continue tertiary education

 

 

Posted in Commentary, Exclusives | 6 Comments »

NTU MOE PRC scholar threatens to break bond and return to China for good if his PR application is rejected again

Posted by temasektimes on March 14, 2012

Bond-breaking among foreign scholars appears to be a common phenomenon nowadays which the Singapore government can do little to prevent as large amount of public funds continues to get ‘wasted’ on nurturing foreigners instead of locals.

chinanews.com carried a feature in January this year on the plight of PRC scholars studying in Singapore who were left in limbo after the government halted its usual practice of sending them invitation letters to apply for Singapore PR upon graduation.

Without the letter, it is more difficult for these scholars to find a stable well-paying job in Singapore.

24 year old Dong Zhi Hong (董志鸿) graduated from Shenyang University in 2009 and came to study his Masters in Nanyang Technological University on a Singapore government scholarship which required him to work in Singapore for three years upon graduation.

Unlike Singaporeans who have to pay through their noses to study for a Master Degree in NTU, Mr Dong not only studied at NTU for free, he was also given a generous living and housing allowance.

PRC scholars are ‘automatically’ invited to become a Singapore PR upon graduation. However, because of the abrupt change in the government’s immigration policies, not only did Mr Dong not receive the ‘standard’ invitation letter from ICA, his PR application was rejected twice in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Dong said he intends to apply for Singapore PR this year and if it is rejected again, he will break his bond and return to China for good, stressing the bond will not be a factor.

“I know Singaporeans now feel there are too many foreigners, but Singapore also need foreigners at the same time,” he added.

(今年他打算再申请一次永久居民,若还是被拒就会索性回中国,而奖学金合约也将不是限制他的因素。他说:“我知道本地人认为现在外来人口太多,但新加坡同时也需要外国人。”)

Mr Dong proposed the ICA should change the criteria for prospective immigrants:

“Those construction workers, laborers holding work permits will not immigrate as they just want to earn more money and return home. Only highly educated talents will consider immigration. ICA should spell out the criteria clearly. Which type of people has no hope? What are the reasons for an application being rejected?”

(董志鸿认为,移民与关卡局应改变现有的移民程序。他说:“那些做基础建设、持工作准证的外劳基本上不会移民,因为他们只想多赚一点钱衣锦还乡。想移民的人,其实是接受过高等教育的高端人才。然而,当局却没有一个移民标准。什么样的人没有希望?申请被拒是因为什么原因?往后应该如何补救?完全没有方向感。”)

The government should reveal the number of foreign scholars who break their bonds each year as well as the costs incurred. A foreigner studying in a Singapore university is a place deprived for a local. More resources should be diverted to ensure Singaporeans and NOT foreigners get a quality tertiary education here.

 

Related articles:

NTU PRC scholar: 50 percent of scholars break their bonds

NUS students invited to mentor PRC scholars

MOE PRC scholar left Singapore to return to China

MOE PRC scholar chose U.S. instead of Singapore to continue tertiary education

Posted in Commentary, Exclusives | 11 Comments »

NTU PRC scholar: 50 percent of my schoolmates break their bonds and return to China for good

Posted by temasektimes on March 13, 2012

The percentage of foreign scholars breaking their bonds and leaving Singapore for good each year is a tightly kept ‘state secret’ for a long time, but a report published in a Chinese news portal may shed some light on it.

chinanews.com carried a feature in January this year on the plight of PRC scholars studying in Singapore who were left in limbo after the government halted its usual practice of sending them invitation letters to apply for Singapore PR upon graduation.

Without the letter, it is more difficult for these scholars to find a stable well-paying job in Singapore.

24 year old Dong Zhi Hong (董志鸿) graduated from Shenyang University in 2009 and came to study his Masters in Nanyang Technological University on a Singapore government scholarship which required him to work in Singapore for three years upon graduation.

Unfortunately, because of the abrupt change in policies, Mr Dong did not receive the PR invitation letter when he graduated in 2010 which left him without a proper ‘status’ for a period of time.

Speaking to chinanews.com, he said:

“About 50 percent of my schoolmates did not serve their bonds with the government and return to China. They won’t be coming back in the future either.”

(“大概50%的同学没有履行合约就回国了,未来他们也不特别想回来。”)

Mr Dong did not reveal if the bond-breakers were made to pay damages to the Singapore government like local scholars who broke bonds, but one thing for sure, they were not ‘shamed’ publicly as the shocking news was censored by the state media.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Law Ms Sim Ann revealed recently in Parliament that the Singapore government spends some $36 million dollars on scholarships to over two thousand students each year, or about S$174,000 per scholar.

Till today, nobody knows the number of foreign scholars who left Singapore for good each year either after serving their bonds or breaking their bonds halfway to do so.

With NUS PRC scholar Sun Xu being let off the ‘hook’ by NUS and allowed to graduate this year, he can simply return to China for good without serving his bond and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Related articles:

NUS students invited to mentor PRC scholars

MOE PRC scholar left Singapore to return to China

MOE PRC scholar chose U.S. instead of Singapore to continue tertiary education

Posted in Commentary, Exclusives | 14 Comments »

EXCLUSIVE: Ex-MOE PRC scholar chose U.S. instead of Singapore to pursue his tertiary studies

Posted by temasektimes on March 1, 2012

The Singapore government might have generously supported his secondary and college education, but that still doesn’t stop Liu Yuchen, an ex-MOE PRC scholar from leaving Singapore eventually to pursue his university education elsewhere.

Like the much maligned PRC scholar Sun Xu who sparked nationwide outrage with his now infamous remarks on there ‘being more dogs than humans in Singapore’, Mr Liu came to Singapore to study when he is at a tender age of 14 or 15, signing a ‘contract’ with one of Singapore’s top junior colleges, National Junior College for four years:

“I had a 4-year contract with National Junior College when I enrolled, meaning I would stay with NJC’s Integrated Programme for 4 years without taking O-Levels and such. This was technically not an MOE scholarship as it’s directly sponsored by another Chinese-related commercial group (from what I was told when I applied). However all of us scholars from China or ASEAN were monitored by MOE and our grant comes from MOE’s account (I’m not sure how the whole thing works.).” he wrote in a comment posted on The Temasek Times.

After completing his studies at NJC, Mr Liu was offered a MOE scholarship to continue his studies in either NUS or NTU, but he managed to obtain an international scholarship from the United States and chose to study at Georgetown University where he majored in Science, Accounting and Finance.

“As such, after my graduation from JC I was not under any obligation to stay. I did receive offers from NUS and NTU and had the option to sign the bond you were referring to. But eventually weighing all my options I decided to go to the US.”

[Source: Mr Liu’s Linkedin]

Mr Liu is currently on internship as a Equity Research Assistant at a prestigious U.S. financial firm Morgan Stanley. Though Mr Liu acknowledges the role of Singapore in ‘nurturing’ him, he is unlikely to return to Singapore in the near future:

“It was hard to put down NUS and I still kid with my friends that perhaps after one big round around the world I would find my way back to Singapore again.”

While we must give Mr Liu due credit for his hard work to achieve where he is today, we wonder if he will have the same opportunity to do so had he remained in China where the education system is vastly different from ours and the United States. Singapore offers a comparative advantage to other Asian countries for prospective students to study in the United States because of our strong command of the English language.

Unlike Singapore, the United States required foreigners to pass a rigorous English Language Proficiency Test like TOEFL before they can set foot on their soil.

According to an insider, MOE sends its officials to the major cities of China annually to recruit bright college students with good academic results to study in Singapore. Not only is their education entirely free and paid for by a mixture of government grants and sponsorship from the private sector, they are also entitled to a generous living and housing allowance.

The idea behind the programme is to ‘catch’ potential gifted students when they are still young in the hope that they will remain in Singapore and contribute to the nation in the future. The number of foreign scholars who leave Singapore for good in search of greener pastures elsewhere each year like Mr Liu remains a mystery to this very day.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Law Ms Sim Ann revealed recently in Parliament that the Singapore government spends some $36 million dollars on scholarships to over two thousand foreign students each year, or about S$174,00 per scholar.

The Sun Xu saga has put the Singapore government’s foreign scholarship programme under intense public scrutiny with many calling for it to be reviewed to better serve the interests of native Singaporeans instead of foreigners. Even Mr Liu who had benefited greatly from the programme himself felt it is time for a review:

“Perhaps this (Sun Xu saga) even prompts a more thorough review of the entire talent recruiting program from abroad to ensure that students offered scholarships are more holistic.”

 

Related articles:

Ex-MOE PRC scholar slams Sun Xu

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:

This exclusive article is written by one of our external writers who wishes to remain anonymous. No part of it, with the exception of a link to this page, can be reproduced without prior permission from the author. Please contact us at temasektimes@yahoo.com if you wish to republish this article for your personal use.

Posted in Exclusives | 1 Comment »

 
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