News and views from an unique perspective

Retrenched PMET Singaporean forced into taxi-driving encounters FTs enjoying life in Singapore everywhere

Posted by temasektimes on June 7, 2012

As the great NTUC has recently launched its new book about taxidrivers in S’pore (called ‘Taxi tales’), I thought I might just offer some of my own insights as an ex-PMET turned cabbie on these hot issues of unemployment/underemployment causing white collar jobs to becoming scarce for S’poreans and the prevalence of fts everywhere in this tiny red dot island nation of ours.

I was retrenched 2 years ago and like many other PMETs deemed economically unviable at age of late 40s, couldn’t find any form of employment whatsoever so ended up taking the hard option of driving taxi. This was a year ago and after some hard knocks and several wake-up calls, I am now “ adjusted” to working 12 hours each day sitting behind the steering wheel when before, it was a nice cozy office and a desk! Obviously, I had also made some interesting observations and had several not-so-pleasant encounters with fts from time to time during my stint as a cabbie.

For someone who used to earn 80k per annum for a desk job now reduced to driving taxi, I cannot help but envy the good life most of the expatriates and fts enjoy whereas us locals cannot find work except drive taxis or be security guards. Why envy? Well more often than not, most white collar fts (Caucasian or otherwise) working in Singapore resides in luxurious condos as they normally secure employment terms & benefits that would include condominium type housing or a good enough paying salary to afford to rent one.

For those working in the CBD, this is almost a prerequisite for most expats since the option of living in our heartlands i.e HDB estates would be unthinkable! This is true as I once got an Aussie in my cab who came to Singapore first time for work here; he asked me about his housing options and wanted one that was affordable, so I innocuously mentioned “ HDB” or public housing! At this,, he immediately wrinkled his nose upwards in disgust as if I had mentioned some leper colony and quickly asked me to bring him to the nearest condo locations that were within the vicinity of the CBD for him to scout around. (yes, yes I know now many staying HDB bec more accepting ‘local terms’ as compared to before!)

Many a mornings is spent busily ferrying Indian & Caucasian FTs from their condos in Tanjong Rhu & Meyer Road to the CBD in their mad rush to reach their office before 9am. On one occassion, I ended up in River Valley when 3 young Pinoys boarded my taxi , all of whom were perhaps below 30 yrs old. Wow, they were staying in what looked like a sparklingly new mouth-watering condo, with monthly rental perhaps running into 5 figures a month (using my layman’s estimation). I cannot help but wonder how come even Pinoy FTs who come here to work can afford such high-end condos.

Inside the taxi, all 3 were soon chattering away about their work politics so I was quickly hearing this and that (other Pinoy colleague) got promoted to VP and already submitted resignation. More chatter ensued about “so and so also got job offers here and coming over from Philippines”, “this one and that one got headhunted for higher package”, and phrases like “recruitment exercise” and “hr interviews” were bandied about ever so much to reflect the surely red-hot job market in the CBD / Shenton Way area which start to seemingly look like a “hire fts only” club!

Oh I am sure the so-many MNCs out there in our world-class financial district do not employ frivolously and take in only those with relevant experience but I can’t help but wonder how come only fts enjoy this “privilege ” whereas us locals seems to be completely shut out from this employment landscape??? This impulse again came out of my own sheer jealousy, as after all, I do possess a Degree in economics and finance from an accredited Australian university on which I foolishly spent some 100K in the ‘80s but now having to drive taxi since no better job available (other than security guard or $5per hr car park valet, both jobs i work as when I was desperately unemployed).

Indeed, I may have previously worked in Banking & in Shenton Way & do possess an impressive array of work experience and qualifications . So What! Unfortunately for me, the “hard truth” is that any prospective employer who takes the first look at my resume and reads “50yr old Singaporean” at the start of it, will surely throw it into the scrap bin and perhaps let out a hearty laugh as if to say “who is he kidding!”. Yes, I know this because I myself had sent hundreds of job applications to such employers without a single reply, let alone any job interview being given for my wasteful efforts.

This is not to say I have anything personal against pinoys FTs per se. NO ! In fact, I find that the pinoys are always very respectful & courteous to me , addressing me as “uncle” at every turn of the conversation. I hardly get any complaints from the Pinoy fts and they remain my favourite customers since I started driving taxi. However, the same cannot be said for some fts of other nationalities whom I had occasional yet unfortunate run-ins with when driving taxi.

Here are just some exasperating examples of some of my unhappy encounters with fts:

– young aussie expat got into my cab one rainy morning, hailed me from bus-stop during morning rush hour. Bec he really took his time getting into my taxi with his just-ironed work clothes and belongings, buses and cars behind kept honking me like crazy because this young upstart angmor really moving so slowly like as if he was the Queen of England and all this while, poor me having a mild heart attack due to his nonchalance! Once inside taxi, arrogantly instructed me to go “fastest way”, where there is “no traffic jam”. What??? This is rush hour, how on earth can this poor taxiuncle know where got no traffic jam since practically everywhere traffic jams on a rainy day! We bantered on verbally in the taxi, this angmor of course in a very condescending tone while l continue belittling myself with constant salutations of “Sorry boss”, “Yes Boss” etc. In the end, he kept insisting that I go the way that will bring him to the CBD in the shortest and fastest possible route since I was “the taxidriver” and that the rest such as rush hour traffic and rain were just mere excuses that he didn’t want to listen to. So what to do?? Swallow all semblance of pride and just act subserviently & drive like a madman, weaving in and out of traffic. End of it all, only a $10 fare which included peak hr charges. So damn frustrated that I couldn’t help but to curse silently under my breath in my native Hokkien during the journey for really spoiling my mood for the entire day;

– female Indian ft staying Orchard condo made call booking after midnite one Friday. Once got on board my taxi , she noticed the taximeter and hollered that she was ‘wronged’ bec the operator didn’t explain that the starting fare would total $7.50 (i.e $3.00 starting fare + $1.50 midnight chrg + $2.50 booking fee). Despite my tedious explanations breaking down the fare to her in painstaking details, she just brushed off my explanations and surily told me off that she was “not happy” and will lodge a complaint against me for over-charging when I actually did nothing wrong whatsoever;

– took this American guy on round trip from his Orchard Rd condo to Airport and back. All fine and dandy until on the way back, he suddenly got angry and interrogated me as to why I did not take Rochor Rd and took Stamford Rd instead. Whole distance was perhaps a few hundred metres longer and was already past midnight when traffic was sparse but American guy was adamant that he was “taken for a ride” so wanted to lodge complaint. I felt miserable and even offered to refund the entire $40 fare to him but he wouldn’t budge. I literally cried that night at my miserable luck of ending up as taxidriver and facing such unkind fts who are so unforgiving;

– picked up two British fts from Orchard Towers who lashed out at me suddenly when I failed to take the shortcut from Anguila Park Rd and had taken Paterson Rd instead to get onto Orchard Boulevard, which is abt some 100m longer distance. They wanted to dock me $5 and hollered that “as taxidriver u shd know the way”! OMG, what a heinous crime I committed, but this time I didn’t not give way, told them to disembark my taxi if they were unhappy and making such a scene over a tiny human error. When I got slightly confrontational, they suddenly became more accommodating and started to just “forgive and forget”. I remained fuming mad but didn’t say anything only to curse myself for having ended up in this sad occupation!
To summarise, my point is this: On the one hand, the burgeoning numbers of well-paid fts everywhere in Singapore is certainly a great source of paying fares for us cabbies but on the other hand, I cannot help but wonder whether the fts coming here in such unstoppable numbers thru’ the open invitation of the PAP govt has left us locally born sinkies to having no chance whatsoever to compete for any white collar jobs that becomes available here in Singapore. Worse still, for an educated ex-PMETs like myself who have reach 50 yrs of age, employers will avoid people like me like the plague, even if I asked for a pittance of the salary I was drawing as a PMET during my heyday.

Also, I want to send a message to some of you rude FTs out there. Though few and far between in number, there are some of you who enjoy treating us taxidrivers like crap with your utter arrogance and crass attitude. Perhaps you had bad experience with cabbies but not all of us are alike and likewise, I know that generally , most of you expats are very pleasant and courteous fellas. However, should you had too much to drink or had a bad day at the office, pls and pretty please don’t take it out on us poor sods taxiuncles . After all, most of u are “guests” in this country , enjoying a good living here and have jobs most of us would kill for. Please remember that we Singaporeans were here first, all this beautiful infrastructures, the clean and safe streets and wonder facilities you see and enjoy everyday, it is we Singaporeans who helped build this up!

Finally, a message to our great and illustrious PAP govt! Yes, the people truly responsible for making the lives of ordinary Singaporeans so miserable that we are unable to compete for even basic jobs and unable to cope with cost of living and have totally lost all identity to the tile we hold in our pink identity cards which states that we are “Singaporeans”. Wait just 4 years later, we had enough of your incomprehensible policies and we will make our votes count!!! For most of us working folks killing ourselves to make ends meet, we truly had enough of the PAP!



35 Responses to “Retrenched PMET Singaporean forced into taxi-driving encounters FTs enjoying life in Singapore everywhere”

  1. liz said

    my pay is $1200 for admin cum purchaser…after cpf how much only?but those FT in my company pay above 3K…haizzzz but what to do?no job more jialat!!

  2. Hi Cabbie Joe… I felt sad reading your nice story … I can totally relate to your situation… I was 42 y.o. engr. with semiconductor co. In cebu phil. No more jobs available at that age level. Then I got a break to work here in japan as qa engr. it’s been almost 6 years now I’m still here. One thing… experience co-workers in their 50s are highly respected in japanese society . I’m also glad my fellow pinoy FTs are respectfull. Nice reading your story…

  3. Failure of PAP said

    Failure of PAP:

    Singaporeans:first class citizens, second class resiedent!
    Foreigners: first class residents, second class citizens.

    Note: Second class citizens but enjoy nearly equal benefits of first class citizens

  4. Arnie said

    Cabbie Joe,

    Will you be voting for change in 2016?

  5. Steve Lee said

    I felt like crying when I read this. It has the ring of truth to it which makes it all the worse.

  6. Fed Up Singaporean said

    Omg.. I am NOT a PAP supporter and after reading your story.. I just can’t wait for GE2016 to vote them out again….

    PAP is going to bring Singapore, Singaporean culture down to the gutters if they are allowed to continue ruling Singapore…

    I just hope everything is fine for you now. Keep your chin up and all the best!

  7. Ron said

    I feel the pain when I read that Cabbie Joe cried after being insulted. Yes, it can be painful and it can break one down.

    My advice is to turn your cab into a marketing agency of One… yourself. Print your name-card and you can find very cheap online namecard printers. Advertise your qualifications. Make it a one card resume! And engage those executives in conversations where appropriate. Then pass him a card. Out of a hundred, one may respond.

    Also turn your cab into a study studio when you are cruising around for passengers or waiting in the queue. It can be motivation talks, online books, music, religious hymns, etc. Or even brushing up your language. Make those hours fruitful.

    Also keep some small exercise equipment in the boot e.g. push-up bars, maybe a hand-grip or even a chest expander. When you have a break, exercise. You are the beneficiary no one else.

    Keep those positive vibes going. Even if the job does not turn up, you have enriched your life. But more likely with a cheerful attitude you can overcome the bad trips and the stress of long-hours of driving. God bless.

  8. DPM said

    You have to ask: who are the HR executives in these companies and recruitment agencies?

    They are likely FTs themselves.

  9. Jaded said

    our pink ICs are worthless now! worse than toilet paper!

  10. goodgirl said

    Don’t worry. The FTs that treated you as crap, be it angmor or Pinoy, will also be retrenched when they reach 50 years old. Outsourcing, cheaper-better-faster also affects westerners. Many factories and companies are relocating to China, India or Mexico.

  11. by-stander said

    cant help but to agree with you…learning from your true story; i guess i have to make plans as it will become my turn after a ‘few more years’…but then no matter how many plans i can think of…my roots are here. I cant take my parents along when they dont wish to move on. in time to come…we shall united together and vote.

  12. sweetbean said

    Some of us are in denial, some are angry, some are bargaining and some in depression…and some of us have reached acceptance. These are the 5 stages of grief – the grief that Singaporeans feel over the demise of our once preciously held citizenship, our pink I/C and our red passport. Eventually, we will all reach acceptance and our grief will come to an end.

  13. Hong Kan said

    so, when you got retrenched at 48, you must have been way up the ladder, with P&L responsibility & hiring authority? how many times did you trash a resume starting with “50 year old singaporean” or the like?

  14. FadedGlory said

    Of all the pictures of FTs, you gotta pick those that seem like they are doing menial jobs and manual labour.. These Bangladeshi workers take on jobs that Singaporeans shun. AngMoh, PRC Chinese and Indian FTs are more prevalent than these guys..

  15. Hmm… I notice no Chinese FTs to complain about. They (Chinese FTs) must be angels.

    • Cabbie Joe said

      In my view, those China PRC pax one of the worst , this compounded from the fact that none of them speaks English and I am near illiterate in Mandarin. I always try to avoid picking them up but sometimes no choice esp taking from taxistands.Very irate and frustrating ppl. For example, on one occassion, I queue 30 mins at MBS casino and unfortunately “kena” a PRC lady. Time was 11.57pm so I put on $3.00 city surcharge which all taxis were entitled to anytime before 2359hrs. PRC lady started going ballistic, scolding this and that and kept arguing that it was mere few mins to midnight, why should there be surcharge.
      I gestured to that idiotic prc lady to leave the taxi if she was unhappy and she did. I not only lost my fare but also wasted half an hour in queue bec of the crazy and unreasonable PRC lady. What2do??
      Have many2 episodes with those mainlanders, want to mention cannot talk finish ah!
      As for Indian fts, OMG, truly have to swallow yr pride and ego bec they are a super frustrating lot. They will really demean you and make u feel like one of those “lower caste” ppl which they are used to in their own country where they (the brahmins) are “upper caste” and treated like loyalty whereas all others are their subservient subjects! They will order you around like you are their slaves, and they will never say a word of “thank you” or “please” at all. This bad attitude even displayed by their young children and this is systematic rudeness stemming from their bad cultural habits.
      Even a few times, got scolding by Banglas since they know everything can complain against Sporean cabbies!!!
      Drive taxi, hv to swallow shit everyday . Nowadays even worse, cabbies getting beat up and even running huge daily risks of getting into fatal accidents and crazy alcohol induced drivers who owns supercars. Risk life and limb yet still so many locals no choice but to drive cabs.
      All thanks to our great PAP gamun.

  16. aussie bogan said

    Actually regarding the first account about the Aussie being dissatisfied when you mentioned ‘HDB’ or ‘public housing’, it isn’t because of him being condescending or anything. Rather, in Australia, the government builds ‘public housing’, not unlike our HDB, for the low-income individuals to live in and therefore are charged very cheap rent. Not surprisingly, those who usually occupy these buildings are refugees and very low-income earners, and the neighbourhood would be one of high crime and dilapidation. So, because of the cultural difference- not really his fault la.

  17. Geo Goh said

    I believe it is high and dry time for the PAP to legislate companies to hire older workers starting with certain percentage like the foreign workers or some of some younger HR bastards who think they never “grow” old, when they do (hope they get same threatments.)

    The ruling party better think hard and fast before next election or I believe more opposition will be in, if not lose the mandate to rule.


  18. Daniel Koh said

    Hi Cabbie Joe,

    Sad to read about your story here. I guess I should count my blessings having migrated to Australia some 11 years ago and I am now a retiree for the past 4 years. I am now nearly 59 years old. Sometimes, I wonder what my livelihood in Singapore will be like if I had not taken the risk and decided to move. Just hang on to whatever job you are doing (I know it’s easier said than done) and hope that there will be some other better jobs in the offing for you soon. Wishing you all the very best for the future. Drive safely.

  19. bb said

    Never mind get all the cabby to vote against PAP

  20. whatever... said

    While others may feel sad at your predicament, you are the only person in this universe that should NOT feel sad for yourself. Because if you do, there is no chance for redemption.

  21. FT passenger beats S'pore cabbie unconscious said

  22. Is it some kind of conspiracy going on here? The 40-somethings are all getting retrenched! Do this retards in HR and those on corporate thrones know the god damn mother f___king meaning of retrenchment. Retrenchments are letting staff go in dire economic situations and are practiced as a last resort to ensure survival of the company. However, in many cases they let go the old staff and the very next day hire two to three more sweet young things. That you language retard is not retrenchment. How can you be sitting in HR and be upper management when you can’t understand corporate-speak. You should be FIRED! See, I used it right. I did not say retrenched which would be an insult to everyone’s intelligence here.

  23. Post to AsiaOne, T R Emeritus said

    Please post this onto http://www.t r —- there many minister and mp are reading and send a copy to LHL facebook and the Minister of Transport and MOM too.

    They are the people causing all this hardship and people are suffering in silent. Why should we Born , breed Singapore be subservient to this system and they are enjoying life and earning million dollars salary.

    Sad to hear your story, I too is also in the same state as you but struggling and lost what to do . Ten years still looking for a jobs and none come by. Now hanging in the air…the most sad thing…tens of my life is gone doing adh hoc work and piece rate work. Worse all govt related and link are the lowest pay piece rate job.

    Is time for Singaporean really stand up together and turn the tide….. we cannot allow such thing to happen here. We are being destroy by their elite self ego and interest.

  24. TaxiUncle said

    Bro Cabbie Joe. Your sad experience and example exactly mirrors mine. I too am another sad statistic of an ex-PMET Sporean, a jobless grad, one of those “structurally unemployed” like yourself and also driving taxi. I do the night shift and also encountered same unpleasant experiences just as you described, many involving overpaid fts who live in posh condos ,who wine-and-dine at the best restaurants and truly live it up here while we “jobless joes” who are singaporeans, have to take shit and kow-tow to them in our roles as taxidrivers. Yes indeed, some of these fts can be very arrogant, though not all. I hate them when they are drunk and always spouting expletives at us over small petty errors like taking wrong routes unintentionally.
    Feel sad so many of us ended in this predicament.
    Bro, I suggest u sign up as those grassroots volunteer with WP or some Opposition Party in yr spare time. Make your presence as a forgetten Sporean count! Myself I am active as a WP volunteer at Aljunied GRC.
    Agree with u that we all must join forces to kick out the useless and complacent PAP in next GE. Let’s reclaim our sovereignty of this land which the PAP had sold to the fts and made our lives turn upside down!

  25. Winston Cheng said

    Joe, maybe you can take some comfort that there are many like you out there. I’m one too.

    Actually, the cabbies here are much much better than their counterparts overseas. These bastards (including some locals) who bully cabbies, do you think they dare carry that attitude in other countries? They will be too happy to arrive in their destination safely.

    The reason why they can bully us is because the govt (who caused our misery in the first place) panders to their unreasonable whinings about our service.

    I guess we just have to bite the bullet and move on until 2016 when we can put our dissatisfaction into action.

    Have a good day and God Bless.

  26. UsedToBePAPSupporter! said

    @Cabbie Joe, I am in my forties & have a 1st Class Honours Degree in Business, I too cannot find a job after being displaced by a FT in my last job. Need to train the FT up some more & ended up the FT eventually replaced me & took over my responsibility.

    Been searching relentless for a job for the last 7 months, but so far not a single job & offer received yet due to the intense competition faced from many “qualified” FTs in Singapore market currently and many more jobless PMET Singaporeans.

    I have even tried to apply for junior level & non-managerial jobs but most of the time after I was shortlisted & had attended the respective job interviews (the interviewers themselves are mostly FTs), I was told that I am not suitable for these roles as I was from a more senior capacity previously even though I’m prepared to accept a very much lower salary & pay structure!!!

    This is all thanks to the heartless PAP Pro-Foreign Talent Immigration Policy which had seen more than 1.8 Million of them till date since Yr 2005 flooded our tiny country which further much aggravate the job market & situation here!!!

    Am contemplating now to obtain a TAXI’s License to drive a Taxi for a living instead.

    But after reading your experience sharing as a Taxi-Driver & those unpleasant encounters with those supposed FTs, it seems that I am not suitable & qualified for this role as well as I believe that I would not be able to Tolerate the Bashings & Insults coming from those FOREIGN TRASHES & FALSE TALENTS in Singapore!!!

  27. jobless local said

    well the saying goes NS FOR SINGAPOREAN , JOBS FOR FT never rings more true.

  28. muimui said

    2016….can’t wait for it to come….

  29. nomorewalkover said

    I bet the uncle vote PAPig during GE 2011.

  30. Cabbie Joe said

    Got into another unpleasant “run-in” with two drunk angmor fts which I picked up at Clarke Quay. They wanted to go back to their condo and were quite high, did’nt bother to give me directions properly. As a result, I missed the turning into his condo entrance (entirely no fault of mine) by some 100 m and one of them started shouting vulgarities, using all the “fxxx words” at me. I got fed-up and told him to leave, i didnt want his money but the smelly angmor still spewing bad words at me.
    Sad but I dont know why so many unruly fts nowadays all come here to enjoy life yet keep cursing us locals and always giving us trouble in our quest to just earn simple living.
    Did i vote PAP??? U got to be joking!!! I can swear upon my very life and tell u, so long as I have any breath left in me, they (bloody pappies) will never ever get my vote. Even a escaped mental patient running for election against any MIW, I will still vote for him. This is how strongly i feel and the immense resentment I have against our “rulers” for making us Sporeans become so second class in our own backyard!!

  31. Varma said

    Wow, Cabbie Joe’s passage has been very similar to mine except that in my case the stat board authorities had been less kind and confiscated my HDB mansionette for which I had spend a whopping sum of a $100K in early nineties. Little did I knew a big stick in the form mass infulx of FTs are swimming towards the shore with the connivance of the PAP.

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