News and views from an unique perspective

Ex-Singaporean: I have never regretted migrating to Australia

Posted by temasektimes on September 3, 2012

The author ( if he is really a legitimate contributor, and not a ‘plant’ for a vested interest ) has lived in Australia for 14 years so should have a good ‘feel’ for our way of life. I have lived here for longer and I would like to correct some points in his post that I think are not entirely correct.

The article points mainly to faults which are a result of administrative or bureaucratic incompetence. That successive Australian governments are not entirely competent, is beyond doubt. That any local government here, is more ruthlessly efficient than that of Singapore’s, is highly improbable. Yes, we do build estates first then think about the roads. It’s not perfect. If that sort of thing bothers you, don’t come here.

The issues of migration policy and social welfare are very controversial here, and many people here favour a socialist or religion based attitude toward government welfare. We can afford to, as a society. We have not really felt the impact of the GFC. Singapore perhaps can not. So I don’t think it is fair to make the comparison. Australia should be compared with Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand. BTW last year if my source is correct, we had the biggest refugee (not all comers) immigration intake in the world in terms of per capita numbers.

I have been visiting Singapore frequently in the 20 years since I emigrated here. I don’t perceive that housing is cheap. It’s cheaper here in fact, even in the inner cities. Food in Singapore is not that cheap anymore (and a lot of it is a pale shadow of the ‘good old days’ or worse, an unpalatable Zhonghua interpretation). Pretty much all SIngapore’s foodstuff is imported, much of it from Australia I gather. On the contrary the quality and diversity of the food scenes in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth have been skyrocketing in the last ten years (although still not cheap ….. ).

Singapore’s school system is unrelenting and competitive and that means that it selects those who are intrinsically brighter and more hardworking; but my children are now in school here, and my cousins’ in Singapore, and I don’t necessarily think that it produces better human beings, or more well rounded or creative people than a school of comparable resource here. It is a school system designed to service the public sector that administers the country, and the corporate management sector that drives the economy. That’s why your government can plan new towns better. However, the kids at the bottom of your pile don’t do any better than the kids at the bottom of our pile. That may be a fairer comparison as a bright determined ambitious child will usually do well anywhere as long as no one holds him or her back.

However I went to a school where you were raised to be a well rounded person regardless of your background, cleverness, future potential in society, or religion. My school’s value system was, and I believe still is, unusual in Singapore. Here it is a universal value amongst teachers. I know what I would prefer for my children.

It is my pleasure to disagree with the author’s assertion that people here do not respect the law. Quite the opposite in my view. Most of Australia is not like King’s Cross (which BTW is very safe to visit in daylight) Richmond or Northbridge. Or for that matter Redferne, Fitzroy, Hay Street, Glenelg, St Kilda East. I’ve visited them all and lived in two of them. Crime is not high outside of a few hotspots in the big city. I would caution readers who have not visited Australia, not to feel that lawlessness is the standard. There are many places in Australia that I have visited or lived in where it is no less safe for a girl to walk the street alone at night than it would be in Geylang or the back lanes off Orchard Road. The reason is that most people here are raised to behave themselves properly and what you see in the inner city often represents the worst of what any first world society would have to offer. I agree there are few or no places in the world with a better minimum safety standard than Singapore but I think the way the statement is made is somewhat misleading.

Australian work place laws are intentional and not a deficiency on the part of our legal system. They are different from yours, because historically, working class and poorer Australians have been victims of systematic neglect and their rights abused by those who control industry and government, as well as by the crown itself. You must remember that this country is largely composed of descendants of uneducated or poorly educated working immigrants from the UK and Ireland, then southern Europe, then various waves from Asia and now the middle east. Our laws are they way they are because justice is felt to be everyone’s right regardless of clout, and that you being boss doesn’t mean you are king and master. You can always not hire the worker or not renew their contract, and as a boss your own lack of character judgement should be your own fault. There are downsides to this system but it reflects a different attitude toward having a job and toward legal justice. We have a mature and stable economy and are not dependent for our survival upon quaternary financial and service sectors, foreign financing, or even entrepot trade in its various forms. You can despise it if you are an employer; but if you have ever been unfairly sacked in Singapore because someone ‘doesn’t like your face’ then you will know what I mean.

Can I also say on that point – if you’re not Chinese, Singapore used to be quite a racist place and Australia is a lot more tolerant now than it was twenty years ago. And from what I’ve seen there’s a lot of discrimination now in Singapore toward those new immigrants described sarcastically as ‘foreign talents’. As the author points out – they are no different to anyone else trying to do better in life for themselves and their families. That is not a crime.

NS – I did my time, mostly the hard way, combat vocation in a frontline combat unit. I won’t say any more.

Everyone doubtless has a right to choose what is ‘best’ for them. As an ex Singaporean Australian citizen, and never having regretted my decision to leave, I’m happy. People like me have been called ‘loser’ and ‘quitter’ and I hear it every time I go back to visit my relatives, friends, school, Orchard Road etc. It is their right to hurl abuse in a public forum I guess.

But I think there’s a lot more to these issues than the author has given fair view and this article paints Australia in a dubious light. If you’re considering migrating, you first should come here and have a look around, live here for a while, if you can, as a local, and not a tourist or visitor, talk to people from all races and walks of life and travel the country before you make your own mind up. Don’t be discouraged from coming and seeing for yourself though.

Finally – Australia may have its faults, but tell me which country doesn’t. For me I can say the grass is much much greener here. Like the author I have accepted its faults and failings but I also rejoice every day in its benefits and its attractions (which could cover another blog thread easily) and what it has given me. There are two sides to every coin. Think carefully and be grateful for what you have.

*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.



50 Responses to “Ex-Singaporean: I have never regretted migrating to Australia”

  1. spotlessleopard said

    A well written and objective article…It is time our local politcians examine their souls…and see to the welfare of the lowest 30% of Singapore…and the general well being of singaporeans instead of trying to sustain sunset industries by importing 2muillion foreigners in a space of less than 10years…

    • Walter Wong said

      Thousands of people die every year while making the perilous journey by sea to get to Australia. They still do so despite knowing that many others before them have perished.

      Do you see anyone risking their lives to get here?

      The answer is a big short NO.

      What you see are thousands of Singaporeans finding all sorts of means to emigrate or get out of this country.

  2. PAP Bootlicker said

    Did not regret migrating to Australia but regretted leaving Singapore.
    Love PAP, it is still the best govt for Singapore.
    PAP forever and ever……

  3. Dr.Arsch said

    “I would caution readers who have not visited Australia, not to feel that lawlessness is the standard. There are many places in Australia that I have visited or lived in where it is no less safe for a girl to walk the street alone at night than it would be in Geylang or the back lanes off Orchard Road.” – Really? U mad bro? Let’s not compare safety levels between both countries. There is no comparison u can make there. Singapore beats any Australian city in terms of safety, hands down.

    Take a look at this link.

    Nothing fancy, just daily news updates on an Aussie tabloid/paper, this page focuses on Sydney. Just take a look at how many different crime reports there are in a single day. Drive by shootings, stabbings, homicide, kneecapping and assault on police, all on a single page in one day. How often do we come across something that big and serious in Singapore?

    Compare anything you want, just don’t start talking about crime rates and safety. That’s where we win hands down.

    • TAP said

      Dr. Arsch, you are comparing news from a tabloid/paper in two countries with very different degrees of press freedom.

      Australia – ranked 30th out of 179 countries
      Singapore – ranked 135th out of 179 countries

      What Singapore wins hands down is lack of crime coverage in the news. Whether that is a consequence of low crime rate or lack of focus in news coverage is debatable. Here is another useful statistics.

      Australia – 129 prisoners per 100 000 population
      Singapore – 249 prisoners per 100 000 population

      Intelligent readers can make their own conclusions. It is clear that newspapers could not publish every single happening in the country. Next time, please use a better argument. Thanks.


      • RSM said

        I think its 129 in 100,000 because most of them are left off with a slap on their hands.
        In SIngapore the laws are stricter and definitely less forgiving.

      • Dr.Arsch said

        Why don’t u come up- with something better rather than presenting a bunch of shoddy statistics? How many of those are homicide offences, violent crimes including armed robbery, kidnapping, assault, rape? How many are firearm offences?

        You are actually insisting that Singapore’s low crime rate is one huge smokescreen? There’s a limit to conspiracy theories lol! Yeah our papers suck, but I’m sure they don’t hide every damn thing under the carpet.

      • Angelo Mendoza said


        You’re right.

        Singaporeans don’t believe any of the stats they produce nowadays.

      • interested to know said

        Are you still living in Syd despite higher crime rate than Sgp?

    • new AUS migrant from SGP said

      I do not disagree that generally SGP has a better safety than AUS.
      But safety is just one of the reasons to consider, not the reason for not migrating to Aus.
      I have previously lived in Syd and I am going to relocate to Syd soon.
      Migrants with right minds will not go to certain dangerous places in Syd especially after dark.

    • readpausethink said

      any idea or experience on just how big urban Sydney is ? let alone Sydney – the whole gamut?

      try some community newspapers (there are about 40+ of them just for Sydney), that give a practical and more useful sense of crime rates and safety.

      • Dr.Arsch said

        Yes, Sydney urban area is 1788.1 sq km, approximately 2 1/2 times the size of Singapore. Forget the whole-gamut, not much shit happens in the Blue Mountains and rural areas. Just urban Sydney at 1788, yes its big, but not thaat big. It’s not a mega-metropolis like those u have in the US. And the population is slightly more than 4 mil, For its size, it does have way too much trouble than it should. I’ve spent enough time over there to know alot of the crime used to be confined mainly to Western Sydney and South-western, Parra and beyond, Blacktown, especially around the station at night, Cabramatta, mostly between biker gangs, Lebs and Asian gangs. That’s changed in recent times, shootouts are more commonplace, innocents get hit and its not just the west that seems to be affected now.

        I’ve got friends up in Newtown, and an uncle who’s been living at King’s Langley for the past 2 decades. I don’t really hear that many good stuff coming out of there these days, from both sources. And as for the guy who told me to check out other papers :

        Why don’t u take a look at this?

        And I’d also refer u to this.

        This one has a list of all the shootouts that have been going on in Sydney from Aug last year to this April. Just scroll down and take a look at it yourself.

        I can’t speak for any other part of Australia but Sydney, I’m familiar with and I’ve always kept myself updated on the ongoings there. To be honest, it’s one of my favorite cities still. But I’m not going to stay blind to the facts that Sydney is dangerous. Let’s be realistic, real estate there is not cheap either. I doubt everyone who’s moving there is going to find a nice, cozy place in the eastern ‘burbs. If you can afford it, then yeah, I’m happy for u. But if u can’t afford it and you are forced to move farther west, then good luck.

        Other cities though, I shall refrain from commenting. Been to Melbourne just once for a month and it seemed alright. But I’d leave that to someone who knows better.

  4. Lawrence Lim said

    Well written, I left Singapore in 1977 to study in England, then migrated to Canada. I do share many of your thoughts. I am a proud Canadian Citizen with roots from Singapore which will always be part of my being. Just like in Australia, Canada has her shortcomings too, but I have made a choice to make this my home. It has been a good choice with no regrets.

  5. Simon Lee said

    I have lived in Melbourne for abt 7 years from 1975 to 1982, studied at a Uni, and then worked there to obtain my chartered accountancy qualification. I have encountered many many incidents where strangers who passed us by, directly shoutng at you, ” Ching Chong go back to China” without the slightest provocation. Examples are at traffic lights waiting for the lights to turn green and my car windows were open, and the AUssie inside the car next to mine, at concerts, people that passed you by whilst walking. My Malaysian Indian friend told me he, his uncle and his 7 year old son went to watch a cricket game at the stadium in Melb. One Aussie came right up to them and shouted at them and said “you black cunts, go back to where you come from”. His uncle was so humiliated in front of his young son who must have thought his father was a coward as they dared not utter a word of reply. THere are many many more incodents I heard from friends.

    Even uneducated factory workers looked down on Asians just because they are white. So sad how ignorant they are. these are from my very own personal experience. Greek old ladies with thick moustaches also told me to go back to my own country once at a wrestling game.

    My son is studying in Melb now. He told the same things are still happening in Melb now.

    Oh, BTW, not all Aussies are like that. But there are enough of such racists there that will spoil your day once in a while. Even if ( I emphasized IF) we do not like any Aussies or whatever races, we NEVER tell them to go back to their own countries like the way they did, unprovoked, and still do.

    Oh, BTW for those white apologists reading this, its not because I only mixed with my own asian friends. I have Aussie friends and my girlfriend was also an Aussie.

    So for all those asians who think farts smell better if they come from a white man, good luck to you.

    • Shover said

      Similar experiences in Canada. Enough said.

    • a man said

      Are you kidding me mate?! I am studying in melb, and I have lived here for the past 3 years. Never have I experienced what you or your son claim to have gone through, not even once. Scenarios as you have described may be plausible, I am not denying that, however most Asian people always play the race card and assume Aussies are racist towards them when it could simply be that the Aussies don’t like your personality, hygiene or appearance.

      FYI, I am Singaporean and can personally affirm to the FOB mentality, because I was just like that when I first came to Aus.

  6. Rafiet said

    Fairly accurate piece.. I’m here too and trying to influence my family and friends to come over too

  7. Enough said

    I am a Singaporean lIving in Seattle Washington
    And I have never regret migrating
    I am about to convert to us citizen
    Quality of live here is many times better than Singapore
    All your life in Singapore is paying the pap the millions working like a dog paying the exorbitant HDb flat the stupid Coe and the. Blood sucking erp the medical cost

    I am retired and I am enjoying my retirement here

  8. Kster said

    Singapore is a great place , just like every cities around the world.
    I personally don’t have an issue with this island, the main issue is the government, The strong unwillinginess to let go those years of old laws & rules that rules with golden fist of iron, The ever welcoming open policy towards new citizens & the countless blames throw @ us when something screw up in the system.
    Looks like the scholarships Singapore government give out yearly, how much of those going to a FTs? Yes they are TALENTS, than what are us? As a normal & healthy male citizen in SG, how often do we leave out job to do our In Camp Training & when return, see some FTs taking over our job at half the price? It sometime make us wonder, are we worth our pay cheq? We can be so much cheaper, IF we don’t have a family & a life here. If our solo reason for staying here is work as much as we could before return to our mother land, life would be so much easier, BUT this is our motherland, this is the place we grew up in, maybe myself is too unless & can’t relocate myself to some overland, but at the very least. Give me some rooms in my nation, i jolly well grew up here. But so many times, i feel i’m a 2nd class citizen. Why is that so? Is this a social issue or just purely my issue?

  9. dred said

    the best thing about Australia is this…very,very,very few asian parliamentarians will last 5 minutes in their system.

  10. NaBey said

    100% agree! Being first gen immigrant, we may face culture shock! But for our children and grand children, it is worth it than staying in this “pressurised oven”.

    • get out while you can said

      Let us be honest.

      Singapore used to be an okay country in the past, even with the limited personal freedom we had, but now, it is a totally miserable place to be in.

      Do you know how many children are seeking pyschiatric treatment? I heard the numbers are quite staggering.

      Do you know how many Singaporeans commit suicide each year? I heard the actual numbers would make you jaws drop in shock.

      Do you know how many Singaporean children starve during recess in school? I heard that the numbers would make you cry in shame.

      Sure the propaganda media will try to hide the sad truth and paint a rosy picture of Singapore to the world, but ordinary Singaporeans can feel the effect of living in this miserable country.

      And that is why so many people want to leave this country at the slightest opportunity they get.

  11. pi said

    wish I have a lovely spacious hometown to go to back to for CNY and XMas like the FTs have…..

  12. happy said

    There are only two types of people who will stay put in Singapore

    The filty rich and the down right poor

    for the filty rich including pap ministers, former NKF bosses, their roads are paved with gold

    even their toilet seats are coated with gold, not only that 600k is not worth any gold by the standards of

    the two women who justify the excess of the former NKF boss

    the down right poor have no where else to go

    the middle class who are being squeezed left and right, top and bottom, life becomes meaningless

    you have fts snatching your jobs, school placement, hospital beds, university placementL, scholarships

    hdb flats, coes, mrt and bus seats,

    but for the filty rich and powerful, they dont have to compete for jobs, university placement,, hospital beds, scholarships

    Hdb flat, , coes,

    I am no quitter but when they dont pay heed to the ground, and the masses, it is time to go

    all they tell you is you must retrain, upgrade yourself

    but which minister has upgraded themselves

    do people liike LHL, LIM Swee say, Lim boon Heng ever upgraded their qualification

    I remember Lim boon heng when he was a minister, kept telling us we must upgrade ourself

    i knew he had a naval architect degree, has he gone beyond this degree

    we all are taken for a ride for too long

    Middle class singaporean should pack up and go

    and dont ever look back,

    for it is a shit hole at your back

  13. InGodWeTrust,AllOthersPayCash said

    i am living in the US now. I pay 4X my annual salary for my house and car, In singapore, I would need to pay 14X. Japanese pay 8X. SIngaporeans have a lot less disposal income. In addition, the quality of life is also much better in the US or Japan.
    I never regretted leaving SIngapore. I have a simple philosophy in life “If I can’t change it, accept it. If I can’t accept it, change it”. Change it I did 5 years ago. Never want to be a slave under the PAP regime. Life is short, so I need to chase my dream by myself. Now I have a big house, zoom around in a Porsche Carrera, enjoy world class sports events (NBA, football, tennis, etc) all year round, enjoy the 4 seasons and my child goes to very good schools which Singaporeans need to spend tons of money for their kids to attend here.
    I respect Singaporeans who choose to remain in Singapore and I give singaporeans who migrated the same respect. Ultimately it is their choice to make.
    I made mine and I made the right choice.

  14. Pondering said

    I like your article. There is one incident that keeps ringing in my mind as I read the part about education system: I had a childhood friend whom I didn’t meet for years after she emigrated to Australia. When she was in Singapore, she was considered a loser – she had repeated twice in her school years, so she is considerably older than us; she kept failing English and Maths; in fact, her English was so bad that the teacher said that she was only at Primary 2 level (When we were already in Sec 3)… “she couldn’t make it”, and therefore her parents sent her overseas (Australia) to study, etc.

    When I met her again a couple years ago (we are now in our 30’s), I see a confident, happy lady who speaks very good English. She has a good job. She has a beautiful family. I kept wondering… what is it in the Australian society that helps her “make it”?!

    I think making sure that everyone in the society could contribute and live happily is very important. There is certainly something missing in our Singapore society in this aspect.

    • Realist said

      Nothing to do with the education system.
      Your friend was just a late developer.

    • bozo I am said

      Singaporeans are judgemental paper chaser? Bad teachers during the years when she was in school? One thing Singapore didn’t have is proper parents as role model. Kiasu and Kiasi beget shallow minds that are incapable of surviving with happiness and dignity in Singapore society.

  15. Realist said

    ASIAN in aussie country is 4th class.
    1st class : the native aborigines
    2nd class : the whites migrants
    and the 3rd class ?
    3rd class : the kangaroos

    ha ha ha……….

  16. Ron said

    To each his own. No overseas country is paradise.

    Personal safety in Spore over-rides all critieria. Few break-ins, wanton attacks, robberies, etc. Just came back from KL and heard all the dreadful crime stories from friends and relatives and the deplorable corruption over in KL. Even tourists are robbed along Jalan Ampang near to the KLCC.

    I have been to Australia many times and enjoy staying there as a tourist. And will go back often too. However has no intention to migrate from Spore. If you have a property in Spore, it is perhaps the best place to be. Cost of living is affordable. Australia, Canada, EU are not cheap. No need to maintain a car here if you cannot afford it. The public transport is good enough despite the SMRT breakdowns.

    And to be free from verbal racist insults is priceless. Why go to another country and be called a chink, etc.? I have not been insulted so far but if it happens, I am prepared to sue the pants off that guy and seize his assets. Does not matter about cost when one is rich enough. That is why I call Spore my Home.

    Spore gave the opportunities and despite all the blemishes, it is Clean, Green and Safe.

    • native sg with aus PR said

      As a tourist, how much you know about Aus despite visited it many times?
      What property you have in Sgp? Hdb flat?
      Cost of living in Sgp is affordable?
      Public transport in major Aus cities is equally good and you can still afford a car, it’s about having a choice, same for migration. As a native S’porean, you have no other choice if you do not have any PR in a real 1st world country like Aus.
      Sgp is clean, green and safe?

  17. pi said

    for the poor ones, can always choose nearer asian countries like jb

  18. Bb said

    A good sugggestion for PM to cosider. Apply PR for young couples to sray in Australia and their is to produce babies target is 4. They will return to sg once mission is completed. Australian gov bear all cost of delivery, baby bonus etc so sg gov dun hv to bear a single cent. This also helps sg gov solved TFR problem.

    See famous sg ppl in Australia

  19. amransan said

    I been living in Aystralia for the almost 3 years now. All I can say is there good and bad about this place lah.

    Let me share the bad things :

    Have to drive 1 hr to eat Asian food or buy Asian grossaries.

    Weather sometime can be very freezing and in the morning bathing time alamak too cold sia.

    Miss parents, sibling, relatives, and. Friends back in sg used to see them everyday . But when I think about my future when old and the future for my children I got very worried don’t want to end up in bedok reservoir 😭

    That’s are the not so good about Australia lah.

    Now the good thing about Australia

    Here is lay back it feel in the early 80’s not so crowded maybe the country is very big and the garmen control the incoming lah.

    Here the people here are much friendly an will say hi to u .

    Houses here is the same price in sg but it’s a landed property lah with a garden also.

    Cars here are affordable which I never dream to own in sg

    Basically to me this is where I call home and next 2 years I be getting my cod at the age of 41 year old woohoo

    Cheers mate!

  20. Ms. C said

    26 y/o female originally from SG, been living in the US for the past few years (all my immediate family members are no longer in SG).

    for me the lack of land space and housing difficulties in SG were always ‘enough’ to migrate. awaiting US citizenship (currently processing). very appreciative/thankful to the US (what i remember most about SG is the horrible education system that does nothing for you as a person–not ‘digit’–with their own passion/interests in life).

  21. It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

  22. Zack @ Maddington said

    One of the reason my family migrated to Perth is that if natural disaster happen in island of Singapore…..e.g earth quake, tsunami and the latest meteor “attack” (like Russia). The hight tech Japanese can’t do anything when tsunami hits them. Singapore had too much high rise building and reclamed land. If disaster happen, can Malaysia govt accept huge crowd of Singaporean? Lucky if you had relative in Malaysia.

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