Friday, March 16, 2007

Singapore tops for Expats only?

Dear Friends,

I have just despatched the following letter to both our MSM's papers.

March 15, 2007

Dear Editor,

I refer to ECA International’s poll that showed Singapore has again topped the list as the best city in the world for Asian expats.

I am not surprised as I have always felt that our low-crime streets, English-speaking retailers as well as an efficient service sector would be almost like heaven for expatriates whatever their origin.

However, the more important question to most of us is, “Is Singapore the best city in the world for Singaporeans?”.

I am afraid the answer is less obvious, especially for the lower income strata of our society.

When we see elderly Singaporean men and women, forced by circumstances to work beyond their economically active age, either collecting card-boards along back alleys or competing with our foreign guest workers for low-paying jobs as table cleaners in our food-courts, we cannot but feel sad.

The lower income strata would again be told by our political leaders that their plight is the result of globalistion. These uncles and aunties must be quite tired of hearing the same old story. Will Singapore ever be theirs to enjoy?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
(letter ends here)

The letter is a response to the poll/survey as reported by Reuters:

Singapore tops list of best cities for Asian expats-survey

Mar 14, 2007 Reuters

SINGAPORE - Singapore's low crime rate, clean air and solid infrastructure helped the city-state top a list as the best city in the world for Asian expats to live in for the fifth year in a row, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Three Australian cities -- Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra -- took up spots in the top five while Kobe, Osaka and Tokyo in Japan made it into the top ten, according to ECA International, a human resource consultancy for multinationals.

But Singapore -- well known for its squeaky clean, safe streets -- claimed the spot as best place in the world for Asian expatriates for the fifth year running. "Singapore is consolidating its position at No 1 -- it's continuing to improve," said Lee Quane, ECA's Hong Kong-based general manager.

"I can't find another city that matches it in terms of personal security and safety. Singapore is pretty much the safest place in the world."

With more Asian expatriates being sent overseas for work, the ECA's survey can help determine suitable compensation packages and hardship allowances for expat employees.

The ECA report is based on expat surveys and country data for 254 locations globally on areas such as climate, air quality, healthcare, infrastructure and political locations. Language and proximity to home are also among the top concerns among expatriates around the world.

"Asia is improving at a far greater rate than anywhere else," Quane said, adding that cities in China and India had rapidly climbed up the rankings.

Within Asia, the gap between Singapore and Hong Kong has widened over the last five years.
"We have seen more and more companies and expatriates say they would prefer to relocate to Singapore because of the better facilities," Quane said. That's despite the fact that Singapore ranks lower than Hong Kong in terms of press freedom and recreation, he said.

The Hong Kong-Singapore rivalry is heating up as the Chinese territory's air pollution worsens, pushing it down on the global ranking list from five years ago.

The Southeast Asian city-state is working to improve its image as a place for fun and entertainment, with new restaurants and bars springing up and two multi-billion dollar casinos on the way.

Quane added that one of the most interesting findings in the survey was Macau which, thanks to heavy investments by casino resorts and a fast-growing tourism industry, had climbed to 56 in the global ranking for Asians, up from 80 just five years ago.

Top 10 best locations in Asia for Asian expats:

1 Singapore, Singapore 2 Japan, Kobe 3 Japan, Tokyo 3 Japan, Osaka 5 Hong Kong, Hong Kong 6 Macau, Macau 7 Taiwan, Taipei 8 Thailand, Bangkok 9 Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 10 Malaysia, Georgetown


bellyache said...

Question as I did not read the reuter report.
This survey is of Asian expats in Asia? or expats ( both Western and Asian) ranking the best cities to live in?.

If only Asian expats are numbered, then cultural bias have to be considered!!!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi bellyache:
It is survey of Asian expats but the situation remains.
Sg has become a heaven for Asian expats but not for our Singaporeans.
I have no doubt our Western expats also love this place as seen in a few articles written recently of how westerners feel so at home here.


aliendoc said...

“Is Singapore the best city in the world for Singaporeans?”

Interesting question, Dr Huang. I am sure the same question can be asked of any of the other Asian countries surveyed by Reuters (except for Japan - I am not sure of what their situation is like). The gap between the haves & the have-nots is probably very wide as well.
I am assuming that the term "expat"used here refers to the professionals, & not to the manual laborers & domestic workers (technically, they are expats too :))
So I am not sure if the presence of the white-collar expats in Singapore actually would actually make a difference to the plight of the lower income strata in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Hotel Singapore.

If you belongs to the elite group, Hotel Singapore welcome you with open arms else get out of my elite uncaring face.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's sad to see old folks or foreign guest workers collecting card-boards or cleaning tables in Singapore.

I wonder how these guest workers’ lives would be if they remain in their own country or if they go somewhere else.

I also wonder if the Singapore government would still perceive “welfare” a dirty word if the middle and upper strata of the society were to volunteer to contribute 20, 30 or even 40 percent of their incomes to the IRAS so that all our old folks could enjoy what Singapore has to offer.

Anonymous said...

My pet peeve is still the national service. It is criminal that out 18 year old boys have to spend 2 years in jail, go directly to jail, do not pass, go, do not collect $200. And after that do reservist, every year. It is criminal. And the expat get to enjoy the safety and they can decide not to become citizens, while our boys here faces discrimination in the workplace for doing NS.

the Stark in Winterfell said...

Well said Dr. Now lets see if those fellas publish ur letter. If published, then lets see how many letters "rebutting" ur letter appear and the identity of the people rebutting.

travailingdoc said...

Singapore has become what is is because its own people has been subjugated and conditioned to be subservient and compliant.The foreigners know this and when they come to Singapore they know they can be belligerent, arrogant and even condescending to the populace and get away with it.
My Gringo patients in Singapore are a stark different in mannerisms and behaviour from those in the USA.
Worse was a self proclaimed " Stanford " graduate
Chinese of Naturalized US citizenship, whom I had the misfortune to be my tenant for a suffering 2 years ... he was the rudest specimen and a spoilt brat to the core of one of the "little Emperors of China.
Why should this be so?
I always ask myself?
I am the same me with a Fitzpatrick type 2-3 skin tone and a Mongoloid slant.My accent can always be tuned to who ever is my audience at any moment. I am not cleverer or stupider in Singapore or in the
The ugly American rages unfettered it would seem in Singapore, but he behaves when he is back on US soil.
Are Singaporeans too grovelling or perceived to be so for their own good.?
Many expatriates that I have come to meet or treat in Singapore had left me with a bad taste in my mouth. So, if they find Singapore tops in their choice of Expats relocation, it must come from Singaporeans losing something, be it pride, dignity, self-value or even their jobs, or the chastity and innocence of their women.
So, Expats chosing Singapore as uno means that the Singaporean had to give up his space for these people. I know.. I was there at the receiving end.

nofearSingapore said...


Just a few comments before I go to work.

Aliendoc/anon 3:18: even for these foreign manual “expats”, they at least can look forward to taking advantage of a favourable foreign exchange. Also, they came willingly (except those conned by middle-men) and after enduring a few years of often “undignified” existence in sometimes poor living condition, they often are able to look forward to property/land and new beginning back “home”. Our lower-income who have slipped thru the “safety-net” cracks are not so lucky. The few Sg dollars that they have must be spent in our expensive city itself- unless they retire to Batam or neighboring countries.

Anon3:18: the govt is going for low income tax regime, and I actually agree to that.

Anon 5:33- NS has become a “sacred cow” topic seeing how the PM reacted so strongly to a “grassroot” leader’s suggestion to reduce the number of highly-salaried generals we have for such a little red dot. NS is now an institution for socialization ( men going thru a “rites of passage” where we learn what “singaporeaness” is all about etc)/holding station for scholars where the better ones are picked to higher posts and the rest, well… put to use wherever the economy needs them/”deterrence” /domestic market for GLC’s like ST Engineering and S’pore Food Industries etc.

If the only need of NS was defence, I am sure we just need about 1 year +/- for basic training and some specializations.

Reservists is becoming a liability for males in Sg and increasingly, companies prefer not to have Sg males. I am sure with Mindef’s supercomputers and super-genuises, the reservist periods can be further shortened and time-wasting can be minimalised.

Stark winterfell: published in ST today and now I wait for your so-called “rebutters”

Travailingdoc: actually I really have many wonderful expat patients ( of different hue and income) and most behaved “civilisedly”. Few harbour post-colonial attitudes and I learn much from them about their cultures etc. I know what you mean about Naturalised westerners who were ex-Asians themselves. Like I say, they want to be more “angmo” than the “angmo”? But again these are minority.
Most appreciate that we (private sector) are more efficient than their healthcare system back home.
A Swedish patient just commented,” I hope I don’t get sent home cos I can never get an appointment to see a specialist, cos getting to see a GP is already difficult”



recruit ong said...

No doubt NS is killing male Sgians!!!

mdm wong said...

angelina jolie

my angel, look to singapore too please, and dun give it a miss.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi madam Ong:
Can you ask angeline jolie to drop my place too? ha ha. and bring Brad too!

recruit ong: eh, you still serving your penance with the ICT's ?


the Stark in Winterfell said...

Dr Huang,

Perhaps rebuttal was too strong a word; however i wont be surprised that there will be letters claiming that singapore is the best city in the world, full of love and compassion so on. The MSM has done this before, for example after the issue of foreignors not interacting with locals was raised, the MSM published some letters saying that the foreignors felt singaporean and so on.

Anonymous said...

Reservist wasting time : Dr Huang - you hit a soft spot in me. I was in overseas training and we were there 3 weeks prior to the actual start of exercise. Did some really stupid pre-exercise training and basically killed time till the Generals and big crabs flew up in the 3rd week and exercise really started. In the meantime for 3 weeks we just mucked around, spend money, missed wife, missed children and understand how the reservist system works. Agree, logistically the airlines could not fly all the reservists in one shot, but yep, now I understand why the blinking defence budget is so damn huge.

sangria said...

Do you guys know that Singapore has taken over a small town in Texas for its military airbase and
used for training its own
The Singapore pop. there is just less than 200.
Can you guess the economics of scale to do this?
Singapore also supports squadrons of F16s in Pensacola, Arizona and Great Plains Texas.
These were all in the US news so I will not be cited for letting out classified info.

I hear of similar arrangements of military training facilities in Australia, Thailand, Taiwan and Brunei.

So, that is why our military spending is what it is.

mdm wong said...

"Can you ask angeline jolie to drop my place too? ha ha. and bring Brad too!"

hi dr huang asl?

i will do u a favor, in my prayer, speedy for brad and jolie arrival to sg and visit dr huang. god bless a poor boy here and be adopted into her united nationed family. amen

Anonymous said...

In my many years of practice in a private hospital in Singapore, I have found the angmo expats in general to be a pain in the butt. There are exceptions of course but in my converstaions with colleagues, most share the same sentiment. Having worked in an angmo health care system before when I was doing specialist training, I know that their health care system is in no way better than ours. Yet you will often find angmo patients giving you that attitude that it is an honour for you to treat them. The effect is that many of my colleagues try not to have anything to do with them. I hope that angmo expats who happen to read this will take note and examine their behaviour. Our job is to heal and hope that in the process bring you comfort. But we will not take the shit that you throw at us.

whybegay said...

Maybe this is the main reason why Japan was topped by Singapore in the survey.

Dr Huang, besides your whining in your article, where are your constructive suggestions to resolve the problems you listed? You are just whining and throwing problem questions around if you don't contribute to the solutions.

whybegay said...

Another fyi

The people in Japan have a famous suicide railway line that they use to commit suicide. Besides this, many japanese people commit suicide by other methods when they lose their jobs or get bullied in schools.

However let me show you all a new and important perspective to the survey rankings.

If rich expats feel that a country can be conducive to them, that means that a country is able to provide them with conducive living conditions a far divide from the locally middle and lower classes of people.

This could translate into how well a country is able to create a rich vs middle and lower class social divides.