I think I am not alone when I say that most Singaporeans have entertained the idea of migrating at some point or another and it’s our families or other circumstances that hold us back. We are annoyed with our government’s policies as they are in contrast with the protectionist policies of other countries which leaves Singaporeans stuck where we are. It hurts when your country does not protect you. This is especially frustrating during the recession. Even if you wanted to migrate, unless you have a load of cash to invest or skills in demand, Australia, America or Europe won’t have you. You also need to be young enough.
We are upset by our government’s policies that don’t protect us or provide us welfare especially in old age, even though Singapore is lauded as one of the hottest economies right now. Well there is the compulsary contribution called the Central Provident Fund or CPF, but that seems a pittance when you consider the future value of money. Unless you’re high up on the socio-economic scale, most Singaporeans are not feeling secure, with our basic needs priced out of our range like clothing, housing, cars, and we’re thoroughly worried about the widening income gap.
That being said, when we criticize policies, we don’t have anything personal against expats. I guess it would be the same in your country if there were no protectionist policies in place. A free market is good in economic terms but not so good for the ordinary person who struggles from day to day. If we could, we would willingly be expats in another country if that meant a better quality of life, although we will probably be thoroughly homesick.
And I am afraid to admit this in case I upset fellow Singaporeans, but in terms of customers service, expats from the Philippines are doing such a great job. This may be a generalization but I find them exceedingly polite and attentive. To be fair I have noticed Singaporeans who provide great customer service too and perhaps it’s a case of the bad apple here and there that ruins our reputation. For instance, the customer service at some shops at the notorious Sim Lim Square can be positively traumatizing. Also how can in Singaporean compete, as an employer can hire a Filippino graduate for half the salary. If you were running a business, wouldn’t it make more business sense to hire a foreigner?
Singaporeans were so upset about customer service people from China speaking to them only in Mandarin that it prompted facebook pages like this one – I am Singaporean and tired of Non-English Speaking Service Staff and an article in AsiaOne which revealed how minorities in Singapore feel marginalized. I guess it comes from the fact that minorities are already having a hard time finding jobs as many jobs you see advertised require that you be able to speak Mandarin. Unless there is some control over this discrimination minorities will continue to feel marginalized. I have to say here that there are some customer service people from China who try their very best and even if it’s halting English, it’s thoroughly appreciated. After all, isn’t English still officially our language of Business?
Expat bloggers like Crystal, Maria, Kirsten, Jeff and Flora, and Notabilia, make me appreciate things in my country that I’ve taken for granted. So our Zoo and Botanic Gardens really are that awesome. I haven’t visited in ages, and now you made me think that perhaps I should. I also feel that I’m missing out, having never explored Haji Lane.
I thoroughly enjoyed the post, Bad Expat by Crystal who is an expat wife in Singapore from Boston. She gave up her teaching career to come here which says a lot. It is quite flattering in a sense that Singapore was chosen over other countries. It must mean that we have something to offer. I was even thinking, if I could call beautiful Boston home, there is no way I would want to leave. It’s actually quite brave to uproot yourself and start off quite alone in another country. Especially if you have a child, and now you don’t have the help of grandparents.
You must read Crystal’s very candid post which was inspired by Maria’s post on Bad Expats, and prompted me to reveal the following and I hope it helps expats to not be so hard on themselves. Crystal and Maria, the fact that you worry at all that you might be a bad expat reveals that you are definitely not one.
I think at some point the line blurs, and we’re all just people trying to have the best little life possible.
Here’s my list:
1. Not all Singaporeans like Durian
2. Not all Singaporeans like our local food (I am quite sick of Chicken rice)
3. Not all of us like to eat organs and such and we wouldn’t make it past episode one of Fear Factor.
4. We can’t survive without air-conditioning, hot showers, bottled water etc.
5. We love American food like burgers and sandwiches (well at least if you’re below 50 you will as older folk still prefer Asian food)
6. We realize that the western food in Singapore is not too authentic and can be really crappy at times. A bit like how we call Asian food outside of Asia – fake Asian food
7. We adore Ikea.
8. Eating at Chili’s is a treat
9. There are some malls in Singapore that are known to be expat haunts, like Tanglin Mall, Holland Village, Great World City – and we like these places as well.