Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Tao of Immigration - 移民之道

Returning home after attending a hilarious Canadian stand-up comedy performance, I was about to write about love life and GNIE life. Then I login to check my emails and I received this email from my PRC friend who is a Permanent Resident here. An email which I felt compelled to reply immediately and share here with my readers.

Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 8:40 PM
Subject: 新“人头税”四万加币!
担保父母两人移民要交八万加币!!这不就是变相“人头税”吗! 除了四万加币,还有其他很多新的花样! 大家赶紧去移民局的网站填意见抗议!开放到5.25号!还有几天时间!
For those who don't read Chinese, here's a translation of the subject line and contents.
Subject: New "Head tax" CAD40,000
To sponsor parents for immigration requires CAD80,000! ! Isn't this like "Head tax"? Other than CAD40,000, there are many other "patterns" (i.e. requirements)! Everybody please quickly go to the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) website to feedback your objection! It is open until May 25th! There are still a few days left (for public consultation)!
If you know English, fill up the form yourself!!! Don't know English, let your child or friend fill it (on your behalf) !!!! Must fill-up (the feedback form)! Otherwise they won't treat us as humans!!!!!!!!!!!

A little history about the "Head tax" [人头税]: In 1885, the Canadian parliament passed the "Chinese Immigration Act" which specifically sought to discourage Chinese immigration by imposing a tax on each immigrant of Chinese origin -- staring with CAD50 and increasing to CAD500 in 1903, which was a big sum back then. In 2006, the Canadian government made a public apology for this ethnically discriminatory act in Canadian history.

Given the current Canadian Constitution, the proposed fee will be applied across the board to anyone sponsoring their parents for immigration -- regardless whether he/she is "white" or "coloured", Canadians or Permanent Residents. It CANNOT and WILL NOT be targeted at any specific ethnic group. The rationale behind the proposed changes is that there had been a surge in elderly immigrants who are sponsored into Canada by their adult-children (PRs or naturalized Canadians) in recent years. There is concern that the Canadian public resources (elderly income support, universal healthcare, etc) cannot support this influx of elderly.

Thus, I felt that my friend's email was somewhat sensationalist and unfair in its judgement. IMHO, I consider this friend to be a "good quality" immigrant who sought to contribute to the Canadian society economically and artistically. As such, I feel that I can share with her my diametric perspective.


Here's my reply to her email.
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 11:36 PM
Subject: Privilege is not a right Re: 新“人头税”四万加币! 
Hi [name], 
Coming from Singapore that is flooded with immigrants -- 2 of 5 Singapore residents are foreigners, and of the remaining 3 there are many who are citizens that are newly minted within the last 10 years -- I have a different perspective. Unless one is a citizen and/or one's parents are citizens, one is just a guest in a host country. The host has every right to roll-up its "Welcome" mat and demand compensation for guest's dwelling. 主家请客拜访是人情。即然是客,就该客气。[Translation: A host inviting guests to visit/dwell is a display of humanity. Since one is a guest, one should behave as a guest.] 
以上的话没非针对你,或中国大陆人,而是以我本身是新移民人对"移民之道”的主见。我有话直说,希望你不介意。[Translation: The above words are not targeted at you, nor at the PRCs, but is my subjective opinion of "The Tao of Immigration" as a new immigrant myself. I am speaking straight from my heart, I hope you don't mind.] 
Cheers, [WD]. 

Here's my friend's reply to my reply.
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2012 11:01 AM 
you are right. I always feel that I'm just a guest and treated as guest. 

Here's my reply to my friend's reply above.
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:47 PM 
IMHO, you and I, we each have a choice. 
If we want to be treated as "more than a guest", we can choose to become naturalized Canadians when we meet the requirements. "Guest privileges" (for permanent residents and visa holders) are revokable because they are not rights. Rights come with responsibilities. In other words, if we choose to step-up to the plate (i.e. become naturalized Canadians) and accept the responsibilities that come with Canadian citizenship, then only will the rights of citizenship follow. 
Otherwise, we can only expect to remain as guests because we have (perhaps implicitly) chosen to be so. Both Singapore and China do not recognize dual citizenship. I know that fact alone holds many PRC Chinese and Singaporeans back from applying for Canadian citizenship because they don't want to loose the right to return to their respective country of origin. The problem then is not with the Canadian policies, but those of our respective country of origin. If that is really the issue holding us back from becoming naturalized Canadians, we have to go back to our own country to solve the problem at its root. How is it fair to expect Canada to accord such guests (whose loyalty obviously lay with their country of origin) citizenship rights without paying the "citizenship loyalty dues" and responsibilities of citizenship? 
Actually, I find most Canadians exceptionally kind, patient and polite to the foreigners amongst their midst in general. To the point that I find it ridiculous that Canadians would apologize when others step on their toes, both literally and figuratively. I don't think there is another first-world country more tolerant of [ordinary] foreigners. Not Singapore. Not Australia. Not New Zealand. Not UK. Not the entire Eurozone countries. Not even USA. Definitely not Japan. And for argument's sake, not even China (see url below). IMHO, I think we made the right choice of a host country.

Here's my friend's reply to my reply.
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:37 PM


I agree. By the way, we should get together soon to catch up when you have time. have dinner like last time? 

take care,
[Friend's name]

Like I said, my friend is a "good quality" immigrant. Only those of high caliber are able to calm down and think through issues from multiple perspectives. I have met others who cannot and/or are unwilling to see issues beyond their subjective perspectives and/or self-interests. The question is: how did Canada attract more of the former and Singapore end up with more of the latter type of immigrants?


[Addendum on 30-Aug-2012]

I am sorry to inform my readers that perhaps my friend is not as "good quality" as I had expected. Since her request to catch up for dinner back in May, we have yet to meet. I have made at least 3 attempts to arrange for dinner with her but each time she would have "something" on and made no effort to suggest alternative. I am not in need of another friend, much less an ethnocentric one, so I am going to drop her friendship unless she makes a real attempt to meet up with me.


  1. Haiz...I wonder. I hope someday I meet some "good quality" PRC like your friend and can have a friendly conversation with him or her.

  2. Hi theblankbox,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting.

    If you happen to drop-by Metro Vancouver area, drop me a private comment (i.e. by commenting on an old blog entry) with your contact details and we can chat over tea/coffee.

    If my PRC friends -- different groups of them -- are available, I can introduce them to you. There are many "good quality" PRC emigrants. It is just that somehow Singapore's immigration policy attracts more of the "inferior quality" PRCs.