Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In reply to TOC - Why many don't leave and some want to return

The following is my response to The Online Citizen article dated 15-Jan-2013, "Why many don't leave and some want to return" by Kungie.


Precisely my thoughts too. Below is my point-by-point "2 cents". Note: ">" precedes Kungie's words as extracted from the TOC article cited above.

> it is precisely all these taboos and conventions that bring about one of the greatest benefit of living in Singapore

What benefit is the closed conservative mindset of Singaporeans (and its social policies) if one is a liberal who do not fit/agree with those silly meaningless taboos and conventions? [Click here, herehere, here, here and here for examples]

> Even if your real self embodies none of the above-mentioned values, this framework of taboo and rules at least give you a very clear idea about how to bend the facts (and people's opinion about you).

So Kungie would rather have fake friends who see one through "shape-shifting mirrors of framework of taboos and rules", than real, mutually-trusting friendships based on open-communication and mutual acceptance. I am so sorry for Kungie's network of "friends".

> So many strongly enforced Singaporean beliefs seem to embody values that people wise up to after first trying out a life of chaos and misdirection... Our social policies, while sometimes draconian and elitist, are uncannily thought out and always hold firm like the grip of a strict father, never flickering back and forth due to public opinion like how sometimes Dutch social policies do.

Singaporean beliefs that people "wise up to"? Like what? Singaporeans' materialism? Speaking as a nurse who had served elderly patients -- my observation is that materialism does not buy one peace in facing mortality. IMHO, the sooner Singaporeans wise up to the false promises of Materialism, the better.

Social policies flickering back and forth in Kungie's view is a weakness, but in my view is the flexibility to be responsive to the ever-changing balance of societal demands. I would choose flexible/responsive public/social policies over draconian and elitist ones anytime.

> You always feel that someone has got your back in Singapore. 

While in Singapore, I have experience back-stabbing from some (born-and-bred) Singaporeans at school and at work; and in contrast, support from some foreign colleagues. It boils down to interpersonal interactions, nationality has nothing to do with it. Just look at my blog post below, under the section of "ugly Singaporean bosses". 

> Those of us who moved to foreign countries, especially Western ones, would often feel that they are being let down by their foreign friends. ... your companions may not believe that making you feel included is also their responsibility.

"Those of us who moved to foreign countries, especially Western ones" -- so Kungie claims to be speaking on behalf of ALL Singaporeans who have moved to foreign, especially Western, countries. Errmm, can Kungie please count me out? 

As far as my experience go (and I have been in B.C., Canada for 2+ years -- a "Western" country), I have Canadian colleagues and even strangers who stood up for me when I encountered abuse/discrimination. [Note: There are idiots all over the world, and I assure you my encounters with idiots are rare here in B.C. compared to my previous work experience in Singapore.] Both Singaporean and non-Singaporean friends who extend an open invitation to crash at their home any day, anytime, especially if I miss the last train home due to working graveyard shifts. Both Canadian and immigrant friends who are always on a look-out for good deals for me (better rental, fun activities at budget prices, good food at value-for-money prices, job opportunities, etc) and make the effort to be socially inclusive. Fellow schoolmates who adopted me as part of their ethnic social group (even though I do not speak their ethnic language). As LIFT puts it, it is a give-and-take, It boils down to how much effort did you put in to reach out to and support your "foreign" friends.

> Only in Singapore can races and cultures somehow interweave and cross-pollinate without chaotic detonation

Has Kungie visited other highly diverse cities such as London and Vancouver? Does Kungie even hang out with non-Singaporeans in whatever Netherlands town/city he/she is in? I have friends (both Dutch and non-Dutch) in Netherlands, and they certainly are not as ethnocentric, mean-spirited and/or closed-minded Kungie makes them out to be. 

Kungie, Please be fair. If your experience sucks, please state clearly that you're sharing based on YOUR experience and those of other miserable Singaporeans who are unable/unwilling to integrate with the locals. 不要一竹干打翻一船人。 ["Do not tarnish everyone with a single brushstroke."] There are many other (ex-)Singaporeans who left the little red dot and are happily socially-integrated into their new homeland (including "Western" countries); some of whom blog about their experience. [Click here, here and here for examples.]

It sounds to me like Kungie is having difficulty fitting into Netherlands (his/her current country of residence); and is now looking at all "Western" countries with his/her jaded eyes, while looking back at Singapore through rose-tinted glasses.

In fact, Kungie's laments sound very similar to the lamentations of some PRCs whom I met in B.C., Canada. Those who arrive in Canada:
I am sorry for Kungie, his/her fellow Singaporean whiners, and the PRCs who share his/her attitude. IMHO, these folks aren't cut out for emigration, and are indeed better off returning to their respective country of origin.


  1. This is brilliant WD :) Thanks for writing this.

    1. Hi LIFT,

      Thanks for visiting and your compliment. I was inspired by your piece. :)

      Cheers, WD.

  2. Wow, the comments on PRCs hit the nail on the head~~

    'We have 5000 years worth of culture and civilization, while the Europeans are still in the dark ages during that time.'

    Sounds familiar? Not surprised that some people just do not integrate well, no matter where they go. And they sometimes wonder why...

    *I do not dislike the PRC, but sometimes, they just need to learn how to integrate into the society they migrated to.

    1. Hi Seraphim,

      Thanks for visiting and your comments.

      > We have 5000 years worth of culture and civilization, while the Europeans are still in the dark ages during that time.

      Yeah, familiar alright! Only the French will give such people some face for that, but if one continues to behave obnoxiously, one will still get shit from the French. That's how it is, one gets what one puts in.

      Not all PRCs are such disaster. E.g. My friends ZS, JX and GX put in a lot of effort into integrating. Unfortunately you're right that the majority don't and these folks are shunned even by their own kind who managed to integrate. E.g. ZS shared with me what he thought of another PRC who tried to join our group via me. [That's another black humour for another day.]

      Cheers, WD.

    2. Hey WD,

      Sorry if my comment actually seems to refer to 'all', I actually meant 'some'. I know of very nice PRCs that adapted well with the country they are in, though they did mention that some of their countrymen seems to be too 'high' on their pride to do so. I know of quite a few that did not adapt well in the country they are in as well.

      I am more annoyed with people who have the mentality of not changing themselves to suit the environment. Rather, they change the environment to suit themselves and destroy the culture and way of life of that country in the process. It is in no way referring to race, country or religion, but on people with certain mindset and practices.

      I used PRCs because they seems to be having the most issues among the people who migrate and tend to be very vocal as well.

    3. Hi Seraphim,

      Thanks for returning and clarifying your point. No worries, I understand.

      > I used PRCs because they seems to be having the most issues among the people who migrate and tend to be very vocal as well.

      That is also why I used PRCs as examples above -- it so happens that amongst the immigrants that I have met, they present the most issues with adaptation. There are others who grumble, but often they have enough humility to admit that they play a part in the problems they face and/or at least recognize that there are some variables within their control.

      Thanks for returning and commenting.

      Cheers, WD.

  3. Agree with your comments. Like you, I am an ex-Singaporean currently living in Canada and have come to appreciate this beautiful country and her people, warts and all.

    Kunjie appears to be a student currently studying in The Netherlands (as gleaned from his blog entry: http://kungie.wordpress.com/2012/01/) and his views belong to one who is most likely homesick and unaccustomed to living away from family and friends. A person with such a mindset is unlikely to emigrate and he is entitled to feel strongly about his homeland. But, what made Kungie's think piece particularly entertaining was how he confidently drew generalisations from his personal experiences and in the process, dismissed "the West" as not being able to hold a candle to Singapore in so many aspects.

    Kungie's intellectual prowess certainly deserves to be paraded by MOE Singapore as a fine example of what 12 years of education in a world class education system can do to the mind. Looks like MOE has done an outstanding job!

    1. Hi Anonymous at Saturday, January 19, 2013 10:34:00 PM,

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments.

      > Kungie's intellectual prowess certainly deserves to be paraded by MOE Singapore as a fine example of what 12 years of education in a world class education system can do to the mind.

      Hahah, funny lah! Jia-lat! I must be a reject from the system, because somehow MOE failed to mould my mind despite me spending 17 years full-time and 3 years part-time in Singapore's formal education system! :-D

      Do return and share about your journey in Canada if you have the chance. Or if you have a blog, please drop your url here so that others can follow your adventures. Thanks!

      Cheers, WD.

  4. I lack the discipline to maintain a blog but certainly enjoy checking out well-written and thought-provoking blogs. For sure I shall return regularly to read your candid, honest and insightful views of life, be it in Canada or Singapore. Thank you for generously sharing your adventures and perspectives!

    1. Hi Anonymous at Sunday, January 20, 2013 7:02:00 PM,

      Thanks for returning and your compliments. I look forward to your continued support.

      Cheers, WD.