Photo of Singapore MBS from AFP

Due to disappointment in the future of Singapore, more Singaporeans today are permanently relocating overseas. According to statistics released by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), the number of Singaporeans relocating has hit an all time high of 6% with 213,400 in 2016. This is a 24% jump from 172,000 nine years ago in 2007. The figure excludes overseas Singaporeans who do not register their foreign address with the government, and ex-Singaporeans who gave up their citizenship which amounts to an estimate of 12,000 each year.

Each year, Singaporeans emigrating overseas worsen the local falling birth rate – which has always been the lowest in the world at only a birth rate of 0.82 – when overseas Singaporeans register their babies as foreign nationals. Economic costs of Singapore’s aging population is also crashing at double the speed as more young Singaporeans refuse to pay taxes in Singapore.

Countries with high emigration rate among their young are usually third world countries like Philippines, India and China. Young people who are unhappy and have low confidence of their home country usually vote with their feet. In Singapore, the acute woes of a Singaporean citizenship lies with the employment opportunities and stifling environment.

As the Singapore government is obsessed with GDP growth, income gap and the livelihood of ordinary Singaporeans take low priorities. There has never been a call or national movement of best-paid wages for Singapore workers, (with the exception for the PAP political leaders). The GDP-rich country does not even have a Minimum Wage and it pays low income workers like cleaners as low as S$4 an hour. Even for the middle class PMETs, Singapore wages are half that of all other developed countries like Australia and US, and further differentiated by higher living cost in Singapore. Singaporeans do not get priority in employment, as confirmed by Senior Minister Amy Khor who objected to “Singaporean-first” hiring practices. The influx of foreign degree holders also contributed to severe unemployment and under-employment of Singaporean graduates, resulting the latter seeking overseas stints and resettling elsewhere for good.

Another key motivation – or frustration – behind Singaporeans moving overseas is the lack of representation in government. Like the recent 30% hike in water price, there is no ownership of decision-making for the people. The opposition won a 30% representation in popular votes but the dictatorship of Lee Hsien Loong crafted unfair election laws to depress the opposition’s presence to only 7% in Parliament. Criticisms of the Singapore government lead to political persecution in the form of defamation lawsuits and invoking of the Sedition Act. Singaporeans ended up voting with their feet as disappointment in the government soars.

Overseas Singaporean males also do not need to serve National Service reservist training, giving them uninterrupted income and opportunities. However, Singaporean males are more unhappy with the double standards of the SAF which excuse healthy new citizens from serving NS. All Singaporeans do not accept the inequality and demand new citizens to serve NS too, only to be ignored by the government.

Despite obvious reasons for emigration, government propaganda institute IPS officiated a survey asking overseas Singaporeans what are their reasons for emigration. You may participate in this survey here.

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