At his visit to New York during the Easter weekend, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met with 300 New York-based Singaporeans and urged them to return to Singapore, citing “home” and “family” as reasons. However many questioned the Prime Minister if Singapore could offer salaries and work-life balance that matches those in places like New York and Sydney.

Singapore is facing an increasing exodus of local born Singaporeans who emigrated because of the lack of employment opportunities in the country. The latest manpower statistics revealed that Singapore workers work the longest hours in the world at 2,389.4 hours a year, as compared to its nearest competitor Taiwan at 2,163 hours. Singapore always ranks poorly in the terms of purchasing power and cost of living is the 4th highest in the world. The country is flushed with cheap immigrants from third world countries during Lee Hsien Loong’s reign, in his pursuit of GDP growth over society.

Many Singapore entrepreneurs and those in the creative industry like writers, artists and musicians flocked overseas also because of the state of oppression by the authoritarian government. Like China, government grants for art works are politicized and sponsorship will be revoked if the work criticizes the ruling party.

The last reported figures of Singaporeans emigrating overseas was 11,000 in 2011. In 2012, a survey found that more than half of the Singaporean population would emigrate if they could.