Photo of Sydney Singaporeans with Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

A Singaporean businessman who left Singapore 15 years ago hit the headlines by entertaining Prime Minister and his state media with lips service. Saying that he always thinks about relocating in Singapore, 51-year-old Fong Chong Yeong said he would “consider” if there is an “opportunity”, but did not explain what’s stopping him to:

“I always joke and tell my friends that we never migrated here. I came here because of a job and then somehow I got stuck here and I just lived here for the last 15 years. Singapore is still our home … Our families are back in Singapore so we do go back every year and keep in touch with what’s going on in Singapore. If you ask about intending to go back to Singapore … it’s always a thought lingering there. Let’s say there’s an opportunity, something arises I’ll definitely consider. In any case I grew up in Singapore, I’m used to the environment there.”

The overseas Singaporean came to Sydney Australia in 2003 for a work trip as the former managing director of OSIM International, chose to stay in Sydney even after he left his job in 2012.

According to statistics released by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in 2017, 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.

More Singaporeans are emigrating out of Singapore due to the declining standard of living at home. Purchasing power in Singapore has taken a hit in recent years due to rising taxes, and the future is is bleak with the impending GST hike. Aside from economic reasons, Singapore is stuck with a single party dictatorship which restrict individual freedom like speech and political opinions.