Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore state owned and controlled newspaper, the Straits Times, just as all the other news media being equally owned and controlled by the state has a story on Feb 18, 2008 headed "Australia adds visas for skilled workers".
Is this not going to exasperate the already dire skilled manpower situation in Singapore when Singapore is presently losing its qualified people permanently emigrating to the west at intolerably high levels?
According to this report, Australia is going to add another 6,000 skilled worker visas every year increasing the total to 108,500. With Australia already being the main destination for several thousands of Singaporean migrants, this additional increase in work visas can only mean even more Singaporeans leaving.
And the people leaving would be the very ones that Singapore needs most; aircraft technicians from Singapore airlines, cargo handlers, aircraft checkers, air traffic marshals and other aviation staff; which means a heavy loss to Singapore Airlines, a leader in the skies.
And these workers being lost are the very type that Singapore needs the most, highly skilled and experienced staff often irreplaceable at any price, with their training and vast experience.
The same with the merchant marine and the marine industry. Container men, container traffic specialists, crane operators of all sorts, skilled welders and mechanics, diesel mechanics, all sorts of highly skilled people are being lost every day from Singapore heading to Australia; badly affecting the Singapore shipping trade.
Not just in aviation and shipping. All the other trades, skilled air-conditioning technicians, motor mechanics, diesel mechanics, and skilled workers in every possible trade you can think of, all making a bee line to the Australian High Commission filling out papers and standing in line for the first Singapore Airlines or Qantas flight to Sydney?
The brain drain from Singapore has reached such incredibly high levels that an Australian in Brisbane was reported to have asked someone inquiring whether there was a revolution or some other catastrophe in Singapore that is causing such high levels of flight from the country!
And mind you, all this emigration at such high levels is from a small country, Singapore, 16 miles north to south and 26 miles east to west with a population no more than 3 million and shrinking. What is more, Singaporeans are at the same time, refusing to have any babies to such an extent that the population is unable to replace itself. The situation had become so grave and if no action was taken, there will only be the trishaw riders and hawkers left in Singapore.
So in order to remedy this intolerable situation in labor shortage, the government finds itself helpless other than to bring in hundreds of thousands of people from Communist China, some from India and the Philippines and Burma to somehow replace the loss. But the question is whether such immigrants from these countries are qualified and skilled as those Singaporeans who have left and as we speak leaving? The answer has to be a resounding "no".
No matter what one says of Singaporeans, one cannot deny that they are one of the most skilled qualified and disciplined workers anywhere in the world. And what is more, they have an excellent knowledge of English making them the most sought after among immigrants in any part of the world. Singaporeans themselves have shown how good they are succeeding in their careers and businesses anywhere and capable of competing with anyone.
I am myself a living example. Educated in Singapore and in England, I not only passed the English Bar Exams, the Singapore Bar and the California Bar which is reputed to be the most difficult among the Bar Examinations throughout the United States. Not only that I practice law in the local courts and compete with Americans and people from anywhere in the world who happens to be here. Why, because I have had an excellent education in Singapore and that makes me able to compete and survive in any part of this planet. California benefits from my education which I received in Singapore just as the thousands of Singaporeans benefit Australia from the education they received in Singapore. The net loser in this equation is Singapore.
Has the Singapore government ever asked why Singaporeans are so eager to escape from Singapore?
I have no in depth knowledge of Australia but I understand the general conditions there. In Australia human beings are treated as humans. If you unemployed, the government permits you to survive with human dignity, with reasonable assistance for you and your children until you find something else. Not like in Singapore where thy throw $200.00 at you and some rice and cooking oil expecting you to somehow fend for yourself. In such undignified inhumane circumstances, the children of poor people in Singapore lose their self respect, their hopes and aspirations and eventually turn out no better than their destitute parents. In Singapore being poor is a sin and and shameful; in Australia being poor is just a temporary setback from which everyone expects you to come back, full steam ahead and kicking.
In Australia, children are allowed to be children, which means they can play, something which children are expected to do. In Singapore, children, the moment they are born are turned into adults, with time tables, appointments, school assignments, tuition classes, music classes, language classes so much so that they are constantly looking at their calendars for their next appointment!
This sort of life creates a robot with only one motivation and drive, the drive to do better, to make more money, to say the right things, to speak correct political speech, to please the master and to survive as best you can; preferably not being seen or heard; because in Singapore if you stand out like a nail, you will be hammered in to conform to society. In Australia on the other hand, you are welcome to be anyone you want; and you can think you are the Pope and no will care two hoots.
In Australia there are retirement pensions, state funded medical care and other social programs where people can live everyday as human beings knowing that there is the rule of law, and their rights will be protected. In Singapore you have a Lee Kuan Yew who thinks he knows everything and will send anyone to jail who thinks otherwise.
Even though I grew up in Singapore I was lucky to have a father who was way ahead of the Singapore government in thinking. As a boy I was told I could achieve anything I wanted. And being a 6 year old boy, I really believed it. All that was required was the desire to want it, my father said. The achievement itself will automatically follow. And this philosophy stayed with me throughout my life. I always believed that I could achieve anything that I want. My father used to say that fear only holds one back. That there was no need to fear and if it is the oceans you want to cross, then cross it without hesitation.
And it is this kind of courage that was instilled in me, that every Australian or New Zealand father instills in their boys. That is why Edmund Hilary, the bee keeper and mountaineer, champion of Mount Everest, is a New Zealander; that is why Peter Snell, the 800 meters Olympic champion is a New Zealander; that is why hundreds of Tour de France cyclists are New Zealanders; that is why New Zealand won the yacht race America cup; that is why New Zealanders are the best world yachtsmen. And the All Blacks the best rugby team in the world are New Zealanders.
Why, because in New Zealand, boys grow up as boys, they fight, they play and they enjoy an adventure. And mind you, New Zealand has a population of 3 million too, just like Singapore. Not like the Singapore 10 year old boy who has to look at his calendar for the next tuition class; who will fall swoon and die bending over backwards if you just gave him a slap!
Singapore parents are aware of how Australia and New Zealand is, just as I am. So they prefer their children to grow up as children in Australia and New Zealand and they leave Singapore, where Lee Kuan Yew struts around like a prize rooster, beating up on anyone who even utters a whimper of complaint.
So I don’t expect the manpower problems in Singapore to get any better. It will only get progressively worse. Worse because the new entrants to fill the jobs left by Singaporeans, the immigrants from Communist China, India and the Philippines have neither the English, nor the skills or the experience of Singaporeans who left.
And as long as Lee Kuan Yew thinks he knows best and continues to run the country in the present tyrannically hopeless manner, Singapore can only continue to decline even further meaning even more Singaporeans will begin packing and leaving.
This unfortunately is the bitter truth.
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