Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Australia adds visas for skilled workers! Will the brain drain get even worse for Singapore?

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.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914


Anonymous said...

I agree and disagree,

I will say this, Singaporeans are smart, but not bright. Not bright because they tend to stop themselves from forging ahead and put a limit on their own potential. Singaporeans will follow a company procedure, but do more than what is required. Not an ideal employee for me. I blame the government for this.

Yes, I made a sweeping statement, but fair statement. For me, a Singaporean is not an ideal employee, not even in Singapore and sad to say but I wonder if even Lee thinks this? It's been said before, the people are like sheep, follow follow. And for that, I blame the government again. Why do you think he now has to "search" for leaders? Would not a leader stand out... you won't find a leader in a flock of sheep. Again, this is the governments doing.

I do have to say in fairness that if Singaporeans just believe in themselves, and they take control of their own lives and destiny and let no man restrict their freedoms, their minds will open up so much more. Singaporeans are smart, and if given the chance to raise and free their mind they can adjust and be the best at anything they want. But the chains that hold them back have to be broken.

This is what Gopalan has done, this is what others have done, this is what my friend Aaron has done. Aaron is a Singaporean who left a month ago from Singapore to live in Australia. I asked him why are you leaving? He told me he just cannot live in Singapore anymore. He recently got married, and he wants to have children. He also says that he does not want to raise children in Singapore.

He says, "Yes it is clean and it is safe, but look at the price i paid for this... there are many clean, green places in the world, and these places are free. I cannot believe our government anymore. Like any parent I want my children to have more than me. Some people think bringing a child into wealth is good and the end-all. For me, I think brining up a child with freedom is better." And with that statement, Aaron said, "By giving him (his child to be) the chance to grow up as a free person, he will already have more than I did as a child growing up in Singapore. My father's money did not make me happy, why should I think mine will do any better for my child?"

And so another one of Singapore's best left the country never to return. You see, Lee does not get it, this is how out of touch the government is. Money, incentives, clean, green, and safe, a first class airport and transportation system are only parts to an equation of what people look for. The answer educated people seek is freedom. I am waiting to return home country before I have my children. There is absolutely no way I would raise my children in Singapore. And I am sorry to say, but unless you come from a third world or do not know what freedom is, I would not know really why anyone would raise children here. I apologize if I offended anyone, but this is my opinion. There is nothing that can buy or I would trade my child's freedom for... and this is why Singaporean's leave. So am I arrogant for saying that, or is there truth in what is being said?

You call it a brain drain, but let's speak the truth. it is not a brain drain, it is a freedom march. Singaporeans are leaving the country to be free. Do not acknowledge the propaganda by calling it a brain drain because it about a flight to freedom, a freedom march. It is a freedom march, it is a Singaporean protest.

Let it sink in... this is a freedom march!

david5735 said...

Yes....I do agree with your Statement that it is not brain drain.....but it is fight for freedom !

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr, i enjoy reading your blog.
There are certain thing i totally agree with you on Lee Kuan Yew and his empire.Certain thing i think it's not that bad like what you said either.Anyway, i don't like Lee too.Have a nice day! Keep up the good work too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is really is a flight and an exodus to freedom. I started the comment to this thread and I apologize if i offended anyone.

What Singapore is seeing is not a brain drain. What you are really seeing is short of an exodus of "refugees" leaving in the first waves. Mind you this is quite different from what we are accustomed to when we think of the word refugee. We think of war, famine, leaving a troubled government and other things.

Well, there is a war; the war for freedom. There is famine; jobs are getting scarce and people are not making babies, the island has no natural resources and can easily put back in the stone age. And there is a troubled government; I think this does not need explanation.

The Singaporean who leaves sees all of these things and is wise enough to see "his own personal vision" as opposed to a vision the government says you will have. One day Singaporeans will wake up.

Again, this isn't a brain drain. To Lee and any other closed minded person it may be. However to a free thinking man, an unbiased man, a man that is true to himself, what he sees is really the first waves of discontent and refugees fleeing a nation that is crumbling from the inside of out purely because of its government. This is why my friend Aaron left.

I admire Aaron and I feel bad for him. At least now he is free. It's funny, when people die we say they are free. We say their "spirit or soul is free." Even in a free country we say this. Therefore, I can imagine how incredible it must be for the Singaporean who finds freedom in LIFE instead waiting until he dies.

Remember, this is not about those who read this today. This about your children and their children. Only you can make freedom happen for them. Likewise, you will be part of what keeps them in shackles.

I do not expect anyone to do anything, people are too afraid and too attached their ricebowl. If you are one of these, then your best move is to make a move and follow the exodus.

Anonymous said...

This is another piece of good news to me. I plan to head there within 2 years. I have a friend who is heading there in June and another moving next year. Go Aussie!!

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans need to change mindset in order to get used to working or living in a real free and democractic country like Australia.

In this country, we are not just focused on efficiency, we are expected to treat our colleagues with respect and understanding. No scare tactics Singapore style or they will backfire on you.

Australians respect your views and they do give you a go.
You don't have to give long reasons or sometimes, produce medical certificate if you are sick.

Australian tries to practice the 888, 8 hrs of work, play and rest.

As an Australian, you have your individual rights, including privacy. Sometimes, if you are wronged, you have to exercise that rights, and there are avenues for you to do so.

Racism is present, as it is a human trait, but it is practiced by the socially deprived or the ignorant. And it is not right. For Chinese Singaporeans, don't be surprised to find that Indians get better respect here. Yes. Aussies tend to say what they think.

Sexism is present, thanks to the Old Boys Network. The male ego.
But it is not right.

Australia practices Equal Opportunity in a family-friendly workplace. Offenders do get caught.

The Laws are transparent. You know why decision is made. Anything opaque are usually exposed by the reporters or when the documents are de-classified.

Australia has high tax, a lot of which are spent running the welfare and community programs.

The cost of living has gone up in Australia due to the supply side of the economics ... housing shortages, drought, not enough workers (more migrants welcomed), infrastructure and inefficiencies in some industries.

The present Rudd government is actively pursuing solutions ... these solutions will take time, may not be be best - but politics are "dirty". Rudd is an energetic hardworking and smart PM with the good intention of serving the public. But he is inexperienced and the government is still in honeymoon after a landslide victory and smooth transition from the Howard government.

Like US, Australia is an immigrant country where a quarter of its population have overseas link.

Australia is no disneyland, but it does not have dealth penalty.

Welcome to join your freed Singapore mates already living in the country.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous of Feb 23, 2008 7.01 am.

Thanks for the input on living in Australia. Nice joke. you may have heard this. Australian accent of ponouncing "day" as "die". Mondie, Tuesdie etc.

Singaporean went to Australia and asked his Australian friend when did he come. His ansewer was "I came to "die", meaning he came today!

Good one. Round of laughter please.