Sunday, 4 December 2011

WE LOVE SINGAPORE - For The Record

I am very saddened that I have no option but to pen a response to the increasing number of blog entries and forum posts popping up all over the place online in the last few days.

I wouldn’t like to suggest that some people seem to have too much time on their hands, but why someone feels it is important enough to research my blog and other articles to try and discredit me or my motivations for living in Singapore or becoming PR is totally beyond me.

Anyway, to set the record straight, I wanted to put forward my position on a few items and just move on (I’m not interested in getting into flame wars with online trolls).

DECISION TO BECOME PERMANENT RESIDENT

Regardless of the quotes taken out of context from an article written on my blog some 3-years+ ago, our decision for becoming PR was not for the sole intention of buying a resale HDB flat. We have become PRs because we love Singapore, it is our home, and we had made a ‘pact’ even prior to relocating here many years ago that if we were to really integrate into the local community, we wanted to do it ‘boots and all’ – moving to a foreign country is no menial task – it takes much courage and planning. Our first attempt to achieve this, was by moving to Woodlands (as opposed to doing the stereotypical expat thing and surrounding ourselves with other foreigners).

When I penned the article all those years ago about beating the increasing rental market by purchasing a property here, I was highlighting the fact that rent money is ‘dead money’ and to invest in ourselves as opposed to lining our landlord’s pocket was an easy decision – this would be applicable no matter which country we were living.

Living in a condo was just not doing it for us – we still felt like we were on an extended business trip and did not feel at home… almost like we were shutting ourselves in, so we decided to go down the HDB resale flat path, as this gave us the opportunity to meet more locals and to potentially give back to the community in which we so dearly wanted to integrate.

This has worked for us – our best friends are our neighbours. We gladly and proudly actively participate in the community, and I am extremely active in the local grassroots in Sengkang West – spending most weekends and many weeknights on such activities.

We have no secrets or ulterior motives. Singapore is our home and we are proud and feel very blessed that we have been so welcomed into our neighbourhood and community! I make absolutely no apologies for this.

In no way have we mocked any system as a few people seem to be insinuating in these forums.

NATIONAL SERVICE FOR OUR BOYS

Another issue that seems to be a topic for these forum trolls, is around a comment I made in an interview (also more than 3 years ago). I suggested at the time, that I felt it a disadvantage of becoming a PR that our boys (both born here) would be liable for National Service.

On this issue, through my local mates and close friends, I have come to learn more about the process and what NS entails. These days, I do not actually feel it is a disadvantage. I have grown to believe that along with our children playing their part in their birth-country’s obligations, NS has shown to instill a discipline and sense of pride that would be difficult to attain through other means. I am therefore supportive of this requirement for male children of permanent residents.

CITIZENSHIP

The colour of my passport seems to be a giant bug-bear for a small cross-section of people. In a recent interview with the Straits Times, I stated that although I had thought about SG citizenship, ‘at this juncture’ I was not ready to give up my Aussie passport (while there is no opportunity for dual citizenship).

This has lead to much speculation as to my motivation and reasoning. Quite frankly, this is a very personal decision and not one to be taken lightly – in my culture, to give up one’s citizenship is akin to turning one’s back on their heritage and even their family. Just as I respect and totally accept other cultures around me, I would have hoped that my culture and upbringing would at least be tolerated.

This is my reasoning and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I one day intend to return to Australia (which is not even in our thoughts right now), nor is it so that I could rort or mock any system or process.

MY INCOME

I have worked very hard to become successful in my career (over decades). This has been at the sacrifice of my personal leisure and my family time. Along with long, hard hours, I spend much time volunteering in the community. How much I earn as a result of my professional endeavours is absolutely nobody’s business and has no bearing on my love for Singapore or our decision to live in a HDB estate.

Thanks for reading – I hope this clears the air somewhat.

It is important to note, that we LOVE our home – Singapore! We are happy and blessed to be here and we will continue to integrate and assist others to integrate into the local community. We have no other  intention right now, but to remain here, and perhaps one day (as the years move forward) we will take the next step towards Singapore citizenship. In the meantime, please accept our good intentions and respect our wish to be good neighbours and friends.

Cheers,

Pete

13 comments:

Rene said...

Pete, very well written.
It's sad to see that for some people, whatever you do just isn't enough, they always see you as an 'intruder'. For those people, there'll always be the "us" and the "them", no matter what. Luckily we both know that they aren't in the majority, most Singaporeans are quite open minded and tolerant.

I think you're the perfect example of someone who comes to Singapore and settles down here. Those who know you better (and I don't even want to claim that I do know you well enough, but I can see it as well) can testify that you're not someone who wants to get the most out of Singapore without returning anything, but who really contributes a lot!

AussiePete said...

Hey buddy! Thanks for the support! I'm usually a little tougher than to worry about this, but the number of places the posts appeared yesterday just floored me - really made me feel down... Not so much coz of the few who perpetuated it, but more so that other many good people who don't know me might believe what they read.

Hopefully now I've got it off my chest, I can just move on and hopefully forget the last couple of days of cyber-bullying ;)

cheers!

--andy-- said...

Just move on with your life Pete. You have a happy family and do not let others disturb your lifestyle.

In Singapore, some people eat- finish-too-free-then-gossip.
So what if you decide to move on after a few years, it is your choice to make.

Do not even bother to reply to them (baiting). Let your sincerity come through your actions.

Anonymous said...

"We have become PRs because we love Singapore"
Oh yeah, and what exactly do you like about it?
I studied in Perth for 2 years, thanks to the generosity of the Australian government who provided free tertiary education. I supported myself by working summers in the wheat bins, and enjoyed the hospitality of the "cockies" in the farming areas. Except for the "pommie bastards", the city folk were just as nice. No need to worry about healthcare, even though I was only on student visa. We bought an ancient VW lovebug for $50, it was passed down from student to student. Couldn't imagine 2 million people in a state the size of Texas. No wonder many of my friends stayed back after graduation. I came home because my parents were getting on in age. I'll go back in a hurry if an employment opportunity comes up.

AussiePete said...

Thanks Andy!

And thanks 'anonymous' - been a while since I've laughed so much... "cockies", "pommie bastards" - I don't think I've heard people use terms like that since my grandparents back in the 70s!! ;)

there is so much to love in sg - where to start? The beautiful people who are our neighbours, the food, the shopping, the safety, the education, the 'slow' pace in the local community on weekends, hanging out drinking kopi and chatting, the absolutely beautiful nature reserves like the parklands at riverside park...?? Where to start and stop? So many reasons to love this georgeous country, my friend. Cheers!

Wang said...

Aussie Pete

Absolutely understand where you are coming from.

Unfortunately in whichever city or country, there will always be people who can see the speck in other people's eyes while being unable to see the log on their own.

Have a good week and weekend ahead.
God bless in all your endeavours

Regard

Shane Hayes Physiotherapist said...

Well written, good to see i'm not the only other Australian expat been influenced by life in Singapore and got into their craze of writing blogs, started out to inform family back home but ended up getting into it more..

Amanda Silver said...

some of those feelings seem familiar to me, but life goes on and people from around the world are all so different, and chances to find friends are very good if you love socialising and you are a good person.. and I'm sure you are, from the way you write :)

AussiePete said...

Hey Shane - thanks for dropping by :)

Amanda - also thanks to you and the very kind words... yes, everyone is so very different - I think it's that diversity that makes the world such an awesome place! :p

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

It's not you, buddy, that the people here are upset with. Being a PR, you've got the chance to enjoy the benefits that our government freely offers migrating foreigners.

The people are upset with the government for all the failures in planning that they've committed over the last decade or more, but still pretend they are the best and only government that takes care of the citizens, whilst in reality only the government coffers and ministers salaries have actually boomed. The rich are getting richer, and the middle class have not improved in the last 10-15years.

Now with the overcrowding caused by the import of foreigners like yourself (remember, we don't blame you for coming and enjoying the freebies), but the poor planning that has not at the same time improved the transport, housing or employment to cater for the increase.

Yet the government acts like it's the fault of the people for being uncomfortable with the overcrowding.

Currently, the population stands at 40% of foreigners. And this does not include the newly minted citizens. The number could be closer to 50% only of local bred Singaporeans.

Tell me, Pete, in your HDB flat - if suddenly, HDB shoves in an equal number of strangers to live with you, and you have no say whether to accept or reject them, and had to clothe, feed them and look after their security, at your own expense, how would you feel?

If you feel good about it, please let me know, 'cos I no longer have a house, and wouldn't mind a free abode for my family of 4, for an indeterminable amount of time.

A Singaporean (please don't call us trolls in our own country)

Anonymous said...

That's not very fair. It is true we do get a large number of foreigners who refuse to integrate with the mainstream Singaporean culture. We also have entire underclasses of Pinoys and Banglas who are well exploited in our system almost on the levels of slavery. We have our flaws too, like it or not.

Here we have an Australian who successfully integrated himself into our way of life and is proud of having done so. He pays his taxes, and contributes to the society and economy too. It is certainly not polite to heap out abuse against someone who has shown appreciation for our culture and way of life and is willing to adapt.

We shouldn't forget, Australia tends to be the biggest destination for our students who go abroad too. Most have had pleasant experiences and the Aussies have always been hospitable. It would be hypocritical for us to be xenophobic now wouldn't it?

AussiePete said...

Thanks so much for the supporting words, anon - xenophobia exists everywhere in all countries, and can sometimes be hurtful (even with tough skin)... I'm a firm believer that one good person can far outway the actions or comments of a group of not so nice people :) cheers!

Kenny Png said...

Hey Pete,

I am really sorry that our island has become so xenophobic when as a port city we have done do much better for decades and even centuries before. As a locally bred Singaporean, I welcome you so please do not feel put down by what you read. There are many of us who are still Singaporean in the sense that we are a port city people with very open minds. Anytime you need a pint to know that there are folks who are happy to see you here, feel free to call though I have no idea how to leave you a contact here. Regards