The following is a letter to the Straits Times forum page by Gilbert Goh.
I refer to the article “Migrating Singaporeans” (ST 27 June).
I am currently residing in Sydney Australia and felt that SM Goh Chok Tong’s speech needed a response from those who are living abroad.
Having work and live for the past two years abroad, let me reiterate that it is so much different from working back home.
I worked for about a year in China in 2007-2008 and has found the experience liberating. Though work has to be done, it is not the same as Singapore which is often stressful and taxing. Let me just say that thee is still a life after work when you are abroad. The same could not be same back home. Many laboured long hours at work and suffer the consequences of not spending enough time with their loved ones. Lax labour laws favouing the employers also do not give workers enough say on their job scope.
It is no secret that the lifestyle one leads back home is not very balanced and after a while, one begins to look for a better place to spend his life with. Many I know left Singapore in search of greener pasture both in terms of a more balanced lifestyle and better career opportunities.
It is also well known that our employers are biased against older workers preferring them to be at least below forty years of age. The influx of foreigner workers competing for employment have also given Singaporeans the added incentive to search for work abroad. The job market during past few years has become an employer’s market pushing many more Singaporeans to look at alternatives.
Personally,I was unemployed for close to 1 1/2 years during the Sars period and during that period, I began to earnestly look for an alternate place to work and reside – one that does not discriminate against age. I realise that things will be very diffcult for someone who is above aged 40 years old and not very skilled. My family took the plunge last year when we were offered a 4-year work visa in Australia and have never look back. Many back home envy our so-called second chance at having a life again – abroad.
Though I appreciate SM Goh Chok Tong’s intention to try to help local Singaporeans settle down in their own country after graduation, i am afraid that his efforts will be in vain unless employment opportunities improve especially for those age above 40 years old. We also need to work less and play more.