Photo of Kuala Lumpur's skyline from Shutterstock.com

Malaysian flight attendant: Work in Singapore and retire in Malaysia

by Vincent Low

A Malaysian flight attendant Yow Zi Jian wrote on quora.com last Friday (16 Feb) that his preference would be to work in Singapore and retire back in Malaysia. (source)

Explaining his preference to work in Singapore, he said, “The strong SGD can make you a king if it was converted back into other weaker currencies such as MYR & IDR.”

“It is also a vibrant, livable, globalized city to live too,” he added. “The CBD is incredibly walk-able and there are many parks. Public transport is par excellence.”

He praised the Singapore government for being efficient and meritocratic.

“On the surface, its core values tend to be better too. I’d imagine that it’s easier to be a minority (Malay or Indian) in Singapore than a Chinese or Indian in Malaysia. But that’s debatable,” he remarked.

Further praising the Singapore government, he wished his grandparents were working in Singapore when it was separated from Malaysia in 1965.

“I sometimes wish what would happen if my grandparents were working in Singapore when it was expelled from Malaysia,” he said. “My granduncle & grandaunt came from Malaysia & were working there when expulsion happened. As a result, they and their kids all became Singaporeans.”

Preference to retire in Malaysia

However, he also thinks that there is no incentive to retire in Singapore due to its high cost of living.

“This is more apparent as other countries surrounding Singapore have much cheaper cost of living,” he noted. “This is where Malaysia comes into place.”

He said that Malaysia offers “a good bang for the buck” and added that where else one could find a country that is:

  • almost a developed country like Singapore (though not there yet);
  • about the same multicultural demographics of Singapore (only slightly more Islamic);
  • relatively safe (unlike Philippines’ insurgencies, drug wars, & gun culture);
  • speaks English (unlike Thailand/Vietnam/Indonesia/Cambodia/Myanmar/Laos);
  • at almost cheap, Southeast Asian (Thai/Indonesian/Philippine/Vietnam) prices?

“Malaysia lah! Plus, for me, it is home,” he quipped.

Editor’s note: The main thrust of the post is not to spark a witch hunt for the person who made the comment, especially since what he wrote is nothing but the truth. It is the same for Singaporeans working in overseas countries and then coming back to spend due to the currency exchange. Although that might not be possible given that even expats find Singapore being a costly country to be in. 

This somewhat highlights the unspoken fact that the goal for majority of the foreign workers coming to Singapore,  is to earn enough and eventually return to their country to settle down as that is where they identify as home. And the question of why conditions still persist for companies to favor Singaporeans over foreign workers.