If I were young all over again

26 April 2005

Looking back at how I a son of this land have not been treated more fairly than foreign mercenaries who seek work and to live in this country, I would have done things differently, as would doubtless many of my generation.

Before being enlisted. Before stepping into adulthood. Before returning after graduation. Before embarking on a career path. Before making any financial commitments, especially for life. Before getting married. Before deciding to have children

In the words of an older and wiser ex-Singaporean who had apparently seen the light of truth:

Son, before and lest you become inextricably tied down forever to this place in future for whatever reason, go first be a national of another land. Then, armed with your degree, come back and work and live here if you must perhaps due to family roots and ties but only if you absolutely must. And only then.

You will find life not that much different than when you were holding a citizens certificate. As a foreign talent, which you will be known as then, you enjoy the best of both worlds. Many worlds, in fact!

Not having to subject and consign yourself initially to needless conscription and later to frequent and disruptive call-ups losing precious years in the process, during which your more fortunate foreign peers would have, everything else equal, sped ahead on the academic road and climbed on the corporate ladder.

As a foreign talent, you will still be paid pension savings, like any Singaporean. But unlike any Singaporean, you will be able to withdraw those savings (in whole and in entirety) as and when you pat the dust off your bottoms and leave while for the poor Singaporean to draw out his life savings (less a certain minimum sum which is not a constant but a constant change upwards, according to the whims and fancies of the lords of this land), he has to wait till retirement age, which is again not a constant but a constant change upwards, again, subject to the dictates of the clueless lords of this land.

In short, the present Singaporean finds it that much harder to retire; the premise being if he can retire at all, since the ever upwards-spiraling costs of living will make retirement more an elusive dream to chase than a distinct prospect to realize.

Like any Singaporean too, you will be able to own lands and property. And at the same price the Singaporean pays no foreigner premium, no scrutiny!

And like any Singaporean, you are not obliged to dine at fine restaurants but get to dig in to lowest-cost hawker fare as well and indulge in a pig-out! Again, no foreign premium, no scrutiny.

Life is good here, they say. Yes good for anyone else but the unfortunate and misplaced Singaporean.

And this is something for every young Singaporean to ponder about: Just how good is your piece of citizenship paper in this your land of birth?

Before committing yourself further and becoming tied down to this land inextricably and meaninglessly, I say unto you: You have a choice. Seize the day. Exit before it becomes too late. For you have only one life. And you live once only.


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