30 August 2006

The Tale of One Foreign Talent

K is a good old buddy of mine. We were hostel roommates in our freshman year at NUS. He studied engineering, and I studied law, and we both had the habit of studying with music turned on at full blast. Fortunately, we had compatible tastes in music.

K was not a Singaporean. Born in a quiet, sleepy Malaysian town, he first came to Singapore as a teenager, to do his A-levels on an ASEAN scholarship. For those who do not know, that's basically free money. It's a bond-free, no-obligations-attached scholarship that our government gives out to bright students from every ASEAN country (except Singapore itself).

He scored mostly A's in his A-levels. He went on to study chemical engineering (no more scholarship), and NUS is where we first met. We were close friends, but after graduation, we went our separate ways. Recently we met up again, the first time in years, and had a great time catching up. The story of K's life, since we last met:

After graduating, K found a job as an engineer with a small chemical company in Jurong. After three years, he considered a permanent move back to Malaysia, but the pay in Singapore was too attractive. He fell in love with a fellow Malaysian working here. They went home and got married, then came back to Singapore to work. They don't have any children. They don't intend to.

They wanted to buy a HDB resale flat. To be entitled to this, they took up PR status - then proceeded to buy an old 3-room HDB flat in Clementi. Time passed. The government offered them citizenship - repeatedly. They declined the first few times. They couldn't see any advantage in it. The offer remains open.

Recently they learned that their block of flats is due for upgrading. As they are not citizens, the government will not subsidise their upgrading cost and they would have to fork out quite a lot of money (something like $60,000?). Citizenship does have its privileges after all. So now, for the first time, they are seriously considering accepting the citizenship offer. Either that, or they will sell the flat and move out.

K has not doing that well in his career. He says it somewhat gloomily. More precisely, his company has not been doing well. They manufacture chemicals but he says that there are times when business is so bad that basically the factory comes to a standstill. "A great big factory, and nothing happening," he said. "All the workers just sitting around wondering what's going to happen next." I imagine that the orders for chemical supplies have gone out of Singapore, to China.

K is scared. All his working life, he's been a technical guy, a process engineer. That's all he knows. What if what he knows is not enough? Luckily, he doesn't have kids. K has decided not to sit around and wait to become obsolete. He took a big, bold drastic step. He applied to do his MBA in France. He got a partial scholarship from the university. The rest - he's funding with his own savings. He's been taking French lessons. He's resigned from his company and he'll soon be flying off. His wife will continue working in Singapore. He'll be back in a year. Or maybe he won't. Maybe after he finishes his MBA, he'll manage to find a job in France. Then his wife can join him.

What roots does K have left in Malaysia? Not much, he says. How time flies. A few more years, and it would become true to say that he has spent half his lifetime living outside Malaysia. He notes that when he goes back for Chinese New Year, he has hardly any relatives left to visit, apart from his own parents. His brother has emigrated to the US. There seem to be few smart, well-educated non-bumi Malaysians who are willing to work in Malaysia.

K is one example of what the Singapore government calls "foreign talent". I tell his story here, because his story says a few things not just about foreign talent, but also about life in Singapore today. I'll let you guys comment first, and I'll join you later. Bye for now.

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Anonymous said...

I have got several cousins, at least 3 of them, they either have migrated or are working overseas. Their parents also wish to migrate and stay with them.

If I include friends then the numbers are higher. Several of them have already migrated or are planning to.

Just around my circle there are so many of them migrating or working overseas, I am curious how many more are there such Singaporeans.

And to talk about foreign talent just puzzles me. Either Singaporeans are not talented enough in the eyes of garmen, or their defination of foreign talent is somehow puzzling.

Anonymous said...

I think this foreign talent policy is very vague.

The government should come clean and tell us what is the real problem.

Those who have made the first move to leave their homeland will not stay put for sentimental reasons. These are 'wanderers' or 'eagles who soar'. You don't expect them to go thru thick and thin with you. Because they have already crossed that difficult barrier.

My father, who was from China, told me before his passing, that he came here to look for a better life. While he was loyal to China, he will not just suffer because he was born there. He told me to do the same too.

Hmmm, it's in our genes since we come from a migrant stock!

Anonymous said...

Looks like this "Foreign Talent" got suckered by the government too, when it was telling everyone that engineering is the place to be. Now they are structurally unemployed.

Anonymous said...

I like his reason for seriously considering taking up citizenship. :)

Oh well. He doesn't intend to have kids. And even if he changes his mind, he could get daughters. That's one less disadvantage of citizenship.

Monkey said...

i know several friends of malaysian nationality in singapore that reminds me of your friend K.

But reading this now makes me feel like this whole marxist idea of migration of how rich countries like singapore are just siphoning of talents from less rich countries and then spitting them out, looking for new ones can't be more true. Of course they try to entice you with citizenship but how many 'foreign talent' use Singapore more as a stepping stone? Even Singaporeans of equal calibre do it, why wouldn't others who don't have the citizenship and roots to tie them down?

Especially these days, migration is no longer a permanent thing. A person can migrate several times in their lifetimes. My sis already went from US for almost a decade to now settling in Germany. How I wish the government can try to entice her back. And like your friend K, once they have lived outside their country of birth for more than half their lives, what is stopping them from moving yet to another if the current country (say Singapore) is not providing enough incentives for them to stay? We can't even keep our own citizens and we want to entice others.

But I'm actually more upset for Malaysia. It's a serious brain drain. That's what China and Taiwan was having then they started having people repatriating. But I don't see that for Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Okay this is what I see:

1. Taxpayers' money being thrown to foreign students via bond-free scholarships

2. Obviously, some FTs in Singapore have skills which are not the skills that the economy really need - there's a mismatch.

3. Mr Wang and K are good pals. Think that at a personal level, S'poreans are fine with the foreigners in their midst. It's the govt that S'poreans are fed up with.

4. K and wife don't want kids. So much for the recent suggestion by some posters that lack of babies --> PM wants FTs --> FTs will breed --> babies will increase.

5. Singapore Citizenship is not attractive to PRs. Only the threat of losing $60,000 frightens K into considering it.

6. The manufacturing industry is dying in Singapore.

7. If you want to retrain, you better hope you can get a partial scholarship from France. And have savings for your MBA.

8. Many of our FTs would leave, if better opportunities show up elsewhere.

Merv said...

If he's a real 'talent', his company's business should be booming.

denzuko1 said...

while reading through his story, I can't help but to have similar feelings. I have been living in Singapore for close to 30 years with PRship. The difference is that I married a Singaporean, that makes migration a touchy subject. Yet with all these facts, I still have not considered taking up citizenship in Singapore. It is not that I do not love this country, my friends even consider me half a Singaporean. But it is the fact that I do not see a long term prospect in Singapore, everything here is only temperary and it may be suicidal to make such a commitment.

We did discuss about migrating overseas but we are tied down with debts ( HDB ), it is a cannot sell and yet a burden when you don't sell thing.

We just have our second child recently, which makes it a more difficult decision on where we should head next. You friend is lucky that he is relatively not tied to anything.

denzuko1 said...

while reading through his story, I can't help but to have similar feelings. I have been living in Singapore for close to 30 years with PRship. The difference is that I married a Singaporean, that makes migration a touchy subject. Yet with all these facts, I still have not considered taking up citizenship in Singapore. It is not that I do not love this country, my friends even consider me half a Singaporean. But it is the fact that I do not see a long term prospect in Singapore, everything here is only temperary and it may be suicidal to make such a commitment.

We did discuss about migrating overseas but we are tied down with debts ( HDB ), it is a cannot sell and yet a burden when you don't sell thing.

We just have our second child recently, which makes it a more difficult decision on where we should head next. You friend is lucky that he is relatively not tied to anything.

Anonymous said...

It seems that a FT enjoys the fruit of the migration initially but the FT will suffer the same fate as a local eventually - the reality of progress in SG - same old problem. And what next? SG keeps on seeking new FTs while enticing existing FTs to take up citizenship.

Taking K's situation as an example, if he became a naturalised S'porean simply due to the dangling carrot of $60K for his HDB upgrading, the SG government shouldn't take that as a success for its FT policy. Taking up citizenship doesn't mean the FTs would remain in SG forever as there will always be greener pastures elsewhere and opportunities beckoning.

As such, SG can be seen as a transient place for most FTs and even the locals. I reckon the SG government should reconsider it's tough policy on government bond-breakers. We need to welcome those 'prodigal sons' back. After all, they are a form of government investments. That's the approach which Taiwan adopted - akin to the mentality: let the bird go free, if it's yours it will return. Like China, in recent years, there has been a reflux of native talents back to China - to build their country. Another example is the prata man. Many of the indian business men who resides in Singapore remit money back to their families in India - most build a comfortable nest in their home country. The Jews all over the world do the same - though they are physically elsewhere but their loyalty and patriotism to their home country of origin are undying. This is what we call Nationalistic Pride. Do we Singaporeans feel the same about Singapore? Deep in our heart we do but if the government is so hung up about their FTs plan, and the locals are being treated as 2nd class citizens - it is only natural that we seek refuge elsewhere.

At the rate that the government is pushing ahead to woo more FTs over to SG, and at the same time the "more fortunate" locals are leaving the country - and for those who remain behind - to whom will these people rely on to defend their national security. FTs don't have to serve NS or be called for reservists duty. Would SG be hiring mercenaries then? So what next?

Anonymous said...

You know, this story certainly is a fresh perspective. So sick of the "...and they live happily ever after" slant of the ST. Like, totally unreal. Thanks for sharing, Mr Wang.

Anonymous said...

tax disguised as conservancy charge

ST Forum 28 August 2006
By Sarimah Itnin (Mdm)

I have lived in Sengkang since 2000. I have to make calls to Ang Mo Kio Town Council on corridor lighting issues, lift issues, garbage and bulky items left unattended for days and so on.

My question is: Whose responsibility is this? Residents? Then why do we pay conservancy charges?

Recently, my corridor lights were out for a week. When I called the town council, I had to wait 10 minutes listening to a voice recorder before my call was answered.

Then I had to explain to a woman officer, who then transferred me to the maintenance side.

I had to repeat what I said again, but the officer was unable to answer when I asked her who is responsible for this.

Then I was transferred to another officer - Madam Wee, who said there is a "checker". Obviously, this "checker" is not checking.

I then asked to speak to someone in authority, but Madam Wee said her name is Gladys but she was out of office.

I left my contact details but till today, there has been no call. It was only in the last few days that the lights were fixed.

My questions: Does a simple question need to be repeated to three officers?

And what service do we residents receive in return for the monthly conservancy charges?

Summons to an accused person

Dated this 4th day of July, 2006 (funny it wasn't stuck on the door until more than 2 weeks later)

Case ID: SC-019929-06
Charge No: TC-007025-2006

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) Section 158-160


You, KOH CHONG KIANG (NRIC No S1471858C), the lessee of Apartment Block 536 Upper Cross Street #11-245 Singapore 050536, are charged that you have failed to pay the outstanding conservancy and service charges for the months of December 2003 to September 2005 (actually, Dec 2003 to date) of $529.00 (actually, the number seemed to have gone up and down) due and owing to the Town Council of Jalan Besar within 14 days from the date of service on you of a written demand dated 10 March 2006 and that you have thereby committed an offence under Section 39(7) of the Town Councils Act (Cap 329A) and punishable under the said Section thereof.

You are hereby required to appear on the 3rd day of August, 2006 at 6.00pm in person before the Subordinate Court No. CT 26N at Singapore and you are hereby warned that if you shall, without just excuse, neglect or refuse to appear on the said date, a Warrant may be issued to compel your attendance.

1) There's not enough balance in my CPF to service the mortgage.
2) The utilities bill has been outstanding for more than 8 months.
3) Not taking into account other non-recoverable debt owing to Singtel, Starhub and M1.
4) Telling the MP Loh Meng See in 3 visits but seeing his face only once, just before the election (so I was surprised to learn that somebody was privileged to sock MP Seng Hang Thong in the face) but not getting the message through, only to find him no longer an MP after the election.
5) Is it an offence to be poor and jobless?
6) Isn't it an extremely sick policy to be importing foreigners by the thousands when locals cannot secure a livelihood, and then persecuting them for not being able to secure a livelihood? And making slavery out of its citizens for needing to live in a HDB pigeon hole?
7) Isn't a tax that does not distinguish ability to pay, thus robbing the poor to enrich the rich, just cause for a citizen's revolt?

And I shall lead the way. The case is going to trail. PTC 27 September 2006, 2.00pm, Subordinate Court 14. Any advice or financial assistance would be appreciated. And I shall be needing a place to stay.

Anonymous said...

Here's another story for you.

I was an ASEAN scholar in my secondary school days. After my A-Levels, I got another scholarhsip from a statutory board (now corporatised) to study in London for my degree.

After returning to Singapore, I bought out my bond after serving slightly more than half of it because the work was boring me to tears (cue link to post about menial work). I knew I wanted to leave after a year or two on the job.

I joined the financial industry as an analyst. I was fairly successful despite the 1998 crisis and made a five-figure salary before 30.

Then I lost my job. The company I was with eventually shut its Singapore operations. I tried setting up a tech start-up with friends, but gave up after two years. My bank account was dangerously close to zero.

By then I had married a Singaporean girl and had one daughter, who is also Singaporean. So family came first, and I rejoined the old industry.

Today, I have two daughters, both Singaporeans. I am still an analyst, and pay is pretty decent. My wife is a full time mother.

I live in a four-room flat in Clementi, which was recently en-bloced (and this is where it links back to your friend K). But because my wife is Singaporean, I will benefit from a spanking new flat soon.

Yes, Singapore has provide me with much. I am paying back, as much as I can. I am still a Malaysian as a safety net, in case it gets too expensive to retire in Singapore.

I view the FT debate with mixed feelings, obviously. I am a regular commentator here, but for this post, I will remain anon.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the anon posting...:

I was a Malaysian but have chosen to take up Singapore citizenship.

I don't know how well things will go for your friend K in France. It is one thing to study there, but working overseas is a very different experience.

Even in Europe, people are still very insular, and sadly there are people there who will still judge you by the colour of your skin, even if you have a postgraduate qualification and are holding a white-collar job. Some of that racism can be very subtle -- racist jeers on the street are less common now (though they still happen), but it can manifest in which social events you get invited to, which circles of people you are admitted to, or which way the decision goes when things are close for that elusive opportunity, etc.

Singapore may not be perfect, but at least my kids get to compete on criteria other than race, language or religion. Some of you may call it jingoistic, but I have found a few years overseas (not as a sheltered student but actually working) can open the eyes more than a dozen articles in the Straits Times.

Anonymous said...


As a non-bumiputra, there's no word in the dictionary that expresses my hate for article 153 of our constitution.

Someone said Malaysians have a greater 'freedom of speech' than Singaporeans. You haven't seen Malaysian ISA in action - the reports about how Anwar was subjected to ISA ...kid's play. Really.

Singapore government vs Malaysia government - I'd choose the Lee family anytime. No joke.

Anonymous said...

Anwar was not arrested under the ISA. The police chief who assaulted him was later jailed. This speaks a lot about justice.Hermes, you choice of the Lee fammily is just like an idiot choosiing a cane instead of a rotan.

Anonymous said...

All you sobbing and procrastinating foreigners and PRs should be rejoicing for the fact that you do not have to waste 2.5 years (now reduced to 2) in NS and have zero reservist committments there after, unlike your male S'porean counterpart!

Anonymous said...

Here we go. The old military service argument.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon, please read this, with regards to ISA, Anwar and supporters,


When you have limited choices, you would pick the least evil of your choices. Not everyone has the luxury of -picking- where they would like to migrate to.

Oh, wait, you are a 'tuan' of our beloved Malaysia. You never did have a problem with our government.

Dag said...

This is the result when PAP uses an overly-pragmatic approach. It becames all head and no heart. By wooing people and retaining them in the country with stability and prosperity, the government has compromised the more emotional and sentimental aspects which are essential for the formation of a sense of belonging.

When the going gets tough, and the materialistic promises of the PAP start to ring hollow, people will leave. That's not the people's fault, but the government's fault, because wealth and prosperity were what they used to woo these people here in the first place. When these no longer exist, then what is the incentive for these people to stay?

The PAP cannot rely solely on a top-down approach to cultivate feelings of patriotism and loyalty. Schemes such as National Education classes are quickly dismissed as propaganda; not worth listening to. Patriotism must be cultivated individually, and in order to let people feel that they really have a stake in the country, the PAP should allow more space for political activism and self-expression, and also pay heed to the concerns and criticisms made by people.

The PAP should not feel the need to "robustly" rebut every criticism, as if they were engaging in an aggressive debate with the citizenry in which they must win; they should instead try to find out what caused the people to possess such views, and seek softer and subtler methods to change these views.

Only by cultivating the more human aspects of society, instead of having everything orderly and sterilised, can the PAP successfully retain its foreign talent. Otherwise, FTs will just see Singapore as a stepping stone to success - not a loving, caring and accepting home to stay rooted to.

singaporean said...


your problem is that you dont know Singapore. At least Anwar was arrested under ISA only for two weeks(?), and had a trial. Even if it was an unfair trial, the Malaysian government still have to embarass itself to go through one.

In Singapore, if ISA is invoked, you will NEVER see a trial.

Chia Thye Poh was arrested for 23 years under ISA, and then placed under house arrest for another 9. If you add the total number of years together, Chia Thye Poh is still the world record holder for the longest imprisonment of a political prisoner, longer than Nelson Mandela.

Does that sound like child's play to you?

While we grudgingly support the use of ISA against potential terrorists, the ISA had been dubiously applied before.

In 1987, a group of Catholic social workers and some Worker's Party members were arrested under ISA in what was known as the Marxist Conspiracy. Their crime? They were forced to confess that they are trying to overthrow the government to form a Marxists state, but most believe the reason why they were imprison, was because they were fighting for the welfare of the Philipino maids, and was tarnishing Singapore's reputation by highlighting the working condition of the maids here. Minister of Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam brought this up in parliament, testifying that he knew some of the "conspirators" and the Marxist charges were bogus, and sought restitution to the victims, to deaf ears of course.

Still child's play?

Anonymous said...

Run a country like a hotel with the motivations of a company and things will fall apart.

The ruin and downfall of Singapore has only just begun. Potential quitters: make your plans now. Stayers: brace yourselves.

We have nobody to blame except the nincompoops in power.

And to anonymous of Wednesday, August 30, 2006 3:10:14 PM

Have you served NS? Conscription is a bane and a snare on all male Singaporeans. We wasted 2-2.5 years of ou time as cheap exploited labour for the SAF regulars. And don't get me started on reservist.

Even among the most begrudging conscripts who serve reluctantly, there existed a glimmer of hope in their hearts that the government will look out for their contributions to the nation, and if not treat pink IC holders better than FTs, then at the very least, equal treatment for them.

That hope against hope was totally snuffed out on National Day Rally Speech, 2006.

From the many mainstream news articles about immigrants in the following days after the NDR speech, it became clear without a shadow of a doubt that the FT floodgates will be thrown wide open.

Whatever. I hope I'm out for good before the population hits 7-8 million, turning Singapore into a packed sardine hellhole. PAP, bring on your beloved FTs, I don't really give a damn anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hermes, wrt. the ISA you are either ignorant or a hardcore PAP running dog which believes in the infallibility of your masters in white.

Take your pick. Take your time. You can flip a coin if you can't decide.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a covert organisation some years back.

Believe me, you won't want to make that choice.

In Singapore, don't get into trouble, period. It's better to emigrate.

Looking at how the country is progressing, there is nothing worthy to fight for at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

its in our blood ... our ancestors pop by this little island for better prospects. and so will new foreign talents.

however, times have changed, singapore is not full of opportunities anymore, and even for those with jobs, their companies are under constant risk of going belly-up.

there are other countries with better prospect and the people flow will go that direction.

le radical galoisien said...

Ayah, he took up French to study in France, not because of the love of the language? Haiz.

Quelque fois je n'aime pas

people who move to foreign countries for the money, rather than the culture ...

And that's why I resent expatriates. Because they don't know what true third culture entails.

le radical galoisien said...

Conscription wouldn't be a bane if we actually used our armed forces .... we didn't even want to send any peacekeepers to East Timor and the like.

Anonymous said...

Well how about another ironic story about foreign talent. I was born in Malaysia and I came to Singapore to study in a polytechnic and then went on to do my undergraduate degree in NUS. I got my PR while I was still in Poly. (You might ask how I can get a PRship while being a student, it's a long story). During my final year in NUS, I applied to PhD courses in the US. I got accepted to one school but I could not go because I have a 3 year bond to serve (since I'm not a citizen). I tried to reason with MOE and promised that I would come back after my PhD and serve out my bond then. They want me to put down a large amount of money as deposit in case I don't come back.

In the end I decided to apply for SG citizenship because I really wanted to get my PhD and I just don't have that kind of money to pay MOE. I got the citizenship and I was no longer bonded. I'm in the US now doing my grad studies.

The ironic thing is that SG could have kept me for at least 3 years if they allowed me to go but now that I'm a citizen I don't even have go back to Sing after I graduate so they might "lose" me forever.

Anonymous said...

Riemann...seriously man, some pple dun have the luxury of basking in the warmth of culture like a 16 yo living with mommy and daddy does.

and u want to send the army out into conflict situations? well...have u ever been in the army or do u just think it'll be kinda cool?...like the GI Jane or the Black Hawk Down dat u've been watching 3 or 4 times a day.

Anonymous said...

"how to escape a system of slavery"? Why this wave of pessimism? Surely we don't have to be bonded in perpetuality by the shackles of the ruling party? The FT policy, the graduate mother policy, the stop-at-two policy are but the machinings of one man. When he's gone, the sun will break through the clouds. Unless, of course, the people of Singapore are so conditioned to being subjugated, they have forgotten to how claim their lives for their own. The folks who lived under the Japanese rule didn't stop procreating even as they survived on tapioca roots because they knew the evil will not last forever, and the future for their children will be, no, has to be, a better world. So come on, Singaporeans, stop your gloomy downcast, and start thinking positive.

Anonymous said...

The evil that dies with papalee will live on with minilee. If current situation is any gauge, I'd say life will be worse with minilee than it worse with papalee.

Anonymous said...

riemann, its too risky to send conscript soldiers for peacekeeping missions.

too many votes will be lost at the ballot box. papas, mamas, brothers, sisters, etc will vote against the gahmen come election time. too risky.

p.s. i am ok with sending the regular soldiers. they chose the career "that commands respect" and get paid real money for doing it.

Anonymous said...

The posts written above are too stupid or too clever? I only see good english.
No wonder we need more 'FT'.

Maintaining the population % is one reason dude...


Anonymous said...

I'm a Malaysian, studied in Singapore in Junior College, then NUS, then worked here for over 15 years. I got a PR as soon as I worked but initially, did not take up citizenship. I didn't want to be a citizen because I still feel emotionally attached to Malaysia, much more than to Singapore. I don't know how to put it - after all, I've spent the bulk of my adult life here and like K, the number of relatives back home is dwindling. Besides, non-bumis are still 2nd class. But its not, and has never been, a logical thing. I guess the best way to put it is this - its the difference between being at home vs being in a hotel, no matter how 5-star that hotel may be versus how run down a hut at home may be.

I was forced to cross that emotional hurdle and take up citizenship a few years ago. The only reason is that after September 11, 2001, it became much more difficult to travel with a Malaysia passport vs a Singapore passport. I travel a lot in my job. Renouncing my Malaysian citizenship was emotionally difficult for me. Till today, that emotional attachment remains very strong. It will take me a long long time to feel even close to that same way for Singapore. Ironically, the longer I stay here, the more stifling I feel the environment to be .. and the less emotionally attached I feel to this country.

Very few of my clique of Malaysian friends took up citizenship here. Those who did, do so because of practical reasons. They've married, have kids .. and decided that they might as well take up a pink IC because their wife/kids are already Singaporeans. Still, its always an emotional hurdle that I sense they never really got through. Like my case. I've not come across a case so far where they became citizens because of a matter of the heart.

In the course of my work, I've experienced how much more global the world is. And how places like the USA are attractive as places to work and stay.

A Singapore passport is valuable. It unlocks doors. Its easier to travel with that passport. Its easier to emigrate too.

At the end of the day, you can do all you want to attract foreign talents. But the heartware is key. If its lacking - whether naturally born Singaporean or new citizens - Singapore will be just a transit point. To continue to search for that place where one can make a living and call a home.

runlondonrun said...

Where is your friend doing his MBA in France? I did my MBA in France too and am currently working in London. Maybe he wants to get in touch and I can give him a few tips.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, that old emotional tie thing. I forgot to mention in my ealier post (Wednesday, August 30, 2006 11:40:11 AM) that I became a PR within four months of starting my career in Singapore (and that my current home is from the HDB). I have been a PR for 14 years!

Being a Chinese Malaysian, is for me like being stuck in a lousy relationship. The country disappoints you time and again, never treating you as one of its own. Yet, it is still... home.

However, as I get older, I examine the relationship more critically now. Quite frankly, the old racial bias is wearing me down. If Singapore wasn't so... costly, I might think differently about taking up citizenship.

It's a selfish way of thinking, yes. But first priority is still to the family, and the option to retire cheap in Malaysia means more for the kids' education, if necessary. They are Singaporean, and that's a big part of the payback.

le radical galoisien said...

It's valuable experience in order to keep a country's military vigilant ... and for one, they are our neighbours. The Permanent Secretary for the MFA didn't want to intervene because the justification was that nations had to be self-interested, and were not obliged to assist another country. But if we do not even aid our own neighbours in their troubles, can we expect similar reciprocation?

Militaries in other nations regularly go out as part of relief forces to rebuild homes, villages, bridges, and coordinate disaster relief; even in other countries.

"Riemann...seriously man, some pple dun have the luxury of basking in the warmth of culture like a 16 yo living with mommy and daddy does."

I think you misinterpreted my sentiment. I've been taking French as an examinations subject for four years, and have been exposed to the language since age six. It's not "basking".

I just don't have a high regard for people who decide to learn French *only* when they are going to France (to make money), and not before. They will never truly appreciate the language.

For one, I plan to go to Iraq; but I was fascinated with Arabic long before I made such a decision.

How can you appreciate a language if you only decide to take it up just because you are going to a foreign university?

le radical galoisien said...

And oh, my father similarly was born in Malaysia, became a Singaporean citizen and took up PR status in the US. I too am a Singaporean citizen with PR status in the US.

But I don't think the US has a huge advantage over Singapore in terms of lifestyle; the lifestyle is different, yes.

Maybe I'm just a biased TCK.

Anonymous said...

These days, Woodbridge Hospital also got internet access is it? I see clearly brain damaged people posting nonsense here...

Anonymous said...

> How can you appreciate a language if you only decide to take it up just because you are going to a foreign university?

Maybe I missed something in the exchange, but if one needs a skill, one learns it. I don't see how appreciation of a language is a prerequisite for learning. Learning may push one to appreciate it - that's the beauty of it all, innit?

Beach-yi said...

When one is fed on a rich diet (culturally and literaaly) and provided with more than enough opportunites to learn (cough, I mean appreciate) a 'beautiful' foreign language, that 'one' can never come to understand that most people since young lacked the rich and nurturing environment to properly appreciate a foreign language for its intrinsic worth.

I mean, come on, learning to appreciate to say 'foie gras' growing up in a 2-3 room flat?

le radical galoisien said...

Appreciation is learning phonemes, its morphemes, its Latin heritage, its conjugations, its Parisian R's ... reading writers like Jean de la Fontaine.

Biased observer: as I see it, this expatriate is only learning French because he is going to complete his MBA in France.

Pffft... je deteste tel gens ...

Anonymous said...

mr soong,
the tone and the broken french really offend...
whoever said one cannot learn a language instrumentally for some purpose other than itself (human beings invented language to communicate about things, including money, and not just so they can appreciate the beauty of it)...
people do many things just to keep alive (like eating, shitting and learning french) -- you may shit because you appreciate the beauty of it, but many people do it so that they will live more comfortably...
in the same vein, when your father moved from malaysia to singapore to the u.s., he may have done it because of the lure of singaporean and american culture, but many others did the same so that they could make more money (which they could then spend on things like french lessons for their kids)...

le radical galoisien said...

Tels gens, pardon.

A language is indeed an instrument: an instrument for argument (for everything is an argument, including poetry) and expression ....

But methinks someone who only learns a language to complete an MBA ...

Anonymous said...

Philistine I must be, for I fail to aee anything wrong with that. People learn a skill to take them where they need to go.

Anonymous said...

olrite olrite, give him a break. he's 16 and he's expressing an opinion when most pple twice his age dont even have one. insofar as these are opinions, they may change with age and experience.

now riemann, (riemannian geometry is a fascinating thing btw and i think its lovely dat ur parents named u after him) the pt is that this fren of the wangster may have picked french for instrumental purposes, but the alternative is dat he may have gone thru life nvr knowing a word of it.

now i believe, dat nobody who picks up a language (any language) for academic purposes, can possibly pick it up without gaining a degree of appreciation for its nuances and the range of its expressions (unless of course you remain really bad at it).

also, there is something laudable abt a person who in his mid-30s (i'm assuming) is bold enough to pick up another language and throw himself into a totally alien culture in order to educate himself. dun belittle this riemann; its not an easy thing.

now, coming to your comments on the military. one impt thing for u to note is dat our armed forces were not constituted for the purposes of engaging in conflicts - it is there for purposes of deterrence only (read: wayang, if you will). ur right in dat it would do us good to take part in foreign ops to stay sharp. but the govt cannot afford casualties, quantitatively as well as politically. so i think dat the policy of employing the saf to render humanitarian assistance to our neighbours in times of need is sound. best to go where we can make a difference by our efforts rather than go somewhere where we're not gonna make any impact (dramatic or otherwise) while having to all the time operate under the threat of becoming just a casualty of another great power war of caprice.

also it gives our military another dimension and it fosters the notion dat an army need not be merely a tool of aggression.

call it the evolution of the military if you like.

thank god its friday.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with the right skills and experience to suit the climate of the times and enough balls is mobile. Singaporean, foreigner, whoever. More power to them.

If someone has taken away our jobs, then it's probably inevitable... someone can do our job better for the same pay or someone can do it for less pay, so our time is up. It could be a foreigner or it could be a local. No difference either way for the guy who's lost his job. Only more fashionable to bash FT...

The real issue underlying the foriegn talent debate is talent, not 'foreign'.

Citizenship doesn't tie anybody down. Ultimately, one settles down in Singapore because one is comfortable. Friends, family, community ties, food, culture, language, jobs, security, cost of living etc. Government effort to sustain manpower supply for economy should be focused on making Singapore a safe and comfortable place for all to seek opportunities.

In fact, PRs are easier and cheaper to upkeep. No subsidies, no vote i.e. no political voice. PRs contribute to the tax and CPF coffers - the same as citizens. Children of PRs, growing up in Singapore, will naturally feel an affinity for the country.

For us average Joes, we'll just have to keep retooling our skill sets and attitudes to earn our keep and become a better-than-average Joe. The moment you have no value add to any community, you lose control of your destiny.

BTW, the ASEAN scholarship programme for O-levels and A-levels studies is a remarkably cheap and effective vehicle to bring smart kids. I remember back in my days the scholarship award was $3,100 a year plus waived school fees for A-levels studies. The $3K quickly goes back into the economy through expenditure and the kid gets acclimatised to Singapore. Based on anecdotal evidence, I'd say at least 4 out of 5 kids stay on.

The other brilliant masterstroke in manpower recruitment is the 3-year bond for foreign graduates from NUS/NTU who accept subsidised fees. Every foreigner classmate I know of accepts the subsidy and the bond. After 3 years, one is likely to have made career progress, in which case, stay on. Or one is likely to find a life partner, which also results in ppl staying on.

Gotta hand it to those government chaps, insidiously brilliant!


Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Hey K!

Is that you, the same K in my story? If so, when are you flying off ...?

Anonymous said...

Mr wang,

so what is your opinion about K's story that you wanted to add in only after most of us have commented?

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr Wang,

I leave next Wednesday. BTW, the wife is coming along for the adventure.

For the record, as a Malaysian Chinese, I find Singapore to be a very livable place. I feel comfortable and would most likely return after the study experience. Culturally similar to Malaysia, with the welcome substitution of meritocracy over racism. Personal safety is a non-issue. Public infrastructure is top-notch. What's there to complain? An overbearing government? A friend once joked that the cure for complaining Singaporeans is to raise a family in KL for a spell...

The one-party democracy in Singapore, while abhorred by armchair liberalists everywhere, has a credible track record and easily transcends populism. It is only too easy for a weak government to succumb to calls to reserve jobs for Singaporeans in exchange for votes. You might enjoy an easy life for while but your children or their children will certainly face the hardships of economic decline.


singaporean said...

PRs pay less CPF than citizen, even after the 1st year of PRship (9/15 vs 13/20). PRs pay more income tax though.

Anyway, just another example of a foreigner, after enjoying all the benefits Singaporeans dont get, still have the cheek to lecture Singaporeans. You dont see any bumis complaining about the bumi policy, do you? So why would any foreigner complain about the foreign talent policy here?

I generally do not want to regard Malaysians as foreigners, but the comments of this K fills me with disgust. Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

As a Singaporean, I feel disadvantaged having to sacrifrice my Time to do NS to protect everyone. Whilst this is noble and Defence is necessary, there is not only No pay-back(don't tell me about learning discipline as it doesn't warrant the time in NS to do so), our foreign 'talents' are entitled to a 'free' scholarship etc or at least don't have to waste his time marching up and down the parade square. Worse if the FT enjoyed spending our Tax Money!
Notice also they contemplate on Citizenship only if their pockets have been, will soon to be affected. They are ready to pack up and go elsewhere if the opportunities dry up here and that is clear. They are mobile and that's why they are not in their home country!
How many citizens VOTE??!! So now FT want more subsidies without having to do NS? Come on? Citizens pay the same tax but we have to be taxed more with NS!
Let's face it, many FT's will sing praises in the host country because it is obvious they think it is better there! If they really think it is so good, be noble and take up Citizenship along with NS for your Sons!
Sure you pay taxes, but why is it that we have to use those taxes to fund your studies? There is no heartware there as your ties are with your home country not Singapore. It is also obvious that you will leave as soon as there is sign of trouble. Who is left standing?
There is no solution to replacing NS with something else for PR's, FT's or else none of them will come. Let's admit it.. its the carrots you are after.
I know many good friends who are Malaysian PR's who have decided Not to take up citizenship because they can have the Cake and Eat it. Poor citizens don't have that luxury.
We are all selfish. difference is the arbitrage situation is open only to non-citizens!!!!

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Bye, K! Take care ...

You know where to find me on the Internet, if you want to find me.

Maybe you can start a blog when you get there .... A useful way to keep in touch with friends in Sing/Mal.

singaporean said...

How silly of me, PRs pay the same progressive tax as citizens. But indeed citizens have to pay the NS tax. Even though the PR wax lyrical about Singapore, he wouldnt take up our citizenship. What for? What is there to gain?

How much does the NS tax cost the citizens? How much does 2.5 years of income minus 300 bucks add up to? Probably more than 60k especially if you count the income as a liftime average. And even then, the foreigner is still two years ahead of the citizen in career progression.

If this K is of any repectable integrity, he should STAY here and pay the 60k for upgrading, not QUIT at the first sign of inconvenience to the wallet.

People like K shows that money spent on them is money thrown into the ocean. If we want to stimulate the economy, there are plenty of needy Singaporeans that we can spend on.

And why would any foreigner not accept any subsidy with the accompanying bond? Do they lose their passports in the process? So how can anybody force them to fulfill their bond? Send gangster to spray paint on their homes when they they break the bond?

Anonymous said...

Sons of PRs have to serve NS, so they're not quite exempt from the NS Tax, and which I consider quite a heavy price to 'pay' as a PR. In some countries, serving in the military of another country is grounds for revocation of citizenship.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

There are a couple of points which so far I haven't really made in my recent FT posts, but I'll get around to them:

1. You can't really blame foreigners for making the most of what they get out of Singapore. If you need to blame somebody, try the government.

2. You also cannot really expect FTs to understand the pain & suffering of NS (and not merely the opportunity cost). It's one of those experiential things.

3. If Singapore citizens start thinking of Singapore as a hotel rather than a home, then things make more sense & feel better.

4. There are excellent & compelling reasons to think of Singapore as a hotel rather than as a home.

5. If Singapore citizens start thinking of Singapore as a corporation rather than as a country, then things also make more sense & it becomes much easier to identify how to live well in this country.

6. There are excellent & compelling reasons to think of Singapore as a corporation rather than as a country.

7. Points 3 to 6 require some major mindset changes, but these mindset changes could be quite important for your own happiness (whether you choose to live in Singapore or leave).

In the near future, I shall elaborate on the above points.

Whispers from the heart said...

Mr Wang,

when you do, you'll really be doing the Government a big favour!

If only they could say it as it is. It's hard for them, u know without losing votes.

Singaporeans' biggest weakness is believing in too much old romantic notions of nationhood and identity.
These were tools of trade for a certain era and stage.

The yarn is so strong they have problems untying them now.

singaporean said...

It is not true that the Singapore government transcends populism; they are merely not beholden to citizens. It is the foreigners who holds them with a leash around their neck. The foreign investors vote with their money, and the foreign "talents" vote with their feet, and that is why the needs of citizens always come second. So as the government splash out more money to please the foreigners, they cut back on citizen programmes, like say, special education for the austistic children.

Yes, we are employees in a big hotel. The government doesnt dare to say it out loud not because they fear the loss of votes; they merely fear we pee and spit in the soup we serve our foreign guests.

Anonymous said...

I will make a few more points as a foreigner in Singapore:

1. We never intended to come here to eat a local's lunch. We were offered scholarships, or we came simply for a better life. That is not wrong.

2. Your lunch, anybody's lunch can be eaten by an FT located anywhere in the world. That risk exists regardless of the government's immigration policy.

3. Is it not better to work with the FT's in Singapore instead, to make sure that 2. does not happen? We want Singapore to prosper too.

4. Harping on NS does not help. We don't serve, but our sons will. That's the deal as it is currently struck, and unless you want to effectively shut your doors to FTs, it is a pragmatic balance.

5. Singaporeans can leave the country too. Not as easy as a foreigner, who can simply return home, but still possible. Even a busboy can go work in Dubai.

6. Tougher than being a Malaysian Chinese is being a Malaysian Chinese working in Singapore. Two difficult relationships to handle.

Anon of Wednesday, August 30, 2006 11:40:11 AM and Thursday, August 31, 2006 8:57:22 PM.

singaporean said...

A classmate of mine committed suicide recently, making a big splash jumping off a building. Which reminds me of another classmate, Y. He too studied chemical engineering, and would have graduated one year before K, but because of NS, have to graduate one year after. What a difference a year makes, and Y couldnt find any job in chemical engineering. So he sold insurance, but wasnt too good at it, and had to make ends meet by teaching tuition. Eventually, he found a break and found a job that will train him in a field unrelated to chemical engineering.

A lot of people, especially the foreigners, fantasize they are filling in a "skills gap" that Singaporeans cannot fulfill, when in reality, the vast majority of foreigners here have commodity skillsets that plenty of Singaporeans have and they are here to depress wage growth.

I cant say that is not a contribution in a way. I am not against immigration. If an immigrant commits himself/herself to Singapore and take up citizenship, I want to welcome you with open arms, even if you are here to displace my job.

But if you are just another K, here to milk Singapore all you can without even pausing to make use of our maternity services and leaving as soon as the gravy train stops, and even have the cheek to mock Singaporeans before you leave, then I say, go away.

People like K are hypocrites. As much as they claim to be upset over the bumi policy, they wouldnt register their anger by revoking their Malaysian citizenship because they hope that Malaysia will one day boom and they can return easily as homecoming heroes. And more importantly, they dont plan to have a long term future in Singapore, because Singapore is too expensive to retire. And if they were to have children, they want to reserve the option for them to evade NS if they can. Being sentimental is just a convenient lie to fool Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect of K, Singaporean?

What exactly did he "milk" from Singapore?
1. An ASEAN scholarhip and a place in a local JC.
2. Subsidized school fees at NUS.

That's about it. His HDB flat was not subsidized. Having a job in Singapore is not a subsidy. If he's not as qualified as the locals are, he will be fired.

In return, he served his three-year bond in Singapore for the NUS fees, and was a contributor to the economy. Is that not fair in return? Must we count every cent?

The job is not working out well and he is going overseas to do an MBA. What is wrong with that? He may not come back to Singapore, but he may. Who knows.

What did he say that was so mocking? He said that your lunch can be eaten by anyone - local, FT or some Indian in Bangalore. Is that a mockery?

Two difficult relationships, K. Singaporeans will not understand.

Anonymous said...

Something you may not know about PRs and NS:

1. A 1st generation PR is exempt from NS, but second generation males are liable.

2. A second generation PR can leave Singapore before NS age, and hence not serve NS.

3. Thereafter, the government will not accept him back to work here, unless he serves NS.

Point 3. is deduced from anecdotal cases. I am not sure there is a hard law about it.

Anonymous said...

Foreigners - engineers, architects, maids, construction workers - are here to make a decent living. Sectors of the economy would get hollowed out if there is insufficient manpower.

Whille foreigners live here, they spend their earnings here. E.g. the property and rental market would be further depressed if there were no foreigners.

In time some decide to return home or move on to other cities to work, just like some Singaporeans decide to emigrate.

The hopes and aspirations are no different.

Anonymous said...

singaporean said: "People like K are hypocrites. As much as they claim to be upset over the bumi policy, they wouldnt register their anger by revoking their Malaysian citizenship because they hope that Malaysia will one day boom and they can return easily as homecoming heroes."

A question for singaporean: If you could have the opportunity to work in say... London, and earn a better living for your family, would you decline the opportunity for sentimental reasons? Once there, let's say you obtain PR status, which you accept. Later you're offered British citizenship, for which you must revoke your Singaporean citizenship.

Would you gladly register your anger at the uncaring S'porean government and its repugnant FT policy and revoke you citizenship? Or would you be like the hypocritical FTs you describe, and "have your cake and eat it"?

In the meantime are you not contributing to the host country while you make a living for your family?

I feel sorry for your friend who is facing difficulty in finding a job. We're in the same boat and the only way to survive is get the right skills to fit in.

singaporean said...

"3. Thereafter, the government will not accept him back to work here, unless he serves NS."

Heard of Melvyn Tan,? If a Singaporean citizen pull off the same stunt, he will be arrested at the airport when he steps into Singapore, and depending on the flavour of the day, be subject to a jail term. In fact, as Mr Wang pointed out earlier, male Singapore citizens have no freedom to surrender their citizenship before they turn 21. And we cant run once we turn 11.5 years old.

From the form for application for Singapore passport:

"Immigration Bonding Scheme
Male citizens between 11 and 16½ years old, who apply for and collect their passports in Singapore, are issued with passports valid for only 2
years because of their National Service obligations. If they wish to remain overseas for study or to accompany their parents abroad for assignment or employment, they may apply for a passport with longer validity under the Immigration Bonding Scheme. Security in the form of Banker's
Guarantee must be furnished to Immigration & Checkpoints Authority before the passport is issued. The amount of the security is S$75,000 or 50% of the combined gross annual income of both parents for the preceding year, whichever is higher. The monetary bond requirement for applicants who accompany their parents on overseas employment may be waived and they may be bonded by deed with two sureties. "

singaporean said...

"Later you're offered British citizenship, for which you must revoke your Singaporean citizenship.

Would you gladly register your anger at the uncaring S'porean government and its repugnant FT policy and revoke you citizenship?"

If something like that is on offer, and you dont think there will be a long queue of Singaporeans dying to sign up in a heartbeat, then you obviously dont know Singaporeans at all.

I am still in Singapore because I dont want to uproot my father. Meanwhile my son is growing up, so the clock is ticking. I do hope my government could someday wake up and treat citizens properly, but I am not betting on it.

Anonymous said...

I guess you will not rest till every permanent resident in Singapore is made to go through the same hardships as you have. What a useful point of view.

hugewhaleshark said...

Yawning Bread highlights that the gahmen has done a terrible sell-job of the immigration issue, and has probably stoked the fires of discontent. How clumsy.

Fox said...

Something you may not know about PRs and NS:

1. A 1st generation PR is exempt from NS, but second generation males are liable.

2. A second generation PR can leave Singapore before NS age, and hence not serve NS.

3. Thereafter, the government will not accept him back to work here, unless he serves NS.

No. Not true that you cannot work in Singapore once you give up your PR as a 2nd-generation PR.

I had a JC friend who is a PR on account of his father's PR status. He gave up his PR immediately when he was called up by CMPB, went to NUS after his A-levels and stayed on to work in Singapore after he graduated.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. Happens in some, but not all cases it seems.

simplesandra said...

k wrote: "For us average Joes, we'll just have to keep retooling our skill sets and attitudes to earn our keep and become a better-than-average Joe."

Which ultimately comes back to the same question: in a country which only resource is its people, how can one hope to upgrade his/her skills if they don't have the(already limited) opportunity? It's certainly not for a lack of wanting.

Let's say you can make that career upgrade granted that your company gives you to chance to move up to pick up the need experience, but it won't because it's now either cheaper or easier to hire a foreigner, where does that leave the "average joe" then? It's fine if this were a company--you just move on--but it's a country, and not everyone can easily migrate just because they feel like it.

You're born here, you're stuck here. The PRs can at least return to their countries if they don't feel comfortable, but many locals don't have that option. Naturally, if their government won't protect your interests, who's going to?

And when these people see their government rolling out the red carpet to bring these people in, it makes whatever sacrifice they made/have to make for their country futile.

simplesandra said...

Mr Wang wrote: "5. If Singapore citizens start thinking of Singapore as a corporation rather than as a country, then things also make more sense & it becomes much easier to identify how to live well in this country."

Uh, it makes it worse actually, since in a company you can always show the boss the finger and move elsewhere if you feel aggrieved.

In Singapore Inc. a lot of people can't go anywhere else. And as for the finger.... :)

Anonymous said...

I am a 'average joe' and I am not 'stupid' and without feeling, pride and hope for better life.

I wonder why I don't see alot of suicide report in the news. I have thought about it but have not comtemplated it yet. Will see.

I have wondered how I reached this miserable stage of life in Singapore, and I wouldn't put all the blames on the 'real' immigrants (not FT). Though they through the 'stupid' gahmen policy have caused me in 'structural unemployment' beside the global changes.

I don't and can't see any light at the end of the tunnel for 'average joe' in my shoes.

1. Yes, there is a quotas on FT employed in a company, but how many opportunities are given at the middle and top management to the locals? When you can employed 'FT' with experience and exposure at lower cost?

2. Junior levels are then filled with Singaporeans and even FTs.

With the prejudices towards 'mature' workers, how many jobs are then available?

Yes, Gahman claims that jobs are created and what kind of jobs are those?

My heart goes out to all future 'mature workers' that when you reached a certain age and deem redundant for whatever reasons, you are doomed and expected to give up your dream by the gahman to take up those jobs created and are blamed and accused of being choosy, calculative and too proud to take up a lower paid job in the service industry.

It's fine for the retirees, but what if you have 25-30years more to retirement?

Are we 'average joe' supposed to struggle for the rest of our life servicing the HDB loan and ever increasing cost of living without nothing left?

I have no answer. I guess I have enjoyed life long enough and the reality in Singapore is such that maybe its too bad for 'average joe'.

Just too bad.

Anonymous said...

I got busy at work so did not comment.

In response to singaporean,

Here's the deal on ISA, you'd think Anwar, being a politician for years (and a DPM to boot) and his supporters would know how to circumvent ISA because they would have more 'insider' knowledge then your average person / reporter. And more influence.

Wrong on all counts.

So, if even he did not escape kid's play ISA, you think your average Malaysian is going to get away? The whole concept of ISA is wrong in a true democracy so it needs to be abolished if you wish to fully adopt it.

I did say, you pick one evil over the other. Just the lesser one.

About your other comments, I think you should seriously get some good Malaysian PR friends and talk to us. You lose your jobs because we compete as hard as you on all levels. We cherish every opportunity given to us even if it stinks of *. Why? We do that, because of our circumstances.

If you live in a country where no matter what you do, you are going to lose to some C-grade bumi, you will appreciate what drives us.

Oh, yes, try harder. Right. Like they are going to change that 10% quota on ethnicity. So try harder and kill the chances of other non-bumis.

Anonymous said...

MM Lee is not very convincing anymore. It's like he's telling us, "We'll deal with it."

And how? Job redesign? An example:

Ah Meng is now wealthy enough that he can afford to employ somebody else to peel his bananas for him. The problem is he doesn't pay well enough to make it worth your effort to consider the job unless you happen to live in the cage next to him!

You get the picture? Even if the PAP import orang utans by the thousands, it cannot create the jobs for Singaporeans. He's talking rubbish. And his son is talking mee siam my bolls

Anonymous said...

"These days, Woodbridge Hospital also got internet access is it? I see clearly brain damaged people posting nonsense here..."

fyi, Woodbridge Hospital never lacked internet access. It even has SAP (licensed per user, constant cash stream basis).

The problem is does anon think he is Michael McCrea in an Australian remand lock-up, free to write to Tony Blair or whosoever he desires?

Wrong OK. If you think you can even get anywhere near a computer, you'd be strait-jacketed, and tied to a bed for days.