PRs in Singapore: Getting the best of both worlds?
Every time we want to address any problem here, the comparison with other countries happens without fail. For instance, the author mentions Qatar and Dubai in the article. Somehow the fact that other countries have put in place policies similar to the one we want to suggest, makes us want to give them prominence.
Another noticeable feature of the article is the emphasis on the economic aspect of permanent residency. Sadly, this is a clear reflection of how our brain is trained to function. Is there economic benefit for me by having PRs in my neighborhood? If yes, let them be. If not, what’s the point of them being here?
After that preamble, onto the main body…
First, there is a common misconception that PRs have all the benefits of a citizen without the responsibilities. I have come across many Singaporeans who do NOT know that PRs cannot buy subsidized flats from HDB. Even if they do buy property (as opposed to renting one), they have do so from the resale market. In addition, PRs cannot vote – a privilege (or responsibility as the gahmen might say) that only Singaporeans have.
Second, the author makes a reference to our ambitions of being a global city with a lot of buzz (whatever that means!). He admits that we are not at the stage where Singapore can be called a “truly global city”. But hey… his suggestion of getting PRs to but private property here does nothing towards this goal.
Third, there is another fallacy that PRs in Singapore are very rich. They can afford to buy private property but they still go for cheaper housing with subsidies. The author’s disdain for a hawker’s assistant being a PR is distressing. If the official line was that only rich people can become PRs, trust me, many of our ancestors would not have qualified.
Having said that all this, the author does raise an important point about the immigration system in countries like Australia. It is indeed true that the immigration system here although efficient, leaves much to be desired when it comes to issues of transparency. Publicly releasing the criteria to become a PR is a first step in this direction although I am skeptical about whether this might actually be put in place – who knows, it may a national security issue!
Most importantly, this article demonstrates how little we know about PRs in Singapore. Are they really here to milk Singapore of all its wealth? Do they indeed have the best of both words as the author would have us believe? Maybe we should hear from the PRs themselves…
Some people have asked me whether I am Singaporean or a PR. Does it matter? As Foucault said, it’s not the author that matters but the author function.