YOUR VIEW: Don't come home to soulless Singapore

SINGAPORE, Singapore : Smog lies above the financial highrises as haze worsens in Singapore on June 19, 2013. Singapore's Pollutant Standards Index again shot above the "unhealthy" threshold of 152. AFP PHOTO/Roslan Rahman

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A few weeks ago my sister returned to Singapore with her husband and two sons for a short holiday. She was born here but went to live in Sri Lanka when she was still a baby. She grew up there, got married and is now an outstanding teacher at one of the most prestigious schools in the country. She wants to come back and reclaim her Singapore citizenship. Her husband is a CEO in one of the world's largest advertising agencies so the two of them should have no problem qualifying as people of talent.
 
I thought it was not a good idea for her to relocate here and told her so. Sri Lanka may not be as wealthy as Singapore but it has great potential for development and she already makes a good living there. The government may be corrupt an inefficient but the private sector is thriving and dynamic.
 
In Sri Lanka she lives in a house considered huge by Singapore standards. Her sons are top students at one of the best schools in town and the pace of life is so much more relaxing than here in Singapore. They have all the mod cons they need and the comfort of having all that space. Why would she want to give up all that?
 
Singapore has its strong points. We have political, social and economic stability. Things get done at the click of a mouse or the push of a button and nobody drops the ball; and despite all the unhappiness in some quarters over certain policies the government is relatively clean and efficient.
 
The downside, though, is that the government's obsession with GDP growth, while not a bad thing in itself, has been a bane for many people.

Our public transport system is bursting at the seams, the prices of HDB and private housing is ridiculously high and the government's liberal immigration policies have created a backlash against foreign talent and new immigrants like we've never seen before.

Almost half the country is an ugly construction site but this wave of new building is not meant to ease congestion and housing shortages; in fact, it is because the government intends to cram another 2 million or so new immigrants into this already densely populated little island.

What little space we have is shrinking and, as in the case of the old Methodist Girls' School on Mount Sophia and the Bukit Brown cemetery, we are losing so much of our places of historical significance and natural beauty. People don't like that and they blame the influx of new immigrants for this destruction.
 
I told my sister that if she could, come here, work for some years until she makes a pile of money, and then return to Sri Lanka. Whatever Singapore has, in time to come, Sri Lanka can have the same if not better. It is a country of stunning natural beauty, an ancient culture and a character all of it's own. Hopefully one day she will get a competent and honest government that will take that country to a better place.
 
Singapore has sold its soul. It is a place of manufacture and retail with no sense of nationhood. It has lost its character and is a wannabe-this, wannabe-that and a No.1 copycat. Right now, we are a haven for mega-rich tax evaders, cold-minded, calculative opportunists and those of the "greed is good" school of thought.

In short, Singapore is a place to make money and little else. The shopping malls, theme parks and IRs are just a fantasy land created to lure the tourist dollar and is far removed from the realities of day-to-day living. 
 
So, my dear sister, you are welcome to Singapore, but don't burn your bridges. You are much better off where you are.
 
Brian Vittachi, 56,
Operations manager


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