The Expats Will Rule Singapore | Personal Success | Success tips and life stories from Adam Khoo, Asia's top success coach.

The Expats Will Rule Singapore

I have a prediction. My prediction is that in a couple of years, the expatriates (from China, India, US etc…) will rule Singapore. They will increasing take on more leadership roles of CEOs, directors, heads of organizations, award winners etc… If you observe closely, it is already happening now. This year’s top PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam) student is a China National. Most of the deans list students and first class honours students in the local universities are foreigners and more and more CEOs, even that of government link corporations are expats. The top players in our National teams are expats.

As a Singaporean, I am not complaining. I think that in a meritocratic society like Singapore, it is only fair that the very best get rewarded, no matter their race, religion or nationality. Like Lee Kwan Yew said, I rather these talented and driven people be on our team contributing to our nation than against us from their home country. The question I have been asking is, ‘why are the expats beating the crap out of Singaporeans?’ What I noticed is that these expats have a very important quality that many Singaporeans (especially the new Y generation lack). It is a quality that our grandfathers and great-grandfathers (who came from distant lands) had that turned Singapore from a fishing village to the third richest country in the world (according to GDP per capita). Unfortunately, I fear this quality is soon disappearing from the new generation of Singaporeans. This youth development quality is the HUNGER FOR SUCCESS and the FIGHTING SPIRIT!!!

Expats who come here today have the same tremendous HUNGER for success that our grandfathers had. They are willing to sacrifice, work hard and pay the price to succeed. They also believe that no one owes them a living and they have to work hard for themselves. They also bring with them the humility and willingness to learn. Take the case of Qui Biqing, the girl from Qifa Primary school who topped the whole of Singapore in last year’s PSLE with a score of 290. When she came to Singapore 3 years ago from China, she could hardly speak a word of English and didn’t even understand what a thermometer was. Although she was 10 years old, MOE recommended she start at Primary 2 because of her lack of English proficiency. After appealing, she managed to start in Primary 3. While most Singaporeans have a head start of learning English at pre-school at the age of 3-4 years old, she only started at age 10. Despite this handicapped, she had the drive to read continuously and practice her speaking and writing skills, eventually scoring an A-star in English!

This hunger and drive can also be seen in the workforce. I hate to say this but in a way, I sometimes think expats create more value than locals. Expats are willing to work long hours, go the extra mile, are fiercely loyal to you and don’t complain so much. They also come alot more qualified and do not ask the moon for the remuneration. Recently, I placed an ad for a marketing executive. Out of 100+ resumes, more than 60% came from expats. While locals fresh grads are asking for $2,500+ per month, I have expats with masters degrees from good universities willing to get less than $2,000! They know that if they can come in and learn and work hard, they will eventually climb up and earn alot more. They are willing to invest in themselves, pay the price for future rewards. Sometimes I wonder how some of the locals are going to compete with this. Of course, this is just a generalization. There ARE definitely some Singaporeans who create lots of value and show fighting spirit.

Unfortunately, I have found that more and more young Singaporeans lack this hunger for success. Instead, they like to complain, blame circumstances and wait for others to push them. Some hold on to the attitude that the world owes them a living. I shake my head when I see local kids nowadays complain that they don’t have the latest handphones, branded clothes and games. While I acknowledge that the kids of today are much smarter and well informed than I was at their age (my 4 year old daughter can use my Macbook computer and my iphone), I find that they lack the resilience and tenacity they need to survive in the new economy. Some kids nowadays tend to give up easily once they find that things get tough and demand instant gratification. When they have to work first to get rewards later, many tend to lack the patience to follow through.

So, how did this happen? Why is our nation of hardworking, hungry fighters slowly becoming a nation of complaining softies? I think the problem is that life in Singapore has been too good and comfortable. Kids today have never seen hunger, poverty, war and disasters. What makes it worse is that parents nowadays give kids everything they want and over protect them from hardship and failure. Parents often ask me why their kids lack the motivation to study and excel. My answer to them is because they already have everything! Giving someone everything they want is the best way to kill their motivation. What reason is there for them to fight to become the best when they are already given the best from their parents without having to earn it? It reminds me of the cartoon movie MADAGASCAR where Alex the Lion and his animal friends were born and raised in the Central Park Zoo. They were well taken care of and provided with processed food and an artificial jungle. When they escaped to Africa, they found that they could barely survive in the wild with the other animals because they had lots their instincts to fight and hunt for food. They could only dance and sing.

I see the same thing in the hundreds of youth activity, seminars, training programmes and youth programs I conduct. I see increasing more and more expats attending my Wealth Academy and Patterns of Excellence programme in Singapore. Not surprisingly, they are always the first to grab the microphone to answer and ask questions. While many of the locals come in late and sit at the back. The expats (especially those from India and China) always sit at the front, take notes ferociously and stay back way after the programme is over to ask questions. I feel ashamed sometimes when I ask for volunteers to ask questions, and the Singaporeans keep quiet, while the foreigners fight for the opportunity. For my I Am Gifted!™ school holiday programme for students, I have the privileged to travel and conduct it in seven countries (Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia etc…) and see all students from all over. Is there a big difference in their attitude and behaviour? You bet!

Again, I feel really sad that in Singapore, most students who come are usually forced by their parents to come and improve themselves, Some parents even bribe them with computer games and new handphones to attend. During the course, some adopt the ‘I know everything’ attitude and lack the interest to succeed until I kick their butts. It is so different when I go to Malaysia, Indonesia and once in India. The kids there ask their parents to send them to my programme. They clap and cheer enthusiastically when the teachers enter the room and participate so willingly when lessons are on. I still scratch my head and wonder what happened to my fellow Singaporeans to this day.

So mark my words, unless the new generation of Singaporeans wake up and get out of their happy over protected bubble and start fighting for their future, the expats (like our great grandfathers) will soon be the rulers of the country. At the rate at which talented and hungry expats are climbing up , our future prime minister may be an Indian or China PR or may even an Ang Moh!

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138 Comments so far

  1. Annie Hall Long on September 11th, 2011

    Dear Adam
    I was just introduced to this article. Sad that two years on, the “entitlement” attitude has deepened and most Singaporeans are still not aware that globalization has changed the economic landscape. We are now competing with the whole world. Business everywhere is dictated by the bottom line in a flat world. Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” (2005) served as a warning to young Americans that they are competing with the whole world, unless they adapt and stay competitive, they will be overwhelmed by the Indians and the Chinese.

    Ironically, while many in Singapore deride our education system, some American schools are using Singapore Maths textbooks as they are worried about the declining Maths literacy (and Science too). Without a literate workforce in the 3Rs, the economy will not be well served.

    Articles like this one that you have written generates healthy discussion. We can always agree to disagree with respect and decorum. I hope you keep this site a respectable one and reject disrespectful comments.

    I understand the frustrations and difficulties of some Singaporeans, but even the most beloved and respected entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates agreed that, “Life is not fair. Get used to it” but
    “…While we can accept this, it shouldn’t stop us from dreaming big, working hard and doing what is right.” (Corey Wells, Entrepreneur and Coach)

  2. theorist on September 11th, 2011

    hi adam khoo

    thank u for expressing your honest opinion. I am sure u mean well for the locals.

    Hope u allow me to express my own opinion on your blog. It is going to be a confusing hotpotch of ideas but that is because it is a complex issue.

    Our leaders always say they should be paid well in order to attract the best talents into govt and into the cabinet. Yet they expect the best talents from around the world to come to sg and make them serve NS. How fake and self serving and tratorious is that ?

    As a enterprener yourself , I am sure u know well the burning desire of a human ( and especially a budding enterpreneur) to be free. To put a 18 year old male into doing something against his will for 2 years is beyond torture.

    Sg future as a successful nation is very much in doubt. It is build on a false hood that if you pay peanuts you get gorrillas. ON A NATIONAL SCALE !

    A company would go bankrupt run that way. Is it very surprising that beneath the glittering surface of Sg society , there is a deep rot and decay hidden ?

    NS is killing Sg.

  3. CS on September 12th, 2011

    @Adam,
    I totally disagree. The root cause is the PAP-led government and LKY’s ideology. If young Singaporeans were freed from PAP’s imposed propoganda and went through a true democratic education system, there would have been a high possibility of a Singaporean Nobel prize winner. Singapore has produced a lot of great men who were educated in a system prior to PAP rule.
    Don’t blame the younger generation for having stupidity, laziness, passivity, forced on them by the tyranny of one man’s vision.

    Fact: Highly democratic nations with less than 10% of China, India’s populations have produced more Nobel laureates than China, India
    Fact: China and India have been relied on sheer population numbers to bridge their technological gap
    Fact: Singapore’s fascist government has more in common with China’s communist government
    Fact: A society’s cultural and intellectual maturity will always be constrained by a repressive government. I am sure you know of those sickening stories of power abuse in China, India.

    Of course it is true that the recent crisis of Western nations have been a result of their own democratic impercfections… but history has shown that the path to democracy has always won over the path of tyranny,

  4. A Passerby on September 12th, 2011

    “our future prime minister may be an Indian or China PR or may even an Ang Moh!”

    China PR? You mean a Chinaman from China! What is an Ang Moh? Any white bloke or are you referring to Anglo Saxons only? Also an expatriate is any body leaving their home country to live and work in a foreign land. It does not mean someone holding an executive job. A construction worker is also an expatriate.

    Sorry your English is not up to scratch. The meanings no matter how well intended convey something different from its intended aim.

  5. Pan on September 12th, 2011

    I see you are an ardent supporter of social darwinism, and you rather see Singaporeans get tramped by foreigners than to help them.

    To add salt to wound, in a more direct manner, you are actually saying Singaporeans who fall behind actually deserves it.

    Of course foreigners can afford to get a lower pay because they have a lower standard of living when they go back to their homeland.

    You are championing for them because it BENEFITS YOU, increasing your profit margin so that you can buy your extra ferrari, or another luxurious condominuim.

    And please, do not look down on your own countrymen, just by listing out ONE example of a foreigner who has done well academically. Majority of them are just cheap labour here to pump up GDP artificially and of no talent.

    Why not just throw your 4 year old daughter with a family in a two room flat, who has an ailing grandmother to take care of, a bedridden father, and a mother who earns $500 dollars a month working as a toilet cleaner.

    I am sure shes in the perfect environment where she can be HUNGRY FOR SUCCESS and have FIGHTING SPIRIT.

    With your simplistic analogy, she should not be in a “Central Park Zoo” environment that you are providing her for, but should be in “Wild Africa” fending for herself with no help watsoever from anyone.

    Lets us see then if she can rise up the food chain or be slaughtered by lions.

  6. Ryan on September 12th, 2011

    Adjust the costs of living down accordingly and I am sure Singaporeans will be more than glad to reduce their initial asking pay. For the average Singaporean out there who have completed a university education, we are burdened with a 30K debt. Factor in the costs of living, we are forced to ask for a pay much higher than the foreigners in order to survive in Singapore.

    In fact, in other countries, engineering is a much more highly paid job than in Singapore. I work in the IT industry and I know for a fact that an IT engineer with relevant certification is paid much more than a person in Singapore.

    Reduce the costs of living in Singapore, Singaporeans will gladly ask for a reduced pay and you will reduce the company’s overhead with more Singaporeans working for you.

  7. Wong on September 12th, 2011

    What this country needs is a nice war. Then the 5th columnists like Adam will be the first to be lined up against the wall.

  8. Elaine on September 13th, 2011

    Adam,

    Don’t demean Singaporean youngsters who you deem lack fighting spirit.

    You do not personally know their family background and the daily struggles they may be facing. People who are successful often forget that poverty exists in Singapore. We often say hardship fuels fighting spirit and burning desire. But it is also true that hardship breaks and destroys human spirit. Life can be cruel. To you, $2,500 asking pay for a local graduate may be “unrealistic” or “expensive” as compared to a foreigner asking for only $2,000 or less. Hello, this is Singapore. New 4-room HDB costs on average S$300,000 not 300,000 Indian Rupees and study loans are typically S$30,000 – S$40,000 not Renminbi. Maybe if you ask the government to lower the cost of living, housing, education and transport back to 1970s or 1980s level, the local graduates may even gladly accept $800 monthly pay!

    Just because foreigners are willing to accept a lower pay than local graduates, you stereotype them “softies”? Then do you expect local graduates to keep lowering their asking pay regardless of their capabilities and contributions just so that they appear perpetually more “competitive” than foreigners? Please, the playing field is already so heavily skewed in favor of foreigners – we as Singaporeans should help our own people, to grow and prosper as a collective soul, not put them down!

    Unless you were one of those kids from the lowest social
    strata, please do not generalize. It’s just really unfair.

  9. Superbrandcheesepie on September 13th, 2011

    Adam, you are successful, rich and globe-trotting, if not jet-set. You don’t get it. The issue is OWNERSHIP of what we like to think is our own country. The question is ARE WE THE MASTERS OF SINGAPORE? Or will we all work as slaves to foreign conquerors?

    Read this article:- ”Singapore Lost” http://singaporedissident.blogspot.com/

    Can you imagine if England which has a population of 60 million has a dwindling population. Imagine it has a government which completely ignores what Englishmen want. Imagine if they brought in 30 million Romanians to settle in England, and one could not tell the difference since they are both European. Imagine if the English language use in the country continues to decline. Imagine if almost everyone in England today speaks Romanian instead of English. Imagine if Romanians in the country have no clue whatsoever of the long history, culture or democratic traditions of England. Do you think Englishmen would accept this lying down?

    Imagine if Germany invited 40 million Cubans to populate Germany so that the proud native Germans with their long history and achievement is completely lost to the Cuban culture and Spanish language. Imagine if today you only see Cubans in every big German city and finding a native German is a rarity. Do you think the Germans would take this lying down? Imagine if unlike the cultured Germans, these recent Cuban imports go around spitting and gesticulating in public indiscriminately, destroying the image that Germans had as a cultured people.

    Yet this is exactly what has already happened to Singapore. In 2 more years Singapore would have completely lost their native citizens, their unique character and way of life to recently arrived second rate foreigners who have no idea what Singapore was or even is. English language in the island is destroyed and in it’s place there is Mandarin Chinese. The few local Singaporeans remaining have nothing in common with these Mandarin Chinese from China who do not mingle with the locals. The few local Singaporeans remaining seek solace in other local Singaporeans while the Mandarin Chinese imports socialize among themselves. Afterall these 2 have nothing in common. .. etc etc

    THIS is the issue, not competition, not excellence, not drive, not ”hunger”.

    If you don’t get it, pls go away to your chalet in Geneva or Monte Carlo and stop bothering us.
    We know you can afford to. 😉

  10. Concerned on September 13th, 2011

    Dear Adam,

    If I had millions like you, and could afford a private estate, I would have agreed with you. Bit sadly, I do not. So please, try to put yourself in the footsteps of an ordinary Singaporean Citizen, one who is earning barely enough to cover his bills and mortgage, and think before you speak/write.

    Thank you. Terima Kasih. ??????????????Danke Schön.

    P.S. Please check a legitimate dictionary for the legitimate definition of the word “EXPATRIATE”

  11. Annie Hall Long on September 14th, 2011

    Cost of living, poverty, unemployment, social inequalities, class differences, etc… it’s everywhere… since time memorial
    Look out of the well, dear Singaporeans.

    http://sg.news.yahoo.com/number-u-poor-hit-record-46-mln-2010-011914758.html

  12. Concerned on September 15th, 2011

    I see that my previous comment has yet to be posted. Regardless, if I have not made myself clear, then I shall.

    Let’s say that money can be planted and grown (through, say, investments). In this scenario, the average Singaporean would just be a subsistence farmer, and with stagnant wages, it would become more difficult for them to survive.

    Thus, it is not us Singaporeans who are being choosy, but rather, it is the circumstances of the environment that we are in which are forcing us to be choosy and demanding.

    Hope you understand.

    Thanks.

    Regards,
    Concerned

  13. […] Adam Khoo, read hereI too have had the opportunity to compare local students with foreign ones, specifically in my case, […]

  14. […] Adam Khoo, read hereI too have had the opportunity to compare local students with foreign ones, specifically in my case, […]

  15. Tan Kok Tim on February 26th, 2012

    I have asked. And, I ask again: Who dare to ask in Parliament when FWs and FTs will buy up more and more hawker stalls and shops ending up with more Singaporeans working for them? Will 10-15 years a predictable possibility? Former MM Lee should be asked to contribute his views on this.

  16. Tan Kok Tim on February 26th, 2012

    “Every child must be trained for the future” in ST, 10 Feb 2012. But to be trained in what?

    What kind of educational systems that nurture generation after generation, parents after parents, kids after kids, where some very brilliant people with As and super uni qualifications end up in disgrace or behind bars?

    Is chasing after skills alone good enough [to chase the 5Cs and be overly materialistically blinded] when the person is heading for disaster later on in years due to flawed character?

    Does MOE know what is Complete Education? Will they contact their counterparts in Wellington and NY to find out what it is? Will they want to find out how the NY public school No. 161 in the Crown Heights section of NY has been transformed from a notorious to a model school by Ms Robin Kagan for other schools in the US to copy? Will they want to know what is Collaborative Training Programme of Ms Neini Curulala, the education adviser to the NZ Govt, and how it has transformed schools in NZ?

    I hope MOE and those interested in educating the youths will check this out.

    The links:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xV2EgWjqAHn5iqU3xZsQPcZQgcY67UaGjzAEdI-1xx8/edit

    and,

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0ByiryFsICKj-OWFlZDNkNmYtMzQ4Zi00MGMzLWJhYzMtZjNmMzcxOGZmY2U0

  17. Tan Kok Tim on February 26th, 2012

    When will Singaporeans have the first democratic company?

    Do they know the principles of a democratic company? Will they be frightened of such principles going against their wishes to have more and bigger 5Cs for themselves?

    How many have heard of Selmer, ther Brazilian boss who runs his company, Semco, democratically?

    Paying a person $2000 and rejecting one who wants $2500 is not the style of this Brazilian boss. It is autocratic not democratic. He threw the autocratic system out of his company for good.

    How many Singaporean bosses are prepared to be genuinely humble to learn from him on not exploiting their employees for their own selfish ends?

    Please see link below. Interesting read on page 68, under the heading “The Company” on how this company became successful by changing into a democratic company from an autocratic company.

    The link: http://files.uniteddiversity.com/Decision_Making_and_Democracy/Democratic_Company.pdf

    Also in the same link, in page page 83 of the pdf file, Semco paid their employees using the following methods:

    Quote

    ” Practice: Choose How You Want to Be Paid –

    In most companies, people are paid one way only – with a salary. Some lucky
    individuals may also have stock options, and the very fortunate may be paid through
    a profit-sharing arrangement. But at Semco, employees are given the choice of
    eleven different ways to be paid, including:
    1. A fixed salary
    2. Bonuses
    3. Profit-sharing
    4. Commission
    5. Royalties on sales
    6. Royalties on profits
    7. Commission on gross margin
    8. Stock or stock options
    9. IPO/sale warrants that an executive cashes in when a business unit
    goes public or is sold
    10. Self-set annual review/compensation in which an executive is paid for
    meeting self-set goals
    11. Commission on difference between actual and three-year-value of
    company

    Asks Selmer, the Brazilian boss: “”Why debate salary? We all want to make as much as possible.”
    Employees are provided with the information they need to figure out their own pay,
    such as what the market currently pays, how much their colleagues earn inside the
    company and what the company is making. When deciding pay rates, everyone
    knows that in six months a department may decide it no longer wants to buy their
    work if their services are priced too high.Employees then choose from the above options in different ways with many different
    combinations possible. “We’ve found that by being flexible about rewards, we
    encourage our employees to innovate and take risks,” comments Semler. “In the
    end, people understand it’s in their best interest to choose compensation packages
    that maximize both their own pay and the company’s returns.”

    unquote

  18. Pete Chapman on December 3rd, 2012

    Hi there Adam,
    You, of course, know more than I would about the Singapore culture, but it is my experience that my Singapore business partners are incredibly committed, hardworking and determined once they make a business decision.
    This is not so with my western partners – not all of them at least.

    The very fact that Singapore is introducing Mandarin into the curriculum is testament to the realization that the future of the worlds economy is in SE Asia and China.

    I believe Singapore is fabulously placed to benefit from the economy growth in China.

    Great blog. You obviously have huge influence, judging from the comments.

    Best wishes for your continued health and prosperity.

    Peter

  19. jason on February 17th, 2013

    Yup many singaporeans are soft and complaining but they are OUR complaining people. You and your mightier than thou mentality. You need to reflect

  20. Joey on February 18th, 2013

    This just got me so infuriated. I’m no good writer or have strong statistics and examples like you do, but going to express my views anyway.

    I agreed with some of the points mentioned above.

    However, while the new generation may appear soft or grumpy as said, it is unfair to say we did not work hard enough.

    For education aspect, estimated 20% of students go to Junior College, half made it to local university, in addition to the very minority Polytechnic students who made it, only approximately 10% of Singaporean students are offered a place in the local universities. This should be worrying, because not enough local students are offered a place in the university. While most jobs are looking at certificates, places are given to the expats. This is even more ridiculous when scholarships are given to them when tax payers are contributing to that amount. In economy’s point of view, it is an outflow.

    Personally, I have interacted with the expat peers in the local university I went to, and they also think that it seems like we are inviting them here and pouring money at them. Yes, we ask for $2500 because we paid for our school fees on loans to make ends meet while they are heavy subsidized via scholarship. I am talking about full, 30 k school fees here, payable upon graduating.

    No doubt, they are extremely hardworking. But I was told they are pressurized to learn a lot more since young, and they, being on local scholarships, have bridging programmes to ease them into the course, when locals start the course with an empty head and be expected to be better than them.

    Work smart and not hard is what the nation should work towards. Comparing longer working hours, why not? I can win them. But is this really efficient and beneficial? And especially low birth rates are of concern? Normal office working hours, 8am to 6pm. Not counting the transport time and the exhausting squeeze with the crowd. So we are expected to date until midnight and report for work early in the morning. The cause is such mentalities of bosses.

    Regarding that PSLE girl, she is a good example of we should look up to. I was told of a theory called the “Extreme Emotional Experience” that happens to individuals that changes their mindset and the desire to achieve greater things, which will strive them to work harder and eventually be successful. Perhaps she did, and maybe you too Mr Khoo, to have achieve some things. But sadly, not every one gets to experience this even in their life time, to even compare it with founding fathers.

    This article portrays a lack of compassion to the stress level the new generation is currently going through. Our hardworking always doesn’t seems enough, and when we are told to study and work excessively and is still nowhere near success. The fact that related points are argued, shows that you are really the older generation, where less competition exist in everything, and people are having more time to make changes to their lives.

    Last words, the prediction of ruling by experts is evident, and there’s nothing we could do about this except expressing our views here, so peace!

  21. Siong Boon on February 20th, 2013

    Adam, I agree with you completely. It is the perspective that individual is looking from. If we look at ourselves, the policies seems to be adding a lot of stress to individual; disadvantages to everyone as many have comment here. If we look at nation level, it is actually to make sure we can still survive. It is difficult to look from a national level, because most of us do not have the experience of taking in the responsibility for the people under you. Do take a step up and imagine yourself taking the responsibility like what Adam had taken. You will begin to see clearer the whole picture. The main idea is, we are actually competing with other nation for income. If the nation earns less than what it consume, the society as a whole will suffer. The first group of impact will be the poor and poor productivity group of people. Adam Khoo will be affected, but definitely not as bad or maybe no effect because he is already in a position of controlling his income. Whether the economic is good or bad, the hardworking ones with positive mindset will survive. The policy is meant more for the weak, not the rich. We need more businessman to grow our nation. If businesses sounds so attractive, hire cheap labours, earn million dollars, then everyone would have go into businesses. Many here see that Adam’s article is lacking of compassion; it is in fact full of compassion for the people. Spending the time and effort trying to wake everybody up; for those negative thoughts that people are posting online are hurting themselves more than Adam himself. I have woke up already, and regret for not voting the government; not spending enough time to understand and care for the nation. Do take up the responsibility to care for the population, and spend more time to look deeper into the economic situation that we are currently stuck in.

  22. Ramonito on February 21st, 2013

    Hi, Adam. I salute you for having the guts to acknowledge what is happening now. I love how you simply put into words without any angst why foreigners like us deserve to be here. We have no intentions of taking over. We are just happy to be here, to be given a wonderful opportunity to live a good life and help both Singapore and our own countries.

  23. Qualifications on February 21st, 2013

    Dear Adam Khoo

    A foreigner from a third-world country with a Masters degree is easily able to make himself cheaper. Afterall, the sunken cost of education and cost of living in their home countries are much much lower.

    In addition, you are trading cost for additional risk. Third-world universities have less of quality assurance as compared to the much better quality-assurance from first-world universities. Especially third-world foreigners who received their entire education in their third-world home universities and then come to Singapore for a quick part-time Masters degree while they work.

  24. Foreinger from third world country on March 2nd, 2013

    @Qualifications : yes, you are right. Especially in ” Third-world universities have less of quality assurance as compared to the much better quality-assurance from first-world universities. Especially third-world foreigners who received their entire education in their third-world home universities and then come to Singapore for a quick part-time Masters degree while they work.”
    But you know? They have courage and hard-work mind while others are complaining and waiting for feeding.

  25. An honest member from the 'LAZY' generation on April 20th, 2013

    Dear Adam Khoo,

    I noticed that this article was posted a rather long time ago, and am not sure if you will see this reply of mine, BUT I SINCERELY HOPE THAT YOU DO.

    I am one of those youths today who belong to the so called ‘Lazy’ / ‘Pampered’ / ‘Spoilt’ generation of Singaporeans, and hearing from someone like you, whom I have so much respect for, really hurts my self confidence and makes me question the value of whatever I have worked for to this day.

    I used to have such immense respect for an individual such as yourself; especially with regard to the fact that you did not have an easy time during your younger years, and probably even made some bad decisions in life. That is something which I feel that many in my own generation, including myself, can relate to.

    I was not the most hard working person, I saw school as a joke, found no purpose in doing well in examinations, and even resorted to a certain degree of delinquency to make some extra pocket money (which seemed so much more meaningful at the time). In fact, in one of your other articles which I had read elsewhere, I can still remember a very important thing that you said: that the secret to being successful, was to be a rebel, to go against the norm and set your own trends. Now in the context of teenage delinquency, that would be wrong. But I understood what you meant by setting your own trends, and going ahead with your dreams, even on a path less travelled, and so I took what you said to heart, and I did.

    However it was not until my peers and I managed to survive, and finally leave uniformed school education, that we finally had an idea of what to do with our lives. Some of them wanted to start their own IT or coaching businesses, some wanted to continue on with the legacy of their parent’s hawker food stall, while some others, like me, wanted to pursue a career in the media and the arts. We each took off to our respective paths; some went to JC (with hopes of making the law and business degree programs at NUS), others, like me, preferred to dive straight into what we loved doing in the respective polytechnic.

    While even some peers who did not do well in school, ended up in ITE, but eventually fought their way into polytechnic courses, and some even started vehicle and mechanical businesses of their own.

    Then it started to dawn upon me; were my parents proud of me? Why did they keep asking me about what kind of jobs I will have? Will I find employment in the arts and media industry in Singapore? Natural concerns nonetheless, and I kept reassuring my parents. I continued to work hard in the polytechnics, even taking related part time jobs on the side for a little bit of pocket money; but most importantly, experience and contacts.

    Then my mother started questioning me; why I was earning so little? Why was I sometimes not even paid (I started out working for only lunch and no pay)? WHY AM I DOING SOMETHING USELESS INSTEAD OF FINDING A PROPER 9-5 OFFICE JOB WITH A HEFTY PAYCHECK?

    It didn’t stop there.

    Old timers from the media industry; jaded, and tired of having to struggle to do something they love, also began to preach to me the ideals that they once had, but lost in the midst of an elitist and materialistic society which values only the brand of your car and the size of your house.

    “No issue with that.” I told myself. If it takes extra effort to continue doing what I love, and STILL strive to make enough to survive, or maybe even impress my parents (secretly I wanted to prove them wrong), I’ll just continue working harder.

    So I continued to apply for scholarships and grants for short overseas school and exchange trips, so that I would not burden my family financially, and still be able to learn from my overseas experiences. I worked hard to get good results and work experience and a good portfolio in order to secure those.

    But the comments on my choice of career still continued.

    In fact, it became worse.

    Suddenly man y of my relatives from the older generation began to compare me with their A* NUS children, their son who recently became a lawyer, or a daughter who got first class honors for her degree.

    While I, the ‘lazy’ and ‘dreamy’ polytechnic student only had a short film and a CV that most people in Singapore would not understand or find value in.

    Nonetheless, I am still continuing to strive as hard as I can, continually augmenting and / or bettering my plans for the future, but still maintaining the same goals.

    But how long more can I last?

    Every time I hear or read a comment on the ‘laziness’ and ‘lousy attitude’ of the younger generation in Singapore, it wears away at my confidence and motivation.

    Every time I witness another one of my peers who have actually set out to achieve their hopes and dreams, only to be worn down by society, and the very elders that we are striving to prove ourselves to.

    1. Every time someone tells us “hey motorbike business only for Malay gangsters… don’t mix around with them!”

    2. Every time their own parents say, “Study hard! Otherwise you’ll be suffering like me! Fry Char Kway Teaw everyday!”, when in all actuality, we wish to carry on the ‘suffering’ family legacy?

    3. Every time we are told that we need to ‘Wake up!’ And start getting a ‘real’ job!

    Eventually, I stuck around to see some of my peers give up either by moving out of the country to settle elsewhere, or by resigning to fate and working at a ‘normal’ or ‘real’ 9-5 job (and he or she will probably end up working under the management of one of said ‘foreign talents’ / Expats).

    I have no problems with practising meritocracy, and I think the foreigners who work hard enough to succeed deserve it.

    But I cannot bear to see that our very own parents and elders are unable to keep the faith in our generation. I cannot bear to know that having the youth of today to dream big and have goals of our own, is something that the older generation looks down on, and laugh in our face instead.

    You tell us to WAKE UP, and to STOP DREAMING.

    But isn’t having a DREAM to work towards, the very core of motivation and hard work?

    Yours Sincerely,
    An (almost) jaded and cynical generation Y kid.

    *I sincerely hope that you read what I have typed here. I read your article days ago and lost a lot of sleep pondering over it. I just cannot bear to let it go like this without speaking up for myself, and my generation.

  26. An honest member from the 'LAZY' generation on April 20th, 2013

    In all fairness,

    I must also add that I am very grateful for the Edusave / PSEA and grant schemes that the government has provided for us (something with most foreigners don’t have. I don’t totally agree with the way the government is running our country on both an economic and social level, but I do RECOGNIZE that overall in the past 50 or so years, they have done a pretty good job to take us where we are today.

    I am also grateful that not ALL members of the older generation are cynical and discouraging. In fact some of them actually see through the fabric of social standing and the status quo, and are actually encouraging and having a lot of faith in us.

    But the majority opinion still stands. And it is this lack of faith in our generation which I find so disturbing.

  27. Paro Chi Al on April 25th, 2013

    A nation without dregs and malcontents is orderly, peaceful and pleasant, but perhaps without the seed of things to come.
    – Eric Hoffer

    In my view, the desire for a narrow definition of success is not sustainable. There is no wonder that the desire dies a natural death after a generation or two.

    The only thing that is sustainable is a growth in understanding and depth of what comprises a quality of life, and then continually working towards that.

    But can we afford to take that ‘better’ path, or will we keep measuring ourselves quantitatively?

    The argument may be unecessary, because we have already lost a crucial desire – that of replacing ourselves.

    Then again, we can’t afford to feed our natural desires either. Nor can we even afford to retain what is natural as our heritage.

    Keep up the fight, Adam Khoo.

  28. Raymond Tham on January 27th, 2014

    Having been on both sides of the system and operating in a few countries, it is a lazy argument to say locals are at fault for lacking drive. In a system that exalts foreigners and the local elite, where an entire lifetime’s salary is insufficient to buy one’s own freehold housing, and where glass ceilings cover the civil sector and many industries, how is the average person to dream big dreams and put them to action? They have to contend with the elite who tell them they are useless, the very elite who are too comfortable to make Singapore better for more local sons and daughters. Yes many foreigners have drive and we should learn from them, but it does not help when our own elite exalt them and dumb down our fellow countrymen when we sit in our ivory towers.

  29. […] (in a couple of years) was a prediction by Adam Khoo (AK) in 2009 which has yet to come true. link Was it even a prediction when our anti-Singaporean policies have been evident to everyone? The […]

  30. Local SGPean on January 29th, 2014

    Adam. you totally Nailed it. Totally agree. I don’t see any drive from local youth. Seem like the world owe them everything.

  31. Patrick Tan on April 12th, 2014

    Take note…The World had Changed! I know my 2 grandsons will fare better in many ways. We have alrady started on early education. I have impressed on them (and their parents)that if they are to succeed in future and uphold the singapore flag, they must start young; that is to learn discipline from young, to learn hard work and smart work from young and dare to explore, innovate and execute!

    On the other hand, if they still do not fare better than the ‘Expats’, there is nothing to be ashame of. They must continue to carry the Singapore flag. So what if the CEO of their company migrated to S’pore years ago, so what if the “PM” is chosen from one of the “Hai Kwee” who floated on a raft to S’pore?

    It is time we (seniors) pass on the thoughts of assimulation amongst our young to accept peoples of all colours, tongues and religion so that the future of S’pore can be a better place for our children and grandchildren. If the strive is for a better Singapore and this is ingrained into the hearts and minds of Singapore Citizens, let the process of attrition take its natural course.

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