I recently became a Singaporean PR and to celebrate I thought I would recount the top ten things I love about being a Singaporean PR:
1. Doing business in Singapore. People take you more seriously and appear to give you more respect for committing yourself to the country. Whether they are Singaporean or expat, PR’s are treated like an honorary citizen rather than a fly by night who may leave the country as soon as the next employment opportunity comes along. It does make a difference, especially to Singaporeans who I think feel pride that someone has chosen their country as their home permanently.
2. Being welcomed as a citizen. The difference between being an EP holder and a PR is immense in the eyes of the community. Whereas before it was all rules, regulations and warnings now it’s all “come and meet your local MP”, “come to your community events”, “be part of Singapore and your views are welcome”. I resisted the chance of meeting the former PM who is my local MP to let him know all of my views but maybe in the future! Nonetheless it’s nice to be asked!
3. CPF. CPF is an amazing and ingenious invention, one that every country in the world should follow. It has effectively created property millionaires across the island of people who could never be a millionaire in any other country simply by that old fashioned way, saving. CPF is the main reason why Singapore could buy the UK’s debt many times over and still have change.
The UK has National Insurance but the resident doesn’t get it or get to choose what is done with it. Singapore allows you to be responsible for your own medical bills, education and property investment by insisting that you save. Simple. Not rocket science.
Why should my tax pay for someone who smokes or drinks or takes drugs or those self-inflicted drug/drink fueled fights that fill the hospital wards of the UK every Friday, Saturday, Thursday--in fact every night of the week? If CPF happened in the UK all the thugs, druggies and smokers would pretty soon go bankrupt and the NHS would be making money not costing billions every year.
4. You can start your own business by yourself without aid of anyone else or another Singaporean. Singapore is already a very entrepreneurial environment to start your own company for foreigners and locals alike but being PR makes it even easier. There are less rules and regulations and more advantages of being an entrepreneurial PR over the array of other passes that can be issued to foreigners that enable them to also start their own business. It’s just easier.
5. You only have to wait two years to become a Singaporean citizen. For those of us who have escaped the weather (seasons are overrated in my view, especially when they merge into one and it’s not the sunny one) and economies of the west, Singapore is a dream to live in.
The chance to become a Singaporean by serving time as a PR is a golden opportunity to give more back to the country that has given so much to me is one that I won’t hesitate to give up. Yes even though it means giving up being English. I never felt very English anyway. Newcastle (where I am from) is effectively a separate state of the UK, a bit like Catalunya in Spain but without the great football team.
6. You can buy all kinds of property not just those advertised as “for foreigners” and your kids get allocated more places in state schools than if you were merely an EP holder. You can also gain the same discounts and benefits as Singaporeans when it comes to services such as insurance. Being PR really does save you money and increase your choice of products and services.
7. I have noticed that when I complain now (which I do occasionally) about something to do with poor service, as I have done recently with RWS, I am treated differently when I let them know that I am a PR. I think it’s the fact that you are showing long term commitment to the country and therefore may be back at that restaurant/hotel/retail outlet in the future that makes a commercial difference to the organisation that you’re complaining about.
They may also be worried about you influencing a greater selection of people than you would otherwise have done if you were only an EP holder and had a smaller circle of friends/acquaintances and less long term influence on social networks and in the real world. In the case of RWS I received a full refund for example. Complaining to businesses when you need to does work in Singapore. Reputation is key in such a compact and socially active community. RWS went up in my estimation for doing dealing with my complaint quickly and efficiently.
8. You can get a job easier as effectively you are treated as a Singaporean. All those jobs that say “Singaporean and PR only apply” suddenly become available. Employers in general look more favourably on PR’s due to the perceived commitment to the country and because there is no applying to MOM needed.
In fact MOM becomes a distant memory as the ICA takes over your registration, transferring you from temporary to permanent. Employers like the no hassle employment of people that will be around a long time and are committed to the country rather than having to worry about the length of EP or whether they will in fact get an EP after an exhaustive interview process and have to start again.
9. You never feel like you’re going to have to leave the country! When you’re an EP holder you are always concerned that at some point if you lost your job you would have 30 days to leave the country or find another job double quick. Whereas being PR means you know you’re staying as long as you can afford to!
10. Ultimately being a Singaporean PR makes me feel like Singapore is my home. It may take longer than it did to be accepted as a PR but it’s worth the wait. I am extremely proud of becoming a Singaporean PR. Next step citizenship!
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Chris Reed has 25 years of senior marketing experience on both the client and agency side in the UK and now in Asia Pacific. He is the CEO and founder of Black Marketing.