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Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

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Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby kdally » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 12:48 am

Hello!
My name is Kate Dally and I am currently studying Geography at the University of Exeter. I am in the process of conducting research for my final year dissertation and I am focusing upon Singaporean Permanent Residents and their experiences living in Singapore.
My Research Question is: “To what extent does becoming a Permanent Resident in Singapore influence expatriate personal identities?”

I would really appreciate it if, on this discussion forum you could perhaps share with me some of your experiences as a Permanent Resident living in Singapore focusing on:
• Whether your time spent in Singapore influences your association with your nation. i.e. do you now emphasize more with Singapore as home compared to the country where you were born?
• What factors affect your own sense of personal identity (whether it be parents nationality, where you grew up, values etc…)
• What culture do you associate yourself with and why?

This is a discussion post so please feel free to elaborate on certain themes and share experiences which you believe if and have influenced your own identity since living in Singapore!

The data I collect from this forum will be used in my Undergraduate Dissertation, which shall be read by my academic tutor. However I am following a code of ethical guidelines and therefore I shall be adhering to a strict confidentiality schematic and not publish names within my research.

Thank you very much for your time and effort and please do not hesitate to contact me at kd306@exeter.ac.uk or through my Linkedin Profille: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?i ... rk=spm_pic

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby JR8 » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 3:12 pm

Hi Kate,
My thought is that restricting this to PRs will severely limit your replies. We're mostly expats here, posted here temporarily, rather than PRs. In fact I can only think of one regular on this forum who is a PR (there may be others... just not to my knowledge).

p.s. When you refer to 'Permanent Resident' I'm assuming you mean that as the legal immigration status it precisely describes, rather than 'permanent resident', i.e. here for some years (on an expat type posting, rather than say transient tourists or other short term visitors).

For example to the UK Inland Revenue I am permanently resident abroad (in this case in Singapore), but in the eyes of the Singapore authorities I am most definitely not a 'Permanent Resident'.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby x9200 » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 4:30 pm

PR is a tag that may imply two different things differentiating respective people from the other expats:
pre: they made their minds to stay here longer
post: they have greater social/job stability

In that sense it is perfectly understandable why Kate wants to limit her discussion to this group only. It provides some focus and the rest of her post is inline with this post/pre conditions I mentioned above. For example, an expat who does not intend to stay here longer will not consider that strongly assimilation and cultural issues.

The only comment I have is that I would suggest to include to this group people who are married to local PRs or SG citizens and staying in SG on LTVP.

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby singapore eagle » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 5:26 pm

Right, I'll have a first crack at this. (I remember struggling years ago with surveys for GCSEs/A-levels/etc. so maybe there's some good karma in helping out.)

Thoughts as follows:

1) Living overseas with people from a different culture and mindset has made me understand better what my 'identity' is.

2) I think identity is, broadly speaking, a combination of the things I like doing in life, the things I dislike doing, the attitudes and values that I have, and the way that I communicate with people.

3) I'm not sure that living abroad has fundamentally changed any of these things.

4) What is has done is given me a whole bunch of new experiences that I would not have got living in London. I would describe this as looking on as a spectator or participating as a guest in a way of life that is not my own. This is often lots of fun, but I'm not sure it changes my identity.

5) If I were to leave for London tomorrow, there are things that I would miss about Singapore. There are also things that I would be happy to regain back home. I think the feeling would be like that of a tourist that has had a good (long) holiday.

6) I don't think I would go back a changed person, or anything dramatic like that. I doubt very much that my friends and family would think that living in Singapore has changed me or that I would cling on to some sort of Singapore identity. I'd just be someone who is six years older with a bit more life experience.

7) At the end of the day, I'm obviously British because of the things that I mention in my answer to 2) above. Among all the places in the world, Britain is the country where I am most likely to mingle with people who have the same likes/dislikes/attitudes/ways of communicating. Since living in Singapore hasn't especially changed these things, I should imagine that I'll consider myself British for the rest of my life, even if I stay here permanently.

From a British man, currently aged 39. Arrived in Singapore in 2008, given legal PR status at the start of 2014.

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 6:48 pm

I doubt that I could have expressed it any better than singapore eagle has. I agree with all he has expressed above. For your stats, I am an American, have been in Singapore for 32 years, married to a local citizen with two grown children, both of which were born here and are citizens here. I've been a PR for over 20 years. I'm currently 67! :-)

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby nanana » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 9:05 pm

I've been a PR for over 20 years. I'm currently 67!


SMS?! Seriously?! But you definitely look 20 years younger than that!

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 08 Nov 2014 10:08 pm

nanana, sad to say, my NRIC says 1-9-1947! :cry:

But thanks for the ego boost! :mrgreen: muah!

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby nakatago » Thu, 13 Nov 2014 6:58 am

nanana wrote:
I've been a PR for over 20 years. I'm currently 67!


SMS?! Seriously?! But you definitely look 20 years younger than that!


He can thank the blood of virgins* he sacrifices every full moon for that.

* those virgins are naive men who reply to posts started by single females looking for people to hangout with but these pathetic, deluded guys think they can hookup with.

Back to OP's topic: It's clearly relevant what you will consider as "permanent residents." Some PRs are just labeled that because they were lucky when they applied but still only stick to their own kind and barely interact with the local culture. Some have been around much longer and have integrated more closely with the locals than these "PRs" but legally are not because the government denied their application.

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby curiousgeorge » Mon, 17 Nov 2014 4:41 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote: I've been a PR for over 20 years. I'm currently 67! :-)


Every time he does that I imagine him hunched over, waving his walking stick in the air and screaming at the kids "I'm 67 you know!"


You know the marbles are going when they start using their age as an excuse for everything :-"

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby curiousgeorge » Mon, 17 Nov 2014 5:40 am

OK seeing as I am a PR here too, I will play although I am far from being patriotic.

• Whether your time spent in Singapore influences your association with your nation. i.e. do you now emphasize more with Singapore as home compared to the country where you were born?
I have now spent (this year) more of my life outside of the UK than inside of it. I had two years in London in 2006/2007 and hated every moment of it. The bullshit travel, broken tubes, expense, Boris...I dunno it just seemed awful to me.
I don't emphasize [sic] (empathise?) especially with Singapore either but it does offer me a cleaner, safer living environment, better career opportunities etc.
I feel that all the things that made Britain Great are diminishing - the NHS, the Arts, the LibDems, the white dog poo.
Actually, that is kind of the connection for me - the UK feels like a country on the decline, and Singapore feels like a country on the ascendency. At least, that how it feels to me. Other will be along shortly to disagree with statistics and "what ifs" but they can't deny my feelings! In fact, in less than a month I will complete my Citizenship formalities so I will be entirely Singaporean and I won't give a monkey's tit about rescinding my UK citizenship. In prior discussions here this seems to get people's panties in a twist because they feel "how could you possibly not want to be British". Well the fact is, I am British and will always be British whatever my passport says. Being British is a state of mind, not a document. I will still eat marmite and fish n chips, and say please and thank you and hold doors open for women and wear socks with sandals. (hang on, that's American isn't it?). But I will enjoy telling people who ask that I am Singaporean and relish in their confusion because of my pasty white skin and lack of Singlish skills and the fact I didn't do National Service and yet still call my self Singaporean will drive them insane with fury. Fun times.


• What factors affect your own sense of personal identity (whether it be parents nationality, where you grew up, values etc…)
Good god, this is a question of magnitude!
If I think of the persistent factors of my own personal identity (I eat marmite, I have pasty white skin, I believed in the NHS) then I would have to say that the entire environment is responsible. I go out for supper with a local friend and he orders Grass Jelly drink and I can't believe how revolting it is. Or the fact that red beans, for him, are a delicious dessert item. This is not just an issue of taste, but environment/upbringing - the influence of availability, parents desires, societal norms.
You could ask this question of anybody and I think most people would struggle.
But here is a thing, as a Brit-about-to-be-Singaporean. As a liberal arriving in Singapore I was a little uncomfortable about the whole flogging and death-penalty thing. I felt a tad squeamish about all of that, and yet I have chosen to jump in with both feet to this society. Why would I do that?!!?! Well, I have come to believe that *it works*. Does that mean I have less belief in Human Rights now? Not at all - every human in Singapore can avoid being whipped or hanged by simply not breaking the law. But they forfeit that right by trafficking drugs, or murdering, or raping.
As a consequence, I went from living in Hackney where I feared for my own life after dark and gun-shots were just a part of the background noise, to Singapore where I get woken by bluebirds every morning and woodland animals scamper gaily. Well, not really but you get my meaning.

And here is a thing - a BIG thing that I like about Singapore and the national identity that I buy in to.
In the UK, when I was a young lad, the town square would set up a nativity scene every Christmas not far from the town Christmas tree. At some point by my late teens they stopped doing that. The decorations strung across the streets became generics snow items. At some point in the UK - a so-called Christian nation - it became politically incorrect to be Christian. We can't put baby Jesus in a manger because it might offend the Jews. (it wasn't Muslims in my youth, there were no Muslims in the UK until 1998 as far as I could tell). In the UK, equality has become synonymous with "equal denial".

Whereas here in Singapore, something magical has happened. They made laws against being horrible to other religions. At Christmas, you will see nativity scenes in malls. But we'll also celebrate Hari Raya and Deevali. In this sense, religious equality is about celebrating EVERYONE equally, rather than denying the majority as the UK does. It also means we have 12 public holidays which is a bonus.
This is not a dig against "political correctness gone mad" - this is a dig against wholesale country-wide suppression of personal identity in the UK where I am made to feel guilty for my white privilege and where I can get my letters from the local council in any language including Farsi, Urdu, Welsh and freak Klingon but I can't call and talk to anyone in English because their right to not talk English is higher priority than my right to actually talk it.

The other aspect of my personal identity is nice teeth. Have you tried finding an NHS dentist in the UK in the last 10 years? Whereas here in Singapore, dentists EVERYWHERE.


• What culture do you associate yourself with and why?

I am quite obviously a fat white guy. Of course I associate with American culture :P
I don't have a family/cultural history here. I STILL EAT MARMITE. I said before, irrespective of my passport, I will always be British. I look stupid in a chongsam, but quite normal in a panama hat. I can eat rice and love it at every meal but I will never have a *need* for rice in my soul whereby I will perish without it. It's possible to be an expat here and avoid local culture as much as possible - these boards of full of such people complaining about the behaviour of locals on escalators or on the MRT. You can take the man out of Britain but you can't take Britain out of the man, you know?
However, I still love going to a hawker stall with friends at night and chewing the fat - I prefer to going to the pub to be honest.
A lot of culture is related to weather too - we tend not to spend a lot of time sitting on street corners eating Laksa in the UK because a) Its hard to find Laksa and b) the weather is shite. A lot less emphasis on fashion in Singapore - because wearing clothes is too hot and shorts/flip-flops is just so much cooler to wear. So you can't help but to get drawn into local custom and practice.

But ultimately, I think the reason that I am a PR is because I bring with me my home cultural practices and have access to the local ones too. So I can pick and choose those elements that suit me, and ignore the rest. That is the expat experience in a nut-shell - the ability to be here without actually having to be here if you don't want to be. We get the best of both worlds.
The difference for PRs is that we're making a choice to be in with both feet - the loud and drunk expat bankers are the ones who will be gone in a couple of years and they have no interest in local culture beyond a few trinkets from Bali. The people like myself who stay are doing so because we embrace the local culture - but you're never going to erase all the Britishness from me, no matter how much I like it here.
There will always be Marmite in my fridge. (That's an ironic statement of mixed cultural norms, because in the UK, Marmite is kept in a cupboard, but in Singapore you keep everything you can in the fridge because its so hot and also Ants.)

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Re: Undergraduate Dissertation Research: PRs in Singapore

Postby beppi » Mon, 17 Nov 2014 8:40 pm

I am Singapore PR, although I am not currently living in the country. I will answer your questions nevertheless:
• Whether your time spent in Singapore influences your association with your nation. i.e. do you now emphasize more with Singapore as home compared to the country where you were born?
After a (short) time of getting used to, my true home is always the place I live in. I was at home during my 12 years in Singapore (and more to come in future, who knows?) and also, at other times, in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Germany (where I was born and live currently) and a few others.

• What factors affect your own sense of personal identity (whether it be parents nationality, where you grew up, values etc…)
I create my own personal identity. I would say it is loosely based on a European worldview, with lots of bits from other (mostly Asian) cultures thrown in.

• What culture do you associate yourself with and why?
I like cosmopolitan cultures that were created by interaction of several ethnicities, like Creole, Swahili, etc. Of those, I associate myself most with the Eurasians and Peranakans of Southeast Asia (both, sadly, a dying group).


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