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ditch PR to avoid NS? can you say "black listed"?

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taxico
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ditch PR to avoid NS? can you say "black listed"?

Postby taxico » Fri, 09 Oct 2009 12:06 pm

in a reply to someone's post on the forum, i came across this while googling to confirm what i know was still valid.

if this is not an appropriate place for this, please move it. otherwise, read, enjoy and take something away from this post:

how I ended up in KL

Someone would ask me where I am from and I would then answer with some hesitation that I'm from Singapore, or at least, my family is in Singapore.

I say with some hesitation as it is a slightly complicated story as to how I am from Singapore but now working in KL.

I was born in KL, Malaysia but then moved down to JB when I was around 6 with my family. When I was about 11, my family then moved down to Singapore where all of us then became Permanent Residents there, but still holding on to our Malaysian passports.

Very soon after my 'A' levels, I was called up to do National Service in Singapore. All 2nd generation PRs (ie. my parents were PRs, so I was a 2nd gen PR) had to serve NS. I promptly made the decision that I would drop my Singapore PR to avoid having to do 2 1/2 yrs of NS and I would pursue my university education in the UK.

I had always planned to return to Singapore to work so after 4 years in the UK, I returned in the summer of '04. I obtained pupillage at a large Singapore law firm and I was about to start my DipSing at the local university in Singapore. All UK law grads had to go through this DipSing conversion course to get us used to Singapore law. It is very much a waste of 1 year but anyway, problems started to arise.

I would need to have a student pass in order to commence my DipSing, and it was compulsory for me to complete my DipSing before I could do my pupillage and get Called to the Singapore Bar. However, my student pass application was rejected by the immigration department which I found very odd. I had already secured my place at the university and I had always assumed a student pass would more or less follow automatically.

I had to go down to immigration to speak to the officers where I was advised to appeal for a review of the application. I soon found out that the fact that I was a PR before and because I evaded NS, was the reason for the rejection of my student pass application. I wrote a sob story letter hoping that they would allow my student pass. The law firm also wrote a letter in support of my appeal and I also got the local Member of Parliament to write a letter.

Those were anxious times. By the time immigration had rejected my student pass, around 4-5 weeks had already passed since I first applied for the student pass. I had found it strange that my other non-S'porean friends had already gotten their pass approved. These things normally would be processed in less than a week and could all be done online. My DipSing programme had already started and I couldn't enrol for any of my tutorial classes.

So now, I had to nervously wait for the result of my appeal. I started attending lectures at the university so that I wouldn't lag behind. I was literally checking my mailbox every single day (and sometimes twice a day) for the letter from the immigration department. At that point, I still felt that my pass would be approved in the end. I mean I had the letters, I was assured employment by way of pupillage right after my studies, and maybe the Singapore immigration just wanted to make me sweat a bit before finally relenting.

I hated being in that situation where I woke up every morning thinking about whether the decision had been made. Whether the letter would finally arrive today. Whether the appeal would be successful. Nearly every single waking thought would be tainted with this worry gnawing somewhere in the background. I tried to just keep myself occupied but the 'highlight' of each day was waiting for 2pm when the mail would be delivered, and then I would walk down and open the mailbox, only to find that the letter had not arrived yet.

Well, the day did finally arrive. I opened the mailbox and there was the white envelope. That whole sequence of events is still very clear in my head. I ripped open the envelope as I walked into the elevator. There were just a few simple words printed on the white paper:

"After taking into consideration all relevant circumstances, we are sorry to inform you that your appeal for your student pass application has been rejected."

Although there was always a likelihood of this happening, it still hit me quite hard. At that very instant, I saw my entire future in Singapore evaporate. I was pretty much in a daze as I walked back into the flat and then quickly called up my dad to tell him of the news. I didn't feel angry or sad, I didn't feel any need to vent any frustration, I just didn't quite feel anything at that moment. Perhaps some feeling of relief that the torment of not-knowing was finally over. I had been frustrated that my life seemed to be at a crossroads before that point in time, and that the decision as to where my life was headed was completely out of my hands. That frustration was at leastover. The path in Singapore seemed blocked off and the important thing was to consider what options I had.

I still had the option of serving NS in Singapore and while that would not get me my PR back automatically, that would get me my student pass. That was what was conveyed to me by the immigration officer when I went to the immigration department numerous times. 2 1/2 years of NS, and then add on another 1 year for the DipSing course, and then 6 months of pupillage as well as 6 months of PLC, which is another compulsory course which teaches all students the practical aspects of law practice. That was not an option for me, so for now, the path here in Singapore had reached a dead end.

Examining my other options, I pretty much had one option left, and that was to go down to KL to practice. I had no idea what working in Malaysia would be like. Half my life was already spent in Singapore, nearly all my friends were Singaporean, I went through the Singapore education system, and the worst thing of all, my Malay is atrocious! But Malaysia was the best option for me at that point. I had taken my Bar in the UK so that would exempt me from any sort of conversion course in Malaysia. While my Malay was bad, at least I had taken Malay as my second language all my life and I could at least read and speak.

I am very surprised at myself as to how quickly I adapted to the thought that now my life was headed in a different direction. I was going to Malaysia to live and work on my own. I did not mope about or feel frustrated that my life had taken such a different turn from what I had expected. I viewed my future with optimism and with a little bit of excitement actually. It might be easier to shine in Malaysia compared to my future in Singapore. I would just be one among hundreds of similar individuals whereas in Malaysia, I could really try to carve out my career.

The most pressing concern at that moment though, was that I had only a matter of days left in Singapore. I had spent nearly 2 months in Singapore already by then, and I had been staying in Singapore on a social visit pass. I would only be allowed to stay a maximum of 2 months out of every 3 months, and after that, I would be chucked out. The student pass fiasco had dragged on for nearly 2 months and I just had around a week to sort out everything. I think it's awful how my application was handled. Fine, Singapore has a policy whereby ex-PRs who try to come back to work in Singapore, are black-listed. I'm not faulting Singapore on having such a policy. But come out and be transparent about it. Instead, my application was allowed to drag on for more than a month, and then rejected, and then I was informed to appeal in the vain hope that my application would be approved. Let me sweat it out for a few more weeks, then reject me again. That pisses me off.

I now had to quickly find a job as well as a place to stay in KL. KL was a totally foreign place to me, as I left when I was so young, and I had only gone back to visit like 3 times or something. I managed to arrange an interview at one law firm in KL and was going down that weekend to scout out for an apartment to rent and then attend the interview on Monday. Nothing like putting all your eggs in one basket eh? =)

There was no way I would have gotten through that period without my parents. They were so supportive of me and encouraging, and my dad was going to have to take some leave to drive me down that weekend to help me look at apartments and then be there for me as I went for the interview. I loved the first set of apartments I viewed and settled on one apartment. It was a great studio apartment and was near my potential office as well. I somehow cleared the interview and was lucky to be offered pupillage at the end of the interview. So I had 9 months of pupillage to complete in Malaysia and then I would be a full-fledged lawyer. Right after the interview, we contacted the property agent to sign the rental agreement and then drove back to Singapore that Monday itself.

I just had those few days to pack my things and say my goodbyes, and that following weekend, my dad drove me down for me to start my new life. Needless to say, those few days were chaotic. So many things happening all at once. The last time I am going to gripe, but again, if I had been informed earlier about the decision, I would have had more time to sort everything out. I was just plain lucky that I managed to get my pupillage in Malaysia as well as getting a nice apartment.

I moved down to KL that weekend and on Sunday, my dad said goodbye to me as he walked out of my apartment and the door closed behind him. I was now truly living on my own. The excitement very quickly died down that weekend. I had explored the facilities in my apartment block and looked at the shops and eating places downstairs. My brand new desktop computer was set up but with no internet connection at that time. The cable TV was my sole source of entertainment. I just felt really alone during those few days. Work was only starting on the Wednesday, and I had no car, and anyway, didn't know any area or place to go to. I didn't really have any friends in KL, only 1 or 2 friends from Bar school. Depressing.

But things dramatically improved once work started. It was a slow first day, and it felt a little bit difficult to make new friends. But things did improve very quickly. There was always something new to find out, or to learn, or to just chit-chat about at work and I quickly made new friends at work. All of that helped a lot in settling me in. I remember there were a couple of mood swings during the initial first few weeks, and I am a person who never gets mood swings. Just a few bouts where I felt slightly depressed and lonely. I needed the company of family or friends, and I was severely lacking both at that time. That was just the initial phase and as you can see, I've been really busy with social activities over the past few months. So things did work out for me in KL.

My plans for the future? Well, after completing my pupillage, I am going to continue to work here in KL. There is some chance of me trying to get back to Singapore as Malaysian practitioners can get admitted to the Singapore Bar after a while, so I will need to work in M'sia for some time anyway and I do enjoy the work and life in Malaysia. There will still be the issue of immigration black-listing me, so even if I do get a job in Singapore, that doesn't mean that they will grant me an employment pass. I'll have to see what happens.

So, that is the detailed explanation as to how I ended up in KL. A record long entry.

"all the world's a stage" Monday, February 07, 2005
http://shih.blogspot.com/2005/02/how-i- ... kl_07.html
Aut viam ad caelum inveniam aut faciam

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 09 Oct 2009 1:27 pm

Hey taxico, thanks for that!

Like you, I've known this for years but it's good to read somebody's personal lucid account of just how bad it can be and just how vindictive the current government can be. It's not as if this country doesn't need some good lawyers. Or at least some that aren't under the thumb of you know how. Maybe that's what took so long to be rejected in his case. Conspiracy theories? :cool:

You might want to edit your post and put the actual link there as well.

sms

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Postby econoMIC » Fri, 09 Oct 2009 5:02 pm

Thanks Taxico. Great post. I would recommend making it sticky for future visitors. A full story might kill off all those wild guessers.
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Postby nakatago » Fri, 09 Oct 2009 9:46 pm

[deleted] I don't want no trouble, man...
Last edited by nakatago on Fri, 09 Oct 2009 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Lurve » Fri, 09 Oct 2009 9:46 pm

Taxico, thanks for sharing this information, as I've been looking for information regarding working/staying in Singapore after ditching PR to avoid NS.

Am sorry to hear your story, but it's good to know that things work out great in KL.

I wondered though, is this always the case for those people avoiding NS?

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Postby jpatokal » Fri, 09 Oct 2009 10:51 pm

Lurve wrote:I wondered though, is this always the case for those people avoiding NS?


In the blog writer's case, he stayed on past age 12 and thus, in Singaporean bureaucratese, "accrued socio-economic benefits" from being a PR here -- which is why he got blacklisted after giving it up. But if you follow the rules and get the hell out of Dodge, err, Toa Payoh before age 12, the government apparently does not hold a grudge if you come back later.
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Postby Lurve » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 2:21 am

Thanks jpatokal for sharing the information.
Anyway can you pleaes share the link to the quote? I cant seem to find it on writer's blog.

I am still thinking whether I should apply PR for my newborn son.

if it is like what it's said, that if PR is renounced before age 12, and the govt wont have any grudge against ex-SPR, then I might consider applying my son PR, at least until he's 10 years old (before the next renewal). Then will renounce PR, and continue on studying in sg on student pass (I doubt if they will grant him a student pass??). The plan is to study overseas only when he enters his university.
I want my son to have the option of working in Singapore if he wishes to.
But am not very certain if this scenario will work.
What do you think? :cry:

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Postby SunWuKong » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 7:32 am

My son is 2 y.o. with dual Aus and Sing Citizenship. I'm not that concerned by NS, but even if I were, sixteen years is a long time on a political landscape; who knows what the future will spell on the NS front.
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Postby kraikk » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 11:31 am

It all depends on how much of a hurry you are in to finish university and work. NS is a bit of a waste of time, but consider that the two years saved usually means going into the workplace and slogging it out earlier. I have a friend who did the opposite of what the guy in the first post did. He was also a 2nd generation PR but he intended to return to Malaysia to study and work. However, he completed his NS but did not take Singaporean citizenship when it was offered upon completion. Instead, he is currently happily in Malaysia.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 1:29 pm

Lurve wrote:Thanks jpatokal for sharing the information.
Anyway can you pleaes share the link to the quote? I cant seem to find it on writer's blog.

I am still thinking whether I should apply PR for my newborn son.

if it is like what it's said, that if PR is renounced before age 12, and the govt wont have any grudge against ex-SPR, then I might consider applying my son PR, at least until he's 10 years old (before the next renewal). Then will renounce PR, and continue on studying in sg on student pass (I doubt if they will grant him a student pass??). The plan is to study overseas only when he enters his university.
I want my son to have the option of working in Singapore if he wishes to.
But am not very certain if this scenario will work.
What do you think? :cry:


Why bother to give him PR in the first place then?

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Re: ditch PR to avoid NS? can you say "black listed&quo

Postby ProvenPracticalFlexible » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 2:02 pm

taxico wrote:I had always planned to return to Singapore to work so after 4 years in the UK, I returned in the summer of '04. I obtained pupillage at a large Singapore law firm and I was about to start my DipSing at the local university in Singapore. All UK law grads had to go through this DipSing conversion course to get us used to Singapore law. It is very much a waste of 1 year but anyway, problems started to arise.


Sad story on personal level I guess, but I found this part quite funny. The guy is supposed to be a lawyer, and he got himself into this situation, which is no surprise to anyone in this forum, when you read the whole case, and then he’s calling 1 year introduction to Singapore law practices a waste of time.

I think this guy who wrote this would need at least those 2 years in NS to understand better how the system works in Singapore. Really wouldn’t want to have that kind of a foreign educated lawyer representing me if I ever got into trouble with the law in Singapore.

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Postby Lurve » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 10:09 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Why bother to give him PR in the first place then?


simply because it is easier to stay in sg with PR, rather than having Long term visit pass, which has to be renewed every 2 years.
and plus i think it's easier to get into local school here compared to foreigners. please correct me if i am wrong..

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 11 Oct 2009 10:51 pm

Yeah, that what I expected your answer would be......

:-|

So why did you take up "Permanent Residence"?

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Postby Lurve » Mon, 12 Oct 2009 12:21 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Yeah, that what I expected your answer would be......

:-|

So why did you take up "Permanent Residence"?


hmm since we are going to stay permanently in sg. hence, i dont want to burn the bridge of my son's returning to sg, to be with family, whenever he has completed his study.
just weighing pros and cons of taking up PR for my son right now..

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 12 Oct 2009 12:41 am

So who's gonna save your butts when the muslim neighbours decide they either want it back or they want it (depending on which neighbour) if all think that way? You gonna wait for the US Calvary from Guam? With that clown in the white house, don't hold your breath. The world's gonna have a new order soon enough once they figure out that he's got no cojones.


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