A Singaporean Says Living In NZ Different Experience – Updated

3/20/2010

Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

The bait was better working hours, cheaper cars and housing – and in three weeks thousands from Singapore have registered their interest in living in New Zealand”.

Todays Tale is taken from a thread on The Straits Times website, in which Singaporeans discuss the current campaign targeting them to come and work in New Zealand.

This poster lives in New Zealand and was eager to tell readers that living in a country is very different from visiting it. Most of the issues raised in this post can be found on this forum and our mirror site, links may be found at the end of this page:

Travelling in NZ versus living in NZ is a totally different experience! Depending on what you do, where you live … it’ll change your opinions about NZ.

Crime rates are getting higher in some cities … all you hear in the news are depressing news like murders, burglaries, assaults etc. Alcohol and drugs are huge concerns here and are major social problems in NZ! Law and order? Number of prisoners reaches new high! http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/number-prisoners-reaches-new-high-3083396

Make sure you are secured with a job if you intend to migrate here under Skilled Migrant Category because it’s very, very hard to find a job here. And of course, not forgetting about the certain degree of racism and discrimination that we have to face here!

Living standards? The proposed increase in GST from 12.5% to 15% will definitely have an impact on living cost. http://www.3news.co.nz/Poll-and-survey-find-majority-against-GST-increase/tabid/419/articleID/141957/Default.aspx

Although health care is free but … unless you need urgent immediate attention otherwise you can join the long queue in the waiting list! Read this article about the recent health cuts. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0908/S00210.htm

For those who have children, your children may feel less stressful studying in NZ but you really have to think thrice if that’s what you want for them! It’s their future you have to consider! Unless you’re very sure that they have self-discipline … Read this article about the chaos created by Otago University students annually and decide if you want to send your children here.http://www.odt.co.nz/on-campus/university-otago/73781/undie-500-chaos-a-student039s-view

Do you think Kiwis are happy here? Read this article about the high suicide rate in NZ. http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/health/suicide.html

We can go on and on and on …

Of course, if you retire here and don’t have to deal with many people then it’s a different story! You probably will enjoy the quiet lifestyle here and the weather (except during the cold winter months) is definitely better than the hot and humid Singapore!

We’ve recently heard of Singaporeans getting as far as the final interview stage for Permanent Residency and being refused. They are turned down for PR and aren’t even offered Work to Residence as a back-up. Bear in mind the high fees involved in the visa application process and it’s understandable why some are starting to call the whole thing a ‘scam.’ Read this thread on an immigration advice forum:

PR Visa Rejected!!! And not even granted a WTR

Possible effects of the marketing campaign are a slowing up in the processing of applications and long delays in assigning case officers. This post recently appeared on an emigration forum, it was written by someone who had to make a fuss and lodge a complaint to get things moving:

“Recently Shanghai Branch wrote to a number of candidates that due to markable increase in applications their cases are delayed and VO’s would be assigned in 9-12 months instead of 6 months but few candidates wrote to NZIS and argued against the decision and NZIS Shanghai immediately assigned VO’s to them within 6 months…

I received same email from NZIS as others that my case has been delayed and VO would be assigned in 9-12 months rather than 6 months but i argued against the decision and NZIS accepted my point and assigned VO within 6 months.

For posts tagged:

Crime – links

Jobs for Kiwis – links

Racism – links

Healthcare – links

Suicide rates – links

“That’s cold – exploding the myths about sub-tropical New Zealand” – link

36 thoughts on “A Singaporean Says Living In NZ Different Experience – Updated

  1. I totally agree! I’m a Singaporean and have been in NZ for the past almost 5 years. I have traveled extensively prior to coming to NZ and never have I seen any other country that exhibits such ridiculous behaviors! Imagine turning on the TV and the ads are showing you that 1) Violence is Not ok, 2) Do not ever shake a baby, 3) People drinking and driving, 4) People speeding recklessly and the list goes on. The ongoing consistent messages out there truly reflects the dire circumstances of the social behaviors of the Kiwis.

    In addition, basic literacy rate is quite poor. I just about to tear my hair out when people spell “Masters Ave” as “maRster’s ave”, “there” spelled as “their” and if you add an up-size fries to a burger meal, they totally lost count of how much they need to pay! So REALLY, send your kids here to study.

    And yes, jobs are extremely hard to find here and if you are so lucky to get one, be prepared for the large amount of taxes you have to pay. If you earn between NZ$14,001 to NZ$48,000/year (which is most likely for many people), your tax rate is 21% (excluding ACC levy). Well in SG, you will have to earn 6 times more ie: SG$320,000 (which is about NZD$322,328 at today’s exchange rate) before you are tax at 21%. How good is that?!
    NZ Tax rate: http://www.ird.govt.nz/how-to/taxrates-codes/itaxsalaryandwage-incometaxrates.html
    SG Tax Rate: http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=1190

    PS: oh by the way, your taxes are paying for those people who are on benefits, as well as those that are drinking from 9am in the morning to 10pm at night, the ones that yell at you to “go back to china” (they have no idea of other countries except for england, australia and south africa.. did i mention china?), the ones that NEED to have a cigarette break EVERY 30 minutes while you slog on and on at work, not to mention legal aid for the Kiwis who just happened to be drunk or “mentally unstable” and decide to torch your car for no reason other than they just did!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ming thanks for sharing and for giving an ‘on the ground’ perspective.

    Are you minded to write a Migrant Tale for us?

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  3. I am from Malaysia Chinese and have been living in NZ since 2004. Lifestyle is good and relax, beautiful country for retirement. Other than that, if you are career focused, you’d better think twice before taking the big step. In other words, NZ is not recommended if you have not made your money yet or expecting to earn, save and make money here, think twice pls. Tax rates are so high and your taxes support those on the benefit. You may have a bachelor or masters degree but you end up taking jobs well below yr qualifications. I gave up looking for any other job and have been doing my call centre (sales) job for 5 years, reason being it pays well above the kiwi average, especially for us the hardworking migrants (mostly indians with masters and bachelors degrees) who are topsellers, working hard and smart. There is no job satisfaction but it’s just a job and pays the bills. In job search, they look for kiwi work experience and you also read about people changing their names in an effort to get their application looked at. In my job, I speak to many people and some are at some point pretty racist. You hear questions like,
    “Can you pls put me to someone who speak English?’ or
    ‘Am I calling India, Philippines or China?”
    Many of the locals here so naive, they hardly travel out of their country and they can’t tell the difference if they are speaking to an American, Indian or Chinese not to mention Singapore or Malaysia. As long as you don’t pronounce ‘Seeven’ (Seven) , or Eeegg (Egg) they will think you come from India or China. Life here is pretty laid back, so in a nutshell, if you have not made your money yet, or below 60yrs old or not ready for retirement yet, NZ may not be for you.

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  4. NZ is not the perfect place for sure, but I’m not sure what Ming said is a fair description of the country. Sure the people that described exists but there are also many well travelled and well informed people in NZ.

    Work is a little hard to come by and taxes are high, but then it is a different governing policy and different perspective. Some people think that government not providing unemployment benefits is attrocious but we from singapore think it’s alright.

    I have been living and pursuing my higher education in Christchurch for 3+ years and frankly I find the place absolutely brilliant. It is not perfect as I said but where in the world can you find Utopia? Everything must be put in the right perspective… and I don’t think racism exists as anything more than amusement. If a kiwi thinks an oriental looking person can’t speak english properly it’s because of their experience with orientals. Don’t we in singapore have unfair first impressions or perceptions of people from far away land too? I have many good born and bred kiwi friends and we hang out doing the usual kiwi things, not singaporean things… if we want to do singaporean things we would be better off staying at home.

    NZ is a very different society from singapore or malaysia. It is very far geographically and they have very different political, social outlook on life. If we go to NZ (or any other place in the world) in search of a singapore or malaysia minus all the bad things then i’m sorry to say you can search for your entire life and still end up disappointed.

    I have left NZ for sunny South Africa only because I want to experience and learn from the world. I will definitely return to NZ one day.

    As a end off when we are in a foreign place, we must remember that we are in a foreign place and not in our home country. We are GUESTS in the country even if you are a resident or citizen, socially you are a guest… so please remember that, and not keep remembering and comparing with home… if you do please just stay at home…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thanks for your comments Wei.
    When did you leave New Zealand and why? (not just for the South African sunshine surely?)

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  6. Thanks all for useful posts. We’re also planning to migrate to NZ under Skill Migrant Category. Both of my husband and myself are IT professionals. We’re currently living in Singapore and according to SG experience I really look for the information about my children’s education especially the school hours for primary, secondary and so on. Because schools in SG are only half-day and need to find house maid to look after our children while both of us are working. Even they have after school care centers, somebody need to take care of sending and taking children from school to the center. So that experience is really terrible for us because we don’t have any relatives who can stay with us and house maids are not 100% reliable persons. So I’m desperately looking for the school hours information in NZ. If anyone has an idea please advice me.

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    • School hours vary but are generally about 8:30 to 3:00.

      Some primary schools have after school care schemes and there are providers who will pick up your children after school and take them to a centre. If your children are being collected by a childcare provider we strongly recommend you ask to see the vehicle they’re to be transported in and take a good look around the centre with your children.

      Children under the age of 14 cannot legally be left on their own in New Zealand. This may present some problems when your children get to highschool age.

      You may like to ask this question on the forum at http://www.expatexposed.com and find out what other parents do.

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    • So if it’s not competitive …
      why do people from Asia want to be educated in the West?
      And why do Western countries have plagiarism statistics … but Asian ones don’t?

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      • Is definitely, deliberately copying specific hardware designs comparable to plagiarism?

        Whether or not it is (and I do think it is), there are huge amounts of copycat hardware produced in Asia. I’m pretty sure the production of non-innovative, copycat material is a global problem.

        By the way, you did not actually mean to ask why Asian countries don’t have statistics to do with plagiarism, did you? (I mean, turning a blind eye towards plagiarism by not monitoring it for statistical purposed isn’t a particularly good thing, is it?) I am pretty sure what you meant was: “Why does Asia appear to have significantly less plagiarism than the West, according to statistics?” No? Please correct me if I am wrong.

        And I don’t really know how Asians in general wanting to be educated in the West in general, and the West in general having plagiarism statistics, and Asia in general not having plagiarism statistics, is very relevant to whether or not New Zealand, specifically, is a competitive country, or not. Perhaps you could explain?

        Thank you for taking the time to read the post.

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        • Your statement about copying hardware is not accurate.
          Have you heard about clean-room implementation?

          And I don’t really know how Asians in general wanting to be educated in the West in general, and the West in general having plagiarism statistics, and Asia in general not having plagiarism statistics, is very relevant to whether or not New Zealand, specifically, is a competitive country, or not. Perhaps you could explain?
          If all degrees are created alike, why does NZ have trouble recognising ones from overseas?
          More importantly … why do overseas students beginning and completing their university education in a skills shortage area … find it hard to get employment?

          Thank you for reading this post in full.

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          • I had never heard that word before, but I was aware of the concept, yes. I concede that my point was not relevant (although I hope we would both agree that there is at least some explicit hardware-copying done in Asia, for http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/29/us-china-iphone-idUSTRE78S0EL20110929). Of course, clean room implementation also involves a degree of copying, though I don’t particularly object to it, because it could lead to useful innovations (or useless weaknesses).

            But I repeat: I don’t see how plagiarism in the West in general is relevant to whether or not New Zealand in particular is/tries to be a competitive nation. You are welcome to explain.

            Also, I was unable to find comprehensive plagiarism statistics on any country at all, Asian or not, in a quick web search I did. You are welcome to direct me to any such statistics.

            I did not say all degrees were created alike – I have no idea why you have even mentioned this, just as I have no idea why plagiarism ever entered the discussion.

            I cannot give you an authoritative answer to either of your questions, but I’ll try give you some kind of answer.

            To your first question, I do not know the extent of the non-recognition by New Zealand of foreign degrees, but doubt it is universal or absolute. I suspect that in the case of many trades at least, differences in national safety-related standards would be one reason (because, for example, it could be dangerous for an electrical engineer who has no idea of New Zealand electric standards to work in New Zealand).

            To your second question, some things I am sure would play a part are (in no particular order): (1) Employers could be racist or xenophobic; (2) The students could have a non-prestige accent, or just downright poor communication skills in English; (3) There could be one-sided or mutual cultural understanding difficulties between employer a job-seeker; (4) The job-seekers and/or job-seekers might not network in such a way as to be exposed to each other.

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  7. I m a singaporean looking to buying a business in Auckland as investment & migration. What is the pros & cons? After hearing what is said about NZ it totally change my perception. Is it still a good idea to invest & migrate? Pls advice..

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    • perhaps first spend some time in society to see if you can handle the rude and racist kiwi’s before you settle down there. Did you know it has been rated as the most expensive city in the world ?

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      • Your comment is so spot on, the Kiwi’s can be racist, my parents found out the hard way when they were rejected for job opportunities in New Zealand and I feel Hong Kong is a much better City than New Zealand as well

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  8. Most of the things in NZ are good, except high crime rate per capita and most good jobs are unlikely for Asian or women.

    Most children would love the schools here in NZ. One of the best child birth and early child care sysetm.

    Investment wise; would be conventional real properties.

    It is a beautiful country and friendly people; at least on the surface.

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    • James :
      Most of the things in NZ are good, except high crime rate per capita and most good jobs are unlikely for Asian or women.
      Most children would love the schools here in NZ. One of the best child birth and early child care sysetm.
      Investment wise; would be conventional real properties.
      It is a beautiful country and friendly people; at least on the surface.

      Children would like the education system?? Are you kidding me?? The school system is brutally heirarchical and many schools employ a “prefect” system where they deputize one or two children to bully the others, over things like the width of stripe at the top of their sock, or the color of their shoelaces… result – psychopathic bullies. It is really violent and the attitude of insider:outsider starts early. Try googling “My Time at Paremoremo Boy’s High” which is an account of a teen’s experience at one of NZ’s fanciest and most expensive schools. Paremoremo is a high security prison here in NZ.

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    • We recently moved our two children back to the U.S. from New Zealand. They took some time to catch up. The New Zealand schools are much farther behind academically in their level, i.e., the difficulty of material they teach and the standards they impose on the children. Communication between parents and teachers is very good here in the U.S., insisted on even,, but I found this aspect to be very poor in New Zealand. Parents and teachers were not partners in education there. Accountability was not a value. I would say physical education is their focus in New Zealand. And “experiential” environmental science. The lack of funding means that they have few supplies and “make do”, sometimes to the children’s detriment, for example, if they do not catch what the teacher is saying and have no visual support to work off of. Also, gifted and disabilities are not screened out from the mass and dealt with specially, because their funding for special cases is low. I witnessed students going through the system whose problems would have been discovered and treated very early in the States. I cannot recommend the school system down there except for the kindergartens, which impressed us greatly, at least in the wealthier areas. I People moving to New Zealand should factor in that their children will fall behind academically. They may gain in other areas, such as thinking on their feet and appreciation for rough camping. We found them disorganized and overly “norming” in their approach, and in many other ways their schools were not what we wanted over a longer term for our children. A year or two would be fun, however, if the situation were something you could afford to do as an adventure. As a longer-term living experiment – a thousand times no, do not move your family to New Zealand. They have crime, drugs, bullying, all the problems that exist in America, minus a few guns, and some problems are worse (the drugs in the schools are worse). Add New Zealand’s unique situation of being too far away to visit relatives regularly and being very expensive, and you will be looking at years of “bad idea”!

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    • James. Are you working for NZ immigration or just full of BS?Child birth system in NZ is terrible (speaking from experience) and the early child care system is poor at best. Investment ? Real Estate there is so over priced and set for a decline sooner than later..you would have to be stupid to invest at todays high prices.

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    • NZ !! It is a beautiful country .. With beautiful scenery and awesome people. NZ does have a bad REP, just like any other country on this planet. None of them perfect, but NZ is perfect to me !!!

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  9. [Deleted. Read the comments guidelines – other countries. Don’t like the rules? don’t post here, don’t troll. Banned. Admin.]

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  10. “The bait was better working hours, cheaper cars and housing – and in three weeks thousands from Singapore have registered their interest in living in New Zealand”.

    Yes, but some interesting developments have shown that companies in NZ … seem to now be making a habit of “cheating on the contents of their products” viz. GlaxoSmithKline (Ribena, 2007) and now Heinz (Watties, and their beans)

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/72713034/Watties-customer-finds-baked-beans-a-bit-light

    Imagine the savings on millions of underweight cans. The bean-counters (pun intended) must be very happy indeed. And imagine that it probably happens in so many other sectors too 😡

    Also “- Comments on this story are now closed” Says it all, really.

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    • “cheating on the contents”
      The whole place is a cheat and misrepresented.
      Another “bait and switch” ploy, say that the place is one thing and it has; jobs, housing, education, life style…, when in actuality, it is something completely different; no/few jobs with low wages, expensive and crumby housing, woefully overrated education and healthcare, lifestyle is purely outdoorsy, very little in the way of arts and culture, and everything is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive.

      “cheating on the contents” would be the least of your worries.

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      • Carpentaro, I’m currently an American studying at the University of Otago and I must say the treatment is horrid and I totally agree the education is outrageously expensive and overrated. The price I paid is not worth the value of education.

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  11. I agree totally with what Ming has said.

    I’m a Singaporean holding a NZ Residence visa but I’ve only come to live in NZ recently even though I’ve held my visa for more than 10 years.

    Probably NZ would be what everyone calls the last paradise on earth, 10 years ago. But now, all you come across everyday are shootings, theft, burglary, car stealing and vandalism in broad daylight, violent attacks on Asians. Also, the racism issue is very real even though the White Kiwis choose to be in denial. They are an extremely offensive bunch who would not talk to you because they think you can’t speak english or that they think you must be from China just because you have yellow skin and black hair. The Maoris on the contrary, are the truly nice and sincere people. The Whites will often make racist remarks like “I thought you Asians have a dog eating festival?” or “Keep the Asians away from our Paua! They’ll take everything from the waters and leave us none!” or “You asians eat anything with legs.” I have not come across any “humorous” kiwis. Probably some people think that these things that kiwis say are “humorous” but definitely not me.

    This is definitely not a place that I would want to return after I finish my studies here, unless I have earned enough to buy a farm in a remote region to retire.

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    • How about some other interesting comments:
      “You must be a Christian because you English is so good”
      and shortly after, when you disagree about something “I can’t understand your English”.

      What is especially interesting and galling, is that even with a qualification in English that is ranked very much higher than IELTS, you will be given a waiver form to sign if you turn down their “generous offer to do the inferior IELTS” … that states “you will not hold the University responsible if you do not understand the lectures conducted in English.
      Yet the people with the highest dropout rates … are the domestic students … who ARE NOT REQUIRED to take IELTS.

      Just lol at the absurdity, it’s like something out of Kafka.

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      • Considering most Kiwis are monolingual, the standard of English in New Zealand is actually beyond atrocious, and I wish more people knew about this fact.

        Singapore citizens are required to produce an IELTS or TOEFL certificate for proof of English proficiency to study at tertiary level, because universities here do not recognise the GCE O/A Level English qualification past two years of the date on the certificate – never mind that those qualifications are only gained after at least 12 years of English-language education. This is a ridiculous requirement not only because English is Singapore’s lingua franca, but also nobody can possibly forget their English after being educated in it continuously for over a decade. Anyone off the street can sit for a TOEFL test after learning English for just five months. There is no way an IELTS or TOEFL outranks an O-Level certificate. But because you are Asian, you cannot possibly be a native English speaker – your English skills are obviously sub-par and come with an expiry date, according to Kiwis.

        Go through the stories on any NZ news site or read any Facebook comment posted by a Kiwi – you don’t have to try very hard to notice the appalling mass of spelling and grammatical errors. They cannot even master the basics of one language. It is no wonder they feel threatened by people who are conversant in two or more languages.

        Liked by 1 person

        • SINGAPORE VERSUS NEW ZEALAND

          I have a perspective on both NZ and Singapore that may (or may not) be useful. I am a NZer of Chinese ethnicity. My parents migrated to NZ in the 1960s. I grew up in NZ, went to school and university in NZ, but now I live in Singapore.

          Just like Singapore is not perfect, NZ is not perfect either. It is very hard to assess NZ as a foreigner because there is always the tendency to view the world from one perspective. Singaporeans will view NZ from a Singaporean world view, just like NZers will view Singapore (or Asians) from a NZ perspective. But here are what I see as the differences, having lived in both countries for a number of years:

          EDUCATION
          Singapore is a very technocratic society. There is an emphasis on technical skills and tangible educational outcomes e.g. performance on academic tests. These are highly regarded as academic performance is seen as extremely important. Hence perfect reading, writing and arithmetic scores are seen as ‘success’ in the education system and in the general culture.

          By comparison, NZ values the more holistic education of children, hence there is less emphasis on perfect test scores and more emphasis on creativity, complex problem solving and conceptual thinking as well as physical activity. So whereas Singaporeans can ace an academic test and follow rules perfectly, NZers are better at problem solving and sport.

          Also, NZ has an emphasis on open debate and critique. Just watch NZ politicians compared to Singapore politicians. The debating skill is far superior amongst NZ politicians. There is little debate in Singapore society. It is firmly discouraged should people speak out against the status quo. In fact, some people have gone to prison for criticising people in public.

          This difference results from a different emphasis regarding open debate. Culturally, debate is encouraged in NZ. There is a reason why NZers perform well at international debating competitions and Singaporeans do not. It is a different cultural value.

          In Singapore society, open debate is discouraged. And as a result, Singaporeans do not like to be criticised and take criticism extremely badly. This relates to the cultural trait of ‘losing face’, which is not present in NZ culture.

          So from a Singaporean perspective, the NZ education system looks terrible, the people academically average, as well as openly confronting when people voice their views about the world. At the same time, from a NZ perspective, NZers see Singaporeans (or Asians more generally) as lacking creativity, unable to solve problems when they don’t fit within defined rules, unable to voice opinions and extremely sensitive to critique.

          DISCRIMINATION
          Racial discrimination is definitely present in both NZ and Singapore. The main problem for Singaporeans (and ethnic Chinese Singaporeans in particular) is they have seldom experienced racial discrimination before because they have always been the majority, and to experience it for the first time is an extreme shock that then reflects extremely badly on NZ society as a whole.

          In Singapore, most of the racial discrimination is felt by people of Indian, Malay and generally non-Chinese looking population. So for ethnic Chinese Singaporeans, discrimination is never an issue and Singapore is seen as a haven of tolerance; but for many non-ethnic Chinese, Singapore is less than perfect and racism is just part of everyday life. There is a general assumption, for example, that Indians steal jobs and cheat people, that Malay people are lazy, and that Westerners (often referred to as ‘Caucasians’) are aggressive. These are prevalent negative stereotypes.

          In NZ, racism is discouraged in principle, there are laws against it, but it still occurs. NZ has had a long history of Asian migration. It is not a new thing. The Chinese first came to NZ in the 1860s as goldminers and as railroad labourers. After the Chinese cultural revolution in China (1960s) thousands of Chinese were also granted refugee status in NZ; and the descendants of the goldminers, labours and refugees became the NZ-Chinese population. A Small group but also a group that worked extremely hard and did over time become to be accepted as part of NZ society.

          Fast forward to the late 1980s, and NZ for the first time opened up its migration scheme to any ethnic group in the world. This is when we saw a large number of new ‘Asian’ migrants enter NZ. The increase was fast and a shock to many NZers; and whereas once NZers only saw the hard working Chinese who came from a humble background and understood NZ traits (such as not showing off), now NZers were seeing Chinese who came from HK, Malaysia, Singapore and Mainland China, who were by their immigration selection criteria relatively wealthy compared to the average NZer, but more importantly, held a cultural value system where it was seen as okay to show off, buying big houses, expensive cars and the like.

          This is what irked the majority of NZers and saw the rise of Winston Peters and the NZ First party. It was a reaction to a group that was seen as not understanding NZ values, while also a ‘selling out’ of NZ to the highest bidder, instead of developing and keeping NZ for NZers (and this included Chinese NZers of old).

          Fast forward to 2016, and all this cultural and political history and constant daily reminders that ‘Asians’ are in NZ (e.g. road accidents by Asian tourist, house price escalation by Chinese buyers etc) now some NZers see Asians negatively. But at the same time, there is a growing acceptance also from European NZers that NZ is and should change with the times and that Asia and Asian people have been and will continue to be part of NZ society – for good or bad.

          The tolerance of ‘Asians’ is demonstrated by the presence of Asian MPs in parliament, many of them migrants. The NZ parliament has Chinese, Korean, and Indian MPs. The previous Governor General was Indian. Many city mayors have been Chinese or Indian. Likewise, heads of NZ government departments and publicly listed companies also have Asians as the CEOs. Some much lauded NZ sporting heroes are Asian.

          In regards to other forms of discrimination, NZ almost definitely out-performs Singapore in its tolerance. NZ is far more accepting of women in high ranking positions. Singapore has never had a women as Prime Minster or President. NZ has had women Prime Ministers and Governor Generals.

          In terms of age discrimination, this is extremely prevalent in Singapore. The highest redundancy age-group in Singapore are middle aged professionals 35-45 year olds. In Singapore, this age group is considered ‘old’, and they find it very difficult to find a job after redundancy. Most recruiters prefer younger candidates – partly because they are cheaper but also because there is an underlying assumption that younger workers are more agile. In Singapore, there is a culture of fast promotion. So it is common to see a 30 year old in a very senior management role. This is uncommon in NZ, where experience is valued more. Most senior managers in NZ would be in their late 30s and 40s and older; and most NZ employers would have no problem employing a person over 40.

          UNDERLYING VALUES ABOUT SOCIETY
          The main difference and friction between NZ and Singapore would be in the underlying values. These are seldom stated but can be seen in different government policies. In NZ, there is a strong belief in liberal democracy, open debate, egalitarianism and independence. NZ values hold that all NZers should benefit from social development and not only the rich. So the poorest NZer has the same rights as the richest NZers (note this is a value, it doesn’t always play out this way and depends on the government at the time).

          This is why NZ has a strong welfare state, with a social benefit for the unemployed. Individuals are not seen as the sole problem if they cannot find a job. Society is seen as partly to blame also. Whereas in Singapore, an unemployed person is seen to be solely responsible for their inability to find work. They are told to ‘upgrade’ themselves and even to lower their expectations. There is no unemployment benefit and you often find older people (65+) working as cleaners and at McDonalds. They do not receive any social support. It is seen as the responsibility of family to look after old people and the unemployed.

          In NZ, independence as a value is upheld. This is why children are encouraged to move out of home early and go flatting to learn about life. In Singapore, this is seldom possible except for the few years young people spend at university or during their compulsory National Service because of the expensive rental, low pay for new graduates, and general high cost of living.

          The real oddity is that the thing that Singaporeans value most is the thing that NZers care least about, but have an abundance of – this is material wealth. Cars for example are extremely expensive in Singapore. You can pay over NZ$100,000 for a Toyota Corrola. You can buy a good secondhand car in NZ for less than NZ$10,000. Houses are massively expensive in Singapore. A ‘landed’ property of 100square meters in Singapore can easily cost NZ$2-5 Million and sometimes as much as NZ$40million; whereas in NZ you can still find such properties for around NZ$500K (except Auckland where it is closer to NZ$900K, which is still a lot cheaper than Singapore).

          80% of Singaporeans live in public housing called HDBs because private housing is so extremely expensive. Also, you can only make leasehold purchases on HDBs (where the lifetime lease is often 99 years). The price of an HDB varies from SG$300k-SG$1 Million depending on location and size. Almost all housing in NZ is private where the national average price is about NZ$450K for a ‘landed’ property. Apartments are less common. HDBs also have age restrictions where you cannot buy a lease if you are single, under 35, or de facto. Only legally married heterosexual couples are allowed to purchase a HDB lease.

          In NZ, such rules do not exist and anyone with enough money can buy any house they want. NZ also recognises de facto couples of any sexual orientation where de facto couples have the same legal rights as married couples after a given amount of time.

          Material wealth is seen as the key status symbol in Singapore. People will take out huge loans in order to buy a BMW or a Mercedes because to be ‘seen’ in such cars is perceived as the achievement of ‘success’. In NZ, even though these car brands are more affordable, few would buy them through fear of being seen as ‘showing off’. Success for NZers is having a house, with a big backyard, open space, and freedom. And it is common for NZers to live in or own a landed property.

          These are totally different ways of seeing the world and one of the reasons why NZers often don’t understand ‘Asians’; and why Singaporeans don’t ‘get’ NZers.

          LANGUAGE
          NZ, like many ex British colonies is very much a monolingual nation, although the official languages of NZ are English, Maori and Sign Language. NZ English has its own peculiarities. It will be as strange to Singaporeans as Singlish is to NZers. These are both versions of English and to expect the Queen’s English in either case is unrealistic (note, even in the home of the English language – England, there are various versions of English that to outsiders is incomprehensible).

          The demand for ‘Asians’ to sit English exams to be granted NZ residency may be seen as an insult to Singaporeans, but to NZers this makes perfect sense, because it is seen as a test to how well a new migrant can integrate into society. The problem with many English tests is that they test for ‘proper’ English and not colloquial English. Note also, that tests for entry into a society of any kind are not always about the test itself. Tests are often used as a filter to gauge motivation and willingness to relocate to a new place; or they are used to manage inflows.

          This is a common tactic used by many agencies, particularly government agencies. A hypothetical example might be entry into NZ based on professional field of expertise. The professional association may state publicly that it is open to foreign workers from that field, but behind the scenes they may be opposed to foreign workers and put in numerous hurdles that make it difficult for entry, all legitimised by stating that it is an assessment of skills and to ensure quality control. This is hypothetical and I have no real world examples, but based on my experience working around the world, this is a very common and effective tactic.

          CRIME
          What is considered ‘criminal’ is always subjective and defined by a given society. It is never absolute. If definitions of crime were the same all over the world then laws against ‘crime’ would all be the same. NZ is more tolerant towards drugs than Singapore, for example. NZ society believes that people should have the right to be relatively free and this means there is greater tolerance of behaviour that many Singaporeans may consider anti-social. Compared to NZ society, Singapore society might be seen as more restrictive, with less freedoms and greater punishments for what most NZers would consider minor offences.

          Also, the NZ press and media is entirely free. So the media are allowed to report anything they want. This often means that the public will get a ‘warts and all’ view of NZ life; whereas in Singapore the press and media are restricted so there can only ever be a limited view of Singapore life as a whole. There are many cases where alternative media outlets have been shutdown because the views were seen as damaging social harmony. This is highly unlikely to occur in NZ. Only in cases where groups explicitly advocate violence against other groups would this occur in NZ.

          These are merely different ways of seeing the world. Neither is wrong or right. They are based on differing values.

          Okay, that’s the world’s longest comment.

          Liked by 2 people

          • “Here, Here!” James. Well said mate! Totally agree with you. And I’m not even a Kiwi…a born and bred Singaporean who has faced discrimination every now and then in this island. Couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for taking the massive effort to write this lengthy informative comment. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This island’s inhabitants are just a whinging sort. To my mates I’ve always championed living in another country like NZ, Aust, US and UK & etc will gibe us a better quality og lifestyle. Of course it has its own pros & cons but its how you want it to be. Be positively and that manifests into a lovely living experience in those lands. Can’t wait to exit this place..for the sake of my child’s future..don’t want him to turn into Robot!

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          • The NZ press and media are not entirely free – there are some subjects that they are ‘discouraged’ from printing or airing on TV – you have been out of NZ for too long.

            Like

  12. Hi

    I do agree with James. Well said indeed. I am a Non-Chinese Singaporean. A Javanese/Malay Singaporean and knows very well what discrimination means. No place is a total paradise and always look for the positive side of every situation. I am currently in Auckland and yes, I am learning to blend in and adapt. I am here not to get richer but for a better way of living your life. This is for our children too. My husband and I are outdoorsy people and have different views and values to a normal Singaporean. We had travelled to NZ back in 2012 for a whole month with campervan and love every bit of it and we are here again.

    We love it here. We have travelled pretty extensively to all parts of Asia and Europe and we know how to appreciate every culture and the unique way of life. We do have kiwi friends here and some non-Singaporeans who have settled here too.
    Pray for the best of every situation ( I said it again…) Live life the fullest and stop being negative 🙂

    Oyun C

    Liked by 1 person

    • What do you and your husband think of the New Zealand employment situation?

      Perhaps you could also share with us your opinion of the education standards in New Zealand compared to Singapore?

      Like

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