Monday, October 04, 2004

Handle With Care.

Note to self: Handle topic of emigration with care. May explode unexpectedly.

The most unexpected reactions so come from the most unexpected quarters. Or is that a truism?

My parents hardly batted an eyelid when I told them around a year ago that I was applying for a PR with a view to leaving Singapore permanently. Their response was primarily resignation and along the lines of (translated from Hokkien) "if it is a better life, you should go". They should know me since they raised me.

Was catching up with an old friend and exchanging news on what we were up to as we had not seen each other for quite a while. Towards the end of our pleasant meeting, she said "We got so much more to catch up on. We need to keep in touch and meet again."

I casually mentioned not to wait too long as I might not always be around. She scrutinised me with a sharp look and pronounced "you are migrating". More statement than question. Did I mention that she was an old friend who knows me well?

Anyway, the delayed reaction was downright spectacular. I could see her going through the gamut of suppressed emotions. Then she burst out angrily.

"Of course it is easy for you! You have no commitments. No family, no house, no car. I know you hate Singapore and cannot wait to leave. You have no loyalty! Your problem is that you have no roots."

Now this is a young mother of two, a long-time teacher and married to a hardworking guy who has been working up the ranks in the same GLC-linked company for the last 6 years. As mainstream white-collar upper-middle-class Singapore as you can get. In all the years I have known her, outbursts like what just happened occur as often as blue moons and stock market crashes.

Naturally being the chickenshit I am in the face of unexplained pure female rage, I make a tactical withdrawal. In other words, I backpedalled and made soothing comments that it was a "for the future retirement" thing and that I was "still thinking about it" and "see how things go", etc, etc. Anyway, it worked and we ended the dinner on a nice note and are still friends.

Thinking about her response later, I realise that a lot of people I hinted my emigration plans have had responses along these lines of accusations (albeit not as vehemently expressed!). Either that or studied indifference and a note of discomfort (?) as we skimmed on to the next topic.

Anger? Envy? Jealousy? I don't get it. I thought *I* am the one facing a terribly uncertain future by abandoning all that is known here, and facing potential hostility in a totally alien environment.

Or is this is a simple manifestation of the very human characteristic of seeking only validating evidence and dismissing contradictory evidence in the wake of an emotional commitment? The phenomena is well documented in behavioural finance with respect to stock picking. Is this just another manifestation of it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friend sounded more like she was bitter she was "stuck" here. Her telling statement:

"Of course it is easy for you! You have no commitments. No family, no house, no car."

i.e. "We're stuck here because we have children, we have a house to pay for and we can't sell our car at a loss!"

I hate to say this but there are people with children who are very bitter about their fate (i.e. "stuck with children"). But then again, it's probably because I'm biased against having children. Add to this the lifestyle choices they made (big house, car, etc).

It all boils down to choice - either you shackle yourself tighter to this place, or you pack your luggage light in preparation to leave. Actually I'm wondering whether we should take delivery of that piano that we ordered....


January 24, 2005 11:31 AM  
Blogger ahmad said...

If you have to leave, do it while you're:

- young
- unattached
- have no children
- no CPF

or better still, all of the above.

March 31, 2005 6:34 PM  

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