Thursday, January 13, 2005

Solutioning Under Constraints.

My life is like a complex number. There is the real part, and there is the imaginary part. And I have great difficulty understand both.

Given a complex problem with a huge number of constraints, what might be a reasonable approach to work out a solution?

One approach would be to identify the most restrictive constraint and work your solution around that specific constraint. Then approach the next slightly-less restrictive constraint and work around that. And so on and so forth.

An example would the challenge of reducing your consumer debt interest payments on multiple debt loans. The approach would be to make the largest possible monthly payment on the debt with the highest interest rate, with minimum payments on the rest. Then after the debt with the highest rate is paid off, work on paying off the debt with the next-higher rate.

However with most problems in life, often not all the factors are visible on the overall scale. Unlike the previous scenario where all the debts can be enumerated with the effective interest rates listed neatly besides each number.

Another alternative approach could be demonstrated by trying to fix a broken (or misconfigured) data transmission system. You would start with the local source of the data and follow it, checking the data pathway, identifying the point of failure, fixing the failure, then continuing following the data path and repeating the process until the system is working.

This is analogous to fixing the 'visible' problems which are most accessible first. Then working downstream until you reach the next problem in the sequence.


So what has all this go to do with the emigration process?

I have received some nice emails from fellow Singapore residents. They offer words of encouragement, advice, well-wishes and loads of useful tips about adapting to Australia. Most of you probably want to remain anonymous, so I will just express my thanks here again (if I have not already).

To the critics who do not get it, I suggest you re-read Cosmopolitan versus Heartlander. Heaping disdain on me would be akin to throwing mud at a pig. You only end up upset and dirty and the pig does not care either way.

One common salient point from many of those nice emails was the bemoaning that their own attempts to emigrate have been torpedoed by objections from parents, resistence from loved ones and significant others, lack of education or financial resources. And some of them (being educated in Australia) are very likely to have sufficient points to qualify against the DIMIA points test.

It is the problem solving approach I question.

Why just stop dead just because you face an large obstacle that you apparently cannot resolve with ease?

Perhaps these folks have not stopped in their quest, but just have not made it clear in their emails that they are looking for other solutions. In which case, I apologise for being totally out of line for assuming that people 'give up' just because they do not see a way around the primary obstacle.

Since the largest constraint has been glaringly identified, why not work on other (no less critical) constraints while chipping away the primary obstacle, instead of merely bemoaning the existence of the main glaringly obvious 'problem'.


I face a similar situation myself today. Since I have successfully received the visa grant, the next seemingly insurmountable problem would be the SO who has a perfectly comfortable life in Singapore and who is personally indifferent to emigration.

In the meantime while the SO decides on how to react to this possible life choice of mine, I am working on the other 'visible' parts of the problem including (but not limited to) investigating employment prospects, exploring accommodation options, possibility of re-training skill sets in line with the needs of the Australian economy, etc.

No point hassling the SO emotionally on this issue. Just provide information when asked for and back off to provide as much decision-making space as possible. We are all adults who need to make our own life decisions in an informed matter without threats or emotional blackmail. Or so I have to constantly remind myself.

For the record I am prepared to abandon the emigration process if the SO eventually decides to stay permanently in Singapore. Willingly. Without conditions or long-term resentment. And that decision (if made) will cost me dearly - at least in the initial days. This a very real possibility indeed which I am not going dismiss.

However the SO has to convince me that staying permanently in Singapore would be in our best interests (both individually and as a couple). Given that I have come to the opposite conclusion when considering this matter. Fortunately the SO is a mature intelligent person who can approach a disagreement in a reasonable manner. And the SO agrees that a trial period living in Australia is essential to make an informed decision.

We agreed on two years. That time would be sufficient to provide me the choice of getting an Australia citizenship or an extension of the visa. This could keep open slightly longer the possibility of returning permanently to Australia should the SO decide to do so at a later point.

The SO does not qualify for migration to Australia under the Skilled Migration scheme at the moment either. But that is another constraint that will have to be resolved in due time. Desire and passion must come first before implementation. And so I wait patiently. (Or at least as patiently as I can.)

"You don't have to solve every problem all at once. Problems are solved in pieces. If you're on the seventh floor of a burning building, you can either die or jump out the window. Once you're out the window, you're alive for another two seconds, during which time you figure out the solution to the next problem and so on and so on."
- Lochley to Corwin in the Babylon 5 TV series, episode "Strange Relations"


Blogger sngck said...

I just want to ask: Are you married to your SO? If so, you do whatever you have written in your blog. Although I personally will not start a family (ie have kids) in Singapore.

If she is not married to you (even though you two may be planning to), giving up emigration for her is not worth it. No way. Singaporean women are too spoilt and can only see the tree instead of the forest. You will hate yourself so much if it turns out that you two will not be together next time.

January 13, 2005 7:21 PM  
Blogger C said...

SO migrating as your spouse, i.e. piggybacking your visa (since you have it already)? If you're not married but have lived together for a year or more she qualifies as de facto or common law spouse.

I'm not sure how it works for offshore applications; it will inevitably take another three hundred pages of form filling, but hey, definitely beats never getting there at all!

January 13, 2005 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sngck. Coloring the entire female population in Singapore as "pampered" based on your experiences with a small subset of that population is hardly a fair statement.

Our background and social circles are different. The people that we meet are different. The SO is not a "typical" Singaporean woman.

Furthermore, saying "You will hate yourself so much if it turns out that you two will not be together next time." indicates to me that you lack a certain commitment in your relationship. I have been through an estranged relationship that led to nowhere. However, I have never regretted the decisions that I have made in favor of her. Decisions that pained me till this day but I understood that they were necessary for the sustenance of our relationship. A relationship that may not and did not have a happy ending.

Not all things in life work out for the better. Think through your decisions. Ponder upon the implications, situations and repercussions. Make the decision, knowing that it was well thought through. Be prepared for any consequence of your actions.

This is what KnightsOfPentacle is doing in his SingaporeSerf blog. I don't think he will have any regrets.


January 14, 2005 11:27 AM  
Blogger Little Miss Drinkalot said...

Two years is a fairly good trial period. I'm just wondering whether there will be a lesser incentive to make things work when there is the option of returning home. But I suppose, can't have your steak well-done and rare at the same time.

And I really like your throwing-mud-at-pig analogy!

January 14, 2005 2:00 PM  
Blogger sngck said...

I can tell that the author is a rational man. However, sometimes love will cause us to do irrational things.

I used to be a journalist. I was trained to be cynical. I have often heard that so and so's SO is different, they are the best, etc. But everyone likes to think that their partner/wife is the prettiest and the best...

(Funny as it may be, I am also a romantic. But that's another story for another time.)

The point I'm trying to make is that if the SO is his wife, then there is a reason for him to stay. But if they are not YET married, then it is my personal opinion that it could be a source of regret next time. Yes, you said you have never regretted the decisions that you have made in favor of her, but were the decisions as big as choosing between her and emigration? If you choose to stay and the relationship doesn't work out, would you think the same in 20 years time after you have been marginalised in your own country?

I'm just throwing up a factor for the author to think about, again. It is something worth thinking a hundred times over. As long as he has considered the pros and cons and made the decision with the attitude that he will take it on the chin no matter what may come, it will be a good decision.

P.S. I have no idea who the author is and how his SO and his relationship with her is like, so I have made some assumptions, which could be offending. But my intention is not to offend, and please accept my apologies if I have in any way offended the author.

January 14, 2005 8:28 PM  
Blogger C said...

I've always thought journalists were trained to be impartial rather than cynical. Contend?

January 14, 2005 8:52 PM  
Blogger sngck said...

You have to be cynical to be impartial, no?

January 14, 2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger sngck said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 14, 2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger C said...


January 15, 2005 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


No offense taken here.

I am a hopeless romantic. I disagree with your views that there could be regrets if a decision led to a marginalized existence, in my own motherland no less. However, I respect that this is how you feel about the matter but I would like to counter-balance this with my alternative view.

Love is a seed that needs to be nourished and attended to. If you choose to forsake it and leave for another land, the possibilities that could have come are lost. No chance of bearing fruit. No reason for existence. If you have found true love, then you need to give true love a chance. Even at the expense of being a second class citizen. I know love can be found again but that she who held your heart is hard to replace.

BTW. You are a cynical romantic. This is a painful position to take. I wish you well and may true love take away that cynical part of you. Perhaps you should change job. Nah. Just kidding.


January 16, 2005 4:07 PM  
Blogger sngck said...


I sincerely hope the author won't be forced to choose between one or the other.

I used to share the same viewpoints as you on love. But reality woke me up and I chose not to love anymore. People like us really belong to a bygone era...

I have quitted my job actually. ;) Embarking on something new. :)

January 17, 2005 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Me too. It would be sad to see a perfectly good relationship broken up by a cruel twist of fate.

Have some faith. In a time past, I have lost three very important things in my life. Love, Faith and Hope. Yet I found all three again in my wife.

Good luck on your new endeavor!

January 17, 2005 11:15 AM  

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