Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Remember this ex-PR?

While the blogosphere fumes about Zhang Yuan Yuan, I would like to remind readers, the plight of another ex-PR, Ryan Goh. You can read about his story here at It ought to be something inconsequential, a worker fighting for better pay, but the company happen to be one near and dear to the MM, and the union in question happen to be the only one in Singapore not under NTUC control. And so Ryan Goh pays the price for meddling with the wrong union in the wrong company by getting his PR revoked, and worse yet, permanently barred from entering Singapore, which is a death sentence to his career as a pilot in the region.

For a lot of people fuming about Zhang Yuan Yuan, I guess they lack a little understanding on what a Singapore PR really is. There is nothing permanent in PRship. If a PR leaves Singapore for whatever reason, the PRship is subject to renewal upon re-entry. The PRship itself is subject to renewal every 8 years, if I recall correctly. In other words, it is just a longer term employment permit with a glorified name. However, it does comes with almost all citizenship perks, including CPF, subsidised public education, subsidised healthcare, rights to buy HDB flats. Although second generation male PRs are expected to serve National Service, it is optional. The male PR can choose to give up the PRship and leave Singapore for a few years. The male citizen, in contrast, will be placed on a leash from 11 years of age via travel restrictions to prevent him from escaping NS, and the leash gets shorter as he approaches 18. If a citizen still manages to escape and he will become a fugitive, to be arrested upon re-entering Singapore.

In other words, we expect little loyalty from PRs, and in Ryan Goh's case, we offer little loyalty to PRs as well. So the correct thing to be upset about, is not which country PRs pledge their allegiance; after all, they are still citizens of another country. The correct question to ask, is why Singapore offer PRs near citizenship privileges. It is almost as though we do not want them to be citizens, and maybe that is exactly the intention. As Ryan Goh's case shows, it is much easier to fix a troublesome PR than a troublesome citizen.


  1. "...the plight of another ex-PR, Ryan Goh."

    Plight? This man was a pilot, dammit. And a PR who lived for 26 F^^^^ YEARS in Singapore. Yet he chose not to become a citizen. Why does he deserve any sympathy?

    "...worker fighting for better pay, but the company happen to be one near and dear to the MM, and the union in question happen to be the only one in Singapore not under NTUC control."

    That's a simplistic way of looking at things. This guy was not a "worker" earning 800 bucks a month. He was a pilot for an airline lauded as one of the best in the world and directly affecting tens of thousands of jobs and the entire tourism industry.

  2. ok, we have PRs who openly declare their love for their homelands. sure, i can understand that we shld expect little loyalty from them.

    i have a burning question though - which i intend to email to the prime minister's office. what about PRs who have committed crimes in singapore and have been incarcerated?

    is singapore that hard up for "talents" that we'll let these PRs stay on?

  3. 1) No matter how important SIA is, it a labour dispute. If SIA management is competent, and I think they are, they can solve this matter amicably, between the company and the union. There is no need to pre-emptive bail out SIA by launching a nuclear missile from the cabinet, to kill an ant.

    2) For PRs who commits crimes, I suspect their PRship will not be renewed, either when the 8 years are up, or when they leave and attempt to re-enter Singapore.

  4. One mistake in your post: It is not optional for second generation PRs to serve NS. It is compulsory or he has to give up his PR status. I am one such PR who served NS and am now a Singaporean. Interesting point of note: Despite having done NS, with no discipline problems, my citizenship was rejected and yet I was expected to do reservist (I guess they found out about my website, which I have since shut down). Thanfully that matter was resolved and I got my citizenship after my university.

  5. You could have CHOOSEN to give up your PR and not serve NS. So, it was optional for you. Singaoporeans can't choose to give up their citizenship.

  6. Anonymous Nov10,

    I believe you posted elsewhere stating your condition: that you were a Stateless PR when serving NS. That makes you a very special case, unlike most PRs in Singapore. Furthermore, I suspect you are not Chinese. Apparently being Chinese puts you on the express train for EP/PR/Citizenship, I am ashamed to say.

    Well, you should have spent enough time in Singapore how the government operates. They take advantage of Singapore citizens and Stateless people, because they can. And given our neutered electoral system, citizens have barely more influence than you. On the other hand, a foreigner can make a more tangible dent if they choose to vote with their feet., so Singapore government policies bend over backwards for foreigners but not for Singaporeans. Or stateless PRs.