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About working life in Singapore

Working in the island republic is tough, but at the end of the day, it's all about the money.

Don Chan
2 minute read

I would like to give my two cents about life, work and treatment in Singapore for Malaysians who want the pot of gold over there.

They say that the grass is always greener on the other side. Make sure it's not artificial turf that you're looking at.

I was one of the first Malaysians that found a job there during the recession in the 1980s. It was a job at a five-star hotel. And let me tell you, working in Singapore, you have to hack it, if not they will eat you alive.

Don't be naive and think that working life in the island republic is any better than it is here. Think of how we treat our own migrant workers, multiply it 10-fold, and put in all of the puns that the Singaporeans use on us.

The first year there, I cried every night before going to bed, reflecting on how badly I was being treated. The thought of resigning was always on my mind. But what was there waiting in Malaysia for a guy whose only qualification was SPM? 

The quarrels and fights that I got into, defending all that is Malaysia and Malaysian, made me want to show those Singaporeans that I could hack it there.

Eventually, as time passed, I became good at what I did. I kept my head down, worked 16 hours a day, offered to work during my days off, and just laughed off their puns. I found that I eventually folded into their society and began living as one of them. Life was good – tired, but good.

I kept telling myself that it was all about the money, and for a boy in his 20s, that was the bottom line. I hardly missed Malaysia anymore. I had a Norwegian girlfriend and made many friends from both sides of the divide. My early critics eventually became my friends.

You see, working in Singapore, you don't get to complain about how unfairly treated you are, how long the hours you put in, the non-existence of benefits you're getting. Always think about how much money you're making to help your family back here in Malaysia. Suck it up, man!

And don't ever forget that it was you who sought employment there. There was no gun pointed at your head. If it isn't you, there are thousands more who are willing to take your job. Now you know how our migrant workers put up with us. It's all about the moolah.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.