From our side of the fence, Alex's decision to start life afresh in the United Kingdom after completing his full-time NS around 1997 seems to show the grass is greener on the other side.
Is it really?
Alex Liang's story
"I was born and bred in Singapore but moved to the UK when I was 21 and eventually naturalised as a British citizen after seven years here - I am 37 today," the BBC News Magazine quoted Alex in a story that profiled 20 readers on the reasons why they left their country of birth. The story went online on 2 October 2013. Click here for the story.
"I left Singapore because I had no faith in the government there. Singaporean males were discriminated against by the government because of the compulsory national service and many years of reservist obligations afterwards. That is compounded by the fact that the Singapore government is actively wooing skilled migrants to Singapore. Their "foreign talent" programme gives these migrants all kinds of advantages that locals are not entitled to. I gave two years and four months of my life to serve in the army and my reward is to be treated like a second-class citizen. I wasn't prepared to fight the system, so I simply left and settled in the UK instead."
Alex's point of view provided the catalyst for Singaporean blogger, Alvin Lim, to post this thoughts on NS on his Alvinology blog on Friday 4 October. His self-confessed "rant" against NS attracted some 100,000 page views that weekend alone and some 6,000 Facebook shares.
The duo's take on compulsory military conscription in Singapore generated such a buzz online that Yahoo Singapore ran a story on the reactions it triggered.
This blog has been made aware that comments by Alex to the BBC News Magazine carry a different tone and emphasis from his comments, penned five years ago, which indicated that he left Singapore because of "pull factors from abroad".
Writing on the discussion forum of the website, Trevvy.com, with his nickname "ecity", Alex talked about the reasons that led him to move to the UK. In that discussion, the sole push factor related to NS, which were his Reservist obligations, was ranked third on the list (which may or may not have been ranked in order of importance).
Alex (i.e. ecity) said:"Many people here assume that those who have left Singapore HATE Singapore - when that couldn't be further from the truth. I remain very fond of Singapore, but as a result of the pull factors from abroad, I have decided to leave because I have found that there are other places that are even more attractive than Singapore as a place to live and develop my career.
1. Poor career opportunities in my field
2. Long working hours
3. Reservist obligations
4. Unpleasant, hot, sticky weather
5. Simply bored with S'pore
6. Recognizing that Singapore is not going to change in my lifetime ref: attitudes towards gay people, attitudes towards the PAP etc
1. Much better career development opportunities
2. Better working conditions
3. Free from reservist obligations
4. Experiencing 4 seasons
5. The thrill of living in a new place, meeting new people, finding new challenges
"These factors all vary from person to person. Some of you may love Singapore weather and shiver the moment the temperature drops below 20 degrees. Whereas I just find Singapore weather way too hot, monotonous, sticky and unpleasant.
"I am easily bored and don't want to be stuck in one place too long - hence in my current job whilst being based in London, I've worked all over: Manchester, Frankfurt, Ibiza, Brighton, Dubai, Bristol, Birmingham,Crete, Liverpool, Paris, Dundee, Edinburgh ...
"Whereas my sister's the total opposite, she's 8 years older than me and she changed jobs for the first time in like 15 years recently, and she was soooo (sic) nervous about it. She's now happily settled in the new job but she was one person who didn't like change, whereas I relished it."
NMP Siew Kum Hong said in October 2007:"Mr Alex Liang e-mailed me a few months back. He is a former Singaporean who renounced his citizenship and is now a UK citizen. By all objective measures, Mr Liang is someone who would have served the country very well. We had invested heavily in him. He received a sports award for 3 years running, and was also a humanities scholar. He represented the nation in gymnastics, receiving generous training allowances. He speaks 8 languages, and had excellent academic results.