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ISD Chua Mui Hoong enjoying life in Perth with angmo partner while getting paid by SPH



I never thought I’d emigrate. But now I’m living in Perth and mulling over questions of identity

Overseas Singaporeans form a network of people who can enlarge the Singapore family.​



22 SEPT 2023, 6:46 AM SGT

I did not vote in the recent presidential election, which for a political junkie, is unusual. Having relocated to Australia in June, I was overseas when the polls were called. When the polling date was set for Sept 1, I considered flying back to vote, but my partner was hospitalised the week before, so I stayed put here in Perth.
As election rules go, working or studying overseas in some situations may be legitimate reasons not to vote. One’s name may be reinstated in the register of electors after paying a fee. Still, I can’t help that niggling feeling of guilt for not exercising my right to vote.
Relocating has made me conscious that so much of being Singaporean involves residency back home. But does living outside Singapore make me any less Singaporean?

Writing for a Singapore audience​

Curiosity and a sense of adventure brought me to Australia; serendipity invited me to stay. When life and love beckon, how else does one respond, but with a resounding yes?

And so I find myself here, mulling over issues of identity and nationality, on a beautiful beach near Fremantle, on a day with variable weather – clouds overhead, chill bite in the wind, a passing shower and then the sun breaking through.

I never thought I would join the ranks of the Singapore diaspora. I’ve lived in three other countries previously: three years in Britain as an undergraduate, 18 months in Boston in my 30s while I did my master’s degree and, in the last decade, flitting in and out of Australia. But I always returned to live in Singapore, because that’s where my work, my friends, my family were.

I even remained with the same employer, writing or editing for The Straits Times for over 30 years. What has kept me going is the ability to write on Singapore matters and influence Singaporeans through my writings.

Over the years, I considered alternatives. Could I write for a foreign news agency? But why, when the agents for change I want to influence are within Singapore? How about reporting on world news for a global news agency, some ask. While potentially intellectually engaging, my purpose is Singapore, not the pursuit of journalism per se.

My career has been built on a kind of public soliloquy, in which I share my private thoughts about Singapore with a Singaporean audience. Many readers have responded warmly over the decades to my views on Singapore politics and society, and kept me going through fallow periods.

And now, in my 55th year, on the cusp of the withdrawal age for Central Provident Fund contributions, I find myself making a major life change and settling in a foreign country, throwing my decades-long professional identity into peril.

Can a Singaporean journalist write about Singapore from outside Singapore? The hopeful answer is yes. It is easier to do so these days, aided by social media that lets one keep in constant contact with a flow of friends and contacts from home. At the same time, distance has advantages, and can help one see things more clearly. But being away can make one lose touch with the pulse of the land.

I worry over how long that flow of exchange can remain an enriching two-way street. With one foot settled on another land, are my views on Singapore still as relevant? Can I write about issues and life in a way that still resonates with readers back home? Or perhaps it is time to move on, and find a new purpose – one that is beyond Singapore?

The ache of loss​

These are the thoughts that lurk in my mind these days, even as my life here beats to a different rhythm, hums with contentment and is replete with abundance. Here, I live with a man, a dog and five chickens, in a house with a sustainable permaculture garden, with hundreds of plants.

I have started to spend time in the garden and am learning so much about myself and about life. For example, gardening is teaching me patience, whittling the sharp edge of my hyper-competitive self to reveal the mellower, softer flesh within.

When winter withered the sunflower blooms, which became sad-looking bald brown stems with furry leaves, I wanted to dig the plants out and discard them. I didn’t, heeding the advice to wait till the weather warms. I am glad I trusted the sun and soil, because the sunflowers have sprung back to life now that spring is here – their glorious yellow blooms nodding proudly in the breeze as I write this, blazing a warm welcome to those who pass by the house.

While my environment overflows with abundance, there are days my mood darkens with the ache of loss. Some days I feel I am missing out on developments back home. I would have loved to attend the exhibitions commemorating the centenary of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s birth.

Other times, I make do. I celebrated National Day one Sunday afternoon with a bunch of Singaporeans in South Perth, where there was local food, videos of Singapore artistes, and a fun quiz on Singapore minutiae.

Some days I feel like a quitter, with no escape from the residual feeling of guilt and shame over my decision to make a life here in Perth. It was then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in a 2002 National Day Rally speech who criticised young Singaporeans who wanted to leave the country during the economic downturn, calling them “quitters” and contrasting them with “stayers”. He urged Singaporeans to ask if they were fair-weather Singaporeans or all-weather Singaporeans. The term generated public discussion about identity.

Days later, Mr Goh clarified his point. “If you stand up for Singapore, no matter where you are, you are not a quitter.”

As he pointed out, the Government was also encouraging Singaporeans to work and live overseas. One need not be a resident in a country to be loyal to it. Witness the scores of Singaporeans who live overseas on official business for the state – as diplomats, consular or trade officials, or representatives of government-linked companies. According to official data, in 2021, there were 179,500 overseas Singaporeans, of whom 123,900 were in the working ages of 20 years to 64 years.

Loyalty and personal ties​

Being overseas, albeit for a short time, has sensitised me to issues of identity and nationality.

Over the National Day lunch, the topic at my table turned to dual citizenship, a relevant topic for many of these people, some of whom were born in Australia to Singaporean parents, and grew up in Australia but maintained strong ties to Singapore. They retain both nationalities when young. But when they turn 21, they must make a choice, because unlike Australia, Singapore does not allow dual citizenship.

If these young people born of Singaporean parents renounce their Singapore citizenship, will Singapore lose their presence, plus their talent and goodwill? If they keep their citizenship, can they work in Australia in the long term, where their social networks are? Or can a former Singaporean be allowed to become a Singapore permanent resident later, which would allow them to keep their ties to Singapore even if they become citizens of another country?

Issues of dual citizenship are emotive in Singapore, sparking talk of wanting one’s bread buttered on both sides. Usual explanations against such a policy include the risk of splitting loyalties, which can become problematic in a war or conflict situation; the complications to obligations like military service and rights like consular assistance; the idea that Singapore is a young country whose people want unambiguous expressions of identity; and the fear that citizenship can be made use of by those who use it as a stepping stone to obtain citizenship elsewhere.

These are all valid points. Yet, given that about one in two countries worldwide permits dual citizenship – including America, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as many European countries – there are ways to reduce the negative impact.

One is to restrict dual citizenship to those with a Singaporean parent at the time of their birth – this would allow the thousands of children born to Singaporean parents who grew up in another country to keep their ties to their ancestral land.

The deeper conundrum remains over how one gauges loyalty – via declarations or oaths taken? Or do you assess actions based on how much time is spent in a place? Or trace bank account movements looking at where you place your assets?

Perhaps loyalty is tested in a crisis: If Singapore was threatened, would I get on a plane to fly back to Singapore? I used to reply with an unequivocal yes. No matter where in the world I am, if the Red Dot were in dire danger and I thought that my writing – my one useful talent – could have an impact for the good, I would be home in a heartbeat.

But that was when my social, personal and professional lives were all in Singapore and I had no ties of the heart that pulled me elsewhere. These days, my honest answer would be, “it depends”. Perhaps my answer reveals less of national loyalty and more of personal and family ties.

Yet as everyone who loves knows, the test of love lies in the normal everyday, not the exceptional. The same applies in the test of loyalty.

Rather than conjure up crisis situations to test my loyalty to the country, perhaps I should ask myself, am I doing things each day that add to the Singapore nation in a positive way?

When I think in those terms, the matter at hand becomes clearer. I’m not a quitter – and I must erase that nasty term from my Generation X mind.

A larger Singapore family​

I am a part of the Singaporean diaspora – that group of people with ties to Singapore, who live and work overseas, who remain a part of the larger Singapore family.

The diaspora identifies with things Singaporean – shared memories of a place and era, bound by a common Singaporean way of speech perhaps, certainly by a common palate, and a set of values and traits. They desire to remain part of that larger Singaporean family, no matter how nebulous the concept is. They hang out together, make time for one another, and help one another out.

I have met members of this larger Singaporean family around the world – the young students at the University of Cambridge when I was 19, who cooked for one another, and hung out together and supported one another; the Singaporeans at Harvard who helped support and care for me during my cancer treatment there in 2002; and the new friends I have met in my time here in Perth, who share their time and generously open their homes.

I know there is a Singaporean family everywhere a Singapore community is to be found, because a real estate agent here shares candidly about the market with someone he has never met, on the mere basis we are both Singaporean. A group of people get together to eat with former strangers, just because a Singaporean or Malaysian restaurant here had a special kway chap weekend (braised intestines included). And in a month of posting on Facebook that I am new in Perth, I have a network of buddies to makan with and talk c**k and sing songs with.

The late S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s ideologue, declared decades ago that “being Singaporean is a matter not of ancestry, but of choice and conviction”.

Being part of the Singaporean diaspora is similarly a matter of choice and conviction. Those of us born Singaporean, who live in other cities on work passes, or residency or spouse visas, or who may even have given up Singapore citizenship but still love Singapore, should continue to see ourselves as belonging to the larger Singaporean diaspora, contributing to and adding to the Singapore story.

To confine Singaporeanness to those who live within the confines of the Singapore city-state is limiting. Life cycles and life circumstances change; people move in and out of cities. But the core of being Singaporean can remain a bedrock of our identity through those changes.


Knnbccb, what is your point bitch? Writing sex dissertation for loctorate issit? In case Chua still living in Victorian era, we are in new economy and new social media era here. Can't get your point across in three lines, or three words, don't, just shaddup. Plenty of Sg'reans live elsewhere what's the big deal?


OP, I speed read this inane drivel and ask:

1. How u know got angmo partner?
2. How u know the partner is male/female?
3. How u cnfm the partner exist?


OP, I speed read this inane drivel and ask:

1. How u know got angmo partner?
2. How u know the partner is male/female?
3. How u cnfm the partner exist?

You said so in her article: "I considered flying back to vote, but my partner was hospitalised the week before, so I stayed put here in Perth."

Whether partner is angmo or not, male/female/dog or not, didn't say. But I agree with many insightful forumers here. This kind of bitch, only angmo wants. Angmo usually have a weird sense of taste when comes to Asian women.


U man all just gel less good spy girl is well fed by the nanny state through her whole adult hood now enjoy life out side the matrix. :whistling:


Good riddance to bad rubbish. She and her sister have been the chief whores at the prostitute press serving up nauseating sycophantic drivel all these years. And she has the gall to call herself a 'writer'!

May she and her shrivelled cunt rot in Perth.

'The press are the prostitutes and running dogs of the PAP.'
David Marshall


She is as good as expire milk in the eyes of PAP and she has no value to the regime now and that is why she settled for an old Australia Indian lady in Perth