Monday October 15, 2012
Australia, Britain, US and China have biggest number of S’poreans
THE number of Singaporeans living abroad has risen sharply over the past decade, with Australia, Britain, the United States and China being their main destinations.
There were 200,000 citizens overseas as of June – a 27% increase from 157,100 in 2003.
Most are between 20 and 54 years old, with slightly more women than men, stated the Population in Brief 2012 report published by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) last month.
The figures refer to citizens with a registered foreign address or those who have been away for a cumulative period of at least six months in the past year.
The report did not reveal other details, and the NPTD told The Sunday Times that it did not have information on what these Singaporeans were doing overseas.
Immigration expert Leong Chan Hoong said the number of overseas Singaporeans was “quite significant and sizeable”, especially for a small country like Singapore.
They comprised 6.1% of the 3.29 million citizens living in Singapore as of June.
“It’s good for Singaporeans to get experience overseas, but the fear is that this top talent in their prime may never come back,” said the Institute of Policy Studies research fellow.
He said the trend is more challenging given the rapidly ageing population, baby shortage and the difficulty in finding talent – from business to social services to politics – to “run Singapore”.
Economists interviewed said Singapore’s brain drain is more a social and political problem, rather than an economic one, as the outflow of local expertise is matched by an inflow of foreigners, so the country is not short of skilled manpower.
Singapore’s leaders have signalled concern about the number of citizens abroad for some time.
The countries with the biggest number of Singaporeans are Australia (with about 50,000), Britain (about 40,000) and the US (about 27,000). China is catching up with about 20,000 Singaporeans, The Sunday Times understands. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network