"I feel the work experience in Hong Kong would be a great add-on for my resume. It is not so common to find Singapore locals with few years of overseas work experience, and our labor chef also encouraged locals to gain overseas work experience to be more competitive. ”(Related: Chan Chun Sing: Stay competitive in Singapore's job market, get out of Singapore)"
It came to my surprise that Singapore government actually encouraged citizens to spend some time working overseas. And interestingly, it is the first time Adrian spent over a month in another country.
"When I made the decision, the biggest trade-off was being away from my girlfriend, family and friends. It is like testing whether my relationships would still exist when I don't get to see them. Somehow I gain new perspective on this part after the move. For instance, I didn't talk to my parents so much when I lived with them in Singapore. However, I now talk to them at least once every week and I cherish the time talking to them. "
He once expected the settlement would be easy enough but ended up spending more time in things like like house hunting, setting up the bank account and other stuff just to settle down. It is a brand-new experience to him.
When I asked Adrian the key question: How different Hong Kong is compared to Singapore? He listed few tangible aspects like living condition, income gap and use of electronic payment. But he pointed to bigger differences on intangible things.
" One key thing is on freedom of speech. I read some news about leaked tape of HKU council (Related: Leaked tape emerges of HKU Council meeting at centre of academic freedom controversy). In Singapore, if something similar happens, the major media will not be brave to report on the incident. On the other hand, as many things in Singapore are set by the government, I see less creativity in Singapore compared to Hong Kong - the environment just does not cultivate creativity. Last but not least, the work culture is a bit different too. In Singapore, if I stay till 7pm in the office and my manager or colleagues pass by, they will ask why I am still in office. This does not happen in Hong Kong. I guess people assume you to work late in Hong Kong. "
When Adrian mentioned the most interesting thing about Hong Kong, he pointed to the tram system in Hong Kong Island
"I was really impressed by the tram system in Hong Kong Island as it offers a cheap and quick option for short distances. I take tram to go to work everyday"
It is glad that the tram system is not cut so far. (Related: Staying on track: Hong Kong town planning board rejects "laughable" proposal to remove trams).
While Hong Kong and Singapore are open economies that welcome talents and capital from everywhere in the world, we touched on what role a government should play in local job market.
"Protecting local jobs is a double edged sword and the government have to walk a balance between attracting International talents and protecting local workers. In Singapore, the government has already implemented some local first policies. For example, the government has tighten the quota for foreign workers that a firm can hire." (Related : Singapore Immigration: A Fair Consideration Framework?)
As Adrian shared his opinion on the Umbrella movement and the trend of young Hong Kong locals moving out, I started to realize the biggest difference between Hong Kong and Singapore.
"The movement and trend may have been politically driven but I think they mostly stem from frustration with economic and social circumstances. Put it this way, I bet Hong Kong people think they are not taken care by the government as most people cannot afford to have some basic things like a good living condition. That's why some people moved out just to seek for better living quality. As a Singaporean, I feel I have been taken care by the government for things like education, healthcare and housing."
He hope these phenomenons will send a strong signal to the government about the underlying frustrations and tensions in the society.
Given Adrian spent most of his life in Singapore and most of his friends and family members are still in Singapore, it is more likely for him to move back to Singapore for long-term rather than staying in Hong Kong. However, Adrian would imagine the situation may be vastly different if he moved out from Singapore earlier.
"I wish I could have my living abroad experience earlier. Even though I am staying in a new country right now, most of my time is occupied by work. It would be different if I came to Hong Kong, say as an exchange student. I would have quite different experience and probably appreciate the life in Hong Kong more as I got time to experience more stuff here. "
Although Hong Kong may not be the final destination for Adrian, he enjoyed the time spending in Hong Kong and discovered the differences between Hong Kong and Singapore. It was great to learn from a Singaporean about how Hong Kong is unique compared to Singapore - for the good and the bad.