There are a number of reasons,but I will break it down into the various industries before going to my personal anecdote.
There is still a strong control of censorship on the channels of media over here. A number of Singaporeans prefer to operate overseas,with a greater freedom of expression abroad,enabling them to exercise their creativity. There are also greater opportunities abroad for these industries as they have a wider audience.
Both of them,move to Taiwan and I have seen them as guest judges in a number of Taiwan Reality TV shows.
If a door is opened overseas,why not?
Research/Science and Technology
The biggest science research sector I can think of is A*Star and the local universities.(NUS/NTU)
For A*Star,their research policies focuses on a 5yr plan. Basically,their research is centred upon profit. No point carrying out long-term Nobel winning research,if it is going to yield a net loss in the future. The practicality culture here,is daunting for many of those interested in the research field,as their works are translated mainly for profits,rather than for the advancement of society through good scientific research.
For local universities,there is a great admiration for overseas trained professors over local ones. A significant number of professors are overseas graduates. Does it send a wrong signal to successful undergraduates to migrate overseas to further their career opportunities instead? I believe that the local universities,hire academics who are already established as they are concerned with university rankings and demand “big names” to produce publications, win prestigious grants and receive international recognition, all of which sees young Singaporean graduates being passed over for the job.
Unconventional research,such as space technology,is also not available here.Space enthusiasts prefer going abroad to realise their personal aspirations.
Personal and Friends’ Anecdote
Throughout my life,I have always wondered about the prospect of migrating. My aunt migrated after her undergraduate degree at Washington State University to Vancouver,before moving back to Seattle.
It only became so much clearer when I entered into National Service,that got me thinking of the question,why a large number of successful Singaporeans are considering of migrating.(I guess NS broadens your mind,to see things clearer :P)
You don’t get much in Sg.
“ Notorious employment exploitation” makes me think hard about my future here. >> 2371h
Even worse,is the medical profession.(a field that I am considering of working in the future) There is no set maximum working hours here in a week,the regulation states that houseman doctors shouldn’t exceed 80h per week on average,but usually,it goes towards 100h work week. My uncle is a medical registrar and he tells me that his working hours are quite excessive and it doesn’t fully abide by the 80h regulation. He has put on a lot of weight from stress-eating over the couple of years in the medical profession here.
In Australia,you have 1665h. In Canada,you have 1706h in 2015.
Sure,some can argue that you earn more in Singapore. However,the main question of consideration is how much do you earn per hour? I do not mind working 700h lesser in a year (translates to 2h a day,more for healthcare sector) to earn slightly lesser salary,to keep me going mentally and physically strong for the long run.
Little tolerance for uncoventionality and paper chase
I have read a number of people abroad,who take a gap year before/after college,take a second undergraduate degree to apply for medical schools,work for a couple of years before applying for medical schools.
Though,I am not doing any of the above,but I face strong criticism over here. As my high school(JC) results were too mediocre,to be eligible for medical school,I decided graduate medical school was for me. I told a number of local Singaporeans about my plans and they dismissed it as saying it takes too long,too expensive.
I realised how narrow-minded,the community is, through my experience. Singaporeans love to value their time so much,but sometimes,neglecting the process.
Another bandwagon/convention over here,the mindset to complete your honours degree.If you don’t,you are being labelled as incapable,lacking of future job opportunities. Even for successful honours graduates,I feel they know this culture all too well.
Lesser appreciation for talent/Asian hierarchial politics
Hierarchy is well defined in Asian economic structures and it can cost a huge headache,with the numerous chains of command.
My uncle,a successful medical registrar was at the mercy of his senior consultant. He was bullied by his senior consultant under a public hospital during his training phase,because of his excellence. My uncle was well-liked and respected by his students as a clinician-scholar,but he received the short end of the stick for his performance by his superiors. His superiors were jealous and made him work extra shifts/duties. It pushed him to the point of giving up,but he was worried that if he left mid-way,he had to forfeit his 5 yr bond. According to him,2 of his friends forfeited half-way and transited to private hospitals from a similar reason and had to pay the full penalty. Such personal horror stories,have deterred many professional local doctors overseas from returning back and work in Sg,especially the medical field.The exception of UK,due to the doctor’s strike a while back.
Adventuring/Staycation/Looking for more
Recently,I came across an article about the most liveable cities in the world. Sure enough,Canada/Australia came up top in the most liveable cities in the world.
Based on the Economist,Singapore isn’t even in the Top 10. Successful Singaporeans are dissatisfied with their present environment and will prefer to live the most liveable cities. In essence,they pick on the tiniest of flaws in a city/country.
These cities are generally quite large and there’s so much place to venture around. The breath-taking scenery is a draw for many to migrate as well. You are able to take short trips around the country to witness the amazing landscape of what the country/city has to offer and it’s almost endless.
It caters to those who have a passion for adventure,in which their journey have been suppressed within the limited landspace within Singapore itself.
Successful people will want to adopt their own private lifestyle,probably away from the masses of people. This is difficult in Sg,given our high population density of 7987.52 people/km^2 .
Those who desire for a quiet space,will be left with little in Sg.
Look at Canada, 3.49 people/km^2 and Australia, 2.91 people/km^2 .
It is at the lower end of the population density,but people are satisfied there since there’s no issue of crowding,intrusion of personal space.
Of course,not all successful people will adopt a private lifestyle but most will desire for some kind of life away from the public atmosphere,which Singapore can’t offer.