It is “not a bad thing” for Singaporeans to be high in demand overseas, according to PM Lee

Yes, it might be hard to believe but our Prime Minister is actually okay with Singaporeans migrating overseas.

Yesterday (10 Jan), after chairing the annual meeting of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC), PM Lee Hsien Loong responded to questions about the “brain drain” situation in Singapore.

“Brain drain” is a problem when local talent migrate overseas, resulting in a shrinking local talent pool to draw from.

According to PM Lee, “Singapore is part of a global community and we have to accept that”. This means that due to globalisation, Singapore is integrated into the international community. Thus, there is no reason to reject the migration of Singaporeans to explore greater opportunities overseas.

PM Lee’s understanding and pragmatism towards Singaporeans leaving

Instead of actively trying to prevent Singaporeans from migrating, PM Lee presents a pragmatic yet considerate view towards the problem of brain drain.

In short, he has been extremely generous towards Singaporeans leaving the country to pursue greener pastures.

PM Lee


The Prime Minster seems to be elated that there is a market for Singaporean labour overseas, taking an optimistic approach to the issue.

Believing that when Singaporeans migrate overseas for work, they would gain exposure, knowledge and ideas which would benefit Singapore when they return, PM Lee said:

It’s not a bad thing at all for Singaporeans to be in demand all over the world, and to be distributed in many cities and research centres. [They can] gain experience, learn what the world is like, pick up ideas and perhaps one day to come back [to Singapore].

PM Lee’s considerate approach towards the brain drain problem in Singapore totally proves that he is a good guy Greg.



However, PM still hopes to maintain a core of Singaporeans

While PM Lee admits that the attempt to prevent local talent from going overseas for better opportunities is futile, he hopes to retain a tightly knitted and deeply rooted group of Singaporeans.

As discussed in the RIEC,  there are plans to retain and attract talent to Singapore.

In this aspect, PM Lee will be taking a leaf from the US, which has a 60% population of foreign research students in its leading universities.

He is convinced that providing opportunities at home is the way to attracting and retaining talent in Singapore.

Plans for the future

Plans for the future include striving towards RIE2020. RIE stands for Research, Innovation and Enterprise.

In order to carry out the plans, a pool of local and foreign talent is required to carry out Research and Development (R&D) in Singapore. Thus, attracting the younger generation to take up interest on learning about science and technology is crucial in producing local talent.

A mix is important

PM Lee believes that there must be an optimum mix between foreigners and Singaporeans in order to achieve the best outcome for RIE2020.

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With reference to Asiaone