The China Tour Guide and his Clout in Singapore

The “foreigner” excuse for a PR

In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang are described as attributes that influence one’s destiny. A blend of good and evil, light and darkness! This may have found expression in the Tamil film song from a Kamalahasan film (Alavandhar), Kadavul Paadhi Mirugam Paadhi (half God, half beast).

Here is one smart chap from mainland China who has both these words in his name in the reverse, but his yin-yang (destiny) in Singapore is now in the hands of the court. I am neither Chinese nor do I know Mandarin, so I hope I am not committing any cultural faux pas with this word play!

A High Flier Through “Manipulation”?: China tour guide Yang Yin, who became a high-flier by allegedly manipulating an elderly lady diagnosed with dementia to get full control of all the latter’s assets worth more than $40 million, managed to get bail from a Singapore court on Friday. He is accused of arming himself with an enviable lifestyle through a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) he was able to get in Singapore.

But this post is not about that case involving the China national and Mdm Chung Kin Chang (87, a childless widow), that is for the court to deliberate decide. Rather this is about a statement made by the judge.

District Judge Eddy Tham is reported to have said that: “Yang could not be denied bail just because he is a foreigner with no roots here. That would mean all foreigners cannot get bail.”

How was he able to get PR?: That’s interesting as Yang is a Singapore Permanent Resident. Logically PRs are foreigners in every sense of the term as they still hold a foreign passport and are not citizens here.

Nonetheless, the government clubs citizens and PRs together in dishing out data on foreign talent here. Even in terms of utilising the workforce development fund there is no distinction between a Singaporean and a PR. The PR is entitled to whatever is earmarked for a Singaporean (around 80% of the cost of a course).

That said what “talent” did the government find in him to confer permanent residence on him? The talent to cheat people into parting with their wealth? He spoke no English and the widow is said to have funded his visit to Singapore and stay here just for him to learn the language a few years ago.

PRs do Contribute to Nation-Building: This is not to undermine the contribution of PRs to nation-building in Singapore. Many do fill a talent gap in the country. It is only when locally available talent is cast aside to accommodate foreigners that becomes an issue.

Getting employers to register any opening with the Jobs Bank looks like an eyewash.  In any case, that is only for jobs that pay less than $12k/month. There is thus no incentive for them to go through that rigour if the position involves a higher salary. Locals with the skillset required for those roles are thus instantly disqualified.

There are Singaporeans themselves living in other countries as PRs. But the PR status there is not as easily dispensed as here though they are countries several times bigger than Singapore with a population that is much less dense.

But this PR, Yang, has been living off a multimillionaire widow!

Here is a report that states Yang had even “hobnobbed with ministers Grace Fu and PM Lee himself” – http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/09/04/tatented-prc-given-pr-from-tour-guide-to-globetrotting-ceo/

Lack of a Culture of Charity: Another aspect that stands out from this case is the lack of a culture of charity in Asian societies.

This lady has no children, owned wealth in excess of $40 million (earned by her husband, Dr Chou Sip King, who passed away in 2007). The widow visited China in 2008 when Yang acted as her guide. Ying came to Singapore in 2009 and lived in her bungalow, becoming a PR thereafter..

Soon after he was granted the LPA, Yang is reported to have blogged:: “Let my cash vault grow towards $50 million! Come on, money, I love you!”  – http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/ex-tour-guide-wealthy-widow-case-arrested#sthash.5VNdGsM0.dpuf

The elderly widow’s wealth could have served charitable causes better.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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