Greeks in Singapore remain anxious

PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Greeks in Singapore are even more anxious about their homeland following Sunday's decisive "no" vote.

Singapore-based businessman Panagiotis Lynas, 44, told The Straits Times he was upset to see BBC footage of celebrations in Greece after the announcement of the referendum results.

He felt "this is just a party of 24, maybe 48 hours" until voters realise Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has yet to deliver a concrete roadmap forward. Nonetheless, Finance Minister Yiannis Varoufakis's resignation yesterday has left him feeling "very positive that there will be a solution soon".

Singapore University of Technology and Design professor Costas Courcoubetis (right), whose wife lives in Athens, was also disappointed. Prof Courcoubetis, 60, who came to Singapore two years ago, is worried about the risk of social unrest if Mr Tsipras can't deliver on his promises of a new deal. "It depends on what the Europeans will do," he added.

And living in Singapore is no escape from the tension, either.

Thanks to Facebook and Skype, Prof Courcoubetis said "it feels like you are there" because "you spend all your days on social networks and talking about it".

Mr Lynas, who was speaking to relatives back home at 6am yesterday, said they are far from reassured by the "no" vote. Not having a say in the referendum was another source of frustration, as Greeks in Singapore could not vote.

"This is very frustrating for Greeks overseas, that (we) do not have any means of participating," said Mr Lynas. He believes that many Greeks living abroad would have been in favour of a "yes".

Pointing to the ambiguity of what a "no" vote represents, Prof Courcoubetis said: "I would vote "yes" because I am more conservative. It would be a difficult task, but at least people know what it means."

Mr Lynas said he will be selling his Greek assets "the next opportunity I have", and although he tries to go back every year, he is postponing his plans to head home in the coming months.

Prof Courcoubetis has already made preparations for a family visit in two weeks' time, adding: "I really hope the results of the referendum will indeed help our prime minister get a better deal from our European partners and stay in the euro, as promised."

He also hopes Greek voters would move past the polarisation of the referendum and face the future together. However, he added: "I really don't know what I'll see (when I return)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'Greeks in Singapore remain anxious'. Print Edition | Subscribe