Scotland decides: Many among Scots in Singapore say 'no' to split

A count observer with Union flag finger nails looks on as ballot papers are counted in the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre in Aberdeen, on Sept 18, 2014, immediately after the polls close in the referendum on Scotland's independence. -- PHO
A count observer with Union flag finger nails looks on as ballot papers are counted in the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre in Aberdeen, on Sept 18, 2014, immediately after the polls close in the referendum on Scotland's independence. -- PHOTO: AFP

It could go either way, but if it were up to Scots living in Singapore, Scotland and the rest of Britain would be better together.

Scottish expatriates cannot vote in the independence referendum from overseas, but nine out of 16 polled told The Straits Times they would vote "no, thanks" if they could. One said "yes", the others were undecided or declined to say which way they leant.

"Whatever the 'yes' campaign says is unproven and you don't vote for something that doesn't have a definite plan," said freelance writer Elaine Young, 42.

Others felt Scotland was too small to fend for itself.

While there are no official figures on the number of Scots here, the British High Commission said there are about 32,000 British citizens in Singapore. The Singapore St Andrew's Society, which celebrates Scottish traditions and cultures, has about 500 members, two-thirds of whom are Scottish.

One thing is for sure, Scots here have been following the polls with rapt attention - and are equally torn on the issue.

IT project manager Jamie McGregor, 40, has a WhatsApp group with sevenfriends and they have heated debates on the issue. "My heart says 'yes', we should take control of what is ours, but my head says 'no'," said Mr McGregor, who is still on the fence.

Some made the trip home to vote. "This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I just felt it was worth the effort to do it," said Mr Stephen Fulton, who works with Standard Chartered Bank here. The 44-year-old, who said he would vote "no", made a detour on a business trip to be in Glasgow yesterday.

"Yes" voter Scott Mitchell, 40, a director at a real estate investment firm, pointed to Singapore as an example of what independence could mean for his homeland.

"Singapore took the opportunity 50 years ago and look where it has (taken) them. Maybe in another 50 years, Scotland will be the Singapore of Europe," he said.

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