Asian Insider

Asia's expatriates on the move

Expats in the region are on the move, driven by tough pandemic rules and the ease of remote working. The Straits Times looks at where they're headed to and why.

'Global talent a necessity, not a luxury': How can S'pore stay competitive amid expat decline?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singapore office of a United States-headquartered technology company has shed a third of its staff, which included forgoing 60 places that would have been filled by Employment Pass (EP) holders.

The main reason? "We can't afford it," a regional vice-president for the company told The Straits Times, citing how minimum EP salary requirements have been raised three times in under three years. These are roles that Singaporeans could not have filled as they required proficiency in languages such as Thai or Vietnamese, she added.

A general exodus of EP holders since the pandemic began has prompted some soul-searching as to whether Singapore is still a choice destination for such talent, an issue that directly affects the Republic's overall competitiveness.


Expats rush to exit Hong Kong amid strict Covid-19 rules

British national Rachel spent a few weeks frantically packing as she brought forward her plan to leave Hong Kong with her businessman husband and 13-month-old daughter.

The 33-year-old teacher, who wanted to be known only by her first name, told The Straits Times that Hong Kong's tough quarantine rules were "the main catalyst".

The family went on a trip home to Britain last year but the visit was cut short to a week because of a flight ban imposed by Hong Kong due to Covid-19.


Steady return of expats to Malaysia with easing of Covid-19 protocols

French national Caroline Pujo, 46, said it was "the perfect time" for her family when they arrived in Malaysia in January after living in Shanghai for 15 years.

"We moved just when Covid-19 restrictions (in Malaysia) became lighter, schools are open, theatres and cultural institutions are starting to be active again, and people are eager to go out and to socialise again," Ms Pujo, who is a consultant in the creative industry, told The Straits Times.

"At the same time, the situation in China is becoming a bit complicated. While China perfectly handled the Covid-19 situation at the start of the pandemic, the zero-case policy is now becoming really restrictive and (it is) hard to live for the people remaining there," added Ms Pujo, who is now on holiday in France.


Why Gulf countries are a draw for expats

When expatriate Ryan Ali left Singapore on a business trip to France in March 2020, little did he know that he would never return.

It was then that the Covid-19 pandemic ripped across the world.

Mr Ali took a flight back to Singapore before travel was halted, but caught the virus during his travel.


Covid-19 pandemic rules may have hurt image of Aussie cities

Australia's big cities have worked hard in recent years to present themselves as global cities that are draw cards for skilled workers from around the world.

The country was the world's third-most popular destination for foreign workers, based on a study by Boston Consulting Group and The Network, which surveyed almost 209,000 people from 190 nations in late 2020.

The top two countries were Canada and the United States, followed by Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom; Singapore was in eighth place.


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