More Malaysians become Singaporeans?

I refer to the article “Najib proposes flat 15pc income tax to lure back talent” (TheMalaysianInsider, Apr 12).

As the country with the most Malaysians is Singapore, let’s take a look at what incentives Malaysians are being offered in Singapore, and weigh the balance that some Malaysians may be considering as to whether to take advantage of the flat income tax rate of 15 per cent for 5 years under the Returning Experts Programme (REP), or to become Singaporeans instead.

Due to recent policy changes in Singapore, to further differentiate between Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs), more Malaysians may give up their Malaysian citizenship to become Singaporeans.


Malaysian PRs in Singapore who are currently paying 75 per cent more for charges in Class C wards in public hospitals, will have to pay 100 per cent more from 1 July 2011.

For Class B2 wards and Day Surgery, Malaysian PRs paying 43 per cent more now, will pay 57 per cent more from 1 July 2011.

For Specialist Outpatient treatment, those paying 30 per cent more now, will pay 40 per cent more.

Fees for Intermediate and Long Term Care, will also increase from 60 to 80 per cent more.

This is the second round of increase to reflect further differentiation between Singaporeans and PRs, following the last increase on 1 January 2011.


By 2012, school fees for the children of Malaysian PRs will rise by as much as three times, compared to Singaporeans.

From July this year, Singaporeans will get one more balloting chance compared to PRs, to increase their chances of getting into schools of their choice.


Malaysian PRs cannot buy new public housing flats (Housing Development Board (HDB)).  They can only buy HDB resale flats which cost much more.

Resale HDB flats generally cost about 50 per cent more than new flats.

They are also not eligible for Government housing grants of up to S$80,000 (RM1,912), subsidised HDB mortgage loans, or subsidies when flats are upgraded.

With the new rule that Malaysian PRs who buy a HDB flat in Singapore, must dispose their private residential property in Malaysia or Singapore, within six months, the “property” ties of Malaysians PRs to Malaysia, may gradually decline, in the future.

Other benefits

Malaysian PRs also do not receive U-Save (Utility), Service & Conservancy Charges (S & CC) and property tax rebates.

No Medisave Account top-ups and Post-Secondary Account top-ups for Malaysian PRs.

No Children and Kindergarten subsidies, matching Child Development Account contributions, Growth Dividends whenever the economy does well, etc.

A Singaporean couple can get up to hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax rebates, reliefs, etc, when they have children, whilst Malaysian PRs get nothing.

So, purely from a “dollars and cents” perspective, more Malaysians may become Singaporeans.

Actually, for a Malaysian couple in Singapore, only one person – either the husband or wife can become a Singapore citizen, or they can get most of the benefits for citizens.

So, its like the “best of both worlds” – getting more benefits whilst in Singapore, and keeping the option open to return to Malaysia eventually.

By the way, someone said in an internet blog, that about 30 Malaysians give up their citizenships at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore, in a day.

Can the Malaysian Government reveal the statistics on Malaysians giving up their citizenships, since this data is not available in Singapore?

All we know is that about 20,000 PRs become new citizens in Singapore a year, with a total of 60,000 in the last three years, and that the majority of the more than half a million PRs  now are Malaysians, according to Singapore’s Department of Statistics.

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.