A new home
People & Society Articles

A new home

Mdm Siw and her family

Fifteen years ago, Siw Cheau Sim came to Singapore from Johor Bahru with one thing on her mind - to settle down, start a family, and make a new home here. Now, with a husband, son and a HDB flat in Boon Lay, Cheau Sim, 38, is one step away from being a full-fledged Singaporean. When she recited the pledge and sang the national anthem at the citizenship ceremony last Saturday, Cheau Sim’s journey was finally complete.

Mdm Siw and her luggage

Cheau Sim first came to Singapore in 2003, where she worked for five years as a junior auditor before applying to be a permanent resident.

“I found Singapore to be a very good country for me to continue my development,” says Cheau Sim, who was impressed by the city-state’s clean streets, low crime rate and high quality of education.

Mdm Siw doing work

Initially, it was daunting for Cheau Sim when she was thrusted into an English speaking environment. “At first I was very nervous, because to be frank, language is a barrier for me. When I was young, I did not learn English so well, so I needed to improve in this area,” says Cheau Sim, who grew up speaking Mandarin.

Now, she hopes her seven-year-old son, Feng Yu, will learn to be effectively bilingual. “Every night, I will tell him a story. Either an English story, or  a Mandarin story. I try to create a fun environment for him to study, instead of pushing him to get a high score in exams,” she says.

Mdm Siw and her husband

Cheau Sim and her husband Eddie, who first met in secondary school, both wanted to raise a family in Singapore.  

“It’s very secure environment. I can easily manage my finances in Singapore. The government also gives a lot of support. For example, it’s not difficult for us to own a house in Singapore. The public transport is also so convenient,” says Cheau Sim, who now works as a business development manager. Her husband Eddie, 38, is an accounts officer and part-time accounting student at the London School of Business.

Mdm Siw going to work

Over time, Cheau Sim has picked up Singaporean quirks from colleagues-turned-friends, such as ordering kopi in Hokkien, and ordering from the stall with the longest queue — which usually means the food is good.

Her colleagues also helped her navigate daily life in Singapore, including where to find student care and tuition centres for her son, and how to apply for a HDB flat.

“My colleague told me I could actually try to buy a new house from HDB. He shared a lot of information with me, including how to apply and what grants I could get, which was very useful,” says Cheau Sim.

Mdm Siw and her family at home

As she looks towards her son’s future in Singapore, Cheau Sim’s aspirations are simple. “I don’t need him to be very successful. I just want him to have a happy, secure life in Singapore.”

She is confident that Feng Yu, who moved to Singapore when he was two, will be happy in his new country.

Cheau Sim says, “Even before we take up citizenship, he will tell me that he is a Singaporean. Because he moved here when he was very young. All his life he has been living in Singapore; his friends, everything he knows is in Singapore. All his memories are here.”

As a Singapore citizen, Cheau Sim wants to do her part for the country that has given her so much. She says, “I will continue to work hard in Singapore, and also plan to do voluntary work in community centre.

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