TikTok HQ in SG (Real Comments From China Chinese) – Singapore Got Talent Meh?

September 2020, TikTok owner ByteDance have announced plans to make Singapore headquarters in Asia. The China-based company reportedly worth USD100 Billions already has over 400 employees in Singapore. Their plan is to further invest billions of dollars and to add on hundreds of employees in Singapore over the next three years. TikTok had also moved some engineers to Singapore from China this year.

It was further reported last month, that ByteDance has signed an agreement to move into a bigger office in Singapore. The lease will cover three floors of One Raffles Quay measuring over 60,000 sqft.

It is definitely fantastic news for Singapore!


My best friend who has many private banking clients in China told me the reaction of his Chinese clients to this TikTok’s announcement.

They said (translated from Mandarin to English),

“Singapore got talents meh? End of the day, also need the Chinese people coming over Singapore and live as expats to do the core most important jobs. It will be a complete waste of money and resources!”


Today’s Business Times Front Page reads,

“Movers and shakers of the tech world: Singapore wants you!”

As a Singaporean, I felt a bit insulted by my friend’s Chinese clients’ comments. Then again, with BT’s Headlines today, it left me wonder if the comments were just being brutally honest?
What do you think?
This part was added after I received comments from readers:
How about CEO of local big listcos?
If you look at STI constituents and take away REITS, and try to identify how many CEOs are locals (going through National Service, if guy), it is probably quite a feat?
How about CEOs of DBS, OCBC, M1, Starhub, SATS, Singpost, SCM – recently changed to Singaporean CEO etc?
So perhaps if anyone can identify the greatest Singaporean CEOs of all time who have bring companies to greater heights?
Liew Mun Leong? Or perhaps Ng Yat Chung?
hahahaha (you know why I laugh right!)
Looking at the historical and current facts, can we say below? Or is it fair to say below?
  • Singaporeans are only good for CEOs of REITs that are in general “more or less” run by itself compared to many other industries’ businesses? When it comes to innovation and growth? hmmm…
  • Or maybe because several local big listcos are backed by our country leaders, perhaps our own country leaders do not think Singaporeans are up to the mark to hold leadership positions in local backed Corporations? Is it true that Singaporeans are only good to be SAF or Government or Stat-board leaders?
  • Could our suppressed nature of always obeying to authority without the ability or guts to voice our own opinions or to break boundaries have caused this phenomenon?
  • Are we too sheltered with an enclosed mindsets, and the lacking of “real overseas experiences” caused us to always think only: “Singapore, My Family and Me?” without looking at the Global Picture?
  • Or perhaps those Singaporeans who have talents, track records, with open mindsets, and international experiences and have guts to voice their opinions have long ago been frustrated by our local system, and already have left and seek opportunities elsewhere, without returning?
Many successful China Chinese have work experiences outside China in the late 90s and early 2000s before returning back to their own countries! This probably is one important reason that explains the country’s success
Should Singapore or can Singapore do the same? Attracting back our own talents? Or if this is even necessary in the eyes of our leaders?
PS: I am not mocking Singaporeans. I myself is a true local bred Singaporean, going through National Service and completed by NSmen liability. For my entire career, I am always based in Singapore, although I have always worked in MNCs and have travelled widely.
Being a concern parent, I was just wondering about what should I do for my children’s future?

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18 thoughts on “TikTok HQ in SG (Real Comments From China Chinese) – Singapore Got Talent Meh?

  1. Wow honestly I am not sure what to think about the question you posed. I definitely think the gov strategy to attract tech firms over is pretty good – just because we need to keep our minds open and be ready to capitalise on opportunities. But yeah, idk, your questions make me think about how Singapore (and Singaporeans like myself) can contribute, excel, and grow something beyond the umbrella of an "overseas brand company".

    1. PS: I added new text after my initial post.

      Hi FYY, I shares same sentiment as you that attracting overseas MNC is good. That is why I said “it is a fantastic news!” But stop developing our own is NOT!

      QUOTE :your questions make me think about how Singapore (and Singaporean like myself) can contribute, excel, and grow something beyond the umbrella of an "overseas brand company". UNQUOTE


  2. Hi,

    It is of different perspective. I think that it is up to one to craft his/her own path with the knowledge that there is bound to have some form of barrier in the course of the journey. It is up to one who decides on how to clear such barrier and proceed along the journey.


    1. PS: I added new text after my initial post.

      Hi WTK, agree and not blaming “big Ah Gong”. The intention of my writing is for us to ponder? Let us understand the truth and facts, and also be aware of how others think about us?

      Yes, it is always leave to oneself to carve his own path. And we need not to over worried about what others said. But then, we need to be aware and not live within just our own little well.

      I travelled to many countries. Singapore definitely pales when it comes to Patriotism and own countrymen helping own countrymen! We tend want to be OVER rational and OVER meritocratic?

  3. Hello,

    Singapore definitely has a talented workforce but by and large, we, Singaporeans are deemed as a bunch of hardworking bees and good executors (when instruction is clear) but somehow, just not street smart and have the desire to push ourselves hard. Also, when crisis hits, few can step up and take the lead and shoulder the responsibility. Just my personal experience and what the China Chinese has over us is they are more driven, street smart and the leader is not afraid to make difficult decision and take the responsibility.


    1. PS: I added new text after my initial post.

      Hi Nightmare_Angel,

      Agree with u that Sporeans are one of the most hardworking. OVERWORKED, UNDERATED and UNDER-REWARDED? I definitely do not want my kids to be in this situation.

      About street smart and more driven Chinese, I also agree. It is all about “who is more hungry n who is more desperate?”

      About making difficult decision and take responsibility, THIS IS KEY! This differentiates real leaders in a corporation than just “Yes men” waiting for their month end pay cheque.

  4. Rolf,



    It's all part of horse-trading mah.

    If big daddy or our own Singaporean company make a BIG investment overseas, of course we would secure we can bring our own people to manage the overseas entity 😉

    3 bananas in the morning; 4 bananas in the evening.

    If that trick doesn't work, say we now can have extra 2 oranges in the afternoon 😉

  5. Hi,
    Totally agree with everything in your article..! Our people lack leadership skills (political and business), as well as many other "soft skills".
    FYI I worked in many MNCs previously before joining a local GLC – it was a rude shock…!
    FYI also I worked under 1 of the 2 "greatest Singaporean CEOs of all time..". Bwaahahahahah

    1. Hi MBev,

      Tk u for sharing your transitional experience from MNC to GLC. Guess the word “rude shock” tells it all. I am not shocked at all on what you experienced in local GLC. Hahaha….

      Like u, I worked in several MNCs and still is. While I have not worked in GLC, my many experiences dealing with them, the bullying attitude, the narrow mindset, the rigid rules, the lack of common sense, made my veins throbbed.

  6. Morning Brolf.
    i almost spilled my kopi on my keyboard, when i read saw general Ng mentioned!
    you know what they say; when General takes over the new coy, SHORT the stocks ahhhh… bao jiak. haha

  7. >Being a concern parent, I was just wondering about what should I do for my children's future?

    Send them overseas for more exposure.

    1. Your "tagging along" shows the issue with Singaporeans. We need to ensure protection, make sure things are on the "right track", no risky actions, double confirm high chance of results first before doing anything etc.

      Have we considered that for most successful foreigners, it is a numbers game? For every successful high performing hungry foreign professional, there are 10,000 of his fellow countrymen who have tried the same actions but unsuccessful or remain mediocre.

      1 out of 10,000 will still overwhelm our local workforce.

      All our generals & scholars have lived overseas for at least 4-6 years on their own. Yet they still live & breathe the standard Singaporean KS mentality. The entire govt ecosystem surrounding their career is too lucrative for them to rock the boat. Most (not all) scholars who leave or get kicked out of the system end up financially worse off than if they had followed orders & just "play their part".

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