While the ranking is structured according to 1) investment and development, 2) appeal and 3) readiness, it goes without saying those foreign talents tempted by the glossy brochures will, sooner or later, discover the truth from the myth. Like Singapore is the safest place on earth, bar none. Except for the occasional stabbing in broad daylight at Raffles Place. You can trust the lawyers here too, just remember to do a back of the envelope check when it comes to invoicing.
We don't know why Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins, the husband and wife team of cancer experts who left the National Cancer Institute in the United States after 20 years there to join Singapore's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) because of "generous funding", packed their bags again after a short 5 year stint to head back to Houston, Texas. Maybe they had a nasty experience at Sim Lim Square. Or were fleeced for seafood at Newton Circus. Not everybody has the deep pockets of a Brunei princess.
And then there are the untold legions of local talents who have left for greener pastures abroad. Lee Kuan Yew used to insist on a report of the number of emigrants, maybe someone else is still keeping score.
Somewhere in page 8 of the report, a chart shows that Singapore used to do a better job in attracting and retaining talent. We were number 2 in 2008. The explanatory note is worth reading:
The fluctuation in the overall ranking experienced by some of the countries throughout the period may be the result of cyclical economic and socio-political issues that impact, for example, immigration policies and/or investment in education. In some cases, such policies could result in the diminishing ability of countries to attract overseas talent despite strong commitment to local talent development.
We know some of those socio-political issues only too well. The list is long and nauseating, starting with a 30 year mortgage for a public housing flat. It's bad enough to have to stomach the likes of Anton Casey and Yin Yang, the politicians ramming the Population White Paper down our throats make mockery of a welcome home for real talent. It's not sustaining if talents are not retaining.