Foreigners like Anton Casey are drawn by the bright lights and promise of hefty earnings to Singapore
Foreigners like Anton Casey are drawn by the bright lights and promise of hefty earnings to Singapore Reuters

Anton Casey has put the behaviour of wealthy ex-pats living in Singapore under the spotlight by launching an arrogant rant against "poor people."

Yet the 39-year-old is far from alone in raising the ire of Singaporeans who are forced to share their homeland with foreigners who are seemingly oblivious - or indifferent - to how their bad behaviour alienates the native residents whose guests they are.

British wealth manager Casey is currently mired in public odium following his Facebook posts about having to take public transport on the island because his Porsche convertible was in for repairs. Ironically, he whined about having to "wash off the stench" of Singpore's tram system in his offensive posts. But this new veneer of arrogance on his reputation is proving more difficult to scrub clean.

Unconfirmed reports on Friday claimed Casey was spotted boarding a flight at Changi airport on the island to escape the public backlash sparked by his odious posts.

Casey's descent into a figure of contempt and loathing is only the latest among foreigners living in Singapore. Private bankers, bonus bandits and assorted chancers come from all around the world to make millions in the city-state and live in luxury in a sun-drenched climate. Around 40% of all residents are from abroad.

By heaping scorn on people with less money than him, Casey was merely reinforcing a stereotype of all foreigners as arrogant and deluded – living in a world of their own pomposity and completely blinded by wealth and its trappings.

Anton Casey
Anton Casey: expat just wants to be loved

The image has been fostered by other ex-pats behaving badly in Singapore. Top of the buffoonery list probably belongs to Olivier Desbarres, the head of Barclay's FX Asia - who was swiftly made 'ex' head of the division after he went in to meltdown by ranting at construction workers because he disliked the noise in 2012.

Yelling his head off, flailing his arms about and throwing objects around, Desbarres resembled a small baby transposed into a podgy middle-aged man's body. Calling construction workers "Chinese f*****g animals" probably sealed his fate. A man who boasted of having "significant resources" made himself unemployed. Desbarres' lengthy rant lives on forever on YouTube.

Even more serious than Desbarres' self-defeating venting of spleen was the case of Swiss ex-pat Juerg Buergin. UBS bank's executive director of operations had sex with an underage girl and was jailed for the paedophile offence last year. Buergin, 41, stood up at his trial and claimed he was the real victim and that the child prostitute and her pimp had stitched him up. The ploy failed and the UBS chief was convicted of two counts of having sex with a minor.

Swiss ex-pat Juerg Buergin was jailed in Singapore for having sex with a child
Swiss ex-pat Juerg Buergin was jailed in Singapore for having sex with a child Reuters

His appeal against his four-month sentence was rejected. Prosecutors in Singapore charged 51 other people for sex with the prostitute.

Another ex-pat in Singapore who sullied the already tarnished image of foreign residents was New Zealander Robert Stephen Dahlberg, 35. He dragged down the reputation of ex-pats still further by fleeing justice after being charged over his part in a violent assault on a man who tried to help a taxi driver during a brawl.

Ex-pat Robert Stephen Dahlberg was jailed in Singapore for brawling in the street
Ex-pat Robert Stephen Dahlberg was jailed in Singapore for brawling in the street

Dahlberg was in a group of foreigners who stormed out of a bar without paying and then began beating up a taxi driver. Dahlberg – who enjoyed posing for publicity photos like a pretend boxer - slammed his victim against a pillar and then kicked him in the face. But cowardly Dahlberg then jumped bail, before emerging a year later and whining – via his father - that the experience had taken a "huge emotional toll" on him. He was locked up for five months.

Disrespectful, Macho, Arrogant, Manipulative, Sexist?

These extreme examples provide clues about why the reputation of ex-pats in Singapore is currently in the gutter. Moves are now afoot to stem the tide of foreigners coming to the country who treat it like their own personal playground. From later this year, jobs must be advertised locally for two months before applications from overseas can be considered, while questions are being asked in society about under-reliance on native labour.

Singaporeans in the street may complain, but at least they don't have to live with the likes of Casey, Desbarres, et al. And spare a thought for the WAGs.

A woman calling herself Anna has lifted the lid on her life with an ex-pat westerner in Singaore. Writing for The Real Singapore – which describes itself as the voice of "average Singaporeans", she said her unnamed high-rolling partner was a tight-fisted scrooge, who was wracked with status anxieties relating to furniture.

Describing the ordeal of her relationship with an ex-pat, Anna said: "I didn't even know how rich he was until years later. He was a millionaire even when we first lived together, but we split the rent 50/50.

"Some of the women had sweet husbands who'd do things like sneak money into their purses to save them the embarrassment of them having to ask. But a good chunk of them were like mine, disrespectful, macho, arrogant, selfish, rude, manipulative, sexist and at times intimidating. Their behaviour wasn't reserved just for their ever tolerant wives, they'd also bully and ridicule waitresses, taxi drivers, maids or anyone else they felt unworthy of their respect."

She added: "How sad, that with such opportunities presented to the Anton Caseys, they choose to do the most predictable thing. Do they not wonder sometimes whether there might be something more worthwhile to do with our short time on earth than to make loads of money?"

If reports are correct, Anton Casey has chosen the right time for a holiday.