Darrell was an excellent choice for a poster boy, because in several ways, he exemplified the kind of foreign talent which Singapore should aim to be getting (if we were implementing our foreign talent policy properly).
Firstly, Darrell had a proven track record in his area of work. Secondly, few or no Singaporeans had comparable expertise in that area of work. Thirdly, it was an area of work where we clearly needed expertise.
Darrell's mandate was to revive Sentosa - to transform it from a rundown, half-dead, half-forgotten theme park into a lively, vibrant tourist attraction again. Darrell had experience in developing resorts all over the world (including Disneyland in L.A., Disneyland in Tokyo and Ocean Park in Hong Kong) and looked very much like the right guy for the job.
Indeed, he proved his worth. In my opinion, Sentosa has vastly improved since 2002. If you haven't been there for the past five years or so, you really should. In the past, I regarded as Sentosa as a trap for unsuspecting tourists; nowadays, I always enjoy taking my kids there for some fun over the weekend.
However, the problem with foreign talent, even when it's genuine foreign talent, is that it's foreign. It's international, it's mobile, it has no natural roots here, and you never know when it's just going to pack up and leave:
ST Feb 18, 2007I don't think that Singapore got a raw deal here. Yes, Darrell's departure is Singapore's loss, and some people are probably moaning and groaning right now about how on earth are they going to manage the IR projects without Darrell's guidance. But at least Darrell gave good value during his time here.
Sentosa chief quits for Dubai in surprise move
Tourism industry stunned by his announcement midway through 8-year masterplan; search on for new head
By Krist Boo
THE man largely credited with transforming Sentosa from rundown flop to booming pleasure isle has quit, midway through the eight-year masterplan he helped engineer.
American Darrell Metzger announced his resignation yesterday, stunning tourism industry players.
He had been widely expected to stay to see the last and biggest piece of the plan - Genting International's integrated resort and Universal Studios theme park - fall into place in 2009.
In a statement, Sentosa said Mr Metzger is heading for Dubai, where he will join a company that builds big leisure projects in the Middle East.
A global hunt for the 59-year-old's replacement will begin straight away and is likely to take three to six months.
Mr Metzger, who flies off on holiday today, declined to be interviewed.
The problem is not so much with the likes of Darrell - who come with a proven track record, to fulfill a specific need which Singaporeans cannot. The problem, as I see it, lies elsewhere. Here's an example:
25 'O' level students share top spot with 9 A1sIf one imports a foreign talent like Darrell Metzger, with three decades of relevant experience, to meet a specific need in Singapore (like, revamping Sentosa), I have no argument with that.
SINGAPORE: More neighbourhood schools are producing top O-level students, especially with the likes of Raffles Institution and Hwa Chong Institution offering the integrated programme whereby students skip the GCE 'O' level examinations and go straight on to do their A-level.
Although no student scored 10 A1s at one sitting for the 2006 GCE 'O' level exams, 25 students shared the top spot with nine A1s.
Three of them came from Xinmin Secondary.
One of them is Ru Mohan, a Chinese national who came to Singapore two years ago.
"Coming from China, my foundation of the English language was not that strong, so it took me a little bit more effort than the local Singaporeans to catch up with my English. I stayed in a boarding school and my roommate was from India. He spoke perfect English, so during my pastime, I practised speaking English with him," he said.
His roommate was Mehul Gopal Mangalvedhekar, one of the top Indian students.
But I have real difficulty in understanding why Singapore bothers to import foreign teenagers and pre-puberty kids to study in our primary and secondary schools. I don't believe that at that age, they have any special expertise, work experience or skills that Singapore needs.
The foreign kids we import may be very bright kids (well, at any rate, I seriously, seriously hope we don't import foreign dumb kids). I don't think that their brightness justifies bringing them here. If academic excellence is really what we want to see, then we should focus on improving the quality of education for Singaporeans, so that more Singaporeans will be academically excellent.
Otherwise we will just be wasting a lot of taxpayers' money. After enjoying their education subsidies here in Singapore, many of these foreign kids are just going to pack up and leave for their next spot on the world map. Remember - just like Darrell, they weren't born here and they have no roots here.
And unlike Darrell, they may not even contribute anything vaguely significant to Singapore, before they pack up and leave.