Feb 19, 2007

Thoughts on Foreign Talent

This man is Darrell Metzger. He's the CEO of the Sentosa Leisure Group. When he first came to Singapore in 2002, he was a poster boy for Singapore's foreign talent policy - see how Contact Singapore featured him here and here.

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, 2007
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.
I 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.

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
25 'O' level students share top spot with 9 A1s

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.
If 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.

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.


Anonymous said...

I believe the few rationales for providing scholarships for foreign students is the same in many other countries like Japan than also provides foreign scholarships, which is to create a future group of world citizens who are more aware and sympathetic to Singapore's goals and lifestyle, which is quite important to international diplomatic efforts.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Wang, of course the kids contributed what.

Why do you think so many Fake Talents and school kids are allowed in? IT IS TO FILL UP THE 10 YEAR (1997 HK handover)SURPLUS OF EMPTY HOUSING.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Wang, this is what I have been thinking for the last few years. They seem to have ill definition of what "foreign talent" means. Perhaps in another way, I can be a foreign talent in US if i score well in their school. That must be a joke. I am a road sweeper in Sg.. hahahaa...

Anonymous said...

It is like gambling, they hope that a few of the thousands "talents" stay back and contribute their talent to Singapore for a period of time.

Win some talents, lose some government money, lose all peasants' blood & sweat.

Jimmy Mun said...

Japan doesnt flood the country at all levels with foreigners. The only places in the world with a more eager foreign import policy is in the oil-rich Middle East, places like UAE/Dubai and Saudi Arabia and it is not at an expense to their locals. The government uses the oil money to keep their citizens happy, and foreigners only take up jobs the locals genuinely do not or cannot do.

Singapore, in contrast, is mindlessly pursuing foreigners even when it can barely keep some specific sectors of Singaporeans alive, let alone happy. But it is an insidiously brilliant policy for the governing elite. It doesnt matter if the foreign imports are talented or not, or even useful or not. Their job is to flood the labour market to keep the MNCs happy, and to keep the peasants struggling to keep their job so they cant think about bigger questions, like ministerial salaries or Shin Corp.

~[z][x]~ said...

i think i agree with kf, I'm not sure about Japan but this "create a future...diplomatic efforts". sounds reasonable. On the other hand, is it really that harsh of a government of a small and open country to expose Singaporeans to the reality of external competition from a tender age? By bringing in intelligent and talented foreign students - does that not in a way improve our education environment/standards? Or is that just propaganda?

Anonymous said...

the pap has sent their writers here, havent they? notice not that the first post is always defending our establishment, heh. dogs are hard at work even during festive period!

Anonymous said...

To be fair, this is an issue of global talent. A Singaporean who is a global talent will leave Singapore for another country to fulfill his / her dreams also.

utwt said...

hi mr wang, interesting viewpoint. i, however, have a somewhat less cynical view on young foreign talent.

Anonymous said...

what are the total costs of creating a future group of world citizens sympathetic to sillipore? shouldn't us pple know how much??? i wld like to compare this to how much help our own poor needy students are getting?

and this "rationale" is questionable too. how do we know these foreign students will grow up to be sympathetic to sillipore? (yeah, maybe they will be sympathetic to silliporeans to being so stupid as to be constantly ripped off by gahmen). didn't we recently have a malaysian scholar who openly poured scorn over this system?

another "rationale" as good as what kf proposed (woof-woofed, grrrr-ed) would be that some of these students come from elite families in foreign countries that pappies want to curry favour with...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

There is nothing to prevent well qualified Singaporeans from packing up also. Some may argue that if you are born in Singapore you will feel more attached to Singapore. In my opinion, this does not apply many Singaporeans. The Singapore we know today is different from the Singapore we know when we are growing up. There is a lack of community or family attachment here. Most are so busy with work or upgrading their qualifications that they hardly have time for anything.
Chinese New Year has also become more like an annual watch TV together session. There is no connection among people anymore.

Anonymous said...

Anon at February 20, 2007 1:02 AM: There is nothing to prevent well qualified Singaporeans from packing up also. ... The Singapore we know today is different from the Singapore we know when we are growing up. There is a lack of community or family attachment here. Most are so busy with work or upgrading their qualifications that they hardly have time for anything.

As a peasant here, even as a professional, one is still a peasant. Our part-time mini-stars (with 1st world pay) keep benchmarking our peasant pay (professional or otherwise) against 3rd world levels. A possible motivation for such benchmarking is...?

Guess which is easier task to do?
(a) Attracting MNCs with cheap labour OR
(b) Developing the local economy; reviewing/revising laws to enable entrepruenership to flow freely; and restructuring land/other costs to reduce cost of business.
Who are the real LAZY bums in the SG economy? Go figure! Yet the mini-stars simultaneously keep pushing up the cost of living to 1st world levels.

Thus a peasant (even professionals) here cannot truely enjoy a 1st world lifestyle as he is constantly under threat of losing his job to a cheaper FT (not necessary one with relevant experience/talent... just any cheaper fellow will do) due to the liberal FT import policies. Many peasants work ridiculous hours over long-term (e.g. inhuman of more than 12hr/day and even during weekends), and keep upgrading (else it's your fault that you're too lazy/unmotivated to upgrade to remain competitive), just to "keep" their jobs.

But in the end, it is futile, because when one hits 40 or any age deemed too old to work those inhumane hours, one is kicked-out nevertheless. Anyone noted Budget 2007's implied definition of "old" is "above 35"?

The "lack of community or family attachment here" is not a cause but an effect of inhumane work hours and work pressure exerted on the breadwinners of the family. I believe the typical Singaporean still treasures community/family ties. Since continuing to pursue a career here will not give one time for the community/family, is there then any doubt why Singaporeans are packing up too?

But then again, that may well be the ultimate hidden agenda. Let the sandwiched middle-class who are able to leave, exit. Those left behind will eventually be pushed by "globalization" to downgrade their pay to become low-class. Thus the problems of keeping labour cheap and creating a submissive electorate (too busy making ends-meet) are solved automatically ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ironically, in a particular junior college I attended, the top students who went to the ivy leagues and oxbridge were mostly ASEAN scholars that were not from Singapore. Eliminating them from the fold - it really was just a handful of really talented Singaporeans who ended up at great universities abroad.

It seems to be easier to get 4A's for your A levels in England than it is in Singapore. With all these top scholars coming in to compete for the same meagre percentage of A grades and raising the mean we are indirectly screwing our own Singapore citizens anyway.

While an education "scholarship" through the government education system in Singapore really isn't all that expensive relative to the region - at the same time, its very sad that for the most part, the best resources are often devoted to the best and brightest - who are very often, not Singaporeans. Who don't have to serve NS, who will treat Singapore as a stepping stone and who will probably not even give a damn about it after they graduate.

Anonymous said...

"creating world citizens who are aware and sympathetic to our goals and lifestyle"....

Is this why Mdm Ho is squandering our reserves in every corner of the earth?

Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree that foreign competition is 'good' for Singaporean students. I was in a top JC and most of the spots in enrichment programmes like olympiad training teams were leeched by foreign students, depriving local students of valuable opportunities outside the classroom. You could say that this just means local students aren't good enough, but naturally if they don't get a chance to train themselves to be good enough because older kids from China are beating them into these programmes, that they will not become good enough.

As for creating a future group of world citizens who are sympathetic to Singapore's goals and lifestyle, I can't believe anyone thinks this is a factor. It is rather a stretch to think that a small number (not small compared to the numbers of local students, but small compared to the worldwide student population) of foreigners who graduate from Singapore schools would make a real difference. Furthermore, anyone who has gone to school with these foreigners knows that they only intend to use Singapore as a stepping stone to the US. So much for sympathy to Singaporean goals and lifestyle. For that matter, I don't think there exists an independent set of Singaporean goals and lifestyle -- they are indistinguishable from American ones as far as I can tell. Which only makes sense since in international diplomacy America is the big bully whose shadow Singapore hides in for protection.

Anonymous said...

"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." Truly agree. Why should the taxpayers' hard earned money be splurged on foreign imports when our own citizens are not taken care of? Latter was dramatically presented to us when my daughter managed to be placed at another school after being registered with a neighborhood school, but before term started. When we told the teacher handling the paperwork about the uniform and textbooks we had purchased, she said we could donate them as the neighborhood school had $10,000 in arrears of school fees because many students could not pay up. Many will be wearing the old school uniforms for the new term as they could not afford to pay for the new ones which were being introduced. It was a humbling lesson for us as parent and an eye opener for our daughter as well.

Anonymous said...

Instead of constantly parroting that its good for singeapore to nurture other countries citizens, the govt should show statistics about how many eventually took up citizenship. How many left altogether after geeting the free lunches. How many just stayed for more goodis without sinking roots.

After all, this is the same govt that told everyone what a good investment Suchow was. Without statistics too.

As for the "talents" myth, there are no such thing as a student "talent". The coffee shop cleaner contributes more to singapore than the brightest resource sucking foreign student.

Kelvin Lim said...

I believe the main focus of foreign talent is to supplement the current market demands that the locals cannot supply.

When it comes to nurturing the young, Singapore should be pouring its efforts into the local students. Opening its arms to the foreign students will inevitably displace Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

We do seem to waste a lot of taxpayers' money subsidising foreigners' education, right through to university. I know of a Malaysian who graduated from NUS and went back to Malaysia soon after, even though she was supposed to work in Singapore for at least three years as she had enjoyed the subsidised education. I wonder if there are many such foreign students around? And I agree with Mr Wang that it does not make sense to be subsidizing education for young kids from abroad. On what basis are these subsidies given out?

Anonymous said...

There are a lot more wastages than just subsidising foreigners' education, if you get more insights into how taxpayers' money are spent.

I am born in Singapore but am not sure if my roots are strong enough to ensure I stay on this island forever. If opportunity knocks, I will pack up & go too, why stay behind & feel like 2nd class Singaporeans?

Exodus of nth-class single citizen, I am sure your analysis is shared by many.

Anonymous said...

In response to playtime's comment, IIRC, a MOE officer once told me that the retention rate (ie. those who become PR and Citizens) for the Asean scholarship programme is at least 20%.

Anonymous said...

I can safely say that one of the rationales of the foreign scholar programme is to help locals build up a network of global contacts with these foreigners who eventually go somewhere else.

Connections are important in doing business, especially in places like China. By helping the locals build friendships with these foreigners during their teenage years, they can cultivate a lasting contacts in the future.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that having a few foreign kids in schools count as importing foreign talent -- your point, but nobody referred to them as foreign talent in the first place. As for the benefit they bring... some diversity in the student population is likely to be a good thing but that's more likely felt by the particular school than the nation. Not all forieign kids will grow up to be highly mobile professionals, some local ones will. It seems harsh to begrudge foreign students.

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to "help locals build up a network of global contacts", such as paying for our Singaporean children's attachment to a foreign school. My former classmate's daughter (she emigrated to WA 15 years ago) just returned to Perth from a six months' attachment to London School of Economics, board, lodging and living expense all paid for by the Australian government. This is far better utilisation of taxpayers' money than sending our teachers to China to "scount" for foreign students to displace the few places in our schools. BTW did we even hear of a word of thanks from the China parents or from China for being so generous. Most likely, they are laughing behind our backs.

Anonymous said...

Exodus of nth-class single citizen,

You could be right. Perhaps that's the reason the government is making the rich(est) even richer, leaving the rest behind.



Yeah right, see what our connections with Thaksin has done to us. Connections are nothing if all we have are lazy pea brains without much away-from-the-textbook substance making decisions based on "trust" without doing the necessary due diligence.

But of course, who cares about sound investments when one's coffers are endlessly lined with taxpayers' hard-earned money, that can be easily tapped by raising GST and other fares any time?

Anonymous said...

As a Malaysian scholar, I must say that your government is a genius at talent-poaching. God knows how many of our best and brightest have been poached by Singapore. Malaysian is suffering from a brain drain, particularly of Chinese Malaysians, and for many of them their destination is Singapore.

And this is the main reason why Singapore is so generous in giving scholarships to foreigners - it wants to attract talent here while they are young and impressionable, let them have a taste of "the good life" in Singapore and have them grow roots here. Frankly speaking, I myself am highly reluctant to return to Malaysia years of acculturation here, and knowing that Singapore can offer me far more than Malaysia will.

So don't think your government is so altruistic - if the scholarship programme has not produced high rates of return (in terms of number of scholars turning Singaporean) over the past decades, why for would your government be so stupid as to continue wasting money on it?

Anonymous said...

Well, if 20% is a high rate...

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack,

Thank you for your kind notes on our generous Singapore government and how they have given the right circumstances for our foreign students to contribute their talent upon graduation.

I am also glad that these students may consider to become Singaporeans after realising the good life Singapore can provide, more than their countries of origin. When they become Singaporeans, they are also eligible to a lot of benefits that true blue Singaporeans enjoy.

I have no doubt about our Singaporean high quality education will prepare these foreign students to give their utmost best that the Singapore government expects, after all, they did provide generous subsidies for them.

But, one question: Are you eligible for National Service like all Singapore-born males? The reason I asked this question is because National Service is a must-have benefit that Singapore-born males enjoy. I do really hope that you can also enjoy this benefit too.

If you are not, it is OK. Rest assured that all Singapore-born male citizens will be educated in National Service to defend this country and protect people on this island. National Service also provides subsidies too, like the foreign students, though with some small differences.

And yes, you are right. The PAP government is not so stupid.

Once again, thank you for giving us some ideas on how some of our foreign students think of our Singapore.

Anonymous said...

"highly reluctant to return to Malaysia years of acculturation here, and knowing that Singapore can offer me far more than Malaysia will."

hope u would take up sg citizenship & defend our country with your life. gd luck

Anonymous said...

"highly reluctant to return to Malaysia years of acculturation here, and knowing that Singapore can offer me far more than Malaysia will."

may suggest there always exit/return routes if things in sg turn unfavorable or if e.g. dubai may offer more.

Anonymous said...

Wait, aren't we doing the same as British and American and Australian schools who regularly give scholarships to foreign students? Its a positive influence we can have in the region - when and if these foreign kids return to their home countries and take up positions of authority.

Anyway. Just how many foreign students do we "import" here anyhow?

Your criticism is a bit like Pauline Hanson who complained about the number of foreign Asian students filling up Aussie schools and universities and denying places for Australian kids.

Moreover, you do realize that Singapore also has a very high immigration rate amongst its educated classes.

IMHO, we should encourage more foreigners, esp. from successful nations like Finland, to come to this small nation to enhance our way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

You remember Pauline Hanson don't you? She was called a racist by most of the newspapers including the ones where- for her outspoken views on Asian migration to Australia. Hee hee... looks like you lot should join her party.

Anonymous said...

Dear Retired Reservist,

Your comments miss the mark. Every time the issue of foreign talent crops up, Singaporean males only seem able to fixate on the point that foreigners don't have to do NS while they have to. But Mr Wang's post wasn't about fairness. It was about the rationale behind scholarship schemes. Thus, in my earlier comment, I was merely pointing out the chief reason why your government would want to spend national resources on scholarship programmes for foreigners. I never said it was fair.

Indeed, I agree that it is not fair that Singaporean males have to waste two years of their prime on NS. But that does not have anything to do with the wooing of foreign talent. It is not as if you wouldn't have to serve NS if the government stopped providing scholarships to foreigners. The only result would be that Singapore gets less talent from abroad - and whether that is good for Singapore is another issue altogether.

Also, I am perplexed as to why Singaporean males seldom direct their venom towards their female counterparts for not having to serve NS. It is always the foreigners who are demonised. But surely foreigners are far fewer in number compared to Singaporean females! If you want to rail against inequality, the existence of females among you who don't need to serve NS (while enjoying all the other benefits of citizenship) should be a far sorer point.

In the final analysis though, issues of equity don't matter as much to your government as issues of utility. As long as your government feels that a citizen army is crucial to national defence, and as long as it feels that the costs of imposing NS on foreigners (or females) outweigh the benefits, the "unfair" policy will continue.

Fox said...


You are assuming that if the Singapore government does not use scholarships to recruit secondary school students from Malaysia, China, Vietnam and India, it cannot get or will get significantly fewer talents from those countries.

This does not seem to be true to me. For example, Singapore can easily attempt to recruit University graduates from the aforementioned countries and I think talented people will still come because of the higher wages in Singapore. This way, the country does not have fork out any subsidies.

Anonymous said...


At the end of the day, many of us male Singaporeans wish we were born overseas, and not that we were born female. And until the government addresses the inequalities generated by NS, such "venom" (fully justified in my opinion) will persist.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

ASEAN scholars don't cost much taxpayers' money, actually. AFAIK, we give them money only for two years of their lives - the two years they spend in JC.

Nowadays, however, our policies seem to be that we take in foreign students and give them money for approximately 16 years -

6 primary school years
4 secondary school years
2 JC years
4 years of undergrad studies.

Anonymous said...

The reason is simple: We are desperate for more Singaporeans -- as opposed to PRs. We need Singaporeans who love the PAP style of government, who vote for PAP and who can fill in those semi-sensitive positions in the defence and various ministries and stats board and GLCs!

And what better way to brainwash them than when they are young and impressionable and when we can teach them National Education and the 5 core values via compulsory civics education lesson in primary and secondary school and teach them "the singapore story" through school outings to the Discovery Center (the one in Jurong)?

Sure, maybe 99% of them will leave us eventually. Big deal! It ust simply means we will have to let an even larger number of them study here (for free), so that the 1% who stay, will, in absolute number, be sufficient for the above agenda!

But what abt the OUTRAGEOUS amt of money that need to be wasted to achieve this low 1% yield? Well, that's no big deal too. We have abundant supply of human batteries! They are intellectually too lousy for those semi-sensitive positions mentioned above. But these human batteries can supply an unbelievable amt of energy/money, if we squeeze them hard enough! Increase GST, increase rental fees, fines, COE. Whichever way we can think of squeezing them, just squeeze to get the money needed for the agenda. No problem at all -- so long as we carefully keep them in the Matrix, feed them dream-like sensation everyday, and be careful to hunt down Neo and Morpheus so that they cannot supply red pills to our human batteries...

Anonymous said...

Bullshit about creating world citizens sympathetic to Singapore's goals.

I am Aussie now, ex-Singapore. When I make business decisions, sorry mate, Aussie come first.

Because it is where I am living and working. We all take sides when the crux is up. No one is going to kill himself over some fond memories of childhood, dude.

As empty as saying paying high salaries to prevent corruption! Only idiots believe it.

From what I read, Singapore is only whoring for foreign bodies, talent seeking is only a smokescreen.

Jimmy Mun said...

It's amazing how these rentseeking Malaysians can leech themselves onto Singapore, enjoying years of citizenship privileges as a PR, praise the Singapore government non-stop for being "brilliant", and yet yell bloody murder when the government make cosmetic cuts in subsidies to non-citizens, when they had long qualified and refused to take up Singapore citizenship. Malaysians like Jack should wake up and realise they are just cheap labour here to depress wages, not the "brains". The real brainy Malaysians have used Singapore as a stepping stone long ago and left for greener pastures. That's where the Malaysian brains had "drained" to. The leftovers are really the less competent ones who basically cant even imagine retiring in Singapore or bringing up their boys to serve NS, and that is why they refuse to give up their Malaysian citizenship. If it is even possible for the Malaysian economy to boom, these leeches will be the first ones out of the door.

Anonymous said...

We must all STOP calling one and all Foreign Talent! They are nothing more than MIGRANT WORKERS !!! Once the job is gone, they Migrate ! PLEASE let's stop helping them label anything that is Foregn = Talent.
Foreign Students are just opportunistic that's all. Do you think they will bat an eyelid if they did well through our system and got offered a prestigious Ivy league scholoarship? Get REAL!
These papies are just making me sick to my stomach with their comments! Please regain your brains and think for yourselves instead of towing the line without searching your souls. Give credit only when credit is due.

le radical galoisien said...

"The only places in the world with a more eager foreign import policy is in the oil-rich Middle East, places like UAE/Dubai and Saudi Arabia and it is not at an expense to their locals."

Saudi Arabia doesn't even allow children who were not born there to go past sixth grade. Which is why the expats with children have to leave eventually. I guess they are really weary of any expat integration.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

anonymous above, the day pap scraped the scholar system, thats the day it will collaspe. the scholar system serve only one purpose (right now) -- enable pap to get the most academically capable men under its control via high salary, top positions etc. In this way, it hopes that there will be no unhappy suffering elite who are unhappy with the govt and who will join the oppposition. A highly educated opposition member is a big pain for the govt -- look at how much damage control they have to put in to control Chee, and even then, the govt has to swallow its pride and dare not arrest him during IMF -- can u imagine what it will be like if there are 100+ of them every year? In fact, if Chee had not done badly during his A-levels such that he could not get into NUS, he would have been a scholar and earning hundreds of thousands now. Would he then have given it all up to go into politics?

U can bet that after this Chee lesson, the pap will cling on even more to the scholar system.

In other words -- damaging singapore as you have explained, for the sake of clinging on to power!

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

I deleted the comment by Anonymous, February 21, 2007 12:53 PM.

I don't disagree with all of his points, but part of his comment came too close to sounding defamatory. This is Singapore, you know.

Anonymous, February 21, 2007 12:53 PM is welcome to repost his comment, minus the references to the named individuals.

Anonymous said...

Further to my earlier comment, this is how they "buy" votes from potential future Singaporeans. News is fresh from the oven - in today's newspaper :)

Anonymous said...

The reason why Singapore is much much more attractive locale for Malaysian Chinese is easily due to the political philosophy of racial politics as underlined by UMNO and the fact that Chinese people in malaysia are no more than 2nd class Citizens in their constitution. At least in Singapore in theory we're equal, but usually the foreign talent are the more equal ones.

It is highly disenchanting to see academically brilliant malaysian chinese denied entry into the universities in Malaysia simply by virtue of their race - while those on the bumiputra policy fail their way into the university system. In a globalized world the search for talent is worldwide. It doesn't take very much pull factors to draw the best and brightest malaysian chinese to Singapore.

Personally, whilst doing my college abroad in the United States, the consensus of leaving malaysia for good is a relatively strong one that most malaysian chinese hold onto. Why go back to a country to be underappreciated, unwanted, a 2nd class citizen with pay in riggits when you can be paid well, treated equally and where race isn't the #1 deciding factor in your life.

with regards to Asean scholars - its not so much per se that they cost money. The truth is that they simply crowd out opportunities for our very own Singaporeans to stretch themselves. No doubt its a meritocracy - yet how far are we going to marginalise our own citizens, the adults of society tomorrow and expect them to stay loyal and thoroughly sympathetic to Singapore's causes?

Having a policy that benefits foreign students in other asian countries is no more than America trying to promote its ideals in the islamic world. How realistic is it? How do we measure its success. Its not so much the economic cost, as the opportunity cost paid by citizens that is rather sad.

If Singapore wants to have citizenry with a global perspective, but with roots at home - then it had better start doing a better job to court and grow those roots - rather than instituting more push factors upon the youth of the nation. Race shouldn't really matter in Singapore's context. But being a SINGAPORE CITIZEN should be a RIGHT and not merely a privilege.

Anonymous said...

Why blame the foreigners, malaysians, etc and what not? They are here because our very own govt is the one selling Singaporeans short! When the GE comes you vote the PAP in, again and again! I am a Singaporean too and I have long given up hope on Singapore as long as the PAP stays in power. It is every man for himself and I do my best to get out of here one day.

Anonymous said...

Being Singaporean as a RIGHT? Being born Singaporeans we are granted automatic citizenship...

But, it is a privilege because our Gahmen likes to make it look like one...the prestige of a Singapore passport overseas ah...

Sadly, our Gahmen doesn't really know how to pull their own citizens. They push us but pull foreigners with promises of good money and all, while pushing us to make sure we work harder under our foreign talent bosses.

No wonder more people are migrating! I don't love the politicians, and Singapore is only home because of my friends and family. The politicians have not done much to convince me that Singapore is a home in the true sense.

Anonymous said...


There is no point in being good at poaching people like you, if you are tempted to enjoy the perks here but not enough to become a citizen and do your NS.

Anonymous said...

I always thought it utterly sad.

It is easier for a foreigner to be a talent here whereas a local would have to do so much more, fight so much harder to prove to the government he is a local talent!!!

A foreigner only needs to produce some fake documents or sub-standard qualifications.

This is indeed a sick country.

Anonymous said...

you all here are so anti-government. If I were the government, I'd be so scared I'd give away cheap citizenships under the name of foreign talents to buy support. The government is reviewing the issue of dual-citizenships precisely to attract foreigners to spore without trapping them here. So while they can retreat back to their homeland if Spore sinks, the locals can't. When it comes to elections, these foreigners will of course vote for PAP. After all, all they know is that the government has rolled out the red carpet with open arms at the painful expense of the locals for them.

PAP is not stupid. They are a sly bunch of foxs working under the coat of righteousness and self-sacrifice. They are ultimately only concern about their own rice bowl.

Anonymous said...


Asumming the rationale is as you have stated, I wonder whether the results have justified the money spent over the years....I am alluding to the accountability of the government to tax payers as their money has been used to financed foreign students to the exclusion of Singaporeans for places in our schools.

Anonymous said...

I'm always impressed by the passionate debate linking foreign workers, equity and NS in Singapore. Its a little sad that such debate has to take place in a blog and not in parliament.

NS in Singapore is undervalued, and punitive on Singaporean born males. We all agree on that.

However, since Mr Wang's blog was about whether it is beneficial to subsidise foreign students in Singapore, I think one point has been overlooked.

One of the biggest benefits of having subsidised foreign students in the local universities, is that they contribute to the pool of qualified manpower ready to go into the technology sector. If you look at the proportion of foreign university students, most are in technology.

And before you get carried away, foreign students on tuition grant are legally bound to serve for three years in a Singapore based company. In my experience, they readily fill a gap because there simply aren't enough qualified Singaporeans. Period.

These foreign students represent manpower that is already well adjusted to singapoean culture, and being on the island they lower recruitment costs.

While the government does a poor job of enforcing the three year bond, most foreign students do stay for those three years.

If you really believe that these foreign students-turned-workers are depriving you of a place in university and a higher paying job then I'm afraid we have to disagree.

Now, I don't know about the subsidies for primary and secondary school kids. That seems a bit like going along the lines of buying teengage atheletes from other countries.

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Dear fellow Singaporeans. For your information. My son just gotten his Australian citizenship. My daughter is already a PR of Australia. Their friends are all planning to get out of this sick island. My wife and I will be next soon. Root? What root? Will the ruler wake up?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 21, 2007 10:01 PM

Dear fellow (ex)citizen, hearty congratulations to you and yours! Rather than waiting for the ruler to wake up (I have a nagging feeling he wouldn't want to leave his ambitious dream), I would urge the 66.6% to stop dreaming along with him. Otherwise, it may well turn into a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

"And before you get carried away, foreign students on tuition grant are legally bound to serve for three years in a Singapore based company."


And their personal guarantor needs to be a Singapore citizen. If the foreigner runs away before finishing his 3-year-bond, a Singaporean citizen will pay the penalty.

Why do Singaporeans always lose in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

subsidizing education for foreign university students, in return for a ready pool of future manpower, supplied to, for example, technology sector is orginally good-intended.

however there are exceptions:
1) in the years 2001-2002, when economy is bad, i believe some of these graduates could not find jobs locally and they, having no work experience, return home without serving the 3-years obligation. in the tax-payers perspective..it is unfair as someone possibly had taken a free ride on the system although it may not entirely be his fault. in this aspect, this well-intended initiative becomes useless and wasteful.

2) it is also difficult to find people really passionate about pursuing the singapore dreams..as some, will use this system as a spring-board for greener pastures. or should i ask is there anything in here that can get people to be super passionate about that new roots can be grounded?

3) students, being impressionable at younger age, will not only experience local culture, but also other cultures and information, via internet & other means in this world of globalisation. as they are might be easily influenced for the wrong reasons, they might eventually not expertise on what they have learned in that particular subsidized uni education, which possibly has been identified as an area shortage in the workforce.

4) in that sense it might be more prudent to invest on a experienced ft like Mr. Metzger who has a proven track record and passionate in what he is doing for his whole life.

Jimmy Mun said...

As an NUS engineering graduate, I can safely say that Singapore never had a shortage of fresh grads in the technology sector. It is a government manufactured lie to facilitate the import of foreigners. There are only so many MNC jobs and local companies pay crap for engineers, so over 50% of all fresh engineering grads settle for jobs totally unrelated to their 4 years of training immediately on graduation. The number goes up to 75% within 5 years. If the retention rate is just a little better, if the companies treat Singaporeans a little less like cheap commodities (made possible with the ample supply of cheap foreign imports), our tech sector can hum along fine without a single foreigner in our university.

But the lie has to be perpetuated, or what excuse the government can have to flood the labour market with foreigners?

Anonymous said...

Don't quite agree with Mr Wang on this Foreign Talent(FT) issue here.

I think having Foreign Students make us more competitive. While kids need the freedom to develop, ultimately in SG, we are not aiming to win Olympic Medals, nor win World Idol contests. Its about being competitive in the increasingly globalised world economy. And having FT ,whatever their age, increases our diversity pool and may help us be more competitive. Inbreeding does not offer much variety genetically and definitely will not economically!

Macroscopically, i think the FT policy makes good sense although its a very hard sell to Singaporeans. Moreover, its worsed when some of the FT are all show-and-tell but no substance. Eg: The Phillpe guy who we poached from FORD Motors to run DBS was disappointing.

On a microscopic level, we all want to be protectionistic, as we all have selfish reasons to do so. But its a losing game here since SG is so commited to the WTO and Globalization. If we are in France or Norway, then the story is different.
(On a side note, its going to be interesting how Globalization is going to pan out in France cos while we all know abt the welfare system and easy work hours there, do many people actually know that France is the Biggest Recipient of Foreign Direct Investments in Europe for the last 3 years? And may i add also that they are 4th in the world ranking, and no SG did not make the top 10 for a change)

Hence, i say it it will be best for many of us to stay ahead of the game and avoid being crushed by the Globalization Stampede.

Jimmy Mun said...

How many foreign students are doing medicine? How many are in the Arts Faculty? How is it that almost all the specially subsidised foreigners are all packed into Engineering and Computing?

There are so many nations in Asia, so how is it that the disproportionate bulk of the foreigners are from China and India? If the aim is really diversity, how is it that these foreign students are not the least interested in interacting with the locals, let alone "adding diversity" in the extra curricular activity scene?

And if they are really that "competitive", how is it that employers complain their poor grasp of English makes them barely employable in some jobs?

There is no escaping globalisation, no escaping foreign labour, but how many nations have a one foreigner to every 3.5 citizen ratio of Singapore, while demanding the citizens to serve one of the most underpaid and one of the longest mandatory military service in the world? There are plenty of countries with a huge migrant worker population, but almost all of them are oil producing countries with handsome state welfare for citizens, unlike in Singapore, where the word welfare is dirty because the million dollar ministers have no idea how to provide it for anyone other than themselves.

Singapore's liberal foreign import strategy has more to do with managing our racial ratio, keeping big businesses happy and keeping citizens on their toes. Keeping ahead of globalisation is just a nice excuse.

Fox said...

To anonymous at February 21, 2007 9:21 PM:

One of the biggest benefits of having subsidised foreign students in the local universities, is that they contribute to the pool of qualified manpower ready to go into the technology sector.

You can easily increase the pool of qualified manpower ready to go into the technology sector by increasing the number of employment permits. That way, you save on education subsidies. Furthermore, you're talking about fresh graduates here. What sort of irreplacable skills do they have?

And before you get carried away, foreign students on tuition grant are legally bound to serve for three years in a Singapore based company.

The cost of 4 years of university tuition subsidies easily run up to $80K per individual. $80K of taxpayers' monies that could have gone into public healthcare, social welfare, national reservers, etc. Pray tell how does Singapore recoup that sum within three years?

These foreign students represent manpower that is already well adjusted to singapoean culture, and being on the island they lower recruitment costs.

That's only because their fees are subsidized by the taxpayers. If they don't have the subsidies, do you think they will settle for lower salaries?

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Mun: the retention rate is just a little better, if the companies treat Singaporeans a little less like cheap commodities (made possible with the ample supply of cheap foreign imports), our tech sector can hum along fine without a single foreigner in our university.

I agree with u. Same scenario in IT. With "best shoring" (to ship out the manpower-intensive work) commonly practised, we really dun need so many IT grads or FT import.

Esp not those who come from a particular ex-colonial culture where:

a. they endlessly "postrate" themselves to white-skinned bosses. Over-the-top fawning over every casual remark the bosses make... and I'm not talking about small-talk here.

b. it is acceptable to for 3 man to debate 3 hours over a choosen solution which all 3 already agreed upon (in yet another multi-hour debate)... then they jack up the effort estimates to include such needless discussion time, pulling down the whole team's productivity.

c. taichi-ing work to others is "right", even when they were specifically recruited to perform with their particular "expertise" claimed on their resume. The amount of truth their resumes carry shows through in the actual work... when the "expert" cannot even advise on basic stuff, but they are often saved by their "prostrating" abilities (see item "a").

d. If/when any of them make it to mgt level, they practise discriminatory recruitment. Just take a look at any IT dept in the banking/financial sector. The joke goes about that certain country's ink... 1 drop spilled will spread quickly to cover the entire paper.

Have to admit there are a few good ones from the same country, but an overwhelming majority comes with the strange "talents" from their cultural heritage above. They make a mockery of meritocracy and/or performance-based systems.

To Anonymous February 21, 2007 10:01 PM : Congradulations! Will join your ranks soon too :-)

Anonymous said...

the government is gutless in the face of globalisation. Only paying lip service when it comes to understanding the plights of the people. Period.

Anonymous said...

Scholar here to stay,

The scholarship system is indeed here to stay because it is the best way to ensure the PAP stay in power. I am a scholar myself and while I won't say I fully agree with many of our government policies, I will think twice against speaking out, quitting my job or joining the opposition. The opportunity costs - the relatively high salary, the comparatively fast-tracked promotion path etc - are not insignificant.

Anonymous said...

I was a scholar and an ex-AO too.

I hated justifying government crap like the Globalisation stampede etc etc Imagine having to write crap speeches for the ministers that even my 10 yr old son questioned their logic!

Unfortunately, spinning lies gave me a good life. 6-12 months bonus, paid overseas studies and prestigious enrichment programs ...

Yes, scholars are here to stay. In fact, as the country goes into a regressive mode, more will want to join their ranks.

We will be seeing the erosion of the middle class. Welcome to the great divide of haves and have-nots.

Anonymous said...

"I will think twice against speaking out, quitting my job or joining the opposition." Thank you, scholars, you confirm what we suspect all along. Now you need to be honest to yourself and ask if you want your wife and children to live in such a world of lies.

Jimmy Mun said...

"If/when any of them make it to mgt level, they practise discriminatory recruitment. Just take a look at any IT dept in the banking/financial sector. The joke goes about that certain country's ink... 1 drop spilled will spread quickly to cover the entire paper"

That is exactly what I heard too. Once certain nationalities are appointed head of the department, all new hires will be from the same nation too. We are talking about white collar jobs with high pay, not hard labour. In fact, once the tipping point is hit, locals will be a poor cultural fit in such departments. The best thing is, the government REWARDS such discriminatory hiring practices by providing generous tax rebates for relocation expenses of foreigners who take up jobs that Singaporeans are dying to get. If there is a globalisation stampede threatening Singaporeans, the government is doing their darndest to make things worse.

Anonymous said...

Not only happening in the IT industry, the finance one too.

Ultimately, the majority of these FTs forced the remaining ones to quit because we can never do anything good and it will only be a waste of our time to stay when the boss had already made up his mind to replace you.

Anonymous said...


With or without the PAP, the world is full of lies, half truths and misrepresentations. Where there are humans, self interests will always rule. If you were me, would you risk your career and family to speak up against the PAP?

Anonymous said...

To "Scholar here to stay" anon,

If I were you, I would live double-faced life in the short-term while planning for my family's exit. Grab what I can from the PAP govt to facilitate my family's exit because in their eyes scholars are also dispensable once they hit 40's (except for the MIWs) to be replaced by younger scholars. In the meantime, expose their lies anonymously online for all to see the "inside" story.

Of course, you probably have your own plans ;-) but thanks for the short "exposee" anyway.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece from the Mainland Chinese perspective:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 22, 2007 11:21 AM

Not everyone is like you. There are many who choose to be true to themselves despite the opportunity costs.

Just because the world is full of liars doesn't mean it is acceptable. Otherwise, just because there are murderers, people can start killing?

In fact, if you read carefully, we already have at least one shining example among these commenters who have choosen the alternative path.

To that shining example (you know who you are), I salute you! In fact, I have higher regard for scholars who are able to stand on their own two feet in the private sector instead of pursuing a sheltered career within the service.

Anonymous said...

Yes the foreigners will hire their own countrymen and displace born and bred here Singaporeans. And instead of integrating they create their own little enclaves within the corporations. Today I took leave and had a stroll around AMK central... very soon Singapore will become China-pore or India-pore.

Anonymous said...

Of course not everyone is like me. No one is the same. I am being true to myself when I weigh the costs and benefits. That's just how I work.

I am not condoning lying but I do not believe anyone has the right to judge his fellow beings. I don't agree that I am any lesser than the "shining example who has choosen the alternative path". It's just a matter of perspective and priorities.

I proudly stand on my own feet in the public sector and civil servants work just as hard as anybody else, if not harder. It is more "sheltered" insofar as there is greater job security compared to the private sector but the pay is commensurately lesser. I do intend to try the private sector sometime later in life but it will be for the new challenge. I don't think the world out there is without lies nor do I think that I will become "true to myself" once I cross the divide.

Anonymous said...

too many posts here for me to go thru to see if I'm making a repeated remark.

I think it's unfair we levied so much criticism on these foreign students who mind you are just teenagers.

We did not necessarily import them in. They chose to study in Singapore.

True enough. These same students may not necessarily contribute to Singapore.

But what's the harm of them coming in at all?

I'm not too sure if they are even being subsidised at all. But if they are doing so well in Singapore, they will also raise the standards of our students here.

Anonymous said...

i tink the govt should start looking for talented sgporeans who r aboard with working experience rather than foreigners. I dun belief that only foreigner are capable of handling the impt projects of sgpore. Y did these talented sgporeans leave sgpore in the 1st place? and y do these sporeans choose to stay aboard rather than coming back here to work n stay?

could it be the welfare of the workers or the sgporeans salary lack so much behind the other 1st world countries?

Is it that the oppotiunities is much much greater than sgpore? then y is this so? globalisation? too much foreign talent at the expense of the local?

Maybe someone can enlighten me. ;-)

*Apologize for my poor command of English*

simplesandra said...

kf wrote: "I believe the few rationales for providing scholarships for foreign students is the same in many other countries like Japan than also provides foreign scholarships...."

I believe the US does that too, but have you compared the percentages involved? When opportunities are limited, as in the case of Singapore, it's better to protect your own and only resource(well, at least that's what they told me in school) and that's your people.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 22, 2007 10:48 PM

Action speaks louder than words. Imo, you talk too much, like NATO.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 23, 2007 12:54 AM

You don't have to read if you think it's too long. Not that I see any action (whatever that means) from you either.

Anonymous said...

"There are many who choose to be true to themselves despite the opportunity costs." Bravo! A spark of hope in a desert of disparity! Let the Ghandis, Mandelas, Martin Luther Kings of Singapore come forth! It's time to return Singapore to Singaporeans!

Anonymous said...

It's not easy to cross over the divide.

As an AO, I started off as a DD, head of a department, straight after NS. I didn't have to manage customers nor my staff because they know where they stand. The privilege of being a scholar in the elite service.

The initial years were spent drafting policies (actually, not many of my ideas were adopted because most policies were pre-determined )and doing the general admin stuff like accompanying ministers on their overseass trips.

Over the years, the job got a little bigger but fundamentally the same. But the perks were very attractive. By then, you would have developed a similar ego and mentality as the cohorts before you. Damn, they even buy the same mobiles and wear the same bloody jacket!

The private sector is totally different. I had a hard time at first. I have to do real work and perform. I see results of my decisions and their impact. I don't have the luxury of telling my boss to wait 10 years for profits to come in!

Anonymous said...

So much have been said..I think it depends what you want for yourself and for singapore.

Anonymous said...


I really like your quote :

....unlike in Singapore, where the word welfare is dirty because the million dollar ministers have no idea how to provide it for anyone other than themselves ....

Don't the ministers feel shameful of themselves???

Anonymous said...

would you rather have money or shame-free life? I hate the way they try to portray themselves as righteous all self-sacrificing great men.

Anonymous said...

Regarding policy making...the government is really hypocritical if raising the cpf contribution margin helps to offset the gst hike...it really beats me how it wants the poor & those struggling to buy into this kind of fallacy; First, you squeeze & squeeze, then you pretend to help by the outcome of the previous squeeze. The poor in spore will be doomed by this kind of hypocritical policy.

For God's sake, be sincere in helping the poor for a start! Where is the compassion? Nil!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 23, 2007 11:52 PM

I'd rather have a shame free life. What's the point of walking around without being able to lift my head up with a clear conscience?

Incidentally, people like you seem to be fond of labelling people like me as self-righteous etc. not realizing that you are in fact the self-righteous one, judging others who do not share similar values or principles as you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 23, 2007 2:09 AM

You have missed the point. You talk too much about what you will do in the future but apparently did nothing about it. It's not about how long-winded you are.

You work for the government, you say? You a scholar?

Anonymous said...

I guess that was a point I made earlier - nobody has the right to judge anyone else. We all have difference experiences which would have shaped our beliefs, values and principles. I doubt many in the public service consider their lives full of shame. That's why there will always be a great divide between the haves and the haves not.

Anonymous said...

to February 24, 2007 2:55 AM

maybe I wasn't really clear on what I was trying to say.

By 'they' I was refering to the ministers and PAP. As for what I hate about, I was refering is how the PAP ministers and their followers go around potraying themselves as righteous self-sacrificing great men who's top concern is the well-being of the people and the nation.

I wonder if they'll be as righteous and self-sacrificing if they take a pay cut of 50%.

We are on the same boat dude.

Anonymous said...

Haha, glad to see that my initial "scholars here to stay" comment has sparked some discussion among scholars and non-scholars.

Some seem to think that working as a scholar in the civil servant means doing "unrighteous" stuff i.e. not an honest way of making a living. Actually, it is not true.

When people say "unrighteous", it is usually about welfarism - how the govt refuse to implement one and how civil servants sing its tune. But many scholars (and non-scholars) dont work on that. If you are in Finance ministry or Trade and Industry, you may be dealing with finance policy for banks, MAS, economics etc. If in MOE, you work to come up with education policy. You aren't responsible for welfare policies or the lack of one.

Take the health minister for example. Is it his fault that the healthcare system in singapore is so terrible that the poor can hardly afford to get sick? He has only 4 percent of the GDP to work with!! What do you expect him to do? grow money? No matter how he and the admin service officers under him twist and turn, they can't run away from this 4%. So they arent actually responsible for the evil. In fact, they may be already trying their best to make do with whatever this 4% can give.

So let's push the blame higher up. Who is the one who decide that it has to be 4%, and that we should have no welfarism? Isn't that the old man himself? But even then, LKY is not at fault!

Since when did LKY ever lie or hide his disgust for welfarism? From day 1 of PAP's existence, he has been very open about that: as long as I am around, for so long as PAP is in power, we will not implement any form of welfarism.

He put forth this openly to the voters. Voters accept it. And so, how can we blame him, or his ministers, or the admin officers (most of whom are not working on welfare policy to begin with) for implementing what the voters want?

So want to blame, blame it right to the "top" -- the bosses of our politicians -- the voters! Specifically, our parents' generation has screwed their children's generation (destroying opportunity for welfarism, free speech, check and balance etc), in return for some immediate goodies (HDB flat?) that PAP gave them.

The only thing an admin officer scholar should feel "guilty" about is that his work is not worth the money he is getting -- the money being more for the purpose of buying him, so that he wont think of becoming an "elite" opposition member. The work itself, keke, is worth at most a fraction of what he is being paid.

Anonymous said...

Scholars here to stay

I do not disagree with your line of arguments although I would contend that it cannot truly apply in the case of Singapore because we have a pseudo democracy. Over half the population don't get to vote because of gerrymandering and the unjustifiable GRCs.

And I suspect the AO scholar won't feel "guilty" because he sees how much his political paymasters earn much, much more...

Anonymous said...

"He put forth this openly to the voters. Voters accept it. And so, how can we blame him, or his ministers, or the admin officers (most of whom are not working on welfare policy to begin with) for implementing what the voters want?"

You also couldn't simply say that since PAP is voted into power the voters agree with PAP's policies. The PAP puts forth a slew of programmes and not every single one of them goes down well with voters. Very often voters in S'pore do not have access to information or are exposed to only half-truths. Often propaganda over simplifies matters. Voters are encouraged to have faith and trust their gut feelings instead of thinking critically through things or adopt a questioning stance. More importantly one must be blind not to see how the political landscape has been monopolised by the PAP through unethical and questionable means.

In summary you appear to be talking about mandate. Does LKY and PAP has a mandate to rule? I personally say NO, judging by the way they have manipulated, coerced and terrorised voters since 1965.

Anonymous said...


Agreed with you. Not that it helps alot but at least a statement of perceived fact, PAP do not have the mandate of the people because the people never get to vote with a free conscience! Almost everyone of us have pointed out the elements of FUD-FEAR,UNTRUTH,DECEPTION besides the unfair GRC holds in voting, and yet the people's wishes and choices are overruled.

In all Singapore's circumstance, can this be true mandate but rather a Imposed Coerced One?
However, in the face of history, such impose-coerced mandate would never be able to last!

Jimmy Mun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy Mun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy Mun said...

Apologies for dupe postings above which I deleted.

I have to agree with "scholars here to stay" that the ultimate blame rest on the Singaporeans, you and me. I trust that our ministers and scholars are by far more honest than TT Durai, but that doesnt mean they are any less selfish. Plenty of NKF staff, and probably plenty more outsiders have first hand experience of the lavish expenditure at NKF, epitomised by the golden tap, but all chose to keep quiet, until one contractor who dared to risk everything to tell the truth. We may not have a true democracy, but we do have enough power at the ballot box, but collectively, we choose to let the government do whatever they want, blindly believing that because they all wear white, our ministers today will be as altruistic as those who built Singapore from scratch.

I wish I am talking about our racial superiority and how foreigners are diluting our pure blood. I wish I am talking about protectionist policies to keep our old way of life. But the truth is that, I am just asking for mercy. I dont think we Singaporeans are slackers. We can sacrifice everything when we are in the schooling treadmill. We continue to chase paper qualifications when we work. Our unofficial working hours are probably among the longest in the world. We accept everything globalisation throw at us, and yet we still told over and over again that we are inadequate, choosy, lazy.

I am not making this up, but the word on the street is that hiring managers whine non-stop Singaporeans being lousy employees, compared to the foreigners. Some went so far as declaring that, having "burnt" by too many bad hires, they will NEVER employ another Singaporean again. I am not talking about foreigners here. I am talking about born and bred Singaporean managers who stereotype Singaporeans after one or two bad apples. But even bad is subjective.

In my line of work, I had many foreigner colleagues. Many foreigners, especially the angmos, have pretty spectacularly bad working attitude. They job-hop, they complain about their "local terms" pay, they spend half the day at smoke break and if there is OT work to be done, they will still leave at 5pm sharp quietly. But it is always acceptable, because we worship the angmos.

OTOH, are the EP minimum wage workers, who barely comprehend English. You tell them meticulously the requirements and they work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, but deliver to you a product that doesnt faintly resemble what you want. But it doesnt matter. Singaporean bosses had always been worshipers of man-hours, not productivity. Nothing is more gratifying to them than to here clicking keyboards at 11pm on Saturday nights. A hardworking monkey banging on a keyboard is always better than an "overpaid" Singaporean who needs to take leave for family commitments, who has reservist commitments or, horrors of horrors, could get pregnant. And we wonder why the project cannot be delivered on time.

If "typical" Singaporeans are such losers in the job market, we wouldnt have an exodus of Singaporeans who thrive as second class citizens overseas. Even if we are all made to behave similarly, every Singapore is uniquely talented. While we cannot close our doors to foreign labour, we have to keep asking, how many is too many? Is one million too few? Do we really need 6.5 million to populate Singapore, of which 3 million will be foreigners? Is there a future for our children in an island that worships foreigners and hates Singaporeans? At which point would Singaporeans have to tread water to stay afloat, and at which point do Singaporeans start drowning?

All I am asking, is that Singapore stop systematically discriminating against Singaporeans. Give Singaporeans who want to stay, a chance to survive. If Singaporeans do not take care of Singaporeans, who will? Foreigners?

Anonymous said...

in short, the gripes are about the garmen pushing global agendas but expect its people to remain loyal locals. isn't it like feeding people with steaks and hoping that they resist imported succulant meat after for daily porridge in a CUP? or do we expect gratitude in return from people we exploit for mutual gain? and if it is all about 'what i can get out of such an arrangement', why do you begrudge someone for selling him/herself to the highest bidder or the one that can ultimately offer the individual the SPACE that you can NEVER have and offer?

incidentally, isn't it obvious that they need ft because they have built something beyond the local capacity to maintain?isn't like buying a home you can ill afford to own and end up prostituting yourself to meet hefty mortgages? not a very smart move unless of course, someone else ends up paying for all your extravagance and ill conceived vision?

Anonymous said...

Lee Kuan Yew said recently that Singapore can move towards the upper half of the first world nations in the coming 10-20 Years. I think he's senile at 84 and I hope he wouldn't be around to see that Singapore he wishes to see. I think for all he has achieved over his lifetime, he has more than took back his due deserves.

Anonymous said...

10:39am wrote: " The PAP puts forth a slew of programmes and not every single one of them goes down well with voters."

Agreed. And our parents generation supported PAP based on those half of the "slew of programmes" that give them "cheap" housing and other tangibles, completely ignoring the other half of the slew of programmes, namely the intangibles, such as "no welfarism", "no human rights", "no free press" etc.

To put it another way,
firstly, there was a time (during 1970s) where practically every constituency in Singapore was contested. Secondly, during those days, the govt was much more open - meaning LKY stated publicly again and again his anti-welfarism ideas. Plus he jailed his former comrades during Operation Cold Storage (eg. Lim Chin Siong, Lee Seow Choo etc). All these were not unknown to the Singaporeans at that time, as you seem to put it. In fact, those Singaporeans watched TV shows where such former political prisoners have to openly admit that they were communists before they were released!!!

So, in that sense, no Singaporeans in the 1970s has been tricked. They did conciously give PAP the mandate to imprison its political oppoenents, as well as to violate an entire slew of human rights issue, in favour of their own monetary gain -- against their consience, they did it, every 4 years.

Today, in their mid 50s (assuming they were in their 20s in 1970s), they are now reaping the bad karma that they sow when they sold their souls 30 yrs ago. I hate to say this: serve them right!

Likewise, right now: while the govt has become more opaque (now that the big-mouth one is not in the front seat :), its anti-welfarism stand is still clear cut. And its so-called unfair tactics towards oppositions and the use of GRC and electoral boundaries etc are well known. In fact, I am sure we all heard of LKY repeating several times that if it is necessary, he will implement a some-man-2-vote system. And in the latest case, he talked about the army intervening in a "freak election". So, nobody is in the dark at all. If in the face of all these, those people who can vote, still voted for tangible stuff (upgrading of estate?) , and completely ignore the various "intangibles", who are they to blame when they find themselves at the receiving end of the anti-welfarism policy, or find that their human rights have been violated, or find that they have no rights to vote any more (due to change in GRC boundary), say, 30 years from now, when they are in their vulnerable 50 years old stage?

In fact, isn't it true that the political party which speak up the most for human rights the one which got the lowest vote?

If Singaporeans (who can vote) decide that human rights are of no importance, and welfarism is none of their concern when they dont need it, then they have only themselves to blame.

Well, at least if I am a minister or an admin officer/scholar, I will use the above argument to make my concience feel better. haha!

Anonymous said...

To be long winded and to put it another way:

If voters have been saying: "I dont care how much you upgrade my life, you cannot just anyhow change single constituencies to GRC, or anyhow imprison political oppoenents, or anyhow sue them to bankruptcy, or anyhow dont give welfare to the poor and sick etc and I view such human rights/welfarism issues as more important than my own monetary gain"...

...tell me, do you think Singapore will be at the sorry state that it is now?

We gave them the mandate to take away our mandate, when we allowed them to implement GRC scheme, sue oppposition etc. Did we not? :)

Anonymous said...

"We gave them the mandate to take away our mandate, when we allowed them to implement GRC scheme, sue oppposition etc. Did we not?"

No we didn't. And as someone pointed out already, winning rigged elections or competing unfairly do not constitute a mandate. You are just going around in circles.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 24, 2007 3:01 AM

Sorry I somehow missed your post earlier.

I don't think I missed your point. But anyhow I don't really know how you would suggest I not talk about what I will do in the future since it is in the future after all. I also don't know how you manage to come to the conclusion reading my ealier comments that I am apparently not doing anything about it. Rest assured I am.

And yes, I work for the government and I am a scholar.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe the kiddos aren't imports. Maybe they bought a place to study here, and advance through "meritocracy" after that.

I think what matters is that they don't take up the place of our local kiddos who want to go for the same education courses, especially since the forign kiddos might pack up and go just like Metzger.

We could do without the education wastage, especially since there's the brain drain phenomenon. Lets hope that by letting our local kiddos into those courses, we would seee more local 'talents 'sprouting up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the government's take on foreign students in Singapore. As harsh as it sounds, globalisation means that our kids wouldn't be competing with just their local peers for the same slice of cake next time and letting exposing them to competition young will ease their transition into the harsh world where survival of the fittest counts. The government is fixed on its policies of embracing globalisation, so there's no turning back unless we see a change in government within the next 10 years. So as long as PAP is in power, the foreign talents will be there.

The only question is while other countries in europe that promotes globalisation probably has more measures and budget in place to support its own citizens in tough times, the government in Singapore will continue to treat its citizens as expandable numbers and digits to enhance statistics and quotas.

Anonymous said...

My estimate is there are at least 30 - 40% of Singaporeans who are dissatisfied with the PAP openly and will definitely vote against PAP.

Why then is there a 0% presence of these 30-40% in parliament? It's clearly unfair and injust. The drawing up of GRCs to separate areas where opposition voices are strong is simply wrong. I cannot imagine voting for in a woodland GRC when I stay in Aljunied, but I seriously think it might just happen in the next elections.

zHuAz said...

Mr Wang, agreed.

As for the "competitive environment" argument, yes we win maths and science prizes in primary and secondary education, but look at the prizes we win at higher education. Zilch.

So is "competitive environment" producing where we need talents (higher end) or not?

Anonymous said...


this is the kind of foreign students we have...

Anonymous said...


are you numb? our best singaporeans are all on scholarships overseas, contributing to the educational quality of those prestigious universities. :)

To be fair, NUS/NTU have been improving in the past few years. I've seen a heck lot of changes; not all good, but many definitely applaudable efforts.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those foreign students. Today, I married a Singaporean woman, and have a Singaporean son.

I am not the few exceptions of these foreign students who stayed behind. Many of my friends (including my sister and cousin) whether on scholarship or not, chose Singapore as their home after they graduate and started work.

We have grown up here, have our friends here, and we feel comfortable here. We may hold different values from some Singaporeans due to family background, but we are mostly "Singaporeanized" and call Singapore our home.

Anonymous said...

I find it ridiculous that with the CEO of Sentosa leaving in April - the govt has yet to find replacement for him. It shows that someone has been sleeping at the wheel - one of the key responsibilities of senior mgt is to have a succession plan. No local staff were groomed to be the successor of this Metzer guy - whose biggest contribution was to cut the entry ticket price to Sentosa - what a no brainer! The current buzz at Sentosa is more due to the IR than to the Metzer guy. I think the govt is trying to sell us the "foreign talent" story again. In the private sector if a CEO were to resign before executing what he he been hired to do - he would have been ask to leave within 24 hours. It show a lack of commitment and integrity on the part of the CEO - and is like a no-no as far as most big companies are concern.