Nov 8, 2008

The Little Kiddies And Their Beauty Sleep

Back in 2006, there was a public discussion on whether primary schools should start their day a little later, for example at 8:00 am or 8:30 am, so that kids could get more sleep. (Thanks to my trusty old blog, I actually recall such things).

As far as I know, that discussion never went anywhere. Parents and teachers said a lot about it; a few doctors chirped up about the importance of adequate rest; some principals were interviewed for their opinions; and a few eccentric people even talked about the necessity of the hardship of getting up early as an essential character-building tool. But in the end most primary schools continued to start at the traditional time 7:30 am.

Back to the future. Recently my wife and I attended the orientation programme of my son's primary school (he begins Primary One next year). We learned that while the school officially started at 7:30 am, all the kids were to be in school by 7:10 am sharp.

Why? Because all the kids were to attend a daily 20-minute reading programme, before school officially began. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they would read books in English. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they would read books in Mandarin. In addition, the weaker students would be identified. Parent volunteers, pre-screened for their own language competencies, would be around every day, to help the weaker kids with their reading.

So it seems that not only are schools not starting later, some schools are starting earlier.

Personally I don't mind, because our home is quite close to the school and it won't be too difficult to get the kid there on time. The kid probably won't mind either, because he is very fond of reading.

However, it does make me wonder a little about our education system. The Singapore government likes to say that it has high standards, but are the standards high because the system is really good? Or because the students these days are just working harder and harder and harder.

20 minutes per day works out to about seven or eight extra hours per month. This particular school has just managed to create an extra full day, out of the monthly calendar.

Along the same lines, one notes that private tuition centres blossom everywhere in Singapore. Evidently, the formal education system in itself is perceived as inadequate for our students' needs. A high percentage of them look outside their schools, for the additional help they need.

The next time our Education Minister says that Singapore produces so many excellent students because of its world-class education system, perhaps someone should suggest to him an alternative explanation. Singapore produces so many excellent students because of its world-class tuition classes.

39 comments:

Quitter said...

Daily reading is good. So one way foreign school systems ensure this is by requesting parents to set aside a 20-min parent-child bonding time at **home** every evening, where the parents first help the child to read and then to write a very simple 1-sentence book "review", to be submitted the next day, along the line of: "I like this book because ____", or "This book reminded me of _____" etc

The child usually does this at 7+ pm as an extension of their pre-school bedtime-story days, and sleeps promptly at 8pm. Parents get to spend some quiet couple time together for the next 3 hours, before turning in at around 10+pm. Waking up at 7am, the young child gets the recommended/required 11 hours of sleep while parents get 8. They can enjoy a leisurely breakfast together before boarding a free school bus operated by the Ministry of Education (which is therefore accountable for any bus accidents, in contrast to privately operated buses), with seat-belts installed in every seat and drivers criminally-screened and medically-trained to perform CPR and to administer emergency medications.

School then starts at 8+, with 2 teachers to a classroom of abt 20 pupils. The first thing is usually circle time, where each child is asked to speak up while seated in a circle. It can be as simple as a 1-line reply to "What did you do over the weekend?". In this way, the child learns to speak up,learns that his opinion matters and he is a valued member of the community, and learns to take turns by listening respectfully when others speak. That's how the vocal westerner begins his training - young!

A registered nurse is employed in-house to handle any sports injury or sudden fever/vomitting, and to administer any medicine that the child needs to take eg. panadol or antibiotics.

If nothing goes wrong, school provides lunch and ends at around 2+pm, whereupon another free school bus will take the child home, or the child may stay in school to attend "after-school" if both their parents are working. At 4.30pm, the parents can knock off from work, pick up their child promptly at 5pm, have a real family dinner at 6pm and the cycle repeats with the bed-time reading at 7+pm. Overall, sufficient family time and a nice stress-less way to bring up kids, won't you say?


That's what happen when money is spent on education instead of being channeled to fund the government's investment companies (which keep losing money and therefore need even more funds).

It's also what's happening in Singapore - albeit in international schools e.g. the American school.

Singaporeans cannot enroll in international schools, according to MOE's regulation. And due to space constraint, even other foreigners cannot. Only Americans can. Interestingly, the website will tell you that more than 50% of their American pupils have spent most of their lives outside USA! That's because most of their parents are not the typical white/black Americans that you see on TV. They are Asians who have given birth in USA while working/studying there, and now returning back to Asia!

Everyone who is born in usa is an American citizen. If you want a bright future for your kid, start by giving birth in USA (or Canada).

Oh, I nearly forget to mention - when your child turns 21, you can get PR as a "dependent" of your child. Another 5 years as a PR will earn you a citizenship. By then, you would be 50-60 year old. Good! Just about the right time to withdraw your CPF money completely, by renouncing your SG citizenship.


Now, do you guys understand why Singapore is losing its citizens who have studied (under scholarships!) in western countries? And why the Sg govt is a sucker, giving free money to foreigners who would very much prefer their children to study in international schools and who will emigrate to USA, after treating sg as a stepping stone?

Quitter said...

I should perhaps also add that school is much less stressful in the west because success in life does not depend on educational achievement in primary or secondary school.

During job interviews, it's your previous work experiences or actualy on-the-job capability that will propel you up the career ladder. Thus, a CEO of a company in field X would be someone with either an extensive job background in that field, or someone with impressive managerial experience in related fields. This is unlike in sg, where the job will go to an ex-SAF officer with neither, but who got there by virtue of his A-level performance 20 years ago!

There is real *meritocracy*, unlike sg, which is practicing *elitism* under the guise of meritocracy. This augers well for the companies and hence the economy, unlike our failing GLCs. But that's another topic. The point here is: parents need not be kiasu and push their kids to over-achieve in pri/sec level to ensure guaranteed "success" in life.


At the other end, construction workers receive minimum wage, with strict laws governing the use of safety harness, sufficient compensation for injury, and no competition from cheap foreign workers. This again means that parents need not push their academically-weak child overhard.

sg has a very high psychiatric visit rate for schoolchildren! And our myopia rate is one of the highest in the world. Attributing it to genetics is just plainly wrong - East Asian schoolchildren in the west do not wear spectacles at the same rate that Singapore pupils do, even though they share the same inheritable genes. The lack of kiasu parents is the key (but it's not the fault of the parents, as explained earlier.) The lack of kiasu teachers/principals whose performance bonus is dependent on ranking is another reason.


LKY once said that he thinks it's a good idea to give 2 votes to those with family so that they can vote on behalf of their yo8ung children who do not get to vote. I do not know what is getting to his head!! If you have kids, you will not want to raise them in PAP's Singapore!


I should also add that Sg's pupils are living like the inner-city kids of New York etc, where they get to loiter on the streets after school. In Western countries, the (upper?) middle-class can choose to live in the suburb, where the kid, upon being ferried home by the school bus, would have nowhere to go to but to stay at home to study, since an infrequent and long bus journey is the alternative to cheap cars (which they are too young to drive)!

Ok, I know have extended Mr. Wang's school-starting-time blog to a general sg-vs-west-edu-system comment. But I hope my comment has been informative to those who have a personal interest/stake in kids/schools issues. Thanks.

hojiber said...

In USA, the "No Child Left Out" policy has been touted as the "No Teacher Left Standing" policy. Hehehe just ask the Americans lah.

Tatjana said...

Dear Mr. Wang, I hear where you are coming from re the stress of education on especially the very young Singaporeans. While it would be great if the education system can be relaxed just a little, it may not be practical because Singapore's only resource is essentially its people. Singapore unfortunately is not endowed with a huge piece of land or natural resource (other than its location). Looking to the US for e.g. the education system is relatively relaxed compared to Singapore, many US students graduate school without being sufficiently versed even in the basics. Because of the size of the US population, even if it churned out only 20% of sufficiently educated people the country will still do well because it is a magnet for the best talent in the world. The best of the best will always want to live and work in the US because of its unique attributes. On the other hand, if Singapore's education churn out only 20% of sufficiently educated people, where do you think Singapore's economy will be in 20 years??? With the rapid changes in science and technology and the constant need to stay a step ahead of its neighbors, there is little choice but to continue to emphasize the importance of a high standard of education for as many students as possible. Another issue that should be considered is the additional stress that parents themselves place on their children to perform better than Mr. Lim's children next door, for example. I am surprised at how much the content has changed since I was in school a lifetime ago. It is tough - no dispute there as I go through my nephew's P4 science and math text books. I think parents have a role in moderating the already high stress level that schools place on the students. While I agree it would be great to be a little more relax with the education, are the parents ready to pay the price when it comes time for the children to apply for college in the elite colleges and universities overseas? Can the country continue to grow if large numbers of students graduate from schools "half-baked?" Singapore is a unique country. It is also a country that is where it is today because the government is willing to make tough choices and take heat from critics. Be thankful for the blessings that you have as a Singaporean - some countries are not so fortunate.

a beautiful lie said...

quitter is the best.

quitter said...

> Be thankful for the blessings that you have as a Singaporean - some countries are not so fortunate.

Which countries? The 1st-world countries which our PM pegs his salary to, or the 3rd-world countries whose PM earn only a fraction of our PM's?

May I know what extra "blessings" we have as a Singaporean compared to Americans (Lee Hsien Loong's salary is a few times that of George Bush), or Canadians, or Britons, or ...?

quitter said...

> The best of the best will always want to live and work in the US because of its unique attributes.

Yes! Because of its "unique" attributes such as democracy, human rights, free media, separation of power between the executive and the judiciary etc!

The "best of the best" could have made the same amt of money (and pay less tax) in Singapore. But, they have already fulfilled their basic needs (money, shelter etc) and are looking to fulfill their higher needs - universal human needs for freedom, liberty, rights to speak freely etc.

Chee Soon Juan told Lee Kuan Yew exactly that in court: we are losing our young because they find that they have no say in how the country is run, that come election time, everything is rail-roaded and they cannot choose who they want to govern them.


Thus, emigration of "the best of the best" is the fault of PAP. To attribute it to America having some "unique attributes" without acknowledging that these "unique attributes" are things which could have been achieved in Sg is to ignore the stark truth.

quitter said...

> On the other hand, if Singapore's education churn out only 20% of sufficiently educated people, where do you think Singapore's economy will be in 20 years???

Singapore's education IS indeed churning out only 20% (in fact, 10%) of sufficiently educated people - for the past 40 years, we sent only 10% of the population to university, while artificially suppressing the education opportunity of the other 90% so that they can end up as cheap assistant engineers (poly) or cheap production workers (N- and O-level) in our artificially created manufacturing-based economy!

We do not need to think how Singapore's economy will be in 20 years due to this. We are already seeing it - starting in late 1990s, Sg has been experiencing structural unemployment where the less-educated workers are unable to compete with the cheaper Indians and Chinese for the manufacturing sector pie, while we do not have enough highly-educated workers for the bio-tech and other high-tech economy! We do not have enough lawyers to become banking hub, or doctors to become medical hub.


However, in usa's less-stressed education, a much high percentage (not 20%, as you alleged) of them are highly educated in numerous universities and colleges - that's because the govt did not artificially supressed educational opportunities to create cheap workers. (Though you are right of course that "many US students graduate school without being sufficiently versed even in the basics")


So, in short, our highly-stressed education has been FOR NOTHING = wasted! - despite our students consistently scoring higher (number 1 in fact) than students all over the world in secondary/JC international math and science accessment, most of them were not allowed to proceed to university, to the detriment of their own personal achievement and the economy of Singapore.

In contrast, USA's edu is less stressed AND they produced enough lawyers and doctors and engineers and scientist.

Why have such a stressed edu if we are not prepared to let more people go into uni. The latest change from 10% to 35% is way too late - more than a generation of Singaporeans (for the past 40 years - u count yourself how many generation is that) have gone thru a stressed edu for nothing!

quitter said...

Japan's and Korea's and Taiwan's education system is also very stressed. However, it is "worth it", because a large proportion of these stressed students end up in universities (HK has 8 universities, for eg).

Sg is unique in that our students are stressed "for nothing" - after all the stress, for 40 years, only 10% can go university. The other 90%, in spite of world's number 1 position in international math/science assessment, ended up with much lower qualification that their international counterpart what go thru much less-stressed edu.


Thus, the govt-introduced stress in Sg's edu is not to maximise human resource, but to allocate students into various vocation. Eg. in pri 3, there is a stressful gifted-stream assessment to allocate top 1% to said stream. At Pri 4, another stressful assessment go allocate bottom X% to EM3 (now changed, but still principal remains). At Pri 6, a major streaming test to allocate 65% to express stream, 35% to normal stream, so that we can have X% going to ITE, Y% going to Poly and Z% going to uni to fulfill the govt's "outstanding" economic vision of how many percentage of these we need in the economy 10 years later.


In fact, education in SG has never based on educational principals. MOE has never ever been headed by educationist, but always by economists/engineers. Their various committees (for eg. we now have one going on regarding whether schools should go all single-session) are also filled by non-educational background people - eg. that said committee consist of scientists like Jackie Ying etc who has no teaching background at all!

Always it is the same - economist/engineers decide: a) what is the starting ingredient b) what is the end product we want c) how to get the teachers to transform from start to finish.

Some say we have to do things in this unique way because sg is unique. I disagree. The end result of doing things in this strange unique way is that when economic/engineering planning goes wrong (as they inevitably will, since we do not have a crystal ball), our people suffer - eg. now that our manufacturing-based planning goes wrong, we find that our educationally-suppressed workforce cannot cope with the knowledge-based economy. Where are all the docs and lawyers and biologists needed for the medical hub, legal hub, bio hub and whatever hub?

So, I say: let's do edu for edu sake and stop all these nonsensical planning, and artficial stress.

Ponder Stibbons said...

quitter wrote:

said committee consist of scientists like Jackie Ying etc who has no teaching background at all!


Ummm, Jackie Ying is a MIT professor.

Quitter said...

Universities professors do not undergo specialised professional teacher's training designed specifically for primary and secondary level teaching. In fact, they have no teacher's training at whatever level.

So, unless we see no professional value in NIE's training, and no difference bet teaching at the pri and sec level (NIE's courses differentiate between the two levels), let alone the uni level, and no diff bet the pschology of the students of various ages, and the pedagogical diff and diff in how to handle pri sch kids compared to uni kids, and no value in practical teaching experience at said level...

..else we can say she has zero teaching experience at the sch level that the committee is to work on.

The committee, btw, also consist of business "leaders" - I believe even one foreign CEO from India, a Gupta something.

The result of asking these "outsiders" to run a committee while excluding all the "insiders" -- teachers with years of experience in sch, principals, MOE specialists -- is that it is going to come up with nonsensical ideas, which is the typical way Sg is run - starting with Ho Ching, an engineer prior to becoming CEO of Temasek, all the way to Colonel whoever, CEO of the Zoological Garden etc.

Quitter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quitter said...

- Army run by bookworm scholars instead of military enthusiast promoted after years in the field.

- tourist promotion board run by someone with no tourism industry experience and has never ever been a tour guide

- table-tennis association run by someone who maybe don't even know how to play table-tennis, let alone has any experience in competitive sports coaching or training

- land transport authority and the various bus mrt companies run by people who are not in the transport business prior to becoming ceo

- suzhou industry park run by govt technocrat (many in the 1st "generation" don't even speak Chinese or insist on speaking English and very eager to let their Chinese counterpart know that they are not kakis with shared common ancestor i.e. tried their best to distance/differentiate themselves from the Chinese while doing business with the Chinese) instead of experienced business men (who would have tried their best to find - or even invent - common grounds with their client)

- various committees to decide your life in education, transport etc with members all being outsiders.


this is Singapore - a believer that IQ (actually A-level results) is more important than experience, even 20 to 30 yeras after leaving school!


I tell you - if you have a committee made up of 100% teachers, and principals and moe specialists, and you tell them to give you a purely an educational pt-of-view ans as to what time sch should start, the ans will be much much better than Mr. Gupta (from India) and Dr. Jackie Ying (from usa) and their other fellow members!

Tatjana said...

Thanks quitter for sharing your point of view. Every country is unique and "one shoe does not fit all" in governance. Each country's governing body has to tweak the general principles of democracy to fit their country.

On the issue of salary, a US President has a maximum of two terms (8 years) and if he bungles his administration, he serves only one term (4 years). Regardless of whether he serves 4 years or 8 years, he will be paid for the rest of his life.

As of 2001, the salary of former Presidents will be based on the annual salary of a cabinet secretary plus a generous allowance for office and staff.
As of 2001, the funds for office and staff is limited to 4.5 years after he leaves office.

In Clinton's case, he receives $151,000 plus $150,000 for office and staff and Mrs. Clinton receives $20,000 a year for being a former First Lady (not sure if her compensation is for life).

In addition, former Presidents receive secret service protection for 10 years after they leave office and if they have minor children, their children are protected until they reach age 16 years.

You can do the math - exactly how much a one-term US President is really paid for his 4 years of service or a two term President is paid for his 8 years of service.

Furthermore, US Presidents have vast opportunities to make huge amounts of money after their term. For eg. according to some, Clinton gets a retainer of several millions a year just to be on call for the Saudis. Presidents go on the speaking circuit, write books, consult etc. Clinton was paid $31 million in speaking fees from 2001-2005!

Do not look only at a slice of the pie, you have to view things in context and in totality.

The reality is "the best of the best" do not go to the US to exercise their political freedom of speech etc, they go to the US to work with the best in their field and to push the envelop of knowledge in their particular field. They are challenged by the high concentration of brain power in their field. They are too busy working and have little time for politics.

You may not believe this but Americans in general work very hard. They are not guaranteed a 13month pay or health care. Freedom here includes freedom of companies to declare which of the public holidays will be observed and whether or not employees will get health coverage. Not all companies offer paid sick days - so if you are sick, you are out of luck - no pay for days you can't get to work.

The US government machine is for the most part run by lawyers - most Senators and Congressman are lawyers perhaps partly because Congress is the legislative branch of government and partly because lawyers are trained to think differently and therefore especially suited to perform the duties assigned to Congress.

The fact is the US Congress holds the real power in directing the path of the country's future. They make the laws and the President's office (executive branch) executes them.

Leaders are chosen for their ability to grasp the complexities of situations that arise, have a macro view of the various elements and offer a solution. They do not necessarily have to be an expert in the subject. The experts provide the information. The leaders review the information and makes a decision based on a macro perspective that goes beyond just for eg. education or domestic security.

The implications of every decision made by government has a ripple effect on other areas. Sometimes they are right in their assessments and sometimes they are wrong but remember, they based their decisions on what is the best available information at the time, draw reasonable conclusions and then proceed to make reasonable projections of the consequences or future. Hind sight is always 20/20.

Although there is a two party system in the US, the political course is rather predictable. A President is elected for one or a maximum of two terms. It is rare in US history to have a party successfully have their guy in the White House for two terms followed by another win by another candidate from the same party. The most recent was Bush, Sr, who won after Reagan's second term ended but he served only one term.

Many Americans are not exactly happy with either party and would like to see a third party emerge but the two dominant parties are deeply entrenched in the system.

People may want change but they are also weary of the unknown and they ultimately opt to go with what they know, hence a third party has an enormous task to overcome. Likewise in Singapore, people may prefer to have a second party but unless the second party instill confidence in the people, it will not be a viable second party.

The second or third party should not see its function as opposing the dominant party/parties, they should instead craft a philosophy of their form of governance, communicate/sell their principle beliefs to the people and offer a real plan for constructing a better future. Interestingly, the President elect of the US got elected on the basis of his call for CHANGE - no specifics! Not many people can pull that off - so hats off to President-elect Obama!

Talk is cheap and blaming another is easy, coming up with workable solutions is difficult as the new President elect of the US will soon find out. It is easy to point to all things wrong but when he sits in the White House with all facts in front of him, he will realize that his hands may be tied or there are considerations that someone on the outside is not privy to. As President however, he will have to ultimately do what is best for the country based on available information at the time he makes the decision.

Freedom of speech etc is somewhat over-rated. There are two sides to everything just like a coin. The freedom to speak also means the freedom to suppress other people's speech. Not all speech are protected speech for e.g. fighting words, speech that falls in the category of clear and present danger, obscenity, certain commercial speech are not protected.

The majority wins in a democracy. A democracy doesn't mean you get what you want. Freedom doesn't mean you get what, the majority still rules.

When the Democrats wins, the Republicans loses i.e. Republican voters are not getting the kind of government they want and will have to live with the kind of governance favored by the Democrats and vice versa.

Much has changed in Singapore. In the 70s, there was only one university and one polytechnic. Then, only the top five percent of the population qualifies. Now there is NUS, NTU, SMU and there are several polytechnics which allows the late developers to eventually get a degree if they are persistent and willing to work for it.

There is perhaps too much experimentation in the education system and some students are harmed by the experiments. That is the price of change. The only conclusion I can draw is the education system has moved away from the traditional English system to the more dynamic and flexible American model. I personally prefer the traditional style but that style may no longer be suitable for the challenges of the 21st century.

It is for Singapore parents to ease the stress on their children. The need to catch up with the Lims and Tans is additional stress children who are less able do not need. School should be still be fun for children.

These days the children appear to be so much smarter. Children are like sponge - they can soak in a lot more than we give them credit for and for those children who have difficulty keeping pace, parents should recognize it, refrain from adding to their stress and work closely with the teachers. It is true not all schools or teachers are up to that level of commitment for less abled students, so it is up to the parents to seek out the right school for their children as they progress through the school system. There is no reason to force a child to stay in a prestigious top level school if your child has difficulty keeping pace with others. Better to lose face then fail to put your child's best interest ahead of everything else.

If you think the US education is so great, perhaps you should consider moving to the US to enjoy a school system where some schools have metal detectors installed at the entrance to the school, where you never know when some kid might bring a gun to school, where if you happen to live in a less desirable area, you do not know when there might be a drive-by shooting in the school district where your kid goes to school.

Again, you are looking only at a slice of the picture - if you view situations in totality, you might discover the blessings that you turned a blind eye to.

There is an increasing number of families in America who have turned to home schooling because the school system in their district is not delivering the standard of education parents expect.

Yes, there are more universities in the US and therefore more opportunities to get a degree. Keep in mind also that state universities are funded based on enrollment - what does that tell you about how many of students actually qualify to be in college (university in Singapore)? Many lower tier colleges churned out students who can't write a decent report.

Unless you are enrolled in elite universities, a college degree is sometimes a ticket to nowhere.

With regards to professions like lawyers, doctors and biotech professionals. In the field of biotech, you go almost nowhere without a masters or PhD. Law degree requires three years of basic degree and three years of law school plus passing the Bar exam administered by individual states and to practice in another state, you have to take bar exam of that state.

A lawyer as a new entrant into the market makes about $65,000 - exception if you graduate from ivy league or elite law schools and are hired by the leading law firms. So after 6 years of higher education and perhaps $100,000 worth of education loan, you make $65,000 of which some 30% goes to taxes. A handyman on the other hand makes $45 an hour. Do the math, a lawyer with 6 years of college and post-grade education makes perhaps $55 an hour.

The moral of the story is that comparison gets you nowhere. You are better off doing the best you can with what you have. That's what people do in America. You also have the option to move to a country where you think your needs for freedom of speech etc can be fulfilled.

I can certainly assure you that even in the US, change does not happen simply because you are given a voice and it does not come from simply voicing your desires. Change has to come from you and your effort.

To effect change in the US, you need more than the freedom of speech, you need to be prepared to put in the effort, get organized, get financed and network with the right people and your whole life will be dug inside out by people who oppose you.

Many Americans died in the civil war to free the slaves. Many people die to end discrimination. Freedom comes at a high price - are you willing to pay that price?

Ordinary people in the US succeed not because of the freedom guaranteed by their Constitution (freedom is not guaranteed by the party in charge) but because of the inherent unique spirit in America.

In America, children are brought up to believe that anything is possible. Success and failure is in their hands.

Children assume self responsibility from very young age - families still make children work for the extras they want for e.g. they have to do certain chores to get an electronic gadget or clothing or they have to earn money to buy the extras they want. So indirectly, they are trained from very young that they have to work for what they want.

In contrast, children in Singapore are generally given just about everything they want unconditionally. Even if conditions are placed, the conditions are often waived.

Children in America know that they are expected to leave the house at age 18 and fend for themselves. Some parents may be kind enough to help them with college expenses but many American kids put themselves through college by working part-time. This is yet another eg. of the unique attributes of America. You have to sweat and work for what you want from a very young age.

Those who refuse to put in the work are the ones you read in the newspapers complaining that they are not given a fair shake or the system discriminates against them. The real America is rarely portrayed in the media because doing what is normal and right is not news. News is when people deviate from the norm.

Americans believe they have the power to change their life and be whatever they want. They are not afraid to fail - there is no stigma for failure. In fact, people are admired for trying. People who do not move forward in life are those who wait for the government to do things for them or blame their failure on the system.

Of course, there are some people who are just in a very bad situation regardless of how hard they try. Such is life.

Life is never fair!

Fox said...

Tatjana paints a rather grim picture of life in America which is very much at variance with the one I am familiar with.

I know quite a few Singaporeans who have come over to Singapore to find a better life for themselves. No, most of them do not belong to the upper socio-economic stratum of Singapore but have still managed to make good in the US, much better than what they might have achieved in Singapore.

For instance, my friend's sister-in-law was an accountancy graduate from NTU and applied to do a 2nd Bachelors in law in NUS. However, she was rejected by NUS because she had a second lower. Instead, she got her J.D. from a reputable (but not elite) public state university in a Midwest state and then found work for a major US law firm based in New York City. Many of her classmates have found well-paying jobs in the private sectors.

Tatjana also implied that you have to go to an elite university to make it in the US or that only quality education can be obtained in private Ivy League universities. That is far from the truth. In reality, in most big and mid-sized states, there is at least one reputable public university. American high school leavers have the choice of affordable quality education. Provided that one does well in university, undergraduate education can be essentially free for Americans. Because there are many universities - good and bad - in America, there is strong competition for good students and schools compete by offering generous financial aid. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Singaporeans in Singapore universities. I know of people who did well in NUS (graduated with 1st-class honours) but still had to give tuition during their undergraduate days to pay for their fees.

People who have served in the US military get $50K towards their tuition as well as a $1200 monthly allowance for 4 years. I know because that's how my American friend put himself through school. In contrast, NS in Singapore gets you nothing but worried looks from prospective employers.

No, not all high schools in the US have metal detectors. In fact, I believe most don't. Singaporeans who emigrate to the US don't usually end up in ghetto districts.

It's difficult for Tatjana to believe but some public high schools in the US can also actually provide quality education.

About American children working, allow me to reassure you that many Singaporean kids also do the same. I worked during the holidays as a teenager in Singapore. One should however bear in mind that high school students in the US have much less schoolwork and that menial jobs are much better-paying than in Singapore. Being a waiter in the US pays much better than a waiter in Singapore.

The proof is in the pudding. I know of no middle class Americans who aspires to emigrate to Singapore for a better life for themselves or their children; many Singaporeans from the heartlands of Toa Payoh and Tampines have crossed the Rubicon to move to America and made better lives for themselves.

Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fox said...


"A lawyer as a new entrant into the market makes about $65,000 - exception if you graduate from ivy league or elite law schools and are hired by the leading law firms. So after 6 years of higher education and perhaps $100,000 worth of education loan, you make $65,000 of which some 30% goes to taxes. A handyman on the other hand makes $45 an hour. Do the math, a lawyer with 6 years of college and post-grade education makes perhaps $55 an hour."


A couple of inaccuracies.

1. If you make $65,000, you pay nowhere near 30 percent of your income as taxes.

2. A handyman charges $45 or more per hour but they don't don't work 8 hour days. Handyman don't make that much money. Not as much as lawyers. They probably don't get employee health benefits either which is worth a lot in the US.

Quitter said...

Tatjana, your comment is long, so though I disagree with everything you wrote, I will just briefly rebut them in main categories:

1. ON SALARY
Strange you would want to talk about US ex-presidents' being paid for the rest of their lives; SG's ex-ministers (not just PM!) receive pension amounting to two-third of their last-drawn salaries, for the rest of their lives! Thus, Lee Hsien Loong (and his entire cabinet) will receive $2,000,000 as pension after he leaves office, which means he will earn several times more than a working US president, let alone US ex-president, for the rest of his lives.

But wait, PM Lee is drawing his pension right now while still in office! Yes, in SG, ministers can draw *both* a pension and a salary while in office, so long as they are above 55 years old! Double pay.

I don't know why else you would want to delve on salary. Singapore is practicising Leegalised Corruption. Period.


2. ON DEMOCRACY AND FREE SPEECH
It is only partly true (the other part has to do with freedom and democracy) that the "best of the best" stayed on in USA to work with the best brains in their field . However, why are "the best brains in their field" in USA in the first place? Ans: they were attracted there by democracy/free speech. It is already a foregone conclusion that people all over the world, who yearned for democracy and liberty and meritocracy and the better life that democracy and liberty and meritocracy brings, emigrate to usa. I don't think there is anything to argue here at all. Only those who benefit from elitism (not meritocracy) would prefer sg!


3. ON SCHOOLS
It is disgusting to hear you dismiss Singaporeans like this: "There is perhaps too much experimentation in the education system and some students are harmed by the experiments. That is the price of change."

Firstly, it is not "some". Cohortsss of Singaporeans have been destroyed. If you need a figure, it's 40 cohorts! And it is NOT the price of change - it is the price of voting PAP.

Moving on to metal detectors and shootings: USA is a big country, and such things occur in a very small part of the country and you can choose to stay far (far far) away from those places and stay in super safe neighbourhood. In sg, it's a small city-Island. There is no safe haven. School crimes resulting in death (not by shooting though) is everywhere and anywhere.


4. ON INCOME
I will not go into detailed debates with you abt the pay of a handyman versus a lawyer in USA. But yes, in general, a handyman is paid a lot in usa compared to in sg and the income gap bet a handyman and a lawyer is smaller than in sg. Good for workers in USA! SG's GINI COEFFICIENT is one of the highest in the world and has already exceeded the danger level. Is that good? Why do you even want to highlight it?


5. ON LIFE IN USA VERSUS SG IN GENERAL
Whether as students or as working adult, life in USA (and in western countries) are easier than in SG.

To go into details would require pages. Fox has already given some examples, and I think it suffice for me to just add 1 general point:

In USA, your position in life depends on your current expertise, not on your A-level results 20 years ago.

Quitter said...

>You can do the math - exactly how much a one-term US President is really paid for his 4 years of service or a two term President is paid for his 8 years of service.


Ok, I did the math: a 1-term US president is paid only 4 years of presidential salary, and then a "non-presidential salary" till death (according to you).

In SG, our president does no work, and yet refuses to leave after 10 or 20 years, and is not even elected by the people in the first place. While in office, he receives both a presidential sslary and a pension - both of which are higher than the salary of the president of the united states! After he leaves office, he continues to receive a higher-than-usa-president's pension till death. And the same goes for the PM (who will become SM and then MM - more than 8 years). So, yes, you do the math, please!


>Clinton gets a retainer of several millions a year just to be on call for the Saudis. Presidents go on the speaking circuit, write books, consult etc. Clinton was paid $31 million in speaking fees from 2001-2005!

These money come from the private sector. I am sure Americans would be outraged if their presidents are not elected by them, do no executive work while in office, refuse to leave after 2 terms, get a pension while in office, and continue to receive PUBLIC money worth several millions a year after leaving office!

Quitter said...

Finally, to even compare SG's PM/President to the President of the United States, is to insult Singaporeans' intelligence:

SG is a ridiculously small country compared to USA - a city-state with a homogeneous economy, unlike the diverse agricultural/biotech economy in USA. Our foreign engagement is no where as complicated as those of USA.

That our PM can command a salary several times that of the United States is nothing short of LEEgalised corruption.

And our president doesn't even work - if you care to remember.

Anyway, we are off topic. This issue of salary started when you told us to count our blessings by comparing Sg to other countries. To tell you the truth, everytime I do such a comparison (where other countries = usa or some western countries, whose PM gets only one-quarter of our PM), I am glad I have quit SG.

Tatjana said...

To Fox, in addition to regular income tax, there are less obvious taxes that one pays out of income e.g. sales tax, real property tax etc and it all adds up. I do however stand corrected if my estimate of the tax is inaccurate.

To Quitter, it appears you quit SG! Enjoy life in your adopted country! Leave Singapore alone. If you wish to change Singapore, then return to change it in a positive way. You could introduce the good principles in your adopted country to SG.

Tearing it down from afar and when you are no longer a participant in the society serves no purpose except as a vent for pent-up frustrations. The frustrations cannot be caused by the SG system since you no longer reside there!

You'll find more peace of mind when you stop focussing on how much other people are paid. Focus on the good life you have in your adopted country (a country you choose to reside in) and enjoy it. We are all in this world only temporarily, live it with a positive attitude. Contribute to it positively, not tear it down!

Why harbor so much bitterness? If you are enjoying life in your adopted country, all that bitterness should be erased especially since you have the good fortune of living in the greatest country in the world.

I am guessing you are currently residing in the good old US of A - how comes the positive and good spirit of the Americans have not rubbed off on you?

Tatjana said...

To Fox, my intent is not to paint a grim picture of life in US. On the contrary, I see a lot of goodness in life in the US. I was just pointing out that there are good and bad aspects of life in the US, just as there are in SG. Quitter was looking at SG very negatively and I was making a point that there are negatives in the US, too.

There are many tiers of universities in the US, I am not saying that you have to be at top tier - just that you get absorbed into the workplace initially based on which university you graduate from i.e. graduates from the top universities in the country or state will have a easier time and be the first in line for jobs in their field - that is just the way things work in the real world.

There was no intent to say that the lower tier university graduates will not get a job - there is always a hierarchy regardless of where we live or work.

Generally Asian students do well in school in the US primarily because parents place great emphasis on education. Generally, Asian immigrants in particular, Singaporeans are unlikely to end up in the bad parts of any town in the US. Therefore, they are also not exposed to the miseries of life in America.

The point is about perspective. In a great country like the US, why should there still be slumps and areas that are out of control. Why should people still live in poverty. All the freedoms of this great country has little meaning when you can't put food on the table and when you have to worry about drive-by shootings in your neighborhood - and that scenerio still exists in some parts of America.

Military service is voluntary in the US unlike Singapore which is compulsory. Because military service is voluntary, the government throws in a few incentives to encourage recruits and that includes the $50,000 towards tuition that you mentioned.

In the US, the young men and women who sign up voluntarily do so for different reasons - some come from a long line of family members who serve in the military and who believe strongly in service to the country, others volunteer to join the military to access college education and some are "compeled" by their parents to join the military service because their parents have problem disciplining them and thought the military could set their children straight.

I was troubled by a report stating that many joined the US military because they are poor and signing up was the only way they could get to college - $50,000 tuition fee incentive they get for signing up. I actually had a discussion with a young person about it and this young Asian American stated that it is not accurate - pointed to himself as an eg. of how accessible college education is and that signing up for military service is not the only way for poor students to get college education. He said that as long as your grades are good enough to qualify for a college, once accepted the college will spare no efforts to help their students access funds and student loans. I guess the those who sign up with the military make a conscious choice to incur less student loan debt. But it means they have to serve the military for a certain number of years.

So, we are back to we make choices in life and there is a price for every decision we make.

On the statement that few Americans aspire to emigrate to Singapore. It is also true that few Americans aspire to emigrate to Europe or anywhere for that matter and it has nothing to do with how great America is - it is just the nature of Americans. It is not just the freedoms they have, it is also the vastness of the land and the availability of opportunities and options by virtue of its sheer size. It is as always a combination of many factors coming together, not a single factor.

Additionally, a majority of Americans do not travel outside of the US and if they do, they go to the Carribeans or Mexico.

Many Americans have no idea where exactly is Singapore located. America is the "world" to most Americans - there are many Americans who live and die in the state they were born in - never setting foot on another state.

On the other hand, perhaps because of its small size, Singaporeans tend to be more internationalized. I know more than a few Singaporean children who by the age of ten have been to Europe, US, Australia, Japan, China including Hong Kong, Thailand etc. I can't say the same for American children of the same age. Because of this internationalization, Singaporeans tend to see the world differently and much less afraid to venture away from home.

The assessment that many Singaporeans aspire to move has something to do with the people we hang out with. Like-minded people generally hang out together.

I know many Singaporeans who have absolutely no desire to emigrate despite the imperfections in Singapore, despite disliking the high level of stress, limited avenues for leisure etc.

To each his own. Our blessing is we have the freedom to choose where we want to live. Let's enjoy the good fortune we have and be cognizant there are good and bad in all things, all places and all countries. We can choose to enjoy the good and positive or embitter our lives by focussing on the negatives.

Tatjana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fox said...

Tatjana,

The GI Bill, which pays for college tuition, has been around since the end of WW2, way before conscription was abolished in the US. Americans who were drafted to serve in the military received GI Bill benefits similar to those received by current ex-military volunteers.

It has nothing to do with the fact that the US does not currently practise conscription. It is about proper recognition and compensation of those who have been in service (voluntary or involuntary) to the country.

You can contrast that with the attitude of the Singapore government towards the contributions of its NSmen.

Quitter said...

Tatjana, I see that you are no longer capable of rebutting any of my latest points, and have therefore convenietly chosen the "easier" path of a personal attack abt my quitter status! But alas for you, quitter or not, my points stand on their own merits, and your personal attack will not diminish them.


Also, unfortunately for you, LKY's relics of "enjoy life in your adopted country! Leave Singapore alone", comes from the age where Singaporeans are less travelled and easily conned. In this global age, Singaporeans are happy to hear from the experience/opinion of a quitter and to judge for themselves whether they, too, should quit LKY's Sg!

So, if you are not happy, I suggest you leave this blog, instead of telling me to shut up. United States and this very blogspot thingy that it invented is very much for free speech. It is very ironical of you to come to the American-invented blogspot to tell an American to not comment on Singapore, using some out-dated illogical personal attack.


Not only do "outsiders" (in quotations since we are now in a global village age) have the right to comment on Singapore, their views are very welcomed as they provide external perspectives. Even more so are views of "quitters" - their knowledge of their native homeland, viz a viz their new experience in their new country add depth to the discussion.

Ah, no wonder LKY and his mouth piece i.e. you (who are using his reasoning), would like to tell us to shut up.


> Tearing it down from afar and when you are no longer a participant in the society serves no purpose except as a vent for pent-up frustrations.

"it"? None of us are tearing Singapore down. We would love to tear PAP down though. Our opinion do seem to serve lots of purpose, which is why you seem all too eager to tell us to shut up.


And nope, deliberately labeling our well-meaning opinion as "pent-up frustration" or saying that we are out to tear sg apart, or that the media in our new country has a 25-years hidden agenda to do sg in (as lky said), is NOT going to change the truth of what we said by a single bit. And Singaporeans are becoming mroe discerning nowadays...


> You'll find more peace of mind when you stop focussing on how much other people are paid.

Of all arguments supporting LEEgalised corruption, this one is the most full of hot air!


> Focus on the good life you have in your adopted country (a country you choose to reside in) and enjoy it.

and don't remind your friends and relatives and ex-colleagues back in Singapore about the LEEgalised corruption of the PAP government! -- Fat hope! In your dream!


> Why harbor so much bitterness?

That's right: "pent-up frustration". "bitterness". Any more personal attack? How about LKY's famous "near-psychopath"? Shouldn't you be using that on me too? It may help you score some points with him. Ha!


> how comes the positive and good spirit of the Americans have not rubbed off on you?

It has. Americans love to speak up for injustice. While I have not yet acquired the extremeness of it to become a busybody all over the world, I have learnt to speak up for injustice back in my native homeland.


Bottomline: Americans, foreigners, not welcome on blogspot (invented by Americans)? Only Singaporeans can give opinion here? in your wildest dream, dude!

I suggest you rebut my points than to give personal attack, if you still have any credibility left. Ha!

Quitter said...

> In a great country like the US, why should there still be slumps and areas that are out of control. Why should people still live in poverty.... can't put food on the table and when you have to worry about drive-by shootings in your neighborhood

In any country, these exist. But only in SG do these exist all over the country instead of being confined to certain "slumps"! And only in Sg, does the govt do nothing abt these under its zero welfare policy!

Pointing out the deficiency of western countries, while ignoring the even greater deficiencies in sg is the hallmark of _____ of PAP (you fill in the blank yourself).


> We can choose to enjoy the good and positive or embitter our lives by focussing on the negatives.

Wiow, that's a new strategy - telling people who are concerned abt Singapore and how PAP is doing it in, to stop criticizing PAP and go enjoy life instead. One up for you, tatjana! haha!

Tatjana said...

Hi Fox, thanks for correcting my misunderstanding. I am not familiar with the details of the GI bill but I have been told that under current practice those who signed up for military service are given some assistance if they choose to pursue college education. I do know some young people who took advantage of it.

I have absolutely no idea what kind of care or benefits Singapore offers to those who serve the military full time. I have always understood that National Service is a 2.5 years service, distinct from those who sign on. I think we may be on slightly different page here.

As for quitter, I sense frustration and bitterness in your various responses and was merely expressing what I sensed. It was not meant as a personal attack and I apologize if you take it that way.

Singaporeans are frequent travellers to all parts of the world and have access to information. They are also generally well-educated. They can determine for themselves either by direct personal experience or by researching what the rest of the world is like. They definitely know Singapore and what Singapore is about.

I personally would not presume that they are ignorant or need a wake-up call from those who emigrated overseas to what you labeled as injustices. That would be insulting to them.

We clearly have opposing view about Singapore, so let's agree to disagree and leave it at that.

This blog belongs to Mr. Wang, he has moved on, so should we.

Have a great day!

Jimmy Mun said...

Tajana,

you obviously have no first hand experience of either being a Singapore citizen or a US citizen and is quoting whole load of hearsay.

(NS has not been 2.5 years for quite a long while, but I dont quite feel like wasting time explaining to you what follows after that.)

As a Singapore citizen, I find quitter's comment very helpful, and not the least insulting.

OTOH, I feel very insulted by your "defence" of Singapore based not on facts, but on Singapore government propaganda.

Singaporeans can defend Singapore if we want to.

You are obviously a "foreign talent" in Singapore enjoying all sorts of government subsidies that Singaporeans dont get. If I were you, I would love the Singaporean government too.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Singaporeans are frequent travellers to all parts of the world and have access to information. They are also generally well-educated. They can determine for themselves either by direct personal experience or by researching what the rest of the world is like. They definitely know Singapore and what Singapore is about."


LOL ... That may be why Singapore has the second-highest emigration rate in the world (after East Timor).

Tatjana said...

Mr. Wang, exactly my point, those who are not happy with the Singapore system are free to leave. They left - hence as you said, Singapore has the second highest emigration rate. That is the beauty of freedom. People are free to leave at any time.

It is up to the Singapore government to create a friendlier environment if it wants to retain its people. If it can't come up with solutions that fit the people's needs, the brain drain will continue.

I simply do not understand the bitterness harbored by people who choose to leave or the bitterness of people who choose to stay. There are no rules in Singapore preventing people from emigrating or is there?

Even in the most dire circumstances, we have choices in life. We can choose to be positive or negative - you can choose to see a cup as half full, or half empty. It is up to you.

I choose to look on the positive side of life, my environment and my circumstance. Focussing on the negatives in life gets me no where except being angry all the time and that prevents me from enjoying what is in front of me.

Life is way too short to be spent being angry, frustrated or bitter.

Thank you, Mr. Wang!

Mr Wang Says So said...

"There are no rules in Singapore preventing people from emigrating or is there?"

Yes, there are. Male citizens cannot emigrate before completing their full-time NS.

As a practical consequence, this does not restrict merely male citizens below 20 or 21 years of age.

It also restricts families where the parents have a young son, eg 3 years old.

Fox said...

Tatjana,

It is not a matter of being bitter. I am, as are others, just very annoyed that, in support of the Singapore government policies, you presented factual inaccuracies about life in America compared to life in Singapore. You leapt to the defence of the Singapore regime without a good grasp of the facts concerning the matters discussed.

1. NS is onerous and unrewarding compared to the GI bill in America even before conscription was abolished in the US.

2. Quality public university education in the US is more affordable and accessible to good students.

3. Taxes in the US are not that high. Taxes in Singapore are not that low - you also have GST, duty on petrol, import duties, etc.

Ah Siao said...

tatjana,

I am a male Singaporean, used to live in the US and now live in Canada.

I fully agree with what Fox and quitter had posted and felt that you intentionally skew the account of the situatiion in the US to make Singapore looks good.

According to your knowledge of NS in Singapore, I doubt you are a Singaporean, you can call me a bitter quitter but before you say that, I would like to know where you comming from.

You said Singaporean are FREE to leave, not exactly. I would like my son, now 9 years old, to renouce his Singapore citizenship, but no, he have to serve NS. And it would be a logistical problem even if he wants to serve cos he will be alone in Singapore, and would have to put up with our relative and troubled them.

And if he decides not to serve, he will be treated as a criminal if he ever step into Singapore, will be arrest. Yes I am bitter about this.

Tatjana said...

Mr. Wang, thank you for reminding me about the additional consideration young families with young sons have to make in their decision to emigrate. I am truly sorry to annoy your readers.

My perspective is everything is relative and I am also viewing the opportunities for higher education in Singapore today v. some forty years ago when there was only one university for obtaining a degree and one polytechnic for a diploma. From that perspective, there is relatively a lot more options for those who wish to pursue higher education in Singapore today than some 40 years ago. Obviously, the additional choices available today is still not enough.

This is what I know three Singaporean families with young sons did.

Family A is a very regular Singapore family - had a job opportunity in the US. They moved the whole family over, two young sons and a daughter. After some years, they decided that is where they want to be, they gave up citizenship - daughter has now completed college and working, two sons are now in college. They moved on with their life and Singapore is now a holiday destination for them.

Family B is what in England would be classified upper crust. They have a young family, one son and one daughter. They worked in the US, have residency status and the children attended school in the US. For whatever reason, they moved back to Singapore when their son was in his early teens, they sent their son back to the US for college education. He finished college and went back to Singapore to serve NS. Their daughter is attending college in the US. This family appears to have decided to make Singapore their primary home and abide by the rules requiring their son to return after college to complete his NS. The result is they kept their options open to move between countries.

Family C moved overseas as well and immediately acquired citizenship in their adopted country. They have a young son and young daughter. They are totally averse to their son performing his NS service so they gave up citizenship when their son was around eleven or twelve - something to do with specific rules about son having to be added to the roll for NS in the future.
They make a conscious choice to give up citizenship simply to ensure their son need not return to serve NS unlike Family A whose decision is based not on the issue of NS but based on their decision to make their adopted country their home. The result is they have closed the door to returning to Singapore and living there should their circumstance change since their decision is based on one factor - aversion to NS, not based on decision that the adopted country is where they want hang their future on.

As you can see, each family had opportunities to emigrate and the basis for their decisions are all different, as expected. They move on with the life they have chosen.

As for Fox's comments about the GI bill, I have visited the GI bill site. GI bill applies to Americans who sign up with the armed services - veterans (career v. a 2-year stint of NS) and to those who sign up as Reservist. I see it as quite different from NS.

On the issue of accessible quality education, there is no dispute there are more universities in the US. It is a big country. People tend to forget how big it is. Good students like everywhere in this world still have to meet entrance criteria of the universities.

As for affordability, keep in mind that many Americans graduate from college with a huge student loan debt and they begin their adult life burdened with that debt. See below for why greater accessibility to universities is not entirely accurate when you reduce the size of US to the size of Singapore.

On the issue of taxes, Americans pays among the highest taxes in the world. I am no expert in the US tax system. Suffice to say, the US tax system is rather complicated for the higher income group and it is estimated that the higher income group pays as much as 50% of their gross income in taxes when you take into account capital gains tax as well. In calculating taxes due, the accountant has to figure out whether the alternative minimum tax is applicable to your income bracket. So the harder you work, the more taxes you pay.

To Ah Siao, I am not deliberately skewing situation in the US to make Singapore look good. We all see and focus on what we want in a situation. That is human nature. I see both sides of the coin and when only one side is presented, my senses are alerted to the other side. I am however, not blind to the other side.

From my perspective, the US is a great country because of the spirit of its people. I believe that is because in the US, people are treated and respected as individuals. That is part of their culture and ingrain in their system.

In Singapore, people are like chess pieces on a chess board, they are constantly being moved to achieve an ultimate strategy and their importance is only in relation to other pieces on the board. That is also quite typical of traditional societies - where the individual is less important than society as a whole.

Perhaps, that is why the US is called the New World. There are strengths and weakness in the US system but its vastness permits it to absorb a lot of hits before bruises are obvious.

When talking about America, it is easy to forget how big it is and its capacity to absorb differences, difficulties and tragedies in parts of the country without catastrophic impact on other parts of the country. A small country like Singapore has very little room to manoeuvre in times of crisis. A good analogy is when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

Consider 9/11 in NY, the country took the hit on the chin. If something similar had happened in downtown Singapore, there would be no Singapopre to talk about.

Los Angeles COUNTY alone is 4,084 sq. miles and has a population of 10.3 million people. The state of California is among the top ten largest economy in the world.

Compare: Singapore is 267 sq. miles and has a population of 4.6 million (close to half the population of LA county and .065 the size of LA county - forgive me if I miscalculated the ratio). In terms of GDP, US ranks first in the world and Singapore ranks 43 (World Bank).

From this perspective to compare tiny Singapore with the whole US is to compare apples with oranges. How many colleges would be found in an equivalent area - 267 sq. miles of the US with a population of 4.6 million?

For the above reason, I am reluctant to make direct comparison between the US and Singapore. That is my answer to Ah Siao's question of where I am coming from.

For those Singaporeans who seek change, my teacher when I was in school centuries ago gave good advice. She told us we are the future and we have the power to change. But to effect change, we have to study hard, do well enough to get ourselves into positions of power. That is how we can effect changes. Action, not words alone.

Thank you, Mr. Wang! I am seeing things in its totality, not picking any particular aspect. My view appear lopsided because there is already one point of view from your readers and I am simply expressing the other point of view. Once again, I am truly sorry if I annoyed your readers.

Have a great day and a great weekend ahead! Life is good despite the imperfections around us.

The next 18-24 months will be extremely difficult for the world as a whole and when people start losing their jobs and taxes start increasing to pay for all the misdeeds of corporations and bad judgment of politicians, what is important today may be less important tomorrow. I see from your post DBS has started shredding its labor force?

When things are viewed in perspective and understanding that everything thing is relative and situation based, we'll arrive at a less emotional conclusions.

Signing off and thank you for your patience and those of your readers.

Fox said...

1. The apt comparison to the current NS system in Singapore would be the benefits offered under the GI Bill when conscription was still practised in America. In return for a minimum of 18 months of service, the GI Bill paid for tuition and a monthly allowance. Americans draftees received a lot of benefits for their service. What do our NSmen get?

2. Yes, many American students graduate from college with debt. So do many Singaporean students who take their degrees from overseas. Their debt is less visible because they are sponsored by their parents or self-financed. Singapore banks do not offer much in study loans. Hence, Singaporeans who go overseas for their education also incur a lot of debt but just not to banks.

3. Which country doesn't have a progressive tax system? The principle of 'the more you earn, the more taxes you pay' is practised everywhere.

Tatjana said...

There are at least 2 countries in the world that do not have the progressive tax system. Saudi Arabia and UAE impose no income tax.

In the US, there are seven states that do not have the progressive tax system - Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming do not have state income tax. New Hampshire and Tennessee impose taxes only on dividends and interest income. However, these states' residents have to pay federal tax on income.

Yes, in the US you pay taxes to both the federal government and to the state. There is a formula for offset between the two.

Taxes in the US are very high - it is just a matter of where you are in the spectrum.

Jimmy Mun said...

I work in a regional hq of an MNC and every year we have a kickoff meeting where associates from all over the region can come together. This year, the kickoff is in Singapore. The teambuilding event was a treasure hunt around the island. You would expect the Singaporeans to be the natural guide in the teams right? Not so, if you have people from a particular nation. Not knowing Toa Payoh from Tanjong Pagar never discouraged these people from telling the Singaporeans that they know their way round, better than the Singaporeans.

Anybody want to hazard a guess where these people are from?

I wonder if the grandfathers in that country learn more procreation tricks from their sons, or their grandsons?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY STATE TAXES? I DIDNT KNOW THERE ARE STATES IN THE UNITED STATES! HOW ENLIGHTENING! ARE THEY AS BIG AS JURONG? JURONG IS VERY BIG YOU KNOW?

WE SINGAPOREANS ARE SO STUPID! LUCKY GOT SO MANY FOREIGNERS HERE TO TEACH US HOW TO APPRECIATE OUR GOVERNMENT! THE MONEY THROWN AT THEM IS SO WELL SPENT!

Fox said...

" Mr. Wang, exactly my point, those who are not happy with the Singapore system are free to leave. They left - hence as you said, Singapore has the second highest emigration rate. That is the beauty of freedom. People are free to leave at any time."

Yes, People are free to leave but where can they go? Most developed countries, unlike Singapore, restrict immigration. You need be of a certain age group, have the necessary qualifications, etc.

For example, to move to the US legally, you need

1. an employer's sponsorship or
2. a family member who's a US citizen or
3. win the Green card lottery or
4. have a graduate degree from a US university
etc

Quitter said...

On "bitterness"
The "bitterness" - if any, as alleged by Tatjana - is in:

1. having to leave - this is our beloved native homeland. Why shouldn't we feel bitter about being "forced" (by the various oppressive policies) to leave? Only mad men wouldn't be bitter! The one would should be leaving is the LEEgally corrupted regime!

2. having to be replaced by foreigners.

3. having to hear the government, and its minions and the foreigners it import tell us "quitters": (paraphrased) : "you not happy? Leave! We can always get foreigners to replace you. So don't ever expect us to repent or change our oppressive policies. Nobody is holding you back. Get out! And once you left, don't be bitter. It's not as if you do not have the choice of leaving - it's just that you don't have the choice to to remove us instead of leaving! Wahahahaha!"


Only slaves/fools/idiots/mad men won't feel bitter. Normal human beings feel bitter. In fact, insulted. Especially by point 3. Especially if point 3 is uttered by a foreigner imported by PAP.

If rape is not a crime, I would like to F**k those pap pple and especially their minions and most most especially the foreigners they import who have the audacity to articulate point 3, in whatever subtle or not so subtle way. F them! *roar*