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4: Rooting Singaporeans July 2, 2009

Posted by The Truth in What Were They Thinking?!.
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Not long ago, SM Goh talked about keeping bright young Singaporeans in Singapore by sinking their roots:

MORE than one in five of the top students from the 1996-1999 A level graduating cohorts are not working in Singapore today. And of those from the same batches who went on to universities overseas without a scholarship bond, more than one in three are today carving out careers outside the country.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong gave these statistics on Saturday to illustrate the urgency of getting young Singaporeans to sink roots here even as they become more entrepreneurial and break out into the global economy.

‘If more and more of our bright students do not return, this begs the question whether our success in giving them wings to fly far and high will result in our eventual decline as a nation, especially as we are not even reproducing ourselves.

‘No nation will be able to sustain its growth and prosperity without sufficient talent, much less a small country like Singapore without natural resources,’ said Mr Goh.

He was speaking to more than 1,000 guests at the 70th anniversary dinner of Chung Cheng High School last night. He urged schools to help students retain their emotional bonds to Singapore, ‘so that they think of Singapore as the home which nurtured them, and want to contribute in some ways to the country of their birth’.

To do this, he suggested that schools inculcate in the young certain values, such as being appreciative of those who help them advance in life; and not taking for granted the academic, sports and arts programmes they can enjoy here and abroad, when many children elsewhere cannot.

Mr Goh hoped that the end result of such teaching would be students who have strong links with their schools, close ties with their friends and a strong sense of responsibility to their families – even if they choose to live, work and even settle down overseas.

Switching to Mandarin, Mr Goh said: ‘I hope Chung Cheng and our schools will give two lasting bequests to our children. One is strong wings; the other, deep roots.

‘Like wild geese that migrate each fall, young Singaporeans should be equipped with the courage, strength and adaptability to venture to distant lands in search of opportunities. But when spring returns, they will come back, as this is their home.’

Indeed, Mr Goh further argued in English, helping young Singaporeans stay rooted here was the most important challenge facing the Education Ministry. This is because the number of young Singaporeans working overseas will grow, given that the education system is producing more and more students equipped with the right skills to go global. – Goh Chin Lian, Straits Times, 28 June 2009 (Thanks to takchek)

What were you thinking, SM Goh?  Already there are contradictions in your speech.  You said this:

If more and more of our bright students do not return, this begs the question whether our success in giving them wings to fly far and high will result in our eventual decline as a nation, especially as we are not even reproducing ourselves.

Then, you “urged schools to help students retain their emotional bonds to Singapore, ‘so that they think of Singapore as the home which nurtured them, and want to contribute in some ways to the country of their birth’.” Do you not see that it is precisely this nurturing which Singapore has given them which has sent them packing?  Meritocracy – those who have the talent are those who will rise up, and it is this very dog-eat-dog world which your Gahmen has created which is causing this very problem.  And what you said above smacks of wanting to make sure the money you invested in your people actually pays out.

Singaporeans are PEOPLE, not MONEY MACHINES.  If you want a money machine, you could buy a colour laser printer.  All the foreign talent you have imported to stem the brain drain has had the unfortunate consequence of more people leaving, since locals are losing jobs due to their lowered hiring potential (think NS commitments, etc.) And what’s more, since you refuse to give citizens certain (okay, all benefits is bollocks) benefits which set them apart from the foreigners, is it any wonder why citizens don’t see Singapore as home, and try to fly away (especially those who are able to?)

But don’t worry, SM.  There are a lot more people who are deeply rooted to Singapore precisely because of the ties you mentioned – family, friends etc.  But ironically, they don’t seem really important to you or to Singapore’s progress.  Perhaps they are the drones who are expected to work hard, and that’s it.  Singapore can never attract brains as long as independent, creative thinking is not encouraged generally, as long as there is ONE Big Truth one has to shovel down one’s own throat and alternatives are either tolerated but ignored, or simply eradicated.

To think you can keep alternate thinking in the confines of monoperspectival view of the world – really, what were you thinking?

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Comments»

1. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 6 Jul 2009 - July 6, 2009

[…] A Dying Breed – Die neue Welle: Rooting Singaporeans – Growing your tree of prosperity: Alternatives to Emigration for Unhappy […]

2. la nausée - July 6, 2009

Agreed that there’s a deep contradiction in SM Goh’s speech. We cannot define our collective identity as one solely based on ‘merit’ (which he does in paragraphs 3-4 of the extract), and at the same time expect people to be emotionally invested in such a soulless idea. The Singaporean identity, if it exists at all, has to be richer than that. Goh also misdiagnoses the problem when he says that schools should encourage students to “be appreciative of those who help them advance in life”. I’m sure that plenty of emigrants are indeed grateful to individual persons in Singapore who’ve helped them along the way, but they’re not grateful to ‘Singapore’, because that concept is meaningless to them.

3. anon - July 6, 2009

>> To do this, he suggested that schools inculcate in the young certain values, such as being appreciative of those who help them advance in life; and not taking for granted the academic, sports and arts programmes they can enjoy here and abroad, when many children elsewhere cannot

These “certain values” are so utterly self-serving.

Plus, maybe he should follow his own advice and be more appreciative of taxpayers by slashing his salary.

4. anonymous - July 6, 2009

good article.
i’m also tired of all the nonsense the govt is sprouting.
welcome ft who rob our jobs. killing singaporeans and yet asking that they stay to contribute.

if this joker had manage to stop his own daughter from becoming a ‘quitter’ then maybe his words would have more weight.

pse keep up the good work.

5. Raymond Tham - July 6, 2009

Yes I am one of those who are ‘ambassadors’ (in the humblest sense) shunned by their own country. Meritocracy without humility and an egalitarian foundation is but a thinly veiled elitism, a dog-eat-dog existence that is not what and where one would call HOME. Sadly, that is what Singapore has become on the doctrine of its leaders thus far.

6. The Truth - July 6, 2009

In fact, it seems that we should be ashamed of some aspects of our identity, which sociology and anthropology would designate as vital signs of cultural identity, like Singlish. The gahmen can’t simply make up an identity and tell us, “this is the identity we want you to have.”

If Singapore was a succesful social experiment in the past, now the experiment is over. For experiments, there are lab rats.

7. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 28 - July 11, 2009

[…] “Singaporeans are PEOPLE, not MONEY MACHINES.” The Truth […]


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