25 February 2008

Daydreams of a way station

How is Singapore going to become one of the great capital cities of the world when we keep losing talent? Full essay.

18 comments:

Alan Wong said...

The door is wide opened for potential Chinese and Indian immigrants. Does this mean that the other door is tightly shut for Malays immigrants because they are basically muslims?

I think it would equally important that our Gahmen has to deal with this issue as openly as possible and not try to sweep everything under the carpet.

If not, it may lead to the breeding of those religious fanatics who will be out to destroy society just because they feel that they have been unjustly mistreated.

Anonymous said...

Basically, the problem is that of a govt, a man, who has never learnt to say sorry for mistakes made and who values his face far far above beyond everything else.

A man who demands that everything and everyone accommmodate his views and comply with his wishes. There is little prospect for change of heart and attitude until the inevitable happens.

We have to wait and never allow a like-minded successor to take over for the sake of this country and our children and their children.

HanSolo said...

Interestingly, there was an article in ST recently that UK is experiencing a huge brain drain.

Perhaps this is a sign that people are generally more mobile. I don't think Singapore is doing too badly in this regard.

But it can be better of course.

soojenn said...

“Those who quit Singapore are mainly the ones who have tasted life in the West, e.g. as students in American universities, Lee said. The problem will accelerate, as "every year, there are more people going abroad for their first or second degree."

Why would a Singaporean who has tasted life in the west want to return to Singapore where the cost of living has risen dramatically, it is too regulated & stifling… many of the points you mentioned in the survey taken by the Malaysian journalist. Given the option to keep the passport and have an additional one, some may do so but if there is not choice to have an additional passport, then giving up the Singapore passport is not a difficult one. Many countries have been able to keep their talents by allowing to have more passports than one. UK, USA and even HK are some of these countries.

“Another major factor must be the obsessive degree of social control that so characterises Singapore. Children are pigeonholed by race and ability throughout their school years, artists and academics are regularly censored, gay teachers are forbidden to teach and everybody finds life suffocating to some degree. This, that and lots more require a government licence.”

You have precisely expounded one of the major reasons for most of these emigrating people, not wanting to be in Singapore

“Do people feel that if they have a grievance against the government, the courts will be fair?”

Most probably not looking at most of the cases especially involving government official have transpired. Fairness is not in the vocabulary for these courts. The judiciary is not independent of the government, so how can it in all fairness be fair?

“Instead of having a thorough national debate about what is wrong with this place that drives so many of us away, we get through our mainstream media a relentless boosterism about our "world-class" city-state.”

This is perhaps the ONLY way the mainstream media knows how to write their news.. generally propaganda for the government, providing incomplete picture of a story resulting in a totally different story altogether. It will be D-DAY if the government will have a debate on such an issue.

“The insight that is critical for us to absorb is this: a top tier capital city should be attractive not only to people from third world countries, but to people from the first world. Thus New York attracts the French and Paris attracts Americans. If Singapore is only good enough to attract the Vietnamese, Hunanese and Sri Lankans, but repel Australians, Japanese, Koreans and Canadians, then we haven't got our business plan right.
To tier city for what? Even after paying millions to attract talent from Harvard, Singapore is only getting third rate researchers from that institute who finally also quit because they want to be continued to be paid millions at their eminent Professors cost while providing researchers not of the level expected. So what happens. Singapore stopped with the funding after realising that they have been taken to the cleaners resulting in the pull out, and no positive results from the millions already spent.
What does it take to attract first-worlders here? Surely, I don't have to spell it out.”

Our Minister Mentor is a visionary who has brought us to this stage. Wonderful isn’t it. It is a wonder if he doesn’t have any clue to this. Maybe you should spell it out for them but perhaps not… would they listen to you? I don’t believe so. Only the Minister mentor knws what is best for Singapore.

yuen said...

following on hansolo's comment: singapore has traditionally kept the top scholastic performers using financial support for overseas education with bond; this has been effective in its own way, with former scholars not as top civil servants, but also as cabinet ministers, MPs, GLC CEOs, university professors, and private entrepreneurs/multinational corporation managers; but it has other consequences, e.g., non-scholars tend to become deliberately de-motivated - you guys are so smart, so let's see what you can do - and some of them emigrate, convinced that not being scholars, they are at a competitive disadvantage

singapore also bring in very large numbers of temporary foreign workers, and fairly large numbers of educated immigrants, including scholarships for foreign undergraduates who are required to work for 6 years in Singapore after graduation

Anonymous said...

FYI
The 'survey' question Seah Chiang Nee referred to is asked when one applies for a a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (CNCC) from the Singapore police. The CNCC is required when one is applying for emigration or a visa to work in another country. The application form is available on the S'pore police website for download if anyone is interested. I do not know that the data was ever made available to the public.

karel321@yahoo.com said...

singapore in the top tier of global cities ? i think the good news show of the government is really working. if that government were to drop it's backward social policies, singapore might aspire to rank one day between subtoppers like boston, seattle, or barcelona. or did you really consider singapore a match for tokyo, shanghai, or guangzhou-hong kong (and soon probably mumbai) ? than again, if you prefer quality over quantity, the league of boston, seattle or barcelona is obviously much more attractive.

just a note : berlin may be a nice place, but it's not a contender to paris or london. on finance and aviation for example, it's completely eclipsed by places like frankfurt and even munich.

Anonymous said...

Its not just the lack of creative and sexual freedom thats driving locals away.
The lack of physical freedom, thanks to NS and the 13 yr cycles, truely irks me.

Anonymous said...

>lack of ... sexual freedom

are you confusing singapore with malaysia? there is no religious police breaking into hotel rooms to arrest couples having sex here

even gays, who complain about law against homosexuality, still have "freedom" to have sex; similarly, while possession of pornography is officially a crime, it is actually available on the web though some sites are blocked

Teck Soon said...

Anon 1816: Singaporeans also "officially" have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. What's your point? What's
"official" doesn't matter much in Singapore. The reality matters and the reality is quite bad in more than just sexual freedom. And I would say that forcing gay teachers to stay closeted is a form of lack of sexual freedom. It's not about police breaking into bedrooms, but police and administrators breaking into people's lives.

Anonymous said...

The source of all of spore's problems is politics - the PAP brand of politics. Nothing will change until the old man kaputs or the party make a fundamental ideological shift which i won't bet on happening.

Anonymous said...

>the reality is quite bad in more than just sexual freedom
>lack of creative and sexual freedom thats driving locals away

we all know what the reality is; the point is still, do locals emigrate because of "lack of sexual freedom"? or is it another one of those misdireced rantings that the government can discredit so easily?

Anonymous said...

emigration has been a longstanding concern, e.g., LKY addressed the issue in his memoir 10 years ago, in fact discussed it in speeches earlier; this old paper is also of interest

http://www.unesco.org/most/apmrnw13.htm

The said...

First thing first. To be a global city, the name of the city must be two syllabus. London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc. all have two-syllabus names. New Amsterdam did not get anywhere until it was renamed New York.

Beijing and Shanghai has potential. A name like Kuala Lumpur isn't going to cut it. So, Singapore should have a city name instead of naming its city eponymously.

So, to even aspire to be a global city, how about renaming our city as Shenton, Keppel, Sin Port or Lion?

Anonymous said...

If the govt wants to continue this ultra-liberal immigration policy, she should scrap NS for S'pore boys. AT the moment, S'pore boys are at a severe disadvantage because of the precious 2 years lost to the SAF (and many more years of reservist training).

The govt frequently talked about how "committed" PRs are to S'pore, but the only litmus test of this is whether the 1st generation PRs will allow their sons to serve NS. I suspect we all know the answer to that question. My colleague, who is a PR here, is already planning how to avoid NS obligation for his soon-to-be-born son. And I have heard many PRs here saying that they will never allow their sons to serve a day of NS here. So, what does this show?

By having the floodgates wide open for any tom, dick or harry to be a PR, we are really cheapening S'pore. Soon, developed countries such as the US will impose stricter immigration checks for S'pore passport holders.

Why would a "talented" foreigner want to work/live here for long?

Jimmy Mun said...

I work among a lot of highly educated PRC "foreign talent", and even they complain non-stop Singapore is boring and stifling, and would leave as soon as comparable opportunities open up in China.

Why would any foreign talent want to stay when the country is so blatently anti-citizen?

Anonymous said...

Great criticisms...! I have stopped giving them and instead started acting on them. I am gay and think my partner and I have a better future in the US. Life would be harder without babysitting, but definitely much happier.

Although I am leaving SG for good, I will still keep the SG passport if it doesn't get in the way.... the little red book is really a very convenient passport!

Anonymous said...

Quote"---Those who quit Singapore are mainly the ones who have tasted life in the West, e.g. as students in American universities, Lee said. The problem will accelerate, as "every year, there are more people going abroad for their first or second degree."---"Unquote

Whose fault is it? The Spore govt have been denying Sporeans all possibilities of an accessible local tertiary education. Instead for years, the Spore govt have continually lavished scholarships to Malaysians in the past & now, PRC & India students instead of giving it to local Sporeans using the excuse of meritocracy. Many local Sporeans were forced to go overseas - Australia, NZ, UK, US & Canada for their tertiary education on their OWN COST with help from parents.

The foreigner-first tertiary education policy switched to PRC & India students after the supply of Msian students dried up as there are now many good & inexpensive private colleges in Msia with degrees granted by overseas universities.

Because of the NEP's racial quota admission policy in public universities, Msia have developed an excellent network of private colleges where non-Bumis can study for their degrees accredited by overseas universities. The good Msian students are cherry picked by these foreign universities and given full post-graduate scholarships without strings attached unlike Spore ones which include a 6-yr working bond. In short, the Spore scholarships cum bond indenture schemes are no long attractive with Msians - They are much wiser now!

Conversely, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Colleges in Msia are good yet affordable that some Sporeans send their children there to get out of the pressurized Spore system & to gain direct access to US universities. They skip 1-2 years of Junior College and enter US universities by 16-17 years old which they wouldn't return to Spore for National Service until they finished. Once they got their Green Card, it's "adios muchacho" or goodbye Spore.

Spore's education policy of giving scholarships to foreigners have backfired on the govt in the past when Msian PRs after working many years in Spore either opted to go back to Msia (where they could live comfortably - in a big house & a luxurious car given the currency disparity between M$ & S$) or migrate to Australia or NZ where their Spore-gained educational qualification & work experience gave them higher points in their migration application. It won't be a surprise if the same happens with the Chinamen & Indians.

To be a global city, there must be accessible & affordable liberal arts colleges & universities, an open, liberal & tolerant environment, and a variety of choices in lifestyles. Also, censorship, political boundary markers & an intolerant atmosphere (gay issues, death penalty) are not associated with an image of a global city. These issues have been brought up regularly but are continually brush off by the Govt.