Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Singapore appreciates a PRC talent who tried to integrate

All the talk about PRC scholars remind me of my classmate in NUS. He was born and bred in China. He had arrived earlier with his parents and attended JC and did well. Unlike the PRC scholars, he spoke decent English and he had no problem mingling with Singaporeans. In fact, he prefers to hangout with us than those fresh from China, even though he is very brilliant and very driven, and that made him more like the PRC scholars than the Singaporean slackers (like me). In fact, he was so brilliant he was the "go to" guy for PRC scholars who needed help with school work.

And, even though he is strictly speaking a first generation PR, he served National Service.

An exemplary foreign talent, don't you think? A model new citizen? And for all the hard work he put in, what did Singapore offer him? Well, Singapore offered to screw him.

Since he was not recruited via "rigorous interviews" held in China, he was not entitled to apply for the PRC scholarship, even though he proved himself worthy by aceing the "A" levels. This is not the case, for example, for ASEAN scholarships. Irregardless of the route you took to enter NUS, as long as you are a non-Singaporean citizen of ASEAN, you can apply for the ASEAN scholarship.

And either because his Singapore citizenship did not arrive fast enough, or because some scholarship boards referred him to the PRC scholarships, he did not manage to get any scholarship at all. I had trouble knowing the details because he was always eye-bulging mad when he talked about it.

This is the stark reality of Singapore. Be a non-committal tourist like Zhang Yuan Yuan and enjoy the best of both worlds, or embrace Singapore and get screwed, like my friend.

He was incredibly bitter about his situation throughout his four years in NUS, and immediately upon graduation, found a great job in US and never returned since.

So, what is the lesson learnt here? Don't be stupid and serve NS, since Singapore will not appreciate it? The biggest benefit of the Singapore citizenship, ironically, is that it allows you to find a job and migrate to developed countries easily?

Honestly, I cannot help but feel that our whole foreign talent policies are being run by people who are not thinking very far.

13 comments:

  1. What a cheap way to get publicity

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  2. Why doesn't he just apply for another Singapore scholarship, e.g. DBS bank or ministry based scholarships? They admit both PRs and citizens freely, as long as they have grades.

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  3. besides, your friend smacks of an entitlement mentality. got a's means must get scholarship ah? many people out there better than one also don't get!

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  4. he should be grateful he is able to study in nus. sporeans who can't get a place in nus should be even more bitter than him.

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  5. I mentioned my friend spoke decent English, but if he is to be measured as a Singaporean, which values command of English over talent in specific fields, he probably fell into the "Need Not Apply" category due to his GP, even if he scored straight As on every other subject. And as an engineering undergraduate way back then, I'm not aware of anybody receiving DBS or ministry based scholarship.

    (Also ironically, I'm not sure about him, but many PRC students who join our secondary schools found the toughest subject for them is Chinese, not English, because of the sheer volume of rote learning involved.)

    OTOH, if he is measured using the same yardstick as the PRC scholars, he would have come up at least with the upper middle tier of the eventual awardees.

    It is hard on him because he got caught in our one nation two rules, and foolishly thought NS will make Singapore appreciate him a little bit more. Screwing citizens and favouring foreigners is a uniquely Singapore phenomenon and quite a bit of a culture shock to foreigners.

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  6. Jimmy,

    Is your NUS classmate a Singapore citizen?

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  7. As a PR, wouldn't your classmate have received the subsidised Tuition Grant which bonds him to work in Singapore for 3 years after graduating? So if he went to the US, doesn't that make him a bond-breaker?

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  8. Hi Fox, Anon,

    I'm not entirely sure if he received citizenship... I am guessing he should, but if his citizenship application was rejected after NS, that will certainly explain why he is so raving mad at Singapore.

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  9. ask him some national education qns. like the national language or official languahge of singapore, which I doubt some 'SINGAPOREAN' also wouldn't know.

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  10. Interesting situation...

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  11. by the way, foreigners are treated like shit in Singapore...

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  12. Agreed, Foreigners are treated like shit in Singapore...

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  13. You know, I've got a similar problem. I'm a first gen PR, who went on to do my NS to get my citizenship, like my brother did before me. Why? Well,born and bred here, and this is my home. That's how I've always felt. Now I'm in a situation that's a bit of a quandry, I'm trying to buy a house with my dad, who just became a PR himself recently. He was still a SVP holder when I was born, which is why I was still a PR then. Thing is, we aren't eligible for either low income household grant or family grant because my father is a PR, the fact that I'm a citizen notwithstanding. It rather flies in the face of what the govt constantly goes on about, which is integrating foreigners into Singapore as their next gen will be Singaporeans. I'm that Singaporean next gen, and stone me but it seems like the government isn't going to do much to help me in my current situation. Just like how it won't help any Singaporean if the situation is outside its uber rigid lines of what can be. And yes, it is getting me exceedinly bitter about the system here, because this is my home. And it feels like I'm being told that despite everything, despite the ultimate confirmation of my dedication to my country, which is the giving up of my other citizenship to have it officially confirmed that I am the nationality I've held myself to in my heart, the governors of my home are still telling me screw you, you aren't worth our time. Bugger off. And it hurts, alot.

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