Saturday, August 25, 2012

Returning Singapore to Singaporeans? Dare we wish?

It is hard to feel betrayed. Gigamole says 'feel' because that is what it is, only a feeling. Gigamole can understand the logic of our political leaders, and I don't think they had any real malice in the decisions they took. But Gigamole thinks they were misguided, and Gigamole, like many others, feel betrayed.

Mind you, Gigamole was one of those who stood in the rain for the first National Day parade. And Gigamole was one of those who dug into pocket money to give to the Singapore National Defence Fund.

Whether it is about birth rates, education or academic achievements, where we are now, and who we are is a result of policies in place during the early years of nationhood. Until the 1980s, the thinking about university education was that we were training too many graduates. University education was seen to be an 'evil' contributing to frustrations and social discontent. The university was deliberately kept small. We were producing too many doctors. Not good, because doctors were woolly headed and bleeding hearted.

Gigamole remembers that medical research was regarded as a 'luxury'. Research funding was only available to allow medical scientists to 'tickle' their minds and keep them interested in their science. Gigamole remembers how we all had to troop, hat in hand, to the Singapore Turf Club to ask for a small sum of money to do some research.

What a turn around in the 1980s when the university began to expand, and research became a much sought after activity. In the years that followed, Gigamole has seen hard working colleagues given the boot because they did not have the research track record that was comparable to academics from developed countries who had spent a lifetime doing research. Foreign talent they were called.

Since then or universities and research establishments have turned into wonderful performing whale-ariums populated by non- Singaporeans. Mind you, Gigamole is not against foreign talent. Just that it has become too easy a solution to rent (not buy, mind you) performing whales in order to vicariously capture research glory. It is really no different from buying Olympic gold medals on Ebay. Now almost every department in the Universities and Research Institutes are headed and staffed by non-Singaporeans. It looks fantastic on paper, but only on paper. The reality is that the local content has been severely hollowed out. To make matters worse, the current crop of 'foreign talent' mostly do not want to teach, and do not engage in any technology transfer. The Nanyang Technological University, for example, under their Swedish President, is fast becoming a totally foreign university, desperately trying to catch up with the NUS in glbal ranking. The Lee Kong Chian Medical School with their Deanery imported from Imperial College, London, seems engaged in political struggle with the more indigenous Tan Tock Seng Hospital for pre-eminence. No prizes for guessing who is backed by higher forces, and who will eventually win.

Even the student population appears to have been done in. Gigamole has often wondered about the logic of building so many elitist universities, that our own Singaporean children have no choice but to venture overseas if they want a university education.

So Gigamole is not happy. Gigamole can't help feeling betrayed.


Anonymous said...

you're forgetting the post-grad traineeship positions we are handing out to foreign docs as well...

gigamole said...

..... among many other things. :(

Anonymous said...

Well said. Sorry I have been stalking your blog recently. Because I find that the issue you touched on, is very relevant to my area of study. I am persuing a degree in sociology, minoring in pyschology.

And I have decided to link your blog to mine, hope you dun mind me doing that before asking for permission.

I agree with the point on education, especially, since I am working in the place that you quoted in this post. LOL. I have seen for myself with my own eyes and sometimes I cannot help but feel sorry for my students. (Note: I am not a professor, lecturer or teacher, I am just a lab tech)
I love my students. They are a wonderful, doe-eyed eager to learn lot. As someone older, I do hope they get all the knowledge they want but then...its often not really the case.

I did good enough, am confidence of my grades, but was rejected twice by NUS/NTU. That is why I got myself into Unisim. And oh, I never knew it wasn't actually a university until yesterday!!
- dancing bunny

Anonymous said...

sorry, typo, i meant , pursuing

Anonymous said...

And don't forget ...... the you foreign "talent" at NUS, the Deputy President for Research Technology, is a plagiarizer, with one set of rules for himself and another for others!