Monday, April 18, 2005


The Sunday Times ran an article on Chua Cheng Zhan, a PSC scholar, allegedly posting racist remarks on his blog. I say "allegedly" because I've not seen the posts to evaluate the content for myself. All I have is second hand news from the Straits Times and prominent Singapore bloggers like the Cowboy himself. Nevertheless, I do not believe the real issue being about racism.

It's about hating Singapore government scholars. Think. If he wasn't a PSC scholar would this have even become an issue?

Eh, don't pray pray. Buka Gah-men Act all!

There's an ugly side of human nature that wants to believe that the "cream of the crop", our government scholars, are really a bunch of undeserving little turds squandering public money. This belief can arise for any number of reasons: percieved discrimination between the "haves" and the "have-nots", stereotyping your average all A's, 3.8 GPA student etc. We want to see these guys taken down a notch.

Food for thought: It's this precise part of human nature that sells tabloids and gossip columns.

The government policy on scholars and scholarships perpetuates this mindset. It's not enough that scholarships are given out. In order to maximise the utility of money spent, scholars must serve out a bond with the government. But everyone -knows- that they are scholars, so the system must be seen to work. The scholars get fast-tracked, because the system MUST work. Because they get fast-tracked, they become political leaders in short order. But hang on, political leaders must have moral fiber to be leaders, right? So scholarship money in Singapore isn't just about promoting scholarship, it's also about a perception of being "holier-than-thou". Because this is Singapore, you can't just get by being clean. You'll have to be squeaky clean. No deviance can be tolerated.

My take is this. Scholarship money should not be about squeaky cleanliness, because it should not be about political leadership. It should be about developing scholars, who add our collective knowledge and scholarship, and contribute to society, and no more. I'd much prefer to see a scholar work his way to the top in our civil service, on same footing as a kid who paid his own way through Northwestern through savings, loans and/or a part-time job. I'd wager good money on the latter being a better political leader than the former though.

There is good news though. Guess what Cheng Zan? You've now got a chance that no other scholar has - a chance to show us what you're made of. Show us you deserve to be the leader PSC makes you out to be. This is a test you can't study for, but you've been preparing for this all your life.

Do us proud.

Technorati Tags: , ,


Huichieh said...

Trackback: From a Singapore Angle, "Anatomy of a blogospheric event"

What have we learned? What ought we have done better? What does it portent for the Singapore Blogosphere? While chewing on these questions, I made a list of all the bloggers who posted on the event...

AcidFlask said...

*big sigh* how true...

Huichieh said...

PSC has officially reprimanded the scholar.