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Author Topic: Singapore Dream/Plan - NOT !  (Read 5828 times)

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« on: June 01, 2006, 04:08:06 AM »

Interestingly, through Magus' blog this is the second time I chanced upon Colin Goh's very well written essay on his life and the Singaporean dream. Like many folks reading the first time years ago, it resonated with feelings of the readers, upon closer examination it helps to question if deserves the accolades that the Internet commmunity had given to it.

I think the writers intention is very noble but I can't really agree on his approach and the entire backdrop of why the essay was written. Primary in my critique of the issue is that the writer hardly qualifies to be an average Singaporean to talk so vividly about the Singaporean dream and plan. The essay was written from the point of view of a very successful Singaporean who has the resources to throw caution into the wind, get to New York and further his studies, other married couples have mortgages to handle and a very modest life to lead back home and can hardly just walk out of their dreary lives.

Let's do a mental experiment :

- Will you be motivated if you are a diploma holder currently in a dead end job pondering your options in undergraduate part time studies in Singapore ?

- Will you be motivated if you are taxi driver with school going kids and have to take multiple jobs to sustain yourself ?

- Will you be motivated if you're a fresh graduate who has joined the workforce and have to accept the reality that foreign talents are overruning your workplace and you need to put up a vicious fight ?

Clearly, you won't be.

The essay targets a specific niche - english-speaking, well-heeled, cosmopolitan radicals who can afford to quit, see what's it like overseas and come back with possibly an overinflated ego. The concept is as old as Plato's allegory of the cave, someone who escapes the cave and then comes back to spread more philosophy. Western philosophy glorifies the Prometheus' amongst us. We're not fully a Western society as we speak.

The other nagging feeling at the back of head is whether the writer has unintentionally glorified the process of Singaporeans just walking out of the country to set up a life elsewhere. If I could recall, when the article was written, PM Goh just made this huge h00hah on quitters versus stayers in this country.

The lady writer wrote about all the problems with the education system and they are largely true. But at the end of the day, if there is an issue and you're in a position to work towards fixing it, how noble is it to walk out of the system ? Furthermore, I think that those issues are problems people would like to have. If she was teaching Normal (Technical) she'd be dealing with more fundamental issues like discipline to get any of ideals specified.

Well to keep the long story short, I remember a colleague of mine who was from ACS is so proud when he showed me this article from Colin Goh. I took a look at him and said " I'm sorry at the end of the day, we're still the ones here picking up the trash. Don't curse the darkness, light a candle. "

At the end of the day, I have to agree with the critics of the essay. We're prisoners of our own minds, we have to build our own destinies and be captains of our fate. I still can't articulate the Singaporean dream or the Singaporean Plan. I do know that it is not the Ang-moh-pai plan or the Chinese helicopter dream.

I have my own ideals and you have yours.



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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2006, 06:00:20 AM »

based on my owned siblings experiences
three of them are overseas
not because they wants to
they had to
one in thailand
doing servers
hugh capitals as usual million $$ project
one in souzhou manufacturing industries
general manager after harddisk industries crashed in singapore
one in phillipine
dealing with abu said revolutionaires supplying ammos and parangs
the souzhou one was the last quitter
i will be the final one if i chose to marry a souzhou beauty
but on second thoughts
i love kuanyew
far too much
wouldn't want to miss his funeral outgoing party.
in singapore all our futures/hopes are gone
we have nothing to look forward to
the chinese and the indians
are advancing too fast
they have the lands
the workforce
and our unlimited funds
well the pap funds
many local chinese was asking me
is it true
in singapore
the street is paved with gold
i said yes
gold MINE
as in minefields
the living standard here exceed far faster
than our earnings
just tell me
how much you spent per day
and i tell you
how long would it last me in china

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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2006, 08:17:09 PM »

I've been chewing on this for a few days. Let me see if I can mount a defence to this article.

I think Colin Goh's article is useful precisely for the audience that it targets - the English-speaking, well-to-do, cosmopolitan crowd that can afford to quit. The point that Colin raises is that these are the people who should be exceedingly happy with that they have - by Singapore standards. The fact that they aren't raises questions to the direction Singaporeans in general feel they should be going.

The grievance of a taxi-driver, fresh grad and diploma holder is entirely of a different nature - that there is no longer opportunity for social mobility. Colin's article brings up a whole seperate point - the price of social mobility and the unwillingness for many supposedly successful Singaporeans to pay it.

That being said, I agree that there is a phenomenon of Singaporeans returning from overseas with inflated egos, and I dislike it as well. I agree also that it is the greatest weakness of the article. It romanticises something that should be very much a rational decision. Nevertheless, I'm prepared to give Colin artistic license for this - the benefit of making his article readable and accessible is outweighed by the cost of inflating egos.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I sense that the primary criticism of this article is that it espouses another set of ideals, romanticises it and ultimately does everything the article is against i.e the insidious programming of the Singapore Dream/Plan. I don't think the intention of the article is to present an alternate Singapore Plan, but to show that alternatives are possible, and to be careful of false choice (up to and including the possible false choice that Colin himself proffers).

In short, I think his article is entirely compatable with your philosophy of every idealist for himself.

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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2006, 09:59:56 PM »

Thanks, Tony !

This is a very balanced and thoughtful defense of Colin's article. I definitely agree that Colin Goh has done a great job making the article accessible to everyone so we can have a fruitful discussion of this phenomenon which far outweighs any perceived inflation of egos. I believe that if we agree that Colin is only attempting to rally the very small demographic consisting of well-heeled, radical english educated citizens, he has overwhemlingly succeeded with this masterpieces. 

I think people who come back form overseas with an overinflated ego is a relic of 1980s, its improved a lot with heartlanders who move out to seek job opportunities elsewhere. There are many who go overseas to do businesses who are just out for a better life and generally are more humble than us folks who stay.

Incidentily, the Singapore plan does work for some people. High-flying government civil servants.

I have to admit that I was originally peeved because not only does it espouse an alternative set of ideals, only a very small fraction of Singaporeans can actually afford to live the life Colin Goh is going through.

Lai CF

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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2006, 03:53:50 PM »

Yes, I was so bitter on the Government policy of "one strike, you are out" that I ranted at the student counseller in London High Commission.
She politely explained tome that perhaps it was the intention of the Government to indirectly forcing SIngaporeans out of theri comfort zone to venture out to get what they want out of life.

Anyway, I sowre that I will "never" return to Singapore and has every intention of going for a PR and job in England.
And yes, I got a job in England but developed cold feet.
I love that place over there but somewhat, it doesn't feel like home.

And during my 6-week work attachment in America, nice to stay, but again, does not feel like home.

And no, I don't "slang kah liao".......just that studying oversea is a real eye-opener and help one to overcome that "tunnel vision" develped in Singapore.

In fact, in the 80's, those with foreign degrees, especially poly graduate,  are looked down by NUS and NTU graduates a s"inferior" to them simply because they don't study as hard as local graduates for their degree.

And I agreed with them.
I can skipped Monday morning lectures and skipped Friday afternoon lectures and the lecturers will not blink an eye. We are treated like responsible adults and expected to behave like one.
Put it this way, my time spent on TV is more than the combined time I spent in lectures and laboratory work.
[Just barely squeaked thru' with a 2-2... Grin.....bare minimum to register as chartered engineer in UK]

Your life, your choice, your decision.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2006, 03:56:51 PM by Lai CF » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2006, 12:35:40 AM »

Welcome to the Tenth Pit, Lai CF. Thanks for coming and I hope that everything is alright with you in Dubai ?

Singapore media is full of praises of Dubai, maybe we want to remind ourselves of the kind of competition we are up against.

Anyway, this forum is dedicated for folks with more thoughtful ideas, I do hope more people migrate from YPAP here to talk about deep and personal issues.

Lai CF

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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2006, 03:04:19 PM »

Hi Modeus, thanks for the welcome.

Indeed, Dubai is beginning to look like a more serious competitor to Singapore than China.

Their present airport expansion will be completedby 2008.

And they just announced that they are going tobuild the biggest airport i n the world at Jebeel Ali, twice teh size of Hong Kong island with 6 no. parallel runways. It is a complete city by itself with malls, hotels, residences, logistic city, etc.
First Contract had been awarded and they are rushing to finish Phase 1 within 3 years.

They are planning an Education City to cater for 150,000 students and they claimed they ahd signed MOu with 15 to 20 universities from India,Europe and America.

They are building a 2nd Palm Jebeel Ali Resort which will integrate with a Waterfront Development which will feature a 850-meter tower. Taller than the Burj Tower,presently under-construction, and when completed in 2008, it will be the tallest man-make structure in the world.

Just a side track.
Kuwait is getting the finalpermission to build the City of Silk (on part of the ancient Silk Route). it will feature the 1,0001-meter Mubarak Tower...almost twice the height of Taiwan 101. It will take 25-years to complete the entire City of Silk.

Dubai is proceeding with Dubailand which will feature a Jurassic Park with the latest in animation, better than Spielberg's film and they will build the Mall of Arabia,which wil be the world largest mall at 600,000 sq.m.

The DUbai Mall, currently under-construciton is about 390,000 sq.m. Within it,they are building the world largest indoor aquarium.

And Dubai is building the world first undersea hotel.

DO go and visit www.findsingapore.net/forum and view my thread "I am going toMiddle East"and view all those photographs.

And DUbai said that it is aiming to be a Financial Hub and they will be successful due to the ernomous amount of money flowing into Middle East.
E.g. when oil price was at US$50 per barrel, the windfall profit collected by OPEC Countries is about US$300 billion.

And it is not oil that generates most incomes for DUbai [which discovered oil in 1966 and is slated to run-out by 2010], the SERVICE INDUSTRY contributes 80% to Dubai GDP.

And Service Industry contributes 66% to Singapore GDP.

In comparison:
Dubai is throwing money to build up their infrastructures rapidly.

Singpaore is waiting for investors to come in 'to throw"money to build up Singapore Tourism Infrastructure...just two tweeny weeny IR, which is miniscule in comparison to what is DUbai doing which will be substantially completedby 2008-to2010.

And more bad news.
What DUbai is presently under construction constitutes only 30% of their master Plan.
They still have yet to push out the other 70%..

it is a no-brainer to say who will attract more tourist receipts from Europe and Australia, isn't it?

And oh yeah,like SIngapore, Wuya dominates the flesh trade in karaoke lounges and night-clubs...

I suspect, there will be a decline in Mainland CHiense in Singapore soon as more and more of them are floooding into the Middle East honey-pot.


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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2006, 08:18:58 PM »

Well Lai,

I'm seriously consdireing Dubai right now if only for the money. I'm sick of being a corporate wage slave although I'll probably earn my freedom in about 8 months time. The only downside to Dubai is that the West fears a Muslim city and there is always this lingering thought that terrorists have a way of keeping their money there.

Still it serves as a reminder that DUBAI IS probably the safest place from terrorists.

Let's hope that I get the pink slip soon. Heheh !!

Demi Precentor

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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2006, 09:32:56 AM »

For the uninitiated:

'wuya' (crows / ravens) refers to the Chinese female 'foreign talents' in the flesh trade.

我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有...
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