Meritocrazy in a decadent city state

They say a fish rots from the head. When that happens, the fish does not think anymore and soon the rot will spread through the entire fish. And because of a rotted brain, the stench of rot would not even be noticed. There is no sensory organ to detect the smell of a rotting fish.

The dearth of talents and skilled professionals in this prosperous city state does not stop at the banking and finance industry or the IT industry. It is pervasive and starting right from the top to the semi skilled worker’s level. The absence of intellect affects all levels of the citizenry that the city state is now a glittering shell of its former self. Every level of its people would have to be replaced as there is nothing good left in them, or have already been replaced.

Reading an article this morning in the ST on the hollowing of the academia is just too depressing. This is the seat of the intellect of the nation, the hotbed for the gestation of ideas and ideals by the best academic brains. The rot is just as pervasive but to some, is a good thing. Let me quote a few numbers. 18 out of 25 faculty members in the NUS Political Science department are foreigners, or only 7 are Singaporeans. At the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, 38 are locals (not sure how many are Singaporeans, but you can guess that it will be very small when they have to resort to use the term locals instead of Singaporeans) out of 82 faculty staff. In the Rajaratnam  School of International Studies, 12 are locals out of 29 faculty staff. At NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, 21 of the 48 faculty are Singaporeans. Here they feel comfortable enough to say 21 are Singaporeans.

This sad state of affair is not missed by some of the Singaporean thinkers and academics. Some have raised their grievances to the ministers. Seah Kian Peng found this worrying and brought the matter up in parliament and ‘highlighted the fact that that fewer than half of the faculty in political science, communication and public policy – which he described as “some of the most important and context sensitive fields of endeavour in any country” – are Singaporeans.’ NMP Eugene Tan of SMU had raised the same issue six times in Parliament since 2002. Obviously nothing has been done or no action was taken, and the problem continues to grow. Is it a problem, or is it something desirable, planned by the establishment and so no action needed?

According to reporter Andrea Ong, the seed of this transformation or hollowing out in the academia seemed to have started in 1996 when, ‘then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong challenged the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University to build “the Boston of the East” and be dubbed the “Harvard and MIT of Asia”. The two universities could achieve this by drawing in “the best and brightest” from Asia and around the world, he said.’

Though Chok Tong did not ask the universities to bring lock, stock and barrel from Harvard and MIT, ie buying and bringing all the academic staff here, and replacing all the dull Sinkie students with the best and brightest in the world, the people who executed this ‘dream team’ apparently went ahead to replace the Sinkie academics and students with foreigners. Buying an international football team to compete in the world cup is an isolated fetish craze that would go away with maturity and with minimum negative impact on the country, maybe a few billion dollar lesser, but to replace the seat of learning and the academia with foreign faculty staff and students are simply shallow. But till today, with the problem growing and no concrete steps taken to reverse the trend, it seems that the lunatics have won and are having a field day to transform our universities into the Harvard and MIT and Sin City becoming the Boston of the East.

Those who are still left with a little grey matter are shaking their heads at this silliness but no one is going to do anything about it. We will have our own Harvard and MIT soon, and the faculty staff will be from the real Harvard and MIT, and the students would not be children of daft Sinkies but the brightest and the best from the whole world. We are succeeding, surely and steadily.

Where would the Sinkies go? How would the Sinkies fit in?

Kopi level - Yellow


Bemused Wayang Spectator said...

Rb: // Reading an article this morning in the ST on the hollowing of the academia is just too depressing. //

Rb, ha ha, you should not be too depressed lah! You should be patting on your own back that as compared to the ancient Qin dynasty which was gone after a few years when the useless son of the Great Qin Emperor took over the throne, here sinkieland is still able to "hang on a thread and muddling through" after the "wooden char tow" and "ermmmm ........ " but how much longer?

Anonymous said...

RB, it is the hollowing out of sikngkieland that you and us singkies should really worried about. not the pight of the talking heads.

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

RB not to worry lar. We have up to one million unskilled workers like contruction, security, cleaning, retail and maids. The guys can do contruction and security and the women can do retail and maids replacing the FT. Those who are more ambitious wo wanted to be own boss can be taxi drivers and insurance and property agents. These the ang moh and ah neh not interested one.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

There is nothing to worry about.

"Political science" is not even a bona fide science and it actually one of those useless bullshit degrees which wastes taxpayers money on keeping unemployable academics cloistered in the luxury of their ivory towers.


Rb: //Where would the Sinkies go? //

Selling fried chickens? At least one "Clever" sinkie looked like the KFC logo and practically doing the same thing like the KFC logo which is doing nothing but just have the picture hang up there ubiquitously and can jiak liao KFCly and effortlessly pocket more than 10,000,000 in one term? But you may need to be good in mathemagic and even have permanent head damage in such a discipline. Also you must have the quality to "take care of downside so that upside take care of itself" in talk only but in real world action have track record of "losing billions of OPM"?

Anonymous said...

Very often we heard people saying "it depends what you want".

Yes, we want success, we want economic success, but not at all cost.

Our society is indeed moving too fast, many people were left behind along the economic expressways. They are trying to catch up, BUT many failed and are struggling. Some are crying silently.

Is this BEST described the social state we are in today?

We must slow down slow down slow down, not stop.

Take stock, CHART THE FUTURE FOR THE NATION, and move together as a whole nation.

Please remember...what is the use of achieving excellent economic success results at the expense of the social well beings of the people.

What say U? Cheers........

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Matilah, it is exactly the lack of history and political consciousness among the sinkies, both not encouraged, history not taught in school, that our so called elite, including you, are so empty in the heads as far as nation and citizens are concerned.

People without knowing history and political science will sell out their father and mother, and of course the country and people without knowing why.

They would only know the importance when they are stateless and left to fend for themselves at the mercy of other people.

Do not underestimate the importance of history and political science. Remember the great philosophers like Plato, Socrates and the many modern day political thinkers. Without their political theory to make sense of life, this world will be so chaotic and messy.

Anonymous said...

Hollowing out in the academia?

Then what about Sinkie opposition? Very solid meh?

If Sinkies cannot even have a solid opposition, and this is exclusive to Sinkies only, how can u expect Sinkies to be solid in other areas, you tell me lah?

oldhorse42 said...

coffee level yellow again!
Got to cho kang to bring up the level so that dear RB will not be deprived of his favourite beverage that continually pump creative juice into his head.
Talking about decadent state, I have a run-in with Singtelrecently when I subscribed to their redhot sale to book 200M fibre home bundle packaged with 5 benefits.
I found out that sim lim square salesmen are more honourable than Singtel.
I did not get the benefits as promised. When I wrote in to complain, I realize to my horror their complaint management has been outsourced and I have been talking to people from many countries who are more interested in closing the case than to help me with my complaint.
Well this is one fish that is rotting from the head.

Anonymous said...

There is only one solution.
Vote out the Traitors and their pro alien policies.

Vote them out before all of us become translators for the Imperial Japanese Army.

Anonymous said...

The Imperial Japanese Army was very strong during that time what.

So of course smart Sinkies would join them during that time lah.

Which party is very strong now, u tell me?

So which party will smart Sinkies join now, u tell me lah?

b said...

Sinkies should get out of sg to show the world that sinkies can turn barren land into fertile soil with LKY, PAP and their cronies. The rulers just want to make sure sinkies remain daft and easily controlled and manipulated. They do not want sinkies to be bright, creative and with independent thinking skills.

b said...

'Where would the Sinkies go?'
- sinkies can go anywhere green when they can. there is no greener pasture. but there is brown and green pastures. sg is becoming brown as days go by.

Anonymous said...

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don't know how to be submissive, and so on -- because they're dysfunctional to the institutions.”
― Noam Chomsky

Anonymous said...

'April 05, 2014 2:05 pm'

- but they were still defeated.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...


I must say you are one helluva wishful thinker. Many people are now online trying to improve their critical thinking skills, but I must say you've raised magical and wishful thinking to levels I never thought possible.


On the individual level some folks might learn a few thing after reading history, and a few (the minority) will apply it to their lives in the hope that they'll be "better" people.
But they are THE MINORITY and many don't go to tertiary study to do it. It in UNNECESSARY. Political science is a waste of tax money, as is social studies, economics...all this stuff can be learnt in your own time. Every possible resource is available free or at very minimal cost online.

Singapore has fantastic museums and archives. There is also a vast and growing literature of Singapore's history and politics. Any bloody fool can educate themselves by just going to one of the great public libraries. (Shout out to NLB for doing such a fantastic job)

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

To be able to read, to be literate do not make a person think critically. The most impt thing in formal education is to teach the students to think in a shorter time frame than to learn the hard and unstructured way from the university of hard knockes.

In the latter, not many are able to think even when situation makes them to or it will take too long to do so.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...


IMO, and I occasionally do work with universities, CRITICAL THINKING culture is more prevalent in the hard sciences, engineering and of course maths courses.

The rest, you can forget. It is all subjective, touchy-feely thinking.

If you think that going to a tertiary institution guarantees one will emerge a critical thinker --- you are engaging in your famed wishful thinking again.

Logical fallacy in play: argument from authority

Anonymous said...

Oldhorse42, I have the same problem cause the deal is done verbally and not online which at least u can read the fine line if u choose to. Verbal contract u are in blind spot. Some more the pinoy woman assured me good deal then when I tried to claim the benefit after one year before the two years contract expired, they tell me they changed the terms! I asked them how can they changed the terms when the contract is still valid? They said last paragraph of the contract said they can Suka Suka change unilaterally! Alamak this is a verbal contract how I know got this type of trap. After complaining, they said ok lar give you $30 rebate instead of $240 benefit.

U tell me lar other first world country allows this type of shit or not?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Sure, some will go thru university but not benefitting from the regime of organised dialectic sessions. But that is what university was meant to be, not just parroting works of others.

Not many will turn out as critical thinkers of repute. We only have one in Kishore. But many would be able to think much better than the laymen that have to be jolted to life by some shocking events.

Only the hard sciences think? Come on, open up your horizon.

Anonymous said...

One academic was quoted as saying "wanting to be the harvard or MTI of the east is deep nationalism. having enough singaporeans on faculty is superficial nationalism."

I must admit feeling pretty puzzled by this statement.

It is almost like saying 'wanting to have the best defence to protect singapore is deep nationalism. having enough singaporean sons in the military is superficial nationalism."??!

Can someone explain his thinking here? Arguably, the same can be said and applied to our Political system.

Anonymous said...

having enough singaporeans on faculty is superficial nationalism."
Anon 6:05 pm

Because there are not enough Sinkies who are the best what. So cannot just put Sinkies there for the sake of being there, tio bo?

So not having the best but just having the best available Sinkies in academia is superficial nationalism.

But this does not apply to ministers, NS men and even opposition. They must be the best available Sinkies, lousy they may be. Strictly no foreign talents.


Anonymous said...

Academia superficial and nationalism wow big words, pity about the shallowness. Whoever is paying for these hollow comments are not getting good value for their money from this and many other paid shallow little brains.

Anonymous said...

Winning 93% seats with only 60% votes is shallow and hollow meh?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:05. The answer is called 'traitor'. Traitors can call themselves nationalists or patriots, and sell off the country to foreigners.

Judge them by what they do. What is deep nationalism if all the academic staff are foreigners and all Sinkies are sacked?

Anonymous said...

Is it true?
"Translator" is another word for TRAITOR?

Does the word Founding Translator have any meaning in Singapore?

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

touchsk which

>> Only the hard sciences think? Come on, open up your horizon.

Ah, this is classic cognitive dissonance in play. Instead of considering my proposition with an open mind, you simply stick to your guns.

I'm not saying that studying anything other than hard science, math and engineering is not education. I'm saying that you don't have to attend tertiary institution to become erudite in these areas. With enthusiasm and self discipline, you can educate yourself online and in libraries -- only because we live in such a time where this is not only possible, but available 24/7 even on your phone.

The next "big thing" on the net is poised to be education. Cuntrees are going broke trying to fund education, so online delivery seems to be the wisest choice. Microsoft-funded Kaplan has jumped on the bandwagon, as have many universities who now put their ENTIRE degree courses online for FREE.

Perhaps it is you, who should be "expanding your horizons".


>> Without their political theory to make sense of life, this world will be so chaotic and messy.

Hahha. what a ridiculous assertion. To begin with, the world, nay the universe is chaotic and messy. The natural world appears to be ordered, but at its foundation is one boiling soup of messy quantum foam.

Humans have managed to establish some order in nature's chaos. And then the humans fool themselves into believing that they are "in control".

Politics and the so-called bullshit "science" used to explain it, are mistakenly thought of some form of "organisation" or "codification" to bring order in a society, and to the certifiably insane, usually religiously incline -- the entire planet. You don't even have to be a genius to know that this is patently false, requiring superior mental gymnastics and self-delusion to back up this ridiculous claim.

Got chaos?

Anonymous said...

No chaos but we know what we have here...a wanker. Malu lah shameless wonder.