Strong wings, deep roots

Posted: June 28, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong made a comment in the straits times today (See below for article) on the alarming number of Singaporeans leaving for greener pastures.

June 28, 2009
Strong wings, deep roots
SM Goh urges schools to help students retain their emotional bonds to Singapore
By Goh Chin Lian
MORE than one in five of the top students from the 1996-1999 A level graduating cohorts are not working in Singapore today. And of those from the same batches who went on to universities overseas without a scholarship bond, more than one in three are today carving out careers outside the country.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong gave these statistics on Saturday to illustrate the urgency of getting young Singaporeans to sink roots here even as they become more entrepreneurial and break out into the global economy.

'If more and more of our bright students do not return, this begs the question whether our success in giving them wings to fly far and high will result in our eventual decline as a nation, especially as we are not even reproducing ourselves.

'No nation will be able to sustain its growth and prosperity without sufficient talent, much less a small country like Singapore without natural resources,' said Mr Goh.

He was speaking to more than 1,000 guests at the 70th anniversary dinner of Chung Cheng High School last night. He urged schools to help students retain their emotional bonds to Singapore, 'so that they think of Singapore as the home which nurtured them, and want to contribute in some ways to the country of their birth'.

To do this, he suggested that schools inculcate in the young certain values, such as being appreciative of those who help them advance in life; and not taking for granted the academic, sports and arts programmes they can enjoy here and abroad, when many children elsewhere cannot.

Mr Goh hoped that the end result of such teaching would be students who have strong links with their schools, close ties with their friends and a strong sense of responsibility to their families - even if they choose to live, work and even settle down overseas.

Switching to Mandarin, Mr Goh said: 'I hope Chung Cheng and our schools will give two lasting bequests to our children. One is strong wings; the other, deep roots.

'Like wild geese that migrate each fall, young Singaporeans should be equipped with the courage, strength and adaptability to venture to distant lands in search of opportunities. But when spring returns, they will come back, as this is their home.'

Indeed, Mr Goh further argued in English, helping young Singaporeans stay rooted here was the most important challenge facing the Education Ministry. This is because the number of young Singaporeans working overseas will grow, given that the education system is producing more and more students equipped with the right skills to go global.

Read the full story in Sunday's edition of The Straits Times

My 2 cents:

PAP succeeded in developing Singapore from a fishing village to an almost-first-world city. I don't know if this is indeed what drives us out of Singapore one by one, but at least among my circles and myself included, there is a gap between what our generation expects out of life and what our govt thinks we want out of life. Our handsome GDP growth can be achieved without a good distribution of income. Our richer capitalist/businessman citizens and high wage expats can love their lives in low tax Singapore. What about the rest-of-us?

How do you give the rest-of-us a fair chance at climbing the financial ladder in Singapore's high asset inflation environment? Our local university degrees (unlike that of our better off classmates whose parents had the money to send them overseas to study Law or Medicine and then returning to yet another generation of success in their family), are worth as much as what our hordes of 3rd world country classmates are willing to take for their salary. Take it as a challenge, I hear you say, but look, you simply cannot compete when people think SGD2000 = 10,000 xxx currency back home. A Singaporean lad is thinking, "hey how the heck am I ever going to get out of this poor-heartlander vicious cycle? "

That's not gripe and careless complaints my friends, that is reality that can bite our families one day when the aged falls ill and medical treatment is depleting family savings with or without insurance coverage, and that'll probably come, what, when the lad is in his 40s and nobody wanna hire him for his expected pay anymore? This is different in USA, this is different in Australia, this is different in Canada. Minimum wage laws, public medical health care, local work experience bias in the workplace, but to name a few.

We are a small island country without resources, but we do have world's best (if pay is indicative) leaders. Please solve these problems. The kids SM Goh is targetting might become the world's most appreciative citizens, but financial realities will eventually hit them when they come of age. When that time comes, the end will be the same, appreciative or not. But then again, I suspect the leaders won't hear these words or agree with these words from where they are.