Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Foreign Talents As Singapore Chinese Elites



Soon, we will have to import foreign talents as our Chinese elites as we are unable to train and educate the critical mass of such people.  This is not the worry of the Chinese community and educated persons in Singapore, but also the government.   

It is quite obvious that the Ministry of Education will not be able to produce enough Chinese elites for the future need of Singapore or the kind of bilingual elites that the PAP is looking for.  These so-called Chinese elites are in short supply and no matter how we try to promote the use of Chinese language, we will never be able to produce the critical base of local Chinese elites in Singapore.  

Even though Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat said all political appointment holders at MOE are looking after the bilingualism but it is very clear that we have lost the cultural DNA to produce elites in Chinese as well as in India and Malay. 

The Minister said “All of us (political appointment holders) will continue to pay due attention to the teaching and learning of the English Language and our Mother Tongue Languages” in his first major policy address to school heads at his ministry's annual workplan seminar last week.

Few will expect current education policy and language environment will turn out enough numbers of local Chinese elites in Singapore, a worry since the closing down of Chinese schools in the 1980s.

Everything can be imported? Even Chinese elites                                                        

As usual, the government way of solving problems is if there is no enough, we import them, likes the changes in immigration policy to make up the low birth rate, and the adjustments in the foreign workers policy to meet the demand of manpower need. Soon, we will have to do it at a large scale by importing Chinese elites.

In fact, we have already been doing so in the past 10 or 20 years. For many years, we have been importing Malaysian Chinese, especially those graduated from Chinese independent schools.  These schools are like our old Chinese schools in Singapore and students there study Chinese as their first language.

The term “Chinese elites” may not be appropriate as to make up the critical mass, we also need other non Chinese elites or less intelligent people but with Chinese proficiency to come out with the required size of numbers for our economic needs.

Hence, like the foreign talents and workers policy, we will need to import skilled and unskilled Chinese elites and people from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong as well as the traditional source, Malaysia. 

Will there be a future without a root?

The theme of this year’s Work Plan Seminar is “Our Children. Our Purpose. Our Future.”  If MOE and the government really concern about the future of our children and the purpose of education, then they should re-look and re-focus the basis, especially MOE wants to emphasize on value and character building and development of our children.

Singapore is an Asian society.  Unless we think we can totally immerse into a western society with their value system and personal behaviours, otherwise, we better try to keep our root as what former PM Lee Kuan Yew have suggested during the launch of his Chinese version of “Hard Truths”.  The best way to do this is to have a better understanding of Mother Tongue.

Japan has wanted to be a western country since she adopted western system of government, science and technology and administration.  However, until today, it is still not a western country culturally. Perhaps, Singapore can out do Japan as we are willing to give up our language and culture.     

The PAP always wants to stress that Singapore is an Asian society so that we do not have to follow the democratic practices in the West. They use this as an excuse to be different from the West. But don’t they realise that we are also different in culture and value system?  Without the support of the Asian root, culture and value, Singapore will as normal as a white banana.   

Why the worry?

This is because the importance of MT is declining.  There are too many incidents that Chinese signboards are missing at our pubic transport system, even the airports. If you read Zaobao, these are the frequent complaints in the forum pages. Not to mention, our children proudly claim that ‘I hate Chinese or MT.’

All four presidential candidates did not communicate well in Chinese is another setback for Chinese learning in Singapore.  In future, it will be very hard for Singapore to have a President who can speak and understand Chinese like Ong Teng Cheong.

In fact, the local Chinese speaking community is declining too. Readers of Chinese newspapers have a sizable numbers of non local Chinese. Even though the circulation of Chinese press does not decline, this does not mean that there is more local reading the Chinese papers.  It is mainly because the loss of readership is made up by Chinese readers from China.   

Few years ago, the newly appointed President of Nanyang Technological University has an ambition plan to drop the word “Technological” from NTU. It wants to date back the university to 1955, the founding year of the old Nanyang University.  You can date your history back to whatever date you like. However, you can’t bring back the value and the cultural DNA. Anyway, the change of name is not successful.

For the case of Chinese elites in Singapore, it will also like the fate of the old Nanyang University, a history to remember.  Can you import Nantah spirit? Can you import Chinese elites?  Can value and culture be so cheaply imported?  

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