Monday, March 23, 2009

Singapore - my sweet and sour memory

It is a long time since I last visited Singapore. It must be more than 20 years.

Singapore,which I am familiar since school days, had changed so much that it is not possible for me to walk the memory past again.

The first time I visited Singapore was 1972, while hitch hiking from Penang with my classmates. It is also time I met my auntie that I had not meet before. It was a sweet memory, to meet the close relative for the first time, at that time Singapore seems to be very far to me. Singapore then was on the way for rapid development.

I love to visit the bookshop in Singapore,which was much larger that our bookshop then, I can spent long time in the bookshop reading books. I also like the cleaner environment.

The last time I visited Singapore was when I have married. To bring my wife to see my auntie.

After that, the furthest toward south was Kuala Lumpur. Singapore was far away. Despite that I always respect Singapore, and kept follow up on the latest news of the relatives and the country. In my heart it is still close to me. That is Singapore to me, too modern for me......a perceived nature lover. I alway want to visit Singapore again.

I visited Nayang university(Nanta) in 1972, a university established by oversea Chinese. The campus is beautiful. There was a lake, Nanta lake. At that time Chinese education was having unfair treatment by the government. Nanyang was not provide with the best support. It is happy to know that today NUS was one of the top university of the world, and even Nanyang was also one of the top university in the world. They provide scholarship for best brain in Asia, Malaysia, China , India, Vietnam, Thailand.......... all are there, regardless of race. When I look back at Malaysia, it is sad to know that no local university is in top 100!. Singapore's education is open, they allow the intake of bright international students, provide them with financial help, retain them with citizen offer. They want the best brain for the country. Even some of the brightest from Malaysia was offered and accepted into their world class university, despite not getting the acceptance in local university for their chosen course or university. They provide the best opportunity for them. Malaysia's education is closed, rigid, and inward looking, frequent policy changes, and political sensitive.... we remained on the spot when MU was separated(in fact it had declined). Sad.... we export our best brain, and Singapore import our best brain. They benefit and harvest from our cultivation. No choice, as this is capitalist country, labour is the basic factor of production, knowledge should be the new factor, the law of comparative advantage prevail. The emphasis on knowledge and talent management(Human Capital, a appreciating asset with knowledge enhancement), that is how Singapore progress in education. We may have still remained in "Human Resources" era, a depreciating asset........where knowledge & education still remain a political issue.

I took the opportunity of arrival at Singapore port from the cruise, merely to visit auntie, sad to say I have only one day to spend, because my daughter need to be back for her school. The recent visit was an opportunity for me to re-look at Singapore(even for a short duration), especially at the time when the world are facing financial crisis, and how they cope with the challenge.

Despite the financial crisis, Singapore economy seems vibrant on the surface, the people are still positive. They should be able to overcome.

The saddest trend of cause is the younger generation, the English educated and western thinking generation, where are they heading, culturally? when I saw the way they communicate in the LRT/MRT, I laugh in my heart.... are they ABC?. That is the worry of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder......and of course the low birth rate & high rate of unmarried woman(revealed on his recent interview in the press). He has the valid point. I wonder he has any idea to solve the problems........or a past cultural mistake when the government focus too much on English and western culture, during the initial year of nation building? ; or it is the mistake to convert the medium of instruction from Chinese to English for Nanyang university earlier; short sighted? ...... Singapore is neither little China nor little England, it has its own identity, it should have build the nation based on the advantage derived from the meeting of western and oriental culture, allow the two culture to develop at its best, I think Singapore then will be in a better position culturally and globally. That is my personal view. Anyhow it is now a sweet and sour issues for Singapore,it may be more sour now.......

Despite the worry, Singapore has done well, it is a respected nation, globally.

It is nice to see auntie again , who is aging and near eighty. It is joyful to see Singapore again...... despite only one day there.

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