Home > Singapore Day 2012 - NYC, Singapore Scene > Singapore Day 2012 – NYC

Singapore Day 2012 – NYC

I logged into facebook and read my son’s updates. He seldom posts on facebook – or maybe he does but he blocks his old mama from reading them. In any case, his postings read;

‘Today I know my country loves me…’

‘I should have brought my Tupperware…’

‘They wanted us to play stage games, but all we wanted to play were hunger games…’

There were the exchanges such as – “You are so easily bought?” and his reply – “I must be grateful, my country spent $4m on me leh”. Yes, it is no secret that he can be quite vocal in criticism, and hence the accusation of ‘being bought”.

The exchanges were quite amusing. At the same time I was trying to grapple with the amount spent to host this event. I was trying to compare this spending with a $3.8m pledge to boost the medical social work profession. Out of this amount, $1.8m is set aside for scholarships. Both amounts, the one spent on Singapore Day, and the one set aside to boost a very necessary profession is roughly the same. The difference is one is spent on a one-day event, the other will be disbursed over years. If you ask me, this is confirmation of elitism of the highest order – and I am sorry, medical social workers, you are not elitist enough!

Listen to what Minister Amy Khor has to say.

“Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, who was at the event, said: ‘There’s a value to helping our Singaporeans remember their roots so that if they ever go back, it’s easier for them to adjust. You can’t put a price on that.’”

5,000 gather in NY to enjoy a ‘slice of home’

Errm… a slice of home? Did they get to experience many foreigners fighting over the food that they miss so much? Did you show them packed MRT trains? Did you simulate buying HDB flats and the price war over COVs? Did you show them the current COE pricing? As it was, I understand there was a 3 hour queue for chicken rice, without the added pressure of foreigners competing for a plate as well. Oh I forget. In true blueSingaporecontext, foreigners have a different, and privileged queue, and may get extras on their plates.

So this event has a not so hidden agenda – to entice overseas Singaporeans home. $4m to try to entice, in this case 5000 people, home. According to Minister Khor to get them home is priceless – or is to get them adjusted to home is priceless?? I am afraid I do not really understand the Khor statement.

Is it really true thatSingaporewants our overseas Singaporeans home?? Then the question they should ask is why they ventured overseas in the first place. How many of them had to go overseas for further education because the local universities could not accommodate them? How many left because they were unable to secure a job? How many are concerned that their children may not be able to survive a stifling education environment where tuition is the norm, and play is a luxury?

My son is coming home. But he is not sure what his future will hold. Even though he has a university degree, his passion is music. He is interested in jazz and rock and stuff that someone belonging to the dinosaur age like me cannot really understand. DoesSingaporeunderstand? Will he have an opportunity here? Or will he be regarded as worse than blue collar by those in authority?

Dr Amy Khor – letting them eat chicken rice, giving them free laksa pastes uplifted their spirits, yes – but will not do anything to help them adjust, especially if they have been away for a good long while. Don’t get me wrong. I have lived overseas myself, and have enjoyed events organized for Singaporeans to give us a taste of home. These are usually organized by the various consulates or just by some Singaporeans making a special effort to come together. But to say that Singapore Day helps overseas Singaporeans ‘adjust’ is just too much for me to swallow.

IfSingaporeis really serious about wanting overseas Singaporeans home, the key thing to remember is charity begins at home. If local Singaporeans are treated right, if there is a sense that we have a good future in our home country then why should we want to venture to a place where laksa is non-existent, and chicken rice has to be home cooked, and dependent on pastes? If Singaporeans are given first priority at home instead of having to queue, sometimes behind, foreigners, why would Singaporeans go overseas to also queue – but usually alongside people of other nationalities?

Recently my daughter who is in a local university got into a war of words with a university mate, whom I shall just call Raj. Raj was saying he had no intention of serving his bond here – overseas students are obliged to work three years inSingaporeafter graduation.  At the same time, he was also mocking Singaporeans by saying that Singaporeans need foreigners. They are the ones who make it into the Dean’s lists and also have the best jobs. My daughter simply told him to f**8 off.

Who fed him these ideas?

This young man had no intention of working here. He took a place that could have gone to a Singaporean, enjoyed our tuition grants, and madeSingaporea stepping stone to greener pastures. In the meantime, he continues to bask in the compliments that our authorities heap on people like him, and enjoys the discomfiture of the local students. He is not the only one.

Perhaps the student who could have taken his place just enjoyed Singapore Day in NYC, having spent much of his parents’ retirement savings on his education. Is a bowl of laksa enough to convince him to come home? Will he feel a welcome here? Will he have a future?

  1. RichDad
    April 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

    S$4M = 5,000 people = S$800 per head for hawker food?

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      April 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

      i think it is for the transportation of hawkers and local celebrities. there was a show, but the people were more keen on the food. don’t forget Amy khor was there too!!

  2. RichDad
    April 17, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Hmm… did Vikram Nair (Nee Soon GRC) ask “Where is the money going to come from?” or “Where did the money came from?”

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      April 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

      from Toc For the uninitiated, Singapore Day is a cultural-cum-cuisine based event organised by the Prime Minister’s Office, Overseas Singaporean Unit. It is aimed at engaging Singaporeans residing overseas. It is held in different cities with a significant community of overseas Singaporeans. Singaporean cuisine is cooked and served by Singaporean hawkers who have flown especially for the event.

  3. Saycheese
    April 18, 2012 at 3:45 am

    3.8 million was for the clebrities like Amy Khor and the hawkers, the remaining 200k for the food and the show! Elites have to be very well paid while those who require services from medical social workers rank very far down the list.

  4. medtechadmin
    April 18, 2012 at 6:55 am

    you (not speakspoke – the other two of you) are making assumptions without any knowledge of the facts. These are counterproductive, and serve only to elicit hatred or emotion – to justify your arguments. It would be wiser to establish what exactly the expenditure was on before pointing accusing fingers. Obviously there is more to the $4m than just the celebrities, air tickets, food and hawkers. There is price of booking a venue. Security – did your (speakspoke) son tell you how many security staff, police officers and hired helpers were there to keep the event safe? TV cameras, crew, exhibits, production costs of all the “propaganda” videos, preproduction costs of the “show” and rehearsals etcetc. I wrestle with the same… perceived problems that the rest of you do – but I don’t see any merit in jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers. Find out how much these things cost, and let us know – before casting judgement – after all knowledge empowers all of us, and can’t possibly hurt. Incorrect assumptions and unjustified opinions just weaken us all, and make us all hurt.

    • sporesc@hotmail.com
      April 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

      The fact was $4m was spent. No point splitting hairs over exactly what the breakdown is. The question is whether the benefits were worth the $4m spent.

    • L
      April 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      so what if we know the exact breakdown of the cost of the event?? doesnt matter if its $800 per head solely on food expense or $50 for security, $50 for food $50 for staging.. dats not the point, aint it?

      the point is, is it even justified to spend a single cent anyway (nevermind where) and what is the intended purpose and result acheived (or expected to achieve)? and is there any other solutions to achieve the same results without spending that amount.??

    • kockcroach
      April 19, 2012 at 2:13 am

      Stop being so sanctimonius. RichDad did not assume anything, he was just posing some questions – which SpeakSpo replied. If anybody is assuming anything it is you yourself. Anyway it is decent of you to supply so much information. Cheers. The gist of this article is whether the money was well spent or not.

    • RichDad
      April 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

      First, I wish to thank all those who came to my defense.

      So, Mr Morally Superior Medtechadmin, the cat got your @#$% tongue?

      I have another question for you, how come my 88-year-old auntie was not allowed to use her Medisave money (over $20k) to fully pay for her medical bill? In fact, she was not even allowed to use 50% of that $20,000+, how old must she (and we all) be before we can use more than 50% of our own hard-earned in Medisave, 100? 200?

      Is Our CPF Broke? http://feedmetothefish.blogspot.com/2012/02/is-our-cpf-broke.html

  5. SingaporeNewYorker
    April 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Stupid overseas Singaporeans! This $4m Singapore Day is an idea from some brilliant ministers or civil servants to try lure overseas Singaporeans to return home. Hopefully, the returned Singaporeans could start up new companies that link with overseas markets. This is purely economic and not nationalism consideration. This is to target those few so-called entrepreneurs they want and NOT the ordinary Singaporeans who cannot even survive in Singapore before leaving.

    When Singapore wants to develop innovative industry for economic growth and found that Taiwan has many citizens returned to startup companies that link closely with Silicon Valley and eventually became successful innovative enterprises, our brilliant government also wants to emulate the Taiwanese’s success. Singapore needs these startups to sustain its economic growth.

    But, will this $4m a year spending worthwhile? Or, will the ultimate objective be met? I am afraid it will be a great challenge for Singapore to succeed as what Taiwanese did. There are few reasons:

    1. While many Singaporeans are overseas, most of them do not have entrepreneurship quality because of the early age education done in Singapore. Most are not the top scholars like those being sent overseas to study and return to serve the government. Even those scholars are mostly just exam smart students.

    2. How many Singaporeans are working in Silicon Valley or other research centres? What are they doing there? Washing test-tube? Are they of very entrepreneurship quality? The obvious answer is NO. Most if not all are just workers. They work there because there are jobs there and Singapore has no job. Or, they studied in USA and can find a job there.

    3. Is Singapore present ground conducive in entrepreneurship development in private sector given the weak SME and dominant GLC landscape?

    In conclusion, Taiwan is no Singapore. The outcome of returning entrepreneurs in Taiwan has many cause-and-effect factors that Singapore may not have. Simply emulating other success story will not bring the same outcome to Singapore. If one analyse carefully the Taiwan success story, one will realise many success factors are missing in the Singapore context. So, Singapore is wasting money doing this Singapore Day. It is however a Good Try. However, overseas Singaporeans get to taste some home foods on that day.

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