Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Clare Boothe Luce was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1942 and remembered for challenging the rosy promises of a global market, the borderless economy that came about with the arrival of air travel. Ignored in the debate, then and now, was the human face of globalization, the fear of foreign money, foreign goods, and foreign people. Clare Boothe Luce coined a term to describe an argument that intentionally misunderstands globalization or misrepresents it in order to advance a questionable point. She called it globaloney.

Khaw Boon Wan's propaganda about Singapore youths entering the workforce today having to face competition from foreigners is example of such baloney about globalization. Especially when his crowd extols the merits of foreign talent over our own born and bred.

The April 2011 piece in Wall Street Journal (India) highlights that engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000. The image of an India churning out hundreds of thousands of well educated students every year looms large as a threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of a globalized economy.

Unfortunately 75%of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are considered unemployable by India's own high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to assessment tests conducted by their National Association of Software and Services Companies. Companies like Call-center 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd, who made offshoring a household word, are having difficulty sourcing competent hires, and forced to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.

To bridge the widening chasm between job requirements and the skills of graduates, Tata extended its internal training program. It puts fresh graduates through 72 days of training, double the duration in 1986, said Tata chief executive N. Chandrasekaran. Samples of such graduates:

"I was not prepared at all to get a job," says Pradeep Singh, 23, who graduated last year from RKDF College of Engineering, one of the city of Bhopal's oldest engineering schools. He had been to 5 job interviews, and was rejected each time. He is taking courses to prepare for job interviews.

Deepak Sharma, 26, failed several exams at a top engineering college outside of Delhi, until he finally figured out the trick: Writing his mobile number on the exam paper. He did that for a theory-of-computation exam, and shortly after, the examiner called him and offered to pass him for 10,000 rupees (about US$250). "I feel almost 99% certain that if I didn't pay the money, I would have failed the exam again," said Mr. Sharma.

With all the globaloney going on, our nation's resources ought really be focused on its own citizens, with emphasis on those who have served National Service. A good start is to make sure their places in the universities are not taken up by outsiders.


  1. Based on my own work experience, the quality of degree holders from Phillipines, India and China generally speaking sometimes can't even match those of our own certificate or diploma holders.

    But given a choice of value for money, I would have preferred those graduates from Malaysia. With our own graduates, I honestly think there is still a general problem with their bochap attitude towards work. I suspect our education system is not exactly cultivating the right working attitude and character in our students with too much exphasis on exam results.

    But what can we expect when our govt is also sourcing for foreigners to become our MPs ?

  2. @Alan Wong, do you mean Foo Mee Har and Janil Puthucheary when you meant foreigners to become our MPs? Well, the real problem is quite deeply entrenched. A lot of Singaporeans go through the motions of work and then when they get back home, they complain about it and yet do nothing to change it, or if not, just abet the status quo. This mindset of "I work just to get enough money for myself and I care about nothing else"(including people who are down and out and underprivileged) is a sign of this.

    It is true that a lot of the degrees issued overseas in countries like China, India and the Philippines simply cannot hold much of their own next to our own polytechnic and university grads, but the problem is that our local government has been trying so hard to drill it into us that we are NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and that foreigners are better than us. The problem is compacted when they go overseas to contract and hunt for students to join our local universities, offering them free scholarships and PRs to boot. In any case of employment such as an academic in the university, given a choice between a Singaporean who got his PhD from overseas and a PRC/Indian/someone else from overseas, there is still this clamoring for "foreign talent" over Singaporean talent.

  3. In addition, there are lots of things which I find Singaporeans to be unaware of. Some do not know that the government actually sources foreigners from China, India, Vietnam and other Third World developing countries, gives them free scholarships and permanent residencies and even citizenships, via this great ENGINE called Contact Singapore and its other affiliates. What mainstream media feeds into us is that we are not as good as foreigners, when in fact, with a certain grade point average, we still do not qualify, and a certain number of places MUST BE RESERVED for foreigners. It is probably the reverse of what happens in countries like Canada, Australia, the USA which know how to protect their own citizens by stipulating that a certain number of places in the universities be reserved for their own citizens.

  4. "In any case of employment such as an academic in the university, given a choice between a Singaporean who got his PhD from overseas and a PRC/Indian/someone else from overseas, there is still this clamoring for "foreign talent" over Singaporean talent."

    One self-proclaimed world class higher education institution has go further to fire many existing local professors at 55 by not giving tenure to them. Many of these early retired professors are actually not bad but just not in the correct political circle. Instead, many under-performing PRC or Indian professors are given tenure to work till 65. Government talks so much of getting people to work till 65 and its related institution is doing the reverse. Many people are just silent about these injustice.

    It is therefore imperative to have a complete accountable and transparent government. Looking at today situation, PAP should be out after GE2016.

  5. The funny thing is that after NUS, SMU, NTU went independent of the civil service sector and professors are no longer considered civil servants anymore in the late 1990's, however, this FT policy is still applied pretty much even more, and in some faculties like NTU and NUS's engineering faculties, about more than 80% of the faculty are from China and India. I have had friends who are studying in these faculties and they gave me and other friends feedback then that these lecturers were somehow "bad" instructors not so much because of an issue of knowledge but because they were simply uncommunicable to students, hiding behind a strong "wall" of their Chinglish, or if not, their cultural incommunicability to anyone. The problem becomes worse and compacted with the entry of students too from China and other Third World countries who did not really pass their English qualifying exam before coming here, and actually score relatively low even in the exams here in the English aspect. This makes for bad learning in general.

  6. @Anonymous June 1, 2011, 4:06pm Were you referring to NTU by the way?

  7. Whenever these kind of discussions surface, I like to make an analogy to your own children. Yes, the relationship between a citizen and the government is not exactly like that of a child to his/her parent. Nevertheless, as the Chinese saying goes "爱民如子", which means to love your citizens as if they are your children. And further more, in our case, it was the citizens' votes which elected our Government in the first place. So shouldn't the government be showering it's citizens with more love and care, as if they are their flesh and blood?

    If you have a child who is lazier, and likes to complain more, and demand more "perks" from you than their other children, what would you do? Do you tell your child "You are not good enough, and if you don't buck up, I will adopt other children, give them free education, jobs, and opportunities so that they can help me grow? (aka earn more money)"

  8. Singaporeans are actually more hardworking than many imagine them to be. I am not so sure that the analogy of natural-born children versus adopted children works that well lol.....