Monday, April 7, 2014

Creative Talent

Eyes brows were raised when the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) announced that Singapore beat 43 other economies with a top score of 562 for problem solving. The prime minister was over the moon, "Who says Singaporean students are rote learners?" The test comprises 4 to 8 computer based questions, including how to set a thermostat and determining the shortest distance between two points. Identifying the Higgs boson particle is definitely off syllabus. One member of parliament put a damper on the celebrations by writing that while Singapore teens have been proven to do well in problem-solving, Singaporeans still fare poorly in spoken English and lack confidence in articulating their views.

The reality is that creativity takes many forms. The Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS) came across some clever ideas to get cash out of the Productivity & Innovative Credit (PIC) scheme:
  • Use fake documents to claim for non-existent purchases or inflate invoices;
  • Create shell company to claim for purchases of equipment;
  • List relatives and friends as staff to meet minimum number of local staff requirement
Depending on your perspective, these guys have been pretty productive - maximising output by minimising costs. Naturally, IRAS is not pleased.

They set up a 9-member task force in August 2013 to bust these creative types. Considering the PIC scheme was created in 2010 to boost productivity, one wonders why it took so long for someone to wake up from slumber and discover the missing money. Of the 158 cases investigated, only 49 were solved, involving a total of almost $3 million. Who says Singapore has no local talent? You just have to know where to look.

Here's the last word from Hri Kumar Nair:
"However skilled you are at problem-solving and however many hours you spend at your desk, you will not likely make a strong impression in the business world if you are unable to communicate your thoughts and ideas effectively."
The corollary to this is that, despite all the hot air ventilated, the trains are still breaking down.


  1. Spot on again as usual, Tattler

  2. The brains start at the top. If someone is selected more because he is someone's son or daughter-in-law than his/her brains, you can always bet that somelse with the better brains has been sidelined.

    Of course they will still insist they are the best but the results will show at the end of the day. Just imagined the amount of money spent or lost at putting idiots in charge! The results already spoke for themselves, don't they ? Especially if we compare the current ones with those pioneer generation leaders at a fraction of what they are paying themselves now!

    1. disagree strongly that how much brains you have matters. surely it's more important whether you use them and how you use them?

  3. Hri Kumar
    Despite all the national CONversations you and PAP have been doing.
    Despite all the massive SPH communication channels at PAP's disposal;
    The trains continue to break down.
    There is escalating levels of street violence.
    And etc.

    You and PAP can talk.
    But pretty obvious that you and PAP cannot solve problems.

  4. I bet you that these so-called "talents" are mostly foreign in origin. It is very common for businesses in China to find loopholes like these. And why are the ones who come out with such stupid idea not being punished for wasting taxpayers money? Of course, unless these MPs themselves also get a share of the cake.

  5. No creative talent because trains are still breaking down? You overlook the lights they installed at train stations to let you know if the trains are full - that's creativity is it not?

    1. Better still are all the Police Signboards.
      "A bicycle was stolen here on ....
      If you have any information, please call ... "

      First class bullshit wayang.
      Bluff all the Foreigners only

      Why not they put up signs like:

      "A Singaporean taxi driver was beaten up by a bloody ang moh here on this date. Please call telephone XXX if you have information that can lead to the arrest of the bloody ang moh"

      Do you think the police force is part of a wayang show?
      To bluff Singaporeans?

  6. Low crime does not mean no crime.
    Got government does not mean no lousy governors, nepotism, cronyism and corruption. On the contrary, absolute power breeds more abuses.

  7. My creative answer to that poster that asks "How far will you go to defend our country'?

    It depends if the politician's son is in the front line with me or in the back lab doing soil test for mice. I sure ain't going to be the dead mouse in a warfare for some unproven paper general.

    1. "How far will you go to defend our country'?

      My answer is the same answer as PAP Minister.
      You want honest Ministers ... Pay million dollar salary.

      You want brave & loyal soldiers ... Pay Million dollar salary lor.

  8. who say red dot got no creative talent and no communications skills? red dot has plenty of creative talent but garmen jobs paying millions no need to be too creative, just go by books can, if not boss say you try to be too smart; also hri kunna not correct, red dot got lots of communications skills but garmen wants you to be quiet quiet, just follow law, so no need to talk so much lor!!

    Seriously, the MoE tweaks the syllabus yearly with one single aim: PISA! After so many years, the 10 year series of PISA questions must be substantial enough for them to "incorporate" these types of questions, include in syllabus. Would anyone be surprised to find that achieving ever higher PISA score is on the KPIs of the most senior civil servants manning the MoE, even if it wasn't explicitly a KPI, the PS, DS Directors know quite well that when it comes to bonus or promotion time, no one would forget to remind the PM of the headlines "Singapore tops PISA in 2014". An entire society, at least 3 generations over 50 years were brought up with the lifelong goals of scoring As, because old fart believes anyone with straight As, will be able to solve all the problems, will be able tot think straight, find the optimum solutions to all problems. Topping the world in PISA is just a continuation of the MoE's goal to have more and more students score As. It's still the same old game, just goes by a different name.

  9. I used to work for the civil service for more than 12 years.

    Inspite of what Hri Kumar said, in the Civil Service, you are actively discouraged from speaking up. If you are too outspoken, you are either not allowed into meetings or your boss will be made to sit beside you with the sole intention of kicking your leg if you so much as cough!

    If they are really serious about getting people to speak up. They need to change the culture in the singapore workplace first. Most Singaporeans are quite well spoken and articulate. They are just been beaten down so hard that they choose to speak elsewhere. For example in cyberspace, Singaporeans sure can speak out loud.

  10. Nobody can say CSJ and JBJ did not speak up clearly. But as Yaacob would say, Singaporeans must hear or read the "right things".

  11. Does not matter if Singaporeans don't speak out.
    Just make sure you vote them out!

  12. Just also make sure when got war or real life threatening issues....let the papies go to the frontline and take the risks and do the real dying/sacrificing...why should be us when the farking papies themselves created the farking problems in the first let the buggers go first instead of mouthing out loud to us we must sacrifice for the pap...nuts lah!

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