http://www.youngpap.org.sg/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=5095&sid=9640edca64ab14b66f20b08a980e5064 Posted: Tue May 10, 2005 9:57 am Post subject: Modeus OpenMessage 1 of 1 , May 12, 2005View Sourcehttp://www.youngpap.org.sg/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=5095&sid=9640edca64ab14b66f20b08a980e5064
Posted: Tue May 10, 2005 9:57 am Post subject: Modeus' Open Letter to Phillip Yeo.
As a reject from your scholarship trials in the year 1995, I must say that I owe a lot to you for my personal transformation. In 1995, I was still a frivolous National servicemen who was arrogant and extremely naive in my ways, after I was turned down by the EDB, it was one of the saddest days of my life - but it was also a significant turning point in my life.
Nevertheless, I changed my ways, turned against the decadent ways of my peers and worked hard during my University days, not just getting a 1st Class honours degree but also a portfolio of ECA's where I led students as President, Vice President and student representative of my department. I joined a company which has recently won accolades one of the best companies to work for and now, ironically in the business of outsourcing jobs out of the country. This I should thank you.
While people like me should be vengeful and perhaps angry at the folks who won your scholarship, I do not think that it's fair to attack the many National Servicemen which serve the country today to become scholars. In fact, you have demonstrated to the whole country that you take your fellow Singaporeans for granted.
Like the example you quoted that our scholars should not take your organization for granted because the money is not "Ah Kong's" money. As a Singaporean, I'd like to remind you that the money is also not your money as well. By giving preference to foreigners and women, you are taking the law into your hands and spitting on the sacrifice Singaporean men have made for the country.
Another point of contention is that you have tried to call some Singaporean men "Wimps". Phillip, may I remind you that you are civil servant first and foremost and a servant of the citizens of the Republic. Unlike Jack Welch whose career lives and dies based on market sentiment, your wonderful civil servants have yet been called to task for failing to bring, say Disneyland into Singapore. In any serious for deals, careers are destroyed at the whims of customers. Do you live and work in such a setting ?
In any case, I hope that your arrogance and flippance would incite the wrath fo the public, no Singaporean with a smidgeon of pride should tolerate a hypocritical civil servant who is more willing to pay use pubolic funds to educate a foreigner than to return the money to a worthy Singaporean.
This is my call to action that the citizens of Singapore will vote accordingly and take into the account and hold the government accountable for your appointment.
We will not cease until an apology is made or your career is over.
Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt
Below are comments from one of Singapore's million dollar visionary leaders. The
strange thing is that it reeks of sexism and elitism (this was the same man who
once said, "Got a Basic Degree? Wash Testtubes.")
From: makapa 7-May 18:20
To: astralproxy unread
What does it say about a man who equates maturity to unquestioning obedience?
What does it spell for the future of a country that's run by a man who demands
unquestioning obedience? Anyway, the dire economic situation in Peesai speaks
for itself. And one last question, why is not such a man being fired to begin
with and still allowed to throw billions at foreign companies to massage GDP
Philip Yeo on A*Star scholars:
Forget wimps, I prefer women
The New Paper
8 May 2005
IN Mr Philip Yeo's book, Singapore boys are whiny and immature.
He said this because all government scholars who broke their scholarship bonds
since 1990 have been Singapore males.
Not only that, the occasional postings on the Internet criticising his
scholarship programmes were also from Singapore male scholars.
He said: 'I have no bond-breakers among the girls, no bond-breakers among
'Maybe I should give more scholarships to non-Singaporeans who are bright, eager
and hungry, and then help them get Singapore passports. The rest, I give to the
A-level girls at 19 years old.
'I don't want whining Singapore boys. They are not mature even though they have
national service and are over 22 years old when they take up undergraduate
studies. They give me so much trouble and
waste our precious time,' he said.
But behind these strong words is a man who clearly has a soft spot for his
Despite his busy schedule, including travels abroad 'to chase investment money',
he spends a lot of time e-mailing his scholars.
He banters and jokes with them, and hosts lunches and dinners whenever he is in
the vicinity of their overseas universities.
He says he has a '4D' list.
But '4D' in this case refers to the group of top A*star scholars who obtain the
prefect straight-A scores of 4 in their US university's grade-point average
As of last month, 117 of its BSc scholars have obtained their final examinations
grades. About 82 per cent, or 96 scholars, have attained a GPA of 3.8 and above.
Thirty-six of the 96 even made it to
the A*star Chairman's Honours List for achieving the perfect score.
'Of my top scholars, 23 are girls and 13 boys. Four of the girls and four of the
boys are non-Singaporeans. As can be seen, the Singapore girls outperform the
Mr Yeo also made posters of his '4D list', which he advertised in the
newspapers, on the Internet and in various parts of the Biopolis.
He defended criticism from former government scholars that his minimum
requirement of 3.8 GPA for overseas scholars is unduly strict. That score
requires them to get combined grades of at least an
equal mix of A (4.0) and A minus (3.67).
He said: 'The scholarship money is from my research institutes. This is not your
Ah Kong's money. So you jolly well make sure you study hard and excel.
'My scholars can do it. Why are you complaining and bitching about 3.8? If you
don't like, don't take it!'
When he is not travelling, he spends part of his time reading his scholars'
files. 'I know all their backgrounds. I have spoken to scholars who scored below
3.8. Did I turn them away?
'You think I am so cruel? Sometimes people get lower scores because something
has gone wrong with a few papers. I understand that.
'But I am not going to lower the standard. How low do you want to go? You think
this is limbo rock?'
Some other government scholarship holders, he said, are left 'bumming around for
a few months', waiting for job placements. But not EDB and A*star ones.
'They come back on Friday, rest over the weekend, and start work on Monday.
Because of this, some people say, 'Philip Yeo is very cruel'.
'Oi! I am doing this for your sake, so you can start earning a salary. You mean
you want to hang around unpaid for a few months? You start work and - click,
click, click - your bond will be gone in
no time. Burned off like a fuse.'
Mr Yeo, who is also EDB's co-chairman, added: 'There is no crime in leaving when
they have done their share, and that's good for Singapore.
'That is why I formed the EDB Society in the early 1990s, so that all the EDB
senior officers who have left for the private sector can still keep in touch.
They are still part of the family.'
Mr Yeo's focus is clear: The scholarship schemes are created to nurture future
generations of Singaporeans.
In a pitch aimed at The New Paper's younger audience, the A*star chairman said:
'All this is done for you. The future is yours, not mine. I only plant the seed
and, hopefully, there will be enough
numbers to take off on their own.'
With all the effort in promoting research, the billion-dollar question is
whether a Singaporean will win the Nobel Prize one day.
'That's not my job. My job is to create more jobs. Publishing scientific papers
and Nobel Prizes do not create jobs,' Mr Yeo said. But with a mischievous glint,
he said: 'But I have already stolen a
Nobel Prize for Singapore!'
This was his coup in getting Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner, one of the fathers
of molecular genetics, to continue work in Singapore and to accept an honorary
citizenship in 2003.
Bitter spat, but he still has 'great respect' for Mr Yeo
HE IS a tough combatant.
But if you look under the armour, you will find a man whose heart beats steadily
Former MP Chng Hee Kok crossed swords with Mr Yeo in a bitter argument on the
scholarship issue. But both men graciously apologised to each other later and
Mr Chng, now NTUC Club's chief executive, has only good things to say about the
'What had happened was unfortunate. He had strong views and I had strong views,'
'It was a minor spat. But that shouldn't take away all the good work he has done
Mr Chng said he wrote to Mr Yeo later, congratulating him for being able to get
a big multinational company to invest in Singapore.
This deal was a feat as it was achieved at the height of the Asian financial
Mr Chng said it's good for Singapore to have dynamic leaders like Mr Yeo. 'I
have great respect for the man,' he said.
Another of Mr Yeo's one-time combatants was Mr Peter Lim, the former
editor-in-chief of the then Straits Times Press.
Mr Lim once had a 'shouting match' with Mr Yeo when The Straits Times reported
in 1981 that stray bullets from a Chartered Industries (CIS) firing range had
hit some flats in Jurong.
Mr Yeo, who was CIS chairman then, was very unhappy with the newspaper's
coverage. This was because the bullets never hit any flats but fell on vacant
land, without hurting anyone.
Mr Lim recalled: 'We arranged 'peace talks' in a hotel restaurant. Within
minutes of our shaking hands and saying hello, Mr Yeo and I lost our cool and
started shouting at each other.'
Just as they were leaving, Mr Yeo turned around and said, 'Hey, Peter! We've
booked the table. We must eat lunch, right? Come, let's eat!'
'That brought the temperature right down. And we settled what was essentially a
classic case of bad communication and misunderstood motives,' Mr Lim said.
LIKE A BULLET TRAIN
Years later, after he had left journalism, Mr Lim was asked by Mr Yeo to be
A*star's editorial consultant.
The spat has been consigned to the past. 'Each time I tell the story, he'd shrug
and smile,' Mr Lim said.
Describing the A*star chairman's style, he said: 'Philip Yeo is like a bullet
train. His management style and public relations have cost him much. But he has
been able to offer much to Singapore, the people who work for him, and those who
come within his orbit.
'Is he a dying breed among our public servants? I certainly hope not,' he said.
Mercy Relief chairman Zulkifli Baharudin, a former Nominated MP, said the key is
to build a good public service which is able to tap on the strengths of good
leaders and yet not be distracted by their styles.
'We should not be dogged by kiasu mentality and avoid controversies. We must
look at the net benefit. If they are doing much good work for the nation, we
must try to accommodate the personality and style that comes with the man.'
By: Mellanie Hewlitt
Many would recall Philip Yeo's comments in the 2nd Nov 2002 issue of
the Straits Times:"Got a basic degree? Wash test tubes then".
The comments raised quite afew eye brows in the community and
provoked a backlash of replies from critics. In his reply to his
critics Philip Yeo posed two questions;
a) If you were terminally ill, would you trust a surgeon who was a
college drop-out?; and
b) Would you take a drug that was designed by a college drop-out?
The questions reveal an innate bias and myopia that permeates the
senior ranks of the government bureaucracy and explains in part the
dismal performance of the GLCs and State Owned Entities, which are
affectionately known by locals as "Scholar Havens".
Replying to Mr Yeo's first question, if I was terminally ill I would
want to the most experienced surgeon oversee the operation. The
emphasis here is on the actual experience as opposed to mere paper
qualifications. The last thing I want at my bedside is an
arrogant "professional student" whose only experience is scoring
straight As in an exam hall, and who has no actual experience.
Afterall, a degree is merely a means to an end. An efficient
education system ensures that graduates are equipped with specific
skill sets that will address actual needs of the practical work
place. Looking again at Mr Yeo's analogy, it would be a wasteful
allocation of resource to have even an A' level student wash test-
tubes, let alone a graduate or post-graduate student.
The first sensible rational question is, do we need an undergraduate
to wash test-tubes? The answer is obvious. Why then are we faced with
this inane question? The startling fact is that with a worsening
economy and soaring unemployment rates, there is an over supply of
middle management professionals who are now forced to compete for
lower tiered jobs with fresh graduates and non-graduates.
And the problem does not just stop there as there is a domino effect
and the repercussions are felt throughout the labour market. A Human
Resource Manager with a fixed budget for a junior position suddenly
found that he could engage an older more experienced and more
qualified professional to do more, for less. But where does that
leave the fresh graduate who would have otherwise filled this
opening? He is unemployed, or forced to look for more menial work.
Arguably, this situation benefits the employer and it is an
employer's market. But viewed on a macro level, it is a far from
ideal situation. There is a tremendous amount of wastage of scarce
human resources as graduates are unable to put their professional
skills to good use.
With the current economic situation going from bad to worse, there
are already many examples of overqualified professionals who are
forced into menial enterprise. Many become cab-drivers or hawkers to
tide over the bad times. Did these professionals spend years in
university just to drive a cab or fry Char Kway Teow? Do you actually
need a PHD to be a hawker or a cab-driver?
What is even more amusing is the attempt by the local papers and
mass media, to glorify such cases (e.g. 12 Jan 2003 issue of the New
Paper "From banking man (earning five-digit monthly pay) to Golden
Mile nasi lemak man Why") We can only hope that Mr Yeo's latest
investment in PHD graduates (see previous column) will not add to the
growing ranks of the unemployed professionals.
Does the current system work, or is it making an already bad
unemployment situation, even worse? Only in Singapore do we have a
government that is so engrossed with the accumulation of paper
qualifications, that they have long since forgotten the original
objective behind the education system, and have instead identified
the means as an end to itself. In their blind pursuit of their
version of a utopian society, educational elitetism takes center
stage above all else, eclipsing the actual needs of the
labour market itself. The distortions in the demand and supply chain
is most acute in industries that are dominated by State Owned
Entities and Government Linked Companies. Health care is an excellent
For decades it was common knowledge that there was a
severe shortage in supply of doctors in Singapore. This had
contributed to escalating health care costs to the extent that the
paternalistic government found it necessary to increase medi-save
contributions in CPF accounts. One would have expected the Medical
Faculty to increase student intake and also increase employment of
foreign doctors to alleviate the dismal situation. But they had
steadfastly refused to do either, allowing
the situation to go from bad to worse. What compounded the situation
was the archaic admissions criteria in the medical faculty which
placed a strict quota on female graduates who would otherwise be
admissible. The rationale behind this policy can best be described as
medieval, resting perhaps on the argument that female doctors will
ultimately marry and abandon their medical professions in pursuit of
domestic life. This archaic medieval policy was only lifted last
year, after being in effect for decades.
Fortunately, the mismatch between demand and supply is much less
acute for professions which are less subject to government
regulation, and more exposed to the international market. Some
examples are banking, accounting, IT etc. Successful professionals in
these industries see employment in MNCs which are in sync with
market conditions. And market forces are able to address any
weaknesses or kinks in the demand-supply chain and weed out
inefficient unproductive elements. The same cannot be said of State
Runned Enterprises and GLCs which have a free hand into public funds
and tax dollars. These are a safe haven in difficult times for fat
bacon meat which would otherwise have seen the short end of a shot-
gun in the competitive private sector.
But the disturbing fact remains that these lumbering unproductive
loss making enterprises, occupied by government bureaucrats and
scholars, will continue to be a burden on the economy and private
The underlying issue here is that due to the inability of the
domestic economy to generate higher echelon jobs, and a very weak
employment market, graduates (and PHD holders) are often unable to
find jobs in positions that they were academically trained for. This
is not a failing on the part of the individual, but rather a failing
on the part of the system, and yes, ultimately the government. And
looking at Mr Yeo's latest project, it appears that no progress will
be made in this area for at least another few years.
Moving away from the grey area of public policies, we must look
towards substance over form. Substance in this context refers to the
actual experience and ability to perform the job. Form is a
decorative facade which is a vague indication (which may be
inaccurate) that the person has such ability. Which would you trust
if you were terminally ill, a PHD who has never touched a scalpel or
a self-thought albeit non-graduate physician who worked her way up as
a nurse, and who has successfully treated 1,000 cases similiar to
yours? You decide, but the answer is clear to me.
But there is also a more crucial question that lies beyond policy
matters waiting to be addressed;
CAN THE CURRENT PAP LEADERS IDENTIFY WITH THE NEEDS AND ASPIRATIONS
OF THE AVERAGE SINGAPOREAN CITIZEN IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES.
If we do not have leaders who can understand and relate to the plight
of the common man on the street, how can we have faith on these same
leaders to lead us out of stormy waters?
Can a leader who continues to receive handsome remuneration in tax
dollars ever relate to the plight of the average wage earner who
earns less then 10% of his take home pay? How can he even start to
appreciate the ramifications of his far-reaching policies (on ERP,
petrol, electricity, motor insurance, bus and MRT fares, and now
hospital fees) which were all too likely drawn up in a clinical
As unemployment rates soar to new highs, there are also repeated
calls by the government for Singaporeans to be less "less choosy"
about work . In the JAN 13, 2003 issue of the Straits Times, Lim
Boon Heng has called on Singaporeans to "Expect smaller wage rises in
future". But this is also akin to a bad tailor who is encouraging a
paying customer to be satisfied with very poor workmanship! AFTER SO
MANY YEARS OF SLOGGING AND SWEATING in our supposedly elite world
class universities, why are we being told to settle for less in terms
of careers and expectations?
Perhaps Mr Yeo should start applying this sentiment to Singapore's
million dollar ministers who continue to take home millions of tax
dollars per year even in these difficult times. In the past, the
merits of such handsome remunerations have always been that these
would be needed to attract the best talents and to ensure elite
performance. But in the current circumstances, I am still struggling
to identify what qualifies as resounding performance from our elite
leaders, especially when they have repeated (and admitted) several
times over that the economy recovery will be led by external forces.
Perhaps our leaders may have more pressing issues on their hands then
tuddongs and head-dresses at schools.
Oh yes, as for Mr Yeo's second question, I would have no problems
taking a drug that is designed by a college drop-out, if the drug is
safe and it works. That is substance. But am I to understand that Mr
Yeo would he be willing to take a defective drug if it was developed
by a PHD holder?