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Students driven away literally

From Straits Times Forum: TUESDAY’S article (“More subjects to choose from, so fewer take pure literature”) revealed the startling statistic that 3,000 students took pure literature last year, compared with 16,970 in 1992. Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah said this decline “needs to be understood in the context of an education system responsive to a changing social context, and which has offered increasingly more curricular choices for students over time”. This is misleading. The initial drastic drop in the candidature for literature occurred in 1992, when the practice of ranking schools based on academic results started. The…

Hands off my suitcase full of goodies

Budget 2013 observations

Here are a few thoughts on Budget 2013: The most eye-catching policy to come out of this Budget is the Wage Credit Scheme, under which the government will co-fund 40 per cent of wage increases for Singaporean workers earning up to a gross monthly wage of S$4,000. This is a further departure from the government’s previous insistence that wage increases must follow productivity improvement. Now, despite a reported productivity drop of 2.6% in 2012, it is pushing ahead for firms to pay their local workers better. This shows a gradual recognition (or resignation, depending on how you look at it)…

Still chewing over the population debate

Still chewing over the population debate

I’m guessing Grace Fu hasn’t read the Institute of Policy Studies’ commentary  by the four economists from the Economic Society of Singapore, despite the Today paper finally giving it coverage two weeks after it was first published on 8 February and widely shared on social media. One of the writers, Donald Low of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, had earlier condemned the Population White Paper for its lack of scholarship rigour, adding that, if it were a term paper, he would have absolutely no qualms failing it. Or perhaps the civil servants under Ms Fu are unwilling…

Pawn Shop

Pawn alley at Clementi Central

I am back in London after spending the last two and a half weeks in Singapore. It’s been pretty hectic catching up with friends and families and sorting out other matters in the short time I had, which explains the lack of postings here! During my time back, I was at Clementi Central on an almost daily basis, either to eat at the hawker centre there, to pick up some necessities from the odds-and-ends shops, or simply to visit the local Singapore Pools outlet for my ticket to eternal financial well-being and material happiness via the $10 Million Hong Bao…

Ten Sticks and One Rice

Ten Sticks and One Rice – A Singaporean graphic novel

We had a lot of talk last week in parliament on what makes a true Singaporean core. Well, nothing beats a picture that paints a thousand words, and all the better when you have an entire book of them and a good story that goes along with it. I would like to recommend this local Singaporean-written, drawn and published graphic novel Ten Sticks and One Rice, which tells the story of a man’s journey from a fast growing local society in the 1970s through to present day Singapore. Ten Sticks and One Rice is the life account of a man…

Hokkien Me

The last of the Tans, Ongs and Lims

I am in Singapore these two weeks to spend Chinese New Year with our families and to meet up with friends, and right now I’m writing this at 5 am in the morning. I’ve been here a few days already and I’m still jet lagged. It has never been this bad before on my return trips from the UK — so I must put this down to age! Over dinner with my family the other day, I had a minor shock when my brother told us that his baby son is registered with a Hanyu Pinyin surname. There is no trace at all on his record of…

You better work (to support our old)

How to reduce the need for 6.9 million population

Besides encouraging Singaporeans to have more babies, we should also look into ways to cope with a low old-age support ratio. Here are some suggestions to increase the workforce from within the core group of citizens and lessen our dependency on foreign care workers. Some of these ideas are not new and have been discussed by others. Reducing National Service length — Imagine if NS is cut by one year, which would translate into a whole cohort of male Singaporeans entering the workforce earlier by a year. Promoting apprenticeships in place of university studies — An university education is important…