Weather: Meteorological Service Singapore    High & Low Tides

Yesterday     2004     2003     2002     2001     2000     1999

Singapore Students' Hopes, Fears & Dreams



...We have significant strengths. Firstly, we are all at least bilingual. We are educated in English, which is the international language of business. This gives us a valuable edge over the Chinese or Vietnamese, who are working hard to learn English.

At the same time, we also speak our mother tongues – either Mandarin, Tamil, or Malay. These languages will anchor our Asian identity, and help us understand and do business in the region. You may not realise how big an advantage this is, until you are physically stationed in another country.

Secondly, our young people are very well educated. Students and parents often complain about the Singapore education system, but on the whole it prepares you well to compete with others.

International surveys consistently show that our students are among the most competent in the world, especially in science and mathematics. Singaporeans who go to top universities abroad often do brilliantly, emerging at the top of their classes. So our schools must have done something good for them.

Thirdly, Singaporeans are not only talented as individuals, but belong to a meritocratic and efficient system.

Our system gives you every opportunity to develop your talents, put them to full use, and work as part of a Singapore team. Imagine how different your lives would have been, and what limited choices you would have had, if you had been born and grown up in some other country, say in Iraq or Nigeria.

Of course, we must be aware of our weaknesses too, and I would like to mention three.

Firstly, young Singaporeans do not know enough about our own country, or what is going on in the world around us. I am sure you know who is William Hung or F4, but (as a recent survey showed) far fewer have heard of Dr Goh Keng Swee, and I suspect not so many are sure who Pervez Musharraf is, or know that Indonesia is holding elections today.

Secondly, young Singaporeans have grown up in a safe, orderly, almost artificial environment. Everything works. The trains run on time, the lifts in HDB blocks work, the police are helpful and efficient, and the National Day Parade is a precision show. Children no longer catch guppies in longkangs, or spiders in the bushes.

We have worked very hard to create this order and efficiency, but the side effect is that our people have been sheltered from the realities of the world, and often do not realise how unusual and precious Singapore is.

A twenty-year old Singaporean is much less toughened and street smart than a twenty-year old Vietnamese or Indian who has had to fend for himself or herself. We have been so insulated that the first time we come into contact with the outside world it is something of a shock, as many of our businessmen operating in China and other countries have found out.

Which leads to the third weakness – because we live in a prosperous, comfortable environment, our young are not as hungry and eager as their parents were, or as young people in China, India or Vietnam today are. As Ron Sim said when he accepted the Businessman of the Year award recently:

"I am lucky to be born poor because it fuels the hunger, it fuels the despair, the desire to make things good and right.

But don’t get me wrong. If you were born rich, you are luckier. It might be hard to stir the hunger, but it is not difficult to create the desire.

As the saying goes – do also die, don’t also die, so why not do your best and then die?"




If you have an event or some news to share with our readers, send the details, including picture(s), to us at 


Click New Web sites for the list.

We are now 6432 pages thick and growing.

Public Holidays GOOD FRIDAY is the next public holiday. It falls on 9 April 2004.


ePartners  | Press  |  eMail Us | Permissions | Content Contributors

Contact Getforme at

Powered by

Copyright© 1999 - 2004  All rights reserved


7 April 2004