|Give scholarships to foreigners with care|
I REFER to Sunday's article, 'Singapore gave them a chance to study abroad'. I am all for embracing foreign talent, for after all, the United States, like Singapore, is a nation of immigrants, and the US has grown to be the world's leading superpower.
However, I urge the scholarship committee to be judicious in its award of scholarships. While I do not doubt the sincerity of foreign scholars wanting to serve Singapore when they receive the scholarships - when they are still young and naÃ¯Â¿Â½ve - it is another tale after they have been exposed to the exciting and enticing world out there. Let me recount a story.
At a seminar last year, I met a Chinese scholarship holder with a prestigious statutory board. In our short conversation, he lamented how he dreads having to serve his six-year bond, for after studying at a prestigious university in Britain, he found there were many other attractive job opportunities and he felt his talent was under-used in Singapore.
Given that the statutory board focused on Singapore's external enterprise growth, he was assured an exciting opportunity to work in its overseas offices as part of his training programme.
Not that it mattered, for he was thinking of how to break his bond, for he wanted success, not after serving his bond but immediately. He felt staying in Singapore would impede his ability to let his talent shine, for it was too small for him.
In fact, he shied away from being associated with Singaporeans. When I commented that his English was tinged with a British accent despite his years of study in Singapore, he beamed and said he was happy to get rid of his Singapore English accent: 'Do I sound British? Oh great.'
I left the seminar with a heavy heart. Have we made the right choice in grooming foreign talent, only to have them snub us? Indeed, we have allowed them to realise how fortunate they are to study in top universities abroad - so much so, they feel they are too good for Singapore.