[Updated at 6.20 am to include a v.v. gd Forum letter on the issue]
Eng Kai Er and her friends in the artistic community elitist sense of entitlement is amazing: The scientist and dancer who is protesting against her six-year scholarship bond, because she is in a job “not aligned with her interests”, received funding for two university stints – and could have turned down the second if she was not keen on research.
I can understand if she had qualms about being a scientist after her first degree. I moved from law into dealing, sales and arbitraging equities by way of corporate finance and fund mgt. So I do know a little about moving into unplanned areas.
But then I wasn’t funded by the tax-payer. My parents funded me. So while can I understand her change of mind, I do not sympathise with her.
The really annoying bit is that after her first degree she came back to work here and then applied for post-grad studies. When she applied for post grad work, she already had four years of experience in her field of study. She was’t an 18-yr old gal.
And now after spending tax-payers’ money, and depriving someone else of the opportunity to do what she did, she wants to do something she could have gone into after A-levels, at zero expense to us.
As someone on Facebook pointed out: It doesn’t make sense for Singapore to invest money on her to groom her in field A of work and she claims No passion and asks to transfer bond to Field B. If not interested, why apply scholarship in field A in the first place? She deprived another person of the scholarship to fulfill her own gains and then claims no passion and wants out? Everything is about her own selfish agenda.
Want to follow that star, then get family or self to fund. Don’t take tax-payers’ money and then insist on the right to follow the star. And bitch publicly when thwarted.
Even now, she’s got a way out: juz pay the S$750,000 and be free to do what she wants to do. Her parents can sell their property and downgrade.
Or is this juz too much of a sacrifice? Everything must be done for her to follow her star but not when this entails personal sacrifice on the part of her and her family.
As my female dog says, “Eng Kai Er, gives us [ ]itches a bad name.”
I’ll leave the final word to this
True purpose of scholarships
A scholarship programme is not about the recipients, their careers, their earnings or their ever-changing interests; it is about the maximisation of our national intellectual capital for the benefit of society.
LET me disabuse all scholarship holders, past and present, of the notion that they are special people who in some way deserve to be provided with an expensive free education in prestigious foreign universities (“Drop ungrateful scholarship holders” by Ms Estella Young and “How successful have programmes been?” by Mr Justin Wang Qi Wei; last Friday).
Scholarship holders are very fortunate people who were given financial support by their fellow citizens to further their studies, in view of their desire, commitment and potential capability to serve as leaders in specific fields, either in public service or in the private sector.
Scholarships are awarded because there has been a meeting of minds and a common purpose between the recipients and society.
Those who harbour grandiose illusions about their own talents and a matching false sense of entitlement should never apply for a scholarship. Those who treat scholarships solely as opportunities to secure fame, prestige and an easy road to self-serving ends should abstain, lest they waste everybody’s time.
Those who, at the end of their studies, did a cost-benefit analysis of bond-breaking should ask for moral guidance.
Not keeping their end of the bargain after successfully completing their studies is not merely a breakdown of a transaction between the scholarship holder and the Government, but also a grave affront to the trust, honour and respect that we normally reserve for recipients who served our society humbly and dutifully.
Lee Hock Seng (Dr)
*The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) has revealed that Dr Eng Kai Er spent three years studying as an undergraduate at Britain’s prestigious Cambridge University before returning here to do a one-year research stint at A*Star in 2006.
At the end of that, she took up a second scholarship to study for a PhD in infection biology at Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute. She completed this at the end of 2012 and now works in an A*Star research institute studying infectious diseases.
However, last week, Dr Eng, 30, criticised the bond in a blog and set up a “No Star Arts Grant” in protest – pledging to give $1,000 a month from her salary to support arts projects for a year.
“Eng Kai Er is not interested in science at all, but has to serve her bond or pay, as of 30 September 2014, around $741,657.37 in order to quit her job,” she wrote.
“Since she understands the pain of having a paid job that is not aligned with her interests, she wishes to change the world by having more instances of paid jobs aligned with people’s interest.”
It is believed she tried to transfer her bond to the National Arts Council but was unsuccessful.