12 April 2006

LKY Praises Americans For Setting Up Their Own School in Singapore

April 12, 2006
American school a lesson in self-help
MM Lee pays tribute to can-do spirit of US expatriates who set up own school 50 years ago

By Leslie Koh
WHEN American residents came here to work in the 1950s and wanted to educate their children, they set up their own school.

But when Singaporeans went abroad to work many years later, they looked to the Government at home to set up schools for their children overseas.

That difference was a lesson to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who yesterday praised Americans for their culture of self-help that led to the setting up of the Singapore American School (SAS) here.

'Singaporeans must learn to emulate this American can-do spirit,' he said to 800 people gathered for the 50th anniversary of the school in Woodlands.

'It's your cultural forte, it has made you great entrepreneurs with the verve, vitality and vigour to keep adapting and changing your businesses.'

Set up in 1956 by American businessmen and their spouses, the school started out with just 105 students and 10 teachers in a seven-bedroom colonial house in Tanglin.
What kind of nonsense is this? The year is 1956, you're an American in a God-forsaken corner of Southeast Asia, and you expect the US government to help you set up a school for American kids here?

By the time you write a letter to the US government about it and the postal service delivers the letter by sea mail to the US government, it'd probably be 1958. By the time you receive their reply, it'd probably be 1960.

Assuming that none of the letters get lost along the way. And that the ships don't sink or get hijacked by pirates in the Straits of Malacca.

So if you're an American here in Singapore in 1956, of course you'd have to set up a school yourself. I mean, SURELY you wouldn't send your American kids to a local school and mingle with the shoeless Asian kids, would you? It's 1956, mind you. Asians are dirt. Their gods are pagan. Beware of Maria Hertogh. Better just build your own school.

Now, as for Singaporeans going overseas these days - of course things are different. Why SHOULDN'T you expect the Singapore government to help you set up a Singapore-style school overseas? After all, you pay the government ministers the world's highest ministerial salaries.

Besides, if you were still in Singapore, the government WOULDN'T allow you to send your kids to any of the international schools. No, no, no, they would make it compulsory for you to send your kids to attend a Singapore school. So that your child can be subject to their National Education, their bilingual policy etc etc.

Since a Singapore-style education, with syllabi and content and policies all controlled and set by the Ministry of Education, is oh so very, very, VERY important - why shouldn't overseas Singaporeans expect MOE to help set up a Singapore-style school overseas? Surely you can't expect an overseas Singapore kid to attend a real British / US / Australian school. Why, they might actually become creative and absorb deviant ideas like democracy and freedom.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

The bigger issue is that Lee Kuan Yew sent his grandson to the Singapore American School.

I thought Singaporeans are not allowed to go to SAS.

Is this one law for the Government ministers and another law for ordinary peasants called "Singaporeans?"

Seriously, I feel that that PAP (Pay and Pay) dynasty is coming to an end. Let's usher in a truly People's Action Party.....

Anonymous said...

nice one, mr. wang.

Anonymous said...

Who says Singaporeans cannot send their kids to international school?

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/202660/1/.html

For Mr Lee, the help extended by the Singapore American School was also personal as it has touched the life of his grandson.

Addressing the Singapore American School (SAS), MM Lee said: "I also had a grandson who could not fit into our schools. He had an IQ of 140, so he is not a stupid boy. But he was having trouble. His brother was scoring and he was not because he was dyslexic and he had to learn two languages - English and Chinese.

"So, the Education Ministry allowed him to opt out of the system. We did not have the specialist teachers to cater for people like him. He joined the SAS and at your school, your teachers helped him cope with his dyslexia and in the process restored his self esteem and confidence, and he's done well. Your staff support the American community and they have brought benefits to Singaporeans. Thank you." - CNA/ir

pinto said...

"Why, they might actually become creative and absorb deviant ideas like democracy and freedom."

Or worse. They might become quitters.

Anonymous said...

In fact the SAS conducted a special class on Confusian values and Asian culture for those who were allowed to opt out just to ensure their do not embrace western culture and demand freedom and liberty..hahaha

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Who says Singaporeans cannot send their kids to international school?"

- It has been an issue for some time. Reported in media too. There have been Singaporeans who wished to send their kids to international schools in Singapore, to give them exposure to a more international kind of community. The MOE disallowed them.

I guess their surname was not "Lee". Or maybe you need to be dyslexic.

yh said...

if you are rich and powerful you are dyslexic. if you are poor you are stupid.

Mr Wang Says So said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cobalt Paladin said...

According to Wikipedia, many countries airmail already started operating by the 1920s. Aerogram was popularised during Second World War (1939-45).

moomooman said...

Not too long ago, I read that Eric Khoo studied in United World College.

So only the rich and powerful could do that.

I can imagine....

Senior Khoo to MOE: I need to send my kid to International School.

MOE to Senior Khoo: Sorry.... cannot. Your son must study in Singapore school.

Senior Khoo to MOE: But I need him to be creative so that he can make movies when he grow up. Your education system make kids dull.

MOE to Senior Khoo: Sorry.. no do.

Senior Khoo to MOE: ok.. if you allow my son to go International School... next time I will give your government first right to my Standard Chartered stake.

MOE: ok. Done deal!

pinkminx said...

I'm Singaporean and I went to UWC (long story, I had to fight MOE). Now that I'm in NUS, I can really appreciate the broad and international outlook that UWC gave me and that MOE didn't give the rest of my peers. And for that I'm truly thankful to UWC.

It's just different, my UWC friends are truly not afraid to question and rock the boat if they believe that it would do us all good in the long term. I can't say the same for the Singaporeans I've met in UWC.

pinkminx said...

I'm Singaporean and I went to UWC (long story, I had to fight MOE). Now that I'm in NUS, I can really appreciate the broad and international outlook that UWC gave me and that MOE didn't give the rest of my peers. And for that I'm truly thankful to UWC.

It's just different, my UWC friends are truly not afraid to question and rock the boat if they believe that it would do us all good in the long term. I can't say the same for the Singaporeans I've met in UWC.

Anonymous said...

What MM Lee was total bullshit, wasn't it. I didn't think he would let Singaporeans set up their own school in some foreign country without government's approval. What if that particular group of S'poreans decide to include in the syllabi freedom of expression? Would scare the gov't shitless! Guess he's just singing some tune for the Americans. Double standards asshole.

Anonymous said...

Guys,

The policy is that Singaporeans cannot enrol their kids in international schools.

Would the government please come out and clarify? Isn't that breaking the education law?

Anonymous said...

didn't our ancestors/the various chinese clans set up their own chinese schools way back when singapore was under the british colonial rule? and then were closed down by them gahmen later in the late 1960/1970's. someone correct me if i'm wrong about that. remember Nantah? god, hearing his speech makes me want to puke. it is so blatant and obvious that only one law exist for the poor ordinary peasants aka natural born singapore citizens. the rest are above the law. what law, does not apply to us 'cos we are the elites, you know!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why MOE does not provide (eg. trained teachers) for the needs of children with dyslexia?

Jui Keng said...

"If you step out of bounds, I will put you down" Last night on TV, 13th Apr 2006

"Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister...She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac...Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try."
- SM Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

amatu said...

"Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister...She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac...Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try."
- SM Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

No one can hurt him/herself by actions of its own.

Anonymous said...

The PAP will remain strong for as long as MM Lee lives. It may even survive into the next generation of the Lee Dynasty but beyond that it's anyone's guess.

Even the most powerful and feared dictators are defeated in the end by history. Remember the poem "Ozymandias"? The Lee Dynasty should take heed.

mrdarren said...

I was turned off by the way LKY 'engaged' young Singaporeans on the CNA Dialogue.

He must learn to emulate the American can-debate spirit instead of terrifying people who disagree with him.

pinkminx said...

From what I understand, MOE allows Singaporean kids who have spent a long time overseas to enrol in local international schools. It's a case by case basis thing and there's plenty of red tape. But there are also plenty of other expat kids that return and go back into the local system (depending on how much time they've spent elsewhere)

mrdarren: I hear you, just watching the excerpts already disgusted me. I can't wait to watch the show on ch5 tmr.

w. said...

pinkminx: I don't mean to offend you, but I can say the same thing about what RGS has done for me. I don't really think that every single school under MOE can really be stereotyped as institutions who do not inculcate the importance of questioning or "rocking the boat", as you put it.

Mr Wang Says So said...

This is a digression - but I've often tended towards the view that great opportunities for a well-rounded & holistic education are indeed available in the Singapore education system;

only if you are good enough. Students in the top secondary schools will get abundant opportunities to excel in sports; learn music; do scientific research outside the syllabus; enjoy art elective programmes; learn a third language; go on field trips to New Zealand and China;

etc etc etc

not students in ordinary schools.

pinkminx said...

w: I apologize for not clarifying myself earlier but what mr wang posted up after you is exactly what I mean. Both of us come from excellent schools with excellent opportunities, but the majority of Singaporean kids do not have the same opportunities as I'm sure we both have gone through. What good is a system that inculcates the importance of questioning in some "elite" schools while not doing the same in others?

Referring back to the original post, ideas like "democracy" and "freedom"... I'm sure we both have been exposed to these ideas and therefore can make informed criticisms about what we see happening in Singapore that isn't in the same spirit as these ideals. But can we say the same for the majority of Singaporean kids in the local system?

Anonymous said...

In the first place, would the MOE even allow you to setup a Singapore ed school overseas? I would have thought that with all their bureaucractic redtape crap- it would take decades for them to approve it.

Anonymous said...

MM Lee said: "I also had a grandson who could not fit into our schools. He had an IQ of 140, so he is not a stupid boy. But he was having trouble. .. he had to learn two languages - English and Chinese."

Oh FFS, he's been ramming it down our throats for the last fracking 20 years driving thousands of non-bilingual children nuts. And he's finally figured it out? Too late for many of us. When my dad complained to the MOE about the problem back in the 1970s- they told him that losers could go overseas.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought of singapore to be a corporate, not a city state.

In a corporate, management defines rules, sometimes changes policies and are always not going to give explanation for their actions.

I think, Singapore is designed to be a corporate because that's probably the best model for them.

Freedom uncontrolled can spoil, afterall, one needs to be matured to exercise freedom and in a small city state misuse of it can be pretty devastating.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Heheh. That's another fast one which the PAP has tried to pull on you.

In truth, there is no real reason to believe why freedom should be any more dangerous or any less dangerous depending on the size of a country.

Go think about it.