07 August 2006

More Bureaucratic Nonsense

Firstly, my warm congratulations to Ike See, Singapore's very own music prodigy. For background, click here. The latest development is that Ike gets to defer his NS and go to Curtis Institute, after all. Why? Well, Ike found a way out.

Instead of studying for a 3-year Bachelor of Music degree at Curtis, he will study for a 2-year music diploma at Curtis. Why is this permissible? You see, Mindef's policy allows Singaporeans to get their A-levels, diplomas or the equivalents (but not their degrees) before making them to do NS.

Although I'm happy for Ike, I cannot resist a dig at Mindef here. The absurdity of their rigid rules becomes even more obvious now.

Mindef wouldn't allow Ike, a rare music prodigy, to defer NS to study for a 3-year Bachelor of Music degree at Curtis (because that's a degree). But if Ike had applied to spend those exact, same 3 years studying Accountancy or Tourism Studies at Singapore Poly, Mindef would have allowed deferment (because that's a diploma).

That's Singapore for you. What's the average IQ of Mindef officers these days?

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Anonymous said...

Bachelors degrees in the US are generally 4 year programmes, though with a fair number of advanced credits one can graduate in 3 years.

According to Curtis' website, diploma programmes take 2-4yrs, bachelors' 3-5 yrs. It'll be interesting to see if Ike will attempt a programme crossover after he begins his studies, or if he will take the opportunity to stretch out his education to the 4 year limit for diplomas.

Anonymous said...

ah...I would actually argue its a brilliant move by Mindef to accede to Ike's request without breaking its (current) rules. What may happen next is that some high level committee will get together and decide that in the future, talented folks like Ike will be allowed to pursue their degrees (stipulations attached)....all these will be done within the next 2 years and then hey presto, our dear friend will be given a chance to extend his studies for a third year (or whatever it takes) to obtain the degree...its a masterstroke by the PR fellas at Mindef -

Anonymous said...

on second thought, perhaps once Ike is there, the change from a Diploma to a degree course can be done "unofficially". Mindef- I doubt- would really bother too much about one's academic stuff. the problem - I think - only surfaced because Ike's case appeared in the news. A week from now, Ike would no longer be news-worthy. That's news for you. Thank goodness bloggers have longer memories - or at least I hope.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thought you are on leave? You just cannot resist the temptation given the absurdity of this case right hehe.

Whispers from the heart said...

Bureaucrats usually hide behind policies than do the right thing.

Look on the bright side, our local diplomas are more highly regarded by MINDEF than some Curtis music school degree.

Never mind that the rule suck but as long as it is applied fairly and justly to all, and everyone gets to suffer from the same rule, it is ok.

Anonymous said...

I think the same thing happened to AcidFlask.

Anonymous said...

Qn: "What's the average IQ of Mindef officers these days?"

An: The size of their Goretex boots.

wert said...

In the past, enlistees are allowed to defer for overseas study. They are allowed to do the B.A but not the Masters degree.

However, I had a platoon mate who was was bonded to DSTA, went ahead and took an extra year to complete his Masters. I don't know exactly what punishment he got, other than losing his place in OCS.

He is really a old guy then, got out of the army at 27 years old!

Maybe Ike can consider risking staying back the extra year for his degree.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all,
Just for your info:
Mindef requires a bond ( in form of banker's guarantee) amounting to half of combined parents' gross annnual income or $75000 ( whichever is higher).
If Ike breaks any conditions in the bond ( eg extend without permission/ change university or course without approval), the parents stand to lose the 75K.
Each year MINDEF will want proof that Ike has passed and gone onto the next year etc.
Don't play, play - as Phua Chu Kang will say!
But on the whole the Mindef are bureaucratic but fair - they just follow rules.
Just something from my personal life.
Dr. Huang

Anonymous said...

If I was Ike's parents, I'd gladly forfeit said 75k bond to see him convert to a degree with or without MINDEF's consent.

visceral said...

his parents should take part of the blame for not sending him away when they had the chance. after all no one is obliged to take care of you except your family members. I pray he is not going to stop at a diploma program just because of some red tape

Anonymous said...

Mindef? Intelligence?


Most of the people in there couldn't even find jobs outside.

Anonymous said...

i dont think Ike See comes from a rich family.

they're prob gonna have problems coming up with that $75,000, much less say send him away before his enlistment.

visceral said...

He is not. But thats no excuse to give up on himself

Anonymous said...

Never notice har, the higher educated they are, the more cheems titles they collected, the more retarded they become.

We almost as a nation simply has lost our common sense.

Anonymous said...

What is so absurd about the MINDEF decision ?

The line has to be drawn somewhere. One is allowed to pursue one's education up to a level before doing NS. The line happens to be drawn after the diploma level. All poly students here defer, so it's something that has been happening for years.

You should be asking 'If we let the Ike Sees go, will this be fair to the primary school guy who does NS although his family needs him to help pay the bills ?'. But, as I have noted before, you people are the bourgeois with your clever comments. Am no PAPa stooge, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Aiyah .. not everyone gets a scholarship like Ike mah.

I didn't, for one. So, why stop one talented fellowman. My son is also going for his NS this year.

Talents in the arts and music are quite rare in Singapore. These types, cannot study 10 yr series to get A*

Actually, in this case, I suspect the government also wanted him to go but the people kbkb. So now, this decision seems fairer. Hee, I think Mindef is not absurd but rather the people are.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

To Anon (August 10, 2006 2:33:08 PM):

For very poor families who depend on the 18-year-old young man as breadwinner, my view is that the state should consider not only NS deferment, but NS *exemptions*, or *financial assistance* for him. To read more about this view of mine, click here and go to the Comment section.

If the PSLE guy's family needs help, then they need help. Whether or not Ike goes to BMT this year does not help them in any way to pay the bills. For that matter, you can defer or not defer 10,000 poly applicants' NS; and it wouldn't help the PSLE guy's family either.

Anonymous said...

The type of educational qualification should matter less than the length of deferment.

Suppose I am a genius. By age 16, I have entered university and by age 18 I have finished my basic degree. I want to apply for a one-year deferment to do my Masters - I wish to start NS at age 19.

According to MINDEF rules, my deferment application would be rejected. However, if I gave up on my Masters ambition and decided to do a further diploma at a poly, I can get my three-year deferment and start at age 21!!

As Mr Wang said, this is absurd!!