Debate between pro-govt Faraday Lim and Cowpeh!

Recently, a distinguish commenter by the name of  Faraday Lim rode on his white horse trying his luck on smoking me. Here goes our debate:

In response to:

Fundamentally flawed education system: This is Singapore! Part 3

Faraday Lim wrote:

25-30% locals? What are you smoking bro. The undergraduate population is capped at only 18% foreigners.

Sure, you may be thinking about post-grad programs. But trust me here, do a survey of year 4 students in local universities. You will realise that most locals do not want to continue on to a post-graduate course. We live in a pretty materialistic society, their main goal is to get out and quickly get money. Those who actually do want to stay and study are very rare. There are 2 cases:

a) Very passionate and brilliant students or
b) students who have a sucky GPA and know that they won’t be able to find a good job when they graduate. Hence, they would prefer to get a masters to ‘up’ themselves.

The ones in a) usually get accepted but the ones in b) don’t and end up whining and complaining that its foreigners fault when it is they who are actually not good in the first place.

Look at it realistically man, RMIT?? Come on. Ranked at 291. NUS/NTU ranked up so much higher. Everyone knows the ‘quality’ of RMIT degrees. What more a distance-learning one.

When it comes to post-grad students, things get very critical. Why? Because rankings and standings come from publications of post-grad students. That’s why NUS and NTU cannot compromise on substandard quality just because you are a Singaporean. If they decide to take in all locals for post-grad positions, even crappy ones, guess what? We will be exactly the same as Malaysia and her unranked universities.

Honestly? I’d rather have a smarter teacher in my university than a sub-par one. If you compromise on quality on the post-grads(who eventually teach undergrads and affect the entire university), you will compromise on the university as a whole.

I would also feel cheated, why should the university hire a sub-par local post-doc lecturer to teach me just because he is local? I’d rather the university pick the smarter and better foreigner. Because at the end of the day, my education gets affected by this person. I’d rather have a smarter foreigner lecturer that can make me smarter than a less smart local who won’t be made of the same intellectual quality.

But I have to agree with you on some points, the main reason why our universities lose very smart and very brilliant graduates to the workforce is because Singapore is not a cheap place to live. If the government made cost of living lower, Im sure many local undergrads would consider post-graduate studies like master and phd. The problem is that they have to chase money if not they won’t be able to live. What more for guys with NS, we are already so far behind, we don’t want to lose anymore time.

That said, I think we should have ‘Singaporean First’ policies in many sectors.The ironic thing is that you were turned down from govt jobs BECAUSE the govt is hiring ‘Singaporean First’. They hire Singaporean graduates from Singaporean universities first, meaning locals with NTU/NUS/SMU degree. Funny isn’t it, be careful what you wish for.

Yes, we should have a stronger Singaporean First policy. Just not in university post-grad programs.


I shall try not to judge you and only focus on your post. And for the record, I have never applied for a govt job.

25-30% Singaporeans in NTU, NUS and SMU + SUTD perhaps. I got the info from a PAP minister in a personal email. I don’t blow smoke, but your 18% could be shit. Minister in parliament says the bulk of them are locals, which include a large percentage of PRs. I AM TALKING ABOUT CITIZENS WHO HAVE VOTING RIGHTS BRO!

You only focus about post-grad programmes and claim we live in a pretty meritocratic society, then you ramble about some elitist views on rankings what not. That’s down right discrimination. To add on, you mention you don’t prefer local lecturers who are sup-par blah blah and then claim we will be like Malaysia if we promote locals… What a load of horse crap!

If you are talking about Malaysia, please lah use your brains ok? They promote MALAYS or BUMIPUTRAS! My chinese cousin got 9As in his SPM while his Bumi classmate got 3As. Guess what, that Bumi got into medical stream!

Then you claim those who don’t get into local uni were whining and complaining about foreigners blah blah and then you insulted my intelligence for choosing RMIT? Oh come on, I made the most out of the degree programme from RMIT. I studied well and improved and earned loads of money. What’s the matter bro? I was like 21 years old when I chose my university pathway myself. I was very innocent and without mentors unlike you perhaps.

You can look down on distance learning, on private institutions which 70-80% Singaporeans take up because they can’t get into local uni, but these institutions provide a uni education pathway for them, and that’s a good thing.

The crux of the matter is the education policies must provide citizens a second chance if they fail, let them choose to remain in school after A levels if they don’t make it into local uni. Let them choose to repeat if they can’t get to JCs. Give those who develop late to restart school at a comfortable level. SECOND CHANCE!

Bro, don’t look down on fellow Singaporeans, in peace we’re one, in war, we still protect your arse!

Faraday Lim:


“International students (IS) made up 18% of the total undergraduate intake in Academic Year (AY) 2011.

The proportion of IS varies by faculty, ranging from around 1% in Medicine and Law, courses highly popular with Singaporeans, to 27% in Science and Engineering.”

What’s the difference between promoting Malays vs promoting a certain nationality? Same discrimination just in a different form. Aren’t we both hypocrites then? You are against discrimination of people that are from ‘not-so-good’ universities while I am against discrimination of nationalities.

The underlying idea is still this, Malaysian universities take in a sub-par student/faculty, hence their university eventually becomes sub-par. When Singapore universities does the same with their faculty members, we will also become just as bad. Don’t you see?

Yes yes, you did good with your RMIT degree. Thats good. But financial wealth does not always equate to academic capability. Neither does the reverse always work. Society has to stop thinking that a degree is to get a job and a masters is to get an even better job. No. I disagree with this view. Academic institutions are just for academia. Job or not, thats merely a by-product. If you want to get into local uni to improve job prospects, then you are coming in with a flawed mentality. The RMIT degree you took was good at getting you a good job, and thats alright. But in terms of research and academic quality? I would think otherwise.

Yes, it is a goof thing that there are opportunities to get a private degree to upgrade yourself. But these degrees are job-inclined, which is good economically, but bad in a way that you are not geared towards research. Meaning that these DL ‘degrees’ are job tickets, which is good for some people but bad in a way that you won’t get into a post-grad program.

Im not looking down on Singaporeans, but its just that our materialistic society likes to link everything to jobs and money. People gripe and complain that they don’t have a good job because they never got into local uni but guess what, getting into local uni to get a good job SHOULD NOT be the focus. It ruins the integrity of the institution and erodes its true purpose of education. Which is why I am opposed to MOE releasing graduate employment statistics.

On your last point, yes, I agree, students should be given a second chance. At least, in my opinion, students should be given at least 2 tries at the N/O/A levels. We need a more ‘compassionate’ education system. But to say that there are no opportunities, I quite disagree. Especially on the A-level front where you have MI if you feel you need 3 years instead of 2. I myself retook my A-levels on my own TWICE, once during NS and once again after NS, so yeah, I know how you feel.

But my main gist is that I feel the whole local uni = good job mentality is ruining the country. People should not have this mentality, because its wrong. And once people do away with this mentality can we truly measure one’s ability for a job based purely on his skills and not his certs. And at the same time, universities can accept those who truly want knowledge rather than those who just want a job.


You are trying to smoke me again. Think I am still a small kid, easy to fool? 18% international students, how about PRs? How many Singaporeans are there in local public universities? What’s the proportion of citizens and citizens below 30 who hold a uni education compared to those who don’t have?

And you think you know how I feel? bro… about doing A levels during and after NS? Are you god? Please kindly keep your lousy assumptions in check.

Some ministers claim that we shouldn’t follow South Korea’s footsteps by churning out too many graduates, leaving technical-level jobs unfilled. What makes you think a technical-level job is here to stay? How many of them have been phased out as our manufacturing sector decline during the 90s?

Think again, a university education… the highpoint of education, not necessary an end, but a justification to life perhaps. Won’t you send you kids to university if he or she has the chance? Whenever I hear a minister says its not necessary, I lose more faith in them. University education can be a key to another career path, or an improvement to existing ones. All you need to do is give him/her a chance!

I challenge Khaw Boon Wan, Tan Chuan Jin and you not to send your kids to university, how would you feel as parents? My Korean friend told me it’s a matter of pride and duty to send their kids to university. Isn’t it the same for us? Yes, its not a precursor to a good career, but a good start nonetheless!

Before you accuse me of hypocrisy, I suggest you think again. When you say you are against discrimination of nationalities, think again. What’s the main objective of a publicly funded local university? Shouldn’t it be educating your citizens as priority before you chase university rankings? You can’t eat university rankings can you? And it isn’t permanent! If you insist, then why do we call ourselves Singaporeans, why are we bordered by other countries? Shouldn’t we all open our borders and call ourselves earthlings instead? Bro, your fuzzy logic never cease to amaze me, I am good at it too!


Many of our ancestors, grand parents and parents don’t have a university education. Blood, sweat and tears, as well as tax monies were shed to build public universities. All they wished for was a better future for their future generations. Now, you have plenty of aspiring young Singaporeans looking for affordable university education. Many have been disappointed or forced to pay more for private degrees or moving overseas for one.

With regards to your ramblings on post-grad research, the exclusivity for academia to prosper at the expense of those who have not is just plain selfish! Elitists will always be afraid of sub-par standards when sub-par citizens are inducted, that’s your view. May I suggest you move out of public universities and form your own elite private conglomerate? I could spare you some liberty, take NUS with you and chase your rankings and spend on your foreign talents. I sincerely hope you succeed this year, because you will have to try again the next, none of your aspirations are permanent. And I hope these FT protect your arse in time of war.

I agree on your point “local uni = good job mentality is ruining the country” but that’s not what I advocated. I am for local/public uni education as a necessity for citizens for a complete education for a start. Look, attaining a uni degree is a global trend and Singaporeans shouldn’t lose out. Besides, all sg men spend 2 years for national service, 2 years behind their China, India and Filipino counterparts.

You talk like you are someone pro government or a minister. If that’s the case, it will be my pleasure debating with you. Hope some sense get into your brains.