Minister for Education, Lawrence Wong has said in Parliament recently that having foreign students in our local universities would “better prepare” the Singaporean students for the future workplace, where “they may have to interact with different nationalities”.
Making an educated guess, one could speculate that the Minister was making this statement in a bid to allay fears that local students were losing out to foreign ones.
While there can be no doubt that foreign students help create an international atmosphere which will open the minds of local students and give them a more cosmopolitan experience, the Minister may have missed the point in his attempt to address the concerns.
The issue is not about the presence of foreign students. The issue is whether or not there are enough resources to go around. So, perhaps, Wong would do better by addressing what additional resources are available instead of dismissing local fears by dressing up the issue of foreign students.
Secondly, can we also apply his logic to the current Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) Government?
If more foreign students would “better prepare” local students, should we also have more alternative politicians in Government so as to “better prepare” our current stock of leaders? It could also help prepare the 5G leaders no? After all, the PAP politicians are increasingly having to interact with alternative politicians given that there are now 10 elected non PAP members of parliament (MP) and looking at the way some PAP MPs have behaved, one would be forgiven for thinking that they have not handled this very well and may need some practice!
For example, let’s look at the overreaction of PAP MP Murali Pillai when Dennis Tan of the Workers’ Party (WP) raised the issue of improperly placed banners and flags over the 2020 general election? Or how about the mass gang up on the WP’s Jamus Lim in the September Parliamentary sitting? Let’s also not forget how Speaker for Parliament, Tan Chuan Jin had to remind MPs not to be fractious ahead of the opening of Parliament in September – a clear indicator that he was trying to preamt friction because there were suddenly a few more elected WP MPs thanks to Sengkang GRC – something that is very normal in any other country in the developed world.
From these instances, one could come to the conclusion that the PAP MPs do not really know how to handle opposing views in a mature and measured manner. So, in the same way, local students can better prepare themselves with foreign students, maybe our PAP leaders can also better prepare themselves by having more practice with non PAP MPs?