In his young political career, PAP (People’s Action Party) MP (Member of Parliament) Baey Yam Keng has put his foot in his mouth a few times already. Lesson not learned it seems as he managed to do so again.
In a speech in Parliament, Mr. Baey tried to “clarify” his recent remarks defending Mr. Sun Xu (an undergraduate from China who called Singaporeans “dogs”). However all Mr. Baey managed to do is to dig a bigger hole for himself when he say that nationality should not be a factor when the government make their decision of who get a government scholarship. He went further to say that a scholarship should be awarded based solely on meritocracy, and should not be allocated specifically to locals or foreigners.
That is a problem because that is totally untrue. Now I have been saying the furor over the comment by Mr. Sun is a storm in a teacup but Mr. Baey has managed to make things worse with his speech. The problem is that the various scholarships given out by the Ministry of Education (MOE) ARE based on nationality!
Just a simple check on the various basic scholarships on offer by the MOE and you can clearly see that some on them are only on offer for certain nationalities. For example the SIA Youth and A*Star India Youth scholarships are available only to India nationals while Singaporeans are only allowed to apply for the MOE Scholarship.
Singaporeans are already unhappy with comments of Mr. Sun, they are already unhappy with the fact that Singapore taxpayers are paying for the studies of foreigners; the last thing they need is a MP from the ruling party to go up and say the wrong thing in Parliament!
The thing is that someone has to pay for the scholarship and that someone is currently the Singapore taxpayers. Needless to say, most Singaporeans are wondering why their money are being used to fund the studies of foreigners instead of Singaporeans. Now I think Mr. Baey was trying to defend government policy but if that is the case, he got his facts wrong. The simple fact is that government scholarships are based and targeted at various nationalities.
It’s something most people, including people in the MOE, would not argue about! It’s a fact! So for Mr. Baey to say that nationality should not be a factor when the government makes their decision of who get a government scholarship; either he is publicly going against government policy or I have to seriously wonder if the man actually knows what he is talking about!