Friday, 24 January 2014

Singapore's Over-reliance on Anton Caseys

This morning the internet was abuzz with news that Anton Casey, the now infamous FT wealth manager has escaped Singapore with his wife and son in tow. To us at The Unseen Singapore it was good riddance as it saved the people of Singapore time and money that would have been spent trying evict him out of our Singapore. Now that he is physically gone, has the problem been solved as well?

The answer is NO! The root problem in Singapore is our over-reliance on foreign PMETs. These foreign PMETs form their own cliques, employ their own friends and carry on with life as though it was in their home country. There is simply no motivation to do as the Singaporeans do. Hence the arrogant and elitist higher than thou behaviour emerges.

The Singapore finance industry is a perfect example of this over-reliance on foreign PMETs and its cliquish orientation. People like Anton Casey are part of an elite group of Caucasian expat wealth managers that are here in Singapore to work and lead the high life. Just take a walk down Shenton way during lunch hour and you see the hordes of Caucasians in suit and ties on the streets. Is there truly a need for these experts to manage wealth in Singapore? Are Singaporeans incapable of doing this job? Why is it that after so many years of being a financial hub, Singaporeans are still unable to call the wealth manager profession their own? Why is there this persistent over-reliance on foreigners who are at most B grade talents from their own countries?

Some may debunk this fact as being isolated to the finance industry and it is not an endemic problem which exists elsewhere. To show that this over-reliance on foreigners is real and alive, just take a look at Singapore's education sector, a sector that doesn't exist for profits but for the betterment and education of young Singaporeans.

Take the National University of Singapore History department for example, it has a total number of 39 academic faculty members, out of which only 11 are Singaporeans. This is a disappointing 28% out of the entire History department. 

                                    [Singaporean academics boxed in red

If you look further, you realise that this is not isolated to the History faculty but others as well. Others like the NUS Political Science department presents an even grimmer proportion of Singaporeans. Out of the 34 faculty members only 9 are Singaporeans! This gives us an even lower Singaporean proportion of 26%. Is NUS trying to say Singapore talent is less worthy than B-grade foreign talent? If our own universities don't nurture our own kind, who will?

                                 [Singaporean academics boxed in red]

This blatant preference for foreign academics is even more frustrating when aspiring young academics are refused jobs at local universities and forced to pursue their academic research overseas. But this is hardly surprising since the faculty heads themselves are dominated by foreigners, who by nature are inclined to bring in their entire village of B-grade talents. This lust for foreigners not only denies opportunities to capable Singaporeans, it also dwindles our already minuscule Singaporean core within the local education system.

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  1. What kind of stupid article is this? I agree there should have more Singaporean to work in our Nus different department? But from i read,the author is too arrogant,what it mean by B-grade? How author know that those foreigners are B-grade? Just because there are foreigners means they are B-grade? If like this,this dumb author go overseas,also consider as B-grade from that country locals point of views. Dumb author.

    1. B-grade? I have an upper first with distinction, as well as an MSc. This anonymous article (please step forward) is a typical example of inflammatory journalism that is designed to generate traffic.

      In her exculpation of her terrible gwai lo friends, she risks becoming a prime example of what she is attempting to vilify.

      Anton's behaviour is boorish to the extreme, but there seems to be an enormous amount of ignorance on the part of the author, concerning M.O.M.'s issuance of visas. B-grade candidates are simply not accepted.

      Nepotistic cronyism is inferior to meritocractic determinism. Jobs should never be given on the basis of familial or national relationships, but on trends of experience, abilities and qualifications. Singapore is ranked number one in Asia and number six globally for health tourism: and the doctors are trained locally, and are in the main Singaporean. Why cannot the finance industry achieve above a 'B-grade' when the medical industry finds it ready to excel? Don't look at the employees, FT or local, but look to the management of these institutions. There you will find the reason for their 'B-grade' performance.

    2. Well said. Except that I think you meant 'excoriation' in place of 'exculpation'.

  2. Hey, I think it is quite unfair to judge all foreigners as "Anton Caseys". I'm not too sure about other depts in NUS, but as a History Major graduate, I would like to emphasize that the so-called foreign lecturers are as Singaporean as us Singaporeans. Many of them have lived here for decades and contributed significantly to the historiography of Southeast Asia and Singapore. I feel that it is a privilege to have studied under them and I am sure that other History graduates would agree with me too. Please do not use them as a tool to generate anti-foreigner sentiments. Thank you.

    1. As another history major, I really got to agree with Jieyi. Many of these lectuers have stayed in the region for a very long time and they are highly experienced. Furthermore, they are experts in fields that not alot of Singaporeans are interested in. For example, Prof Brian Farrell has written one of the definitive history on the Japanese Occupation. Also, Prof Peter Borschberg was part of the team that helped Singapore win Pedra Branca. Some professors has stayed in Singapore so long that they are more or less "Singaporeanised" like Prof Lockhart who awes any student with his complete mastery of Singlish.

      There are also more Singaporeans in the department then you think. Your only yard stick is to identify Singaporeans based on their Singaporean sounding name is wrong.

      For your info: Prof Huang Jian Li and Edgar Liao are born and bred Singaporeans while Mr Kelvin Lawrance is a PR. Dr Brunero while being an Australian is happily married to a Singaporeans and had helped to bolster our flagging population with kids.

      I know sometimes people like Anton Casey or the little India riots puts the foreigners in bad light but some of them really made genuine contributions to Singapore. it is definitely difficult to stomach when you feel out numbered on the trains or in schools (like NUS :( but if our govt open our gates to the foreigners is it really their fault?

  3. I can see why this blog is necessarily termed "Unseen".

    Such xenophobic, racist, illogical and poor writing would be better served in your little diary or something.

    I hope you can learn more from your (locally trained, ideally) GP or English teacher about good writing and proper reasoning. Or have they not reached that part of your secondary school syllabus? Ohno.

  4. I disagree with Anonymous comments on 24 Jan. While it is true that universities conduct a global search for faculty members, most national laws specify that citizens and PR should be given a priority first. Even if you add in people like Huang Jianli, the number of faculty members are disproportionately foreigners. There are a number of good academics and historians (junior faculty) outside of Singapore with solid academic backgrounds and good publication record - why are they not hired? Part of the reason is that NUS also has their own system of awarding their own scholars. Chua Ai Lin herself, though local, was given a scholarship from NUS to study in the UK so she almost automatically is hired after she obtained her PhD.

  5. Why.. are you going after academics? It's the one place you want people from all over to provide our students with a wide experience and differing views.

  6. "Anton Casey is foreign talent" =/= "All foreign talent are Anton Casey"

  7. This is an absurd article which is filled with fallacies and should not warrant any serious entertainment. However, I feel compelled to defend my beloved instructors from both departments having read Political Science and History in NUS. Your claim that these professors (specifically those of foreign origins) are B grade academics. Interestingly, there is no clear evaluation mechanism in justifying your (baseless). Let me set the record straight that I enjoyed learning from faculty members - be it of local or foreign - who have the passion in their field and share it with the students. On the qualification of the faculty members, I am sure NUS has affirmed A/Professor Barnard's teaching as he has won many teaching awards in the university. Or are you aware of Professor Ted Hopf's reputation as one of the leading constructivists in International Relations theory (with a couple of international academic awards under his belt)? These are a couple of examples and I am sure if you bothered to read up about these members (such as Professor Terry Nardin, one of leading scholars in the world on political philosophy), you will find that they are not imbeciles as you attempted to portray.

    On the issue of hiring more academics, has it occurred to you that not many wants to choose the path of being an academic? The academic community prides on the exchange of ideas, and therefore it is much more fluid than most occupations. Undeniably, the academic job market is determined by demand and supply as well (you get hired by whoever hires you at any where). In other words, there is a fierce competition throughout the world for academic positions. In the context of NUS Polsci and HY departments, many of our professors are illustrious figures who have served in other universities before their current appointment. It is merit - not nationality - that earns them their tenure.

    To suggest NUS only attracts B grade (foreign) professors reflects your contempt for the university based on xenophobic elements. University appears to be just another employment market to you when it is so much more than that.

  8. And just to add. No one is putting down on our local talents except for you and your baseless inference. I should have mentioned that Dr Chong Ja Ian recently won an academic prize from Int'l Security Association. But I am certain that our academic fellows (again, local and foreigners) contribute more than bagging prizes. Dr Chua Ailin, Dr Brunero and Mr Kwa are instrumental in exploring Singapore's history in different aspects (before 1819, and research areas such as early migrant businesses etc).

  9. I am really shocked to see an article that is so amateurish and with such a weak premise of argument. If you are bold enough to blog or participate in the new media sphere, do also note that checking your own "work" is essential too.

  10. Dumb article like finding chance to hantam other ppl. The profs in the history department are quality. Our universities I'm sure have no qualms firing faculty if they weren't. N many have grown roots in Sg. STOP FINDING CHANCE TO CREATE PROBLEMS & ACCUSE INDISCRIMINATELY. B fair n think before you write you have a responsibility to ur audience. Only thing I agree with the article is that if there's a quota/policy that targets n severely limits qualified Singaporeans from being profs in each dept. den that should be abolished.

  11. Hilarious. Fortunately for the author, most academics in the West generally recognize Singapore as stifling and authoritarian. A win-win.

  12. Hello. You know by saying these people are 'B grade foreigners', you are kinda like Anton Casey isn't it? Belittling others and pouring skewed remarks. And using academia as an example is wrong. Cos these people indeed are famous experts in their own field. Did you do your research on each of these 'PMET foreigners' and compare it with local people? Please use an example that compares equally capable foreign and local PMETs. And if you see the local PMETs are hot hired and discriminated agains, then post here.

  13. Are you kidding me? This article is unnecessarily xenophobic. Are you even in the loop as to how professors are chosen?

    They are chosen based on the number of articles they publish in academia. Or the awards they have won from impactful work in the field. It is objective to a large extent.

    Furthermore you need to delineate the difference between 'nurturing our own kind' and hiring of foreign professors. All local universities do have a natural predisposition to take locals in a PhD students. My peers aside from one are all locals. Getting the best and brightest minds in the field to impart their knowledge to our PhD students is in fact getting the best faculty, irregardless or nationality, into our universities.

    Young academics are not refused jobs at our local universities. The fact of the matter is if they have a decent amount of publications and perform well in their job candidate presentation they will be offered jobs at other local universities IF they apply. Schools rarely take in their.own PhD students as this is seen as 'academic incest' where the new candidate does not bring diversity of viewpoints and research interests into the university. What is the point of have 50 professors interested in say Southeast Asian history and none on European history. Obviously this is an exaggerated example but you get my point. And if these local candidates still want to stay in singapore, they can apply to the other universities, say an NUS PhD student applying to be an NTU faculty.

    Most of the faculty here are in for the long haul. The tenure system in academia ensures that. They are not people who are just here to reap as much benefits as they can and then just disappear.

    I question the facts you base your article on and will be concerned with anyone who seriously considers this article as an objective piece of work

  14. On behalf of this potato, I apologise to everyone - including myself - for having to sit through this bullshit.

  15. As an Australian that has lived Singapore for 8 years, raised two children here and actively and passionately contributed to the development of Singapore Startup scene, I'm offended that people generalise based on the actions of one person.

    As for the finance sector I think its important to note that many of the mentioned bankers are on deals that are directly linked to revenue. So they earn their income, bringing billions of dollars into Singapore, which helps everyone. The vast majority of them do not behave like Anton. Just like the vast majority of Muslims aren't terrorists.

    I hope that I am not treated like Anton just because I was born in a foreign country

  16. this author is obviously trying to ride on the anti foreigner sentiments to bash other sectors of society indiscriminately. the professors hired in singapore go through a stringent selection process and only the very best get to stay on. so it is a ridiculous sweeping statement to call them B grade foreigners.

    having said that, i was not aware of such a high proportion of foreign academics in our universities. maybe the institutions can revise the proportion of singaporean academics upwards to stay in sync with the singapore's overall drive to reduce reliance on talents from abroad.

    maybe a 30-40% quota for local academics would be a sweet spot whilst maintaining the much needed diversity in the curriculum?

    1. NMP Eugene Tan mentioned the low numbers of Singaporean faculty members in parliament last year. According to Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah, in NUS and NTU, only one in four faculty members on the tenure track is Singaporean. Singapore Management University's figure is one in six; and Singapore University of Technology and Design's figure is one in three.

  17. They are dedicated educators! How dare you bully people who have done no wrong

    Go find your 15 minutes of fame elsewhere. The author is obviously a racist attention seeker who has deep-set insecurity issues. I'm ashamed to be associated as a Singaporean with you

  18. Fifty Key Thinkers in International Relations Second Edition (Griffiths, Roach & Solomon) has Terry Nardin on its list. Think about that for a second. They could only list 50; he's on that list. Placing him in the same basket as Anton Casey is xenophobic, racist, and frankly, retarded.

    It also appears the "author" simply decided who was and was not Singaporean simply based on their name and appearance. That's quality investigative journalism right there.

  19. All the anglophiles here make me sick. Busy defending your white masters of knowledge doesn't hide the fact that Singaporeans are a minority in their own national institutions. Fact. Singaporeans are being screwed by the PAP and all you miw sheeple out there.

    1. Perhaps YOU are the one who needs to get your facts straightened out, most of these professors are not White, some are Korean, Indian, Chinese, Turkish, etc... Guess your 'white masters' argument is just a hasty generalisation.

    2. Smells like a rectal ravaged Chinaman who couldn't pass O Level English

  20. Well we are not "miw sheeple" merely because we point out certain points of view you disagree with.

    I don't like the PAP but that does not meant that I tar all foreigners with the same brush. Many of them have lived in Singapore before you were born. Are they necessarily less 'Singaporean'? No.

    We accept that foreigners who are bad deserve to be punished and should leave. These professors, however, are valuable members to the field and why should they leave just because they are foreigners?

    There are bad eggs everywhere, Singaporean or non-Singaporean.

  21. The author could be charged under the Sedition Act for such inflammatory comments.

  22. Say no to 6.9 million! We are full, fuck off!

  23. Dear Xenophobe,

    Oh wow, you are as bright as broken lamp.

    Foreign talent does not equate to B-Grade talent, I am sure their academic qualifications will attest to that- if you had actually taken a look at their respective resumes. And you still have the cheek to say "We look for facts".

    Moreover, I find it disgusting you have not replied a single comment on this blog of yours. Which shows:
    1) you do not run a blog well enough to check on it regularly, or
    2) you realised that you are wrong and try to brush this aside or,
    3) your brain doesn't have enough processing power for the retort- something I am sure those 'foreign talent' have in spades.

    Either way, I suggest you take this down and cut your losses.

    A NUS student who prefers to live in a cosmopolitan city and not a xenophobic one.

    1. I'm fairly certain the author has replied at least twice, only he's too chickenshit to come out and admit it, posing anonymously to create the impression that more than one person holds such utterly asinine views. It's fairly obviously which they are...

  24. I studied in NUS... and I take offence to your use of the word "B-Grade" professors.

    Firstly, I believe that NUS and NTU have very good faculty selection procedures. If you really want a bright future for Singapore, you need to ensure that the education offered here is world class. And to do that, you need to have the best professors from around the world (Singapore included).

    Introducing a quota system for professor nationalities (or worse, race) would be a nasty blow to the quality of education for our children in Singapore.

    Lastly, those professors you are calling "B-Grade" were some of the best teachers I have had in my life.

  25. Author of this article needs to be butchered like the bloody pig he is.

    1. I agree, and the parts should be distributed to wet markets all over the fucking country for sale. Tell you what, send her down to Pasir Labar, indent some rounds, and I'll blow her fucking brains out for free... if I can hit such small thing, haven't gone for range in a few years, so unker may be rusty. Ha!

  26. I am heartened to see that many have commented on how ridiculous this article is. As a Singaporean studying abroad and being subjected to racism and xenophobia now that I am seen as another country's "foreigner", it's just startling how similar the remarks racists and xenophobes make are, regardless of which country they are trying to defend "foreigners" from:

    "These foreign PMETs form their own cliques, employ their own friends and carry on with life as though it was in their home country. There is simply no motivation to do as the Singaporeans do."

    Startling. And for the record, I do not do the above. Nor do I believe I am going to get hired simply because I am of "a hardworking race" or a female potentially subjected to positive discrimination (not that positive discrimination is necessarily a bad thing or an unworthy cause, but I digress). But what do racists and xenophobes know about sweeping statements.

  27. This is a very stupid article and it does not bode well for Singaporeans to write this. Note, I am a Singaporean.

    And I agree with Anonymous. I have studied abroad and endured the same sort of treatment.

  28. This... is truly unbelievably stupid. I'm speechless at the author's intellect.

  29. This author is a piece of trash. Some of the foreign profs have been here for longer than this fool of an author has lived.
    They are dedicated educators who pass on their knowledge to generations of students. Don't even know why you go after such people. You prob have your own petty, childish agenda with the faculty.
    Some of the profs who've taught me are some of the nicest people who help their students. Even though I majored in another subject, the history profs who taught me are so genuine and dedicated.

  30. You all are trash too for condemning "less educated" people.
    Fuck off, NUS arts people. WHen you start job hunting, your sentiments may change. ha!
    I believe the author used b-grade because professors who are better end up in the States. Why teach in a country that restricts what you are allowed to say? Especially for the liberal arts. It is instruction and not education going on here. And a perpetuation of contempt for the less "educated".

    1. Recently graduated NUS arts here, got job within 4 weeks of cert and make 3.8 a month before CPF. Don't need to worry about us.

      You on the other hand sound like a desperate poly kia/engineer who's upset his wages are depressed by cheaper Chinamen and Indians, so you take it out on the ang mor profs. Maybe you should have come to FASS, then at least you can still teach brats as MOE teacher instead of wanking around on in an industry where you are easily replaceable.

      Here's an idea, maybe you should sell your faggot ass to the author of the article, since you love defending him so much. Prostitutes, ah kua, still can make it in this country, no worry! Dirty little fuckface.

    2. Calm down dude, you're the bigger man than him. No need to resort to calling names and placing labels on people.

  31. Ironically while hating on FTs, the article looks very suspicious as it was written by another certain kind of foreigner that comes to our shore. The real Foreign Trash scents themselves in the fragrance of lies, masquerading as one of us, but anyone can see through the tell-tale signs: inferiority complex towards whites, inability to tell who is true blue Singaporean or not, sense of entitlement that host country should bend down and accommodate them, the list goes on.

    Someone should pay attention in October and see if you can spot any pink ICs among the performers in Beijing...

  32. This is such a stupid article. Many of the best universities in the world have faculty members hailing from different universities and different countries. University is supposed to provide the highest and broadest education experience for the students. When studying at a university my main concern will be, experience and credentials of the faculty member, especially if he/she is to be my project supervisor. You want someone who knows his stuff, has the grants, and the network and contacts to mentor and propel you forward. Another advantage of having faculty from other countries is that you can learn about different perspectives and ideas; the point of university education is to open your mind and elevate your thinking. Why should the faculty positions be reserved for any nationality? Is the author even educated?

  33. B Grade??? Author is as bad as Anton Casey with this inflammatory rubbish

  34. Wow the author managed to troll the history and pol sci dept at the same time! Good job, but I still think your article is trash. Okay, goodbye, tanx!

  35. The blogger is a xenophobe and some of the authors here are elitist pricks who fail to understand how this ridiculous influx of foreigner is hurting the country.

    Fuck the stupid author and all these artsy students who will never understand the plight of finding a job in the private sector. Since most end up in the civil service and have an iron rice bowl.

    1. waaaaaaaaaaah a pinoy stole my job. Cry a fucking river you cunt

  36. Define Singaporean

  37. Define Singaporean

  38. The writer is nastier than s/he needs to be, but s/he is correct that both History and PS do have disproportionately large numbers of foreigners--and nobody understands this better than the leadership of those departments. This is not a conscious policy, however. The reality is that not a lot of SIngaporeans want to pursue PhDs in these fields to begin with, and of those that do, many do not wish to return to Singapore. Nearly a dozen former History students have gone overseas to do a PhD in recent years, and the Dept. has stayed in touch with all of them. Out of five who have already finished or who are about to finish, one took a job at Yale-NUS, three preferred to stay in the US instead of returning to become NUS academics, and one has been choped by the department to eventually join us as a lecturer. I should also mention that I have been on roughly half the search committees (the structure used to recruit long-term faculty members) for my department over the past decade, and as far as I can remember, there were no qualified (i.e., PhD in hand and specialization fitting the position we wanted to fill) SIngaporean applicants for any of them. Zero. We are trying hard to keep as many new and soon-to-be Singaporean History PhDs on the radar screen to see if there is a long-term place for them in our department. And maybe we are training one or two future colleagues even now. Thanks, History majors, for your support! (:

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