Baey Yam Keng's idea that scholarships should be based on meritocracy and not nationality is not completely wrong, but that should only be lauded if the students with the best results do get the scholarships in the first place.
I got myself my First Class in Engineering from NUS over a decade ago, the very same faculty as this Sun Xu person. I would dare say then that most of us who got a 1st Class in those days were Singaporeans. But I would also venture to say that most of us had to pay off our school fees just like everyone else. This, for me, means skipping out on my bonuses for at least the first two years of my working life.
Even if we do make our beds with Meritocracy, PAP has a lot to explain to the Gen-Xers who did time in NS, did ok in University and regularly pay our taxes today why we are investing $175,000 per head in a batch of student who have 55% chance of getting a second lower than before.
It's not good mathematics, it's not good finance and certainly bad politics.
Here's some people whom I believe, deserve a scholarship more than the likes of Sun Xu or even someone who gets a 1st Class in Engineering ( believe me, we can look after ourselves and our children.)
a) Why not give a scholarship for the ITE grad that makes it to Polytechnic part-time.
I have a very capable colleague who studied in ITE. He spent 5 years on his diploma while holding a job at the same time. I don't remember anyone in my cohort who scored a 1st class with that kind of world-class grit. Quite a number of Singaporeans go through this system which in actually a time-tax on people who may potentially be late bloomers.
Note : I'm not asking the government to give more seats to ITE students in a polytechnic, but their numbers should be sufficiently small enough for us to make a decision to let them study for free or at least with 80% subsidies if they serve NS.
b) Why not make studying cheaper for diploma holders to get a degree in NUS/NTU.
I'm not in the engineering field, never was and never will be. I prefer to use my logical reasoning to analyse stocks, calculate real estate yields and help motivate my friends to find spouses.
The loyal engineers who still do technical work today generally have polytechnic diplomas. The more more technical ones tend to do a Bachelor in Technology as a part time course because they need to apply these skills at work.
An investment in these guys keeps our manufacturing and electrical sector competitive.
From another POV, can NUS/NTU reimburse engineers who stick in the engineering field for at least 8 years ?
c) Pay people to drop-out of NUS/NTU.
This has been experimented very aggressively in the US. Degrees, even engineering ones, are primarily used for signalling to potential employers a person's worth. Very few degree programs impart actual workplace skills. This means that folks in a degree program who are getting good grades may not actually need a degree to do well in life.
We need more entrepreneurs to open up new markets. A panel of businessmen in collaboration with the NUS Business school should form a fund to pay out $100,000 to about 3-4 students with a solid business idea as seed funding. The caveat is that they need are to drop out immediately and not apply for a degree program for the next 4 years.
Anyway, I like to end by talking about dogs.
My parents used to own a pet shop at Shaw Centre. I'm ok with dogs and it's not really an insult to if someone calls me a dog. I would take grave offense if someone calls me a poodle, because its an elitist breed that needs constant grooming.
I think if PRC scum bag calls you a dog. Go show them what a pit-bull you can be.
Make sure that when you bite, you don't let go.