So you want to be a Singapore “Scholar”?

Yes, it comes with big money and prestige, and may be even fast track promotion. But if your Bazi is no good or you step on the wrong toes, you may end up doing miserable things that you do not like and waste your most productive years doing unproductive tasks such as writing papers or becoming a highly paid PA. So at the age of 18, think doubly hard or triply hard before you sign on that dotted lines. There is no free lunch afterall in this world. I have seen some miserable “scholars”.

Letter from the family of the late Dr Allan Ooi

Source: AsiaOne Mar 31, 2009

We write in response to MINDEF’s ST Forum statement on 23 March regarding Cpt (Dr) Allan Ooi Seng Teik, who ended his life on 3 March 2009.

Allan was proud of his SAF study award and pursued his studies and housemanship enthusiastically. His 12-year bond was to include two specialisation courses, and that it could be terminated, subject to liquidated damages.

The following is an excerpt of his last email:

“My job was terrible – no joy, no satisfaction, 10-14 hours a day of nothing. A prison. One of my own forging, perhaps, by signing a contract with the SAF at the age of 18. Youth was not an excuse, yes, but I refused to accept being deceived into believing things about the nature of my employment that were simply untrue. 12 years of bonded service became potentially 15 or 16, became unbreakable. How can a bond be unbreakable? How can it be extended at will by an administration, simply by passing a paper?And how can the people subject to this bond not even question it, but instead sit in silent resentment and ultimate dissatisfaction?

I was angry, so angry, which stemmed ultimately from a sense of waste and imprisonment so profound that I had no choice but to leave it entirely. To the people within this system, please change it to better benefit yourselves and future generations, instead of creating a self-perpetuating cycle of, at best, painful obligation, and at worst, utter despair.

That was certainly the main cause for my severing of ties.”

Other speculative reasons have appeared detracting from the real reasons for his drastic action so plaintively explained by Allan himself.

We ask for details of Allan’s discussions with his superiors and how a contract is subject to policy changes, including prolonging his bond by three years for one six-month specialist course.

Importantly, why would a bond be breakable only in “strong, extenuating circumstances” when this was not stated in his contract? What are these? We now know Allan wrote to HQMC Manpower in July 2008 with the intention of breaking his bond. What was the outcome?

We feel Allan’s concerns can only be addressed effectively via an inquiry by an independent panel with oversight powers. We hope to help bring possible deficiencies to light in order to avert a similar tragedy and pain to other families.

Family of the late Cpt (Dr.) Allan Ooi