Monday, February 27, 2006

Scholar groomer or slave master?

'Slaves' they may be, but they certainly don't come cheap.

Choice quotes:

"They were all my officers in Mindef, from the day they started work, they grew up with me. I can give you a long list of slaves,' he chuckles. 'So it's not all my work per se, I leave a lot of these slaves behind who continue to work."

At the end of the interview, he strides out briskly to keep his lunch appointment with a group of newly returned A*Star scholars - new slaves, he jokes. As they exchange greetings outside his office, he asks them: 'Who built the Great Wall of China? Who built the Sphinx and the pyramids?' Before they can reply, he chuckles: 'Slaves! Slaves! So, remember, slaves are very important!' "

Philip Yeo gets interviewed by the Business Times.

Full text available at Wayne's blog.

Edit (2 Mar): A reader of BT replied.

Published March 2, 2006

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
A lack of humility and graciousness

I REFER to the Philip Yeo interview (BT, Feb 25). Certainly, the learned civil servant has a lot to be proud of.

However, with all his qualities, he lacks humility and graciousness.

If only he had a modicum of humility, Mr Yeo would be a perfect human being.

Successful civil servants have no need to be inflated with conceit.

In the real world, with the brutal and cold-blooded cuts and thrusts, I've seen many Ivy League MBA-types biting the dust.

Without EQ, interpersonal skills and basic courtesy, in addition to the liking and respect of the masses, there is no guarantee that civil servants shooting off their mouths and operating from lofty heights can flourish.

May God have mercy on us if there's more than one Philip Yeo; it's just as well that he is 'irreplaceable'.

Michael Loh Toon Seng,
PhD
Singapore

5 comments:

ser said...

Oh no. I left the wrong comment on Wayne's blog. when it's supposed to be on urs BUT ANYHOW.... it's still the same, lar.

i guess the whole family must be born of intellectual perfection but totally lacking of humility. That's what happens when ppl are too successful.

I would be damn stressed if I were his son. BLAH

Anonymous said...

As I read the interview, I am reminded of something else I once read..

"Intellectual freedom is essential to human society — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific democratic approach to politics, economics and culture."
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov as quoted in the NYT, on 22 July 1968

You can no more compel a independent-thinking person to be "creative within boundaries" than you can force a person to think. He is going to end up surrounding himself with (successful) poseurs and second-rate wannabes. The best of the best will not be able to operate under such conditions as the interview implies.

Anonymous said...

SO that shorty have been at it again huh. What's so special about this story that they have to interview him again?

Oh right, I bet my ass that many of his slaves are swooning with joy at being acknowledged of their existence and true calling. (This stems from stories that there were indeed scholars who practically worshipped the man, calling, "The Chairman..." coupled with a smoothering look.

thecrazzybugger said...

don't think badly of all the scholars, luv. they're not all lackeys as you make of them.

of course, some are cocksuckers and you tend to get a whole spectrum.

L'oiseau rebelle said...

If you manage to get info on the scholars who, uh, gave up the scholarship, there is an extremely high correlation between them and those who are most likely to succeed as scientists.

As for those who He surrounds Himself with, *cough cough cough cough cough*