Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Malaysia vs Singapore - Why We Failed

Scenic Bridge? What scenic bridge?

Further proof that the Internet is full of interesting crap. Here is an interesting comparison I got from a dear colleague of mine via e-mail. Read it and weep (for us Malaysians).

Now you know why we failed in so many Malaysia-Singapore negotiations.

First up...the Singapore Cabinet

PM Lee Hsien Loong
Cambridge University - First Class Honours (1974)
Harvard University - Masters (1980)

SM Goh Chok Tong
University of Singapore - First Class Honours (1964)
Williams College, USA - Masters (1967)

MM Lee Kuan Yew
Cambridge University - First Class Honours (1949)

Minister for Law Prof. S Jayakumar
University of Singapore - Bachelor of Law Honours (1963)
Yale Univerity - Masters (1966)

Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng
University of Singapore - Bachelor of Arts & Business Admin (1977)
London Business School - Masters (1979)

Minister for Foreign Affairs BG George Yeo
Cambridge University - Double First Class Honours (1976)
Harvard Business School - MBA w/ Distinction (1985)

Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang
Cambridge University - First Class Honours w/ Distinction (1976)
Harvard University - Masters (1986)

Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean
University of Manchester - First Class Honours (1976)
Imperial College, London - Masters w/ Distinction (1977)

Minister for Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam
London School of Economics - Bachelor of Arts
Cambridge University - Masters
Harvard University - Masters

Now for our Malaysian Cabinet *drumroll*

PM Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi
University of Malaya - B.A. Hons in Islamic Studies (1964)

Deputy PM Dato' Sri Najib Razak
University of Nottingham - Bachelor of Arts Honours (1974)

Minister of Foregn Affairs Syed Hamid Albar
(can someone tell me his univeristy?? )- Bachelor of Arts

Ministry of Works- Dato' Seri Samy (goodness me, is that an afro??) Vellu
(Education Unknown <--- Mou Tuk Shee)

Ministry of International Trade & Industry Rafidah binti Aziz
Universiti Malaya - Bachelor of Arts Honours

Minister of Agriculture Muhyiddin Yassin
(Education Unknown)

Ministry of Domestic Trade Shafie Apdal
(Education Unknown)

Minister of Education Hishammuddin Hussein
LLB.Hons - University of WalesAberystwyth, United Kingdom
LL.M(London) - Commercial & Corporate Law, London School Of Economics, London

Minister of Home Affairs Radzi bin Sheikh Ahmad
(Education Unknown)

Malaysia Boleh

Apparently, education takes a back seat in bolehland. Doesn't matter how much you know, or how well trained you are, all that matters are the arses you kiss on your way to the top. Oh, I am sure it also helps if you are born into the 'right' family.

After all, connections are everything right?

Sad, so sad indeed.



Blogger Kimberlycun said...

this post pwns!!!!!oneoneone

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha..ha... look at rafidahs pic!! so shy lah...

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Hallaj said...

Sad actually but I'd say education doesnt bring the best in a person on this part. There are plenty of great leaders without high education and they still receive tons of support from people. Dont remember Hitler having a Masters for anything.

3:40 PM  
Blogger FH2O said...

this is simply embarassing ... *shame, shame*

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

say man... why dont you just cross the straits of johor and live in spore? And before, posting why dont you do your own research on our leaders... instead of just posting unknown. maybe unknown to you.. but on their own right they are lawyers and other respected leaders. If ui dont want to respect them... just go respect your singaporean masters... after all they will still come to johor to buy petrol, sugar, vegetables etc etc

4:30 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

anonymous : As usual, a heckler who doesn't dare post under his/her real name. Why am I not surprised.

And please, your statement on how I should live in Singapore just because I compared Malaysia to it reeks of immaturity.

I love Malaysia, and I believe that my love for my country is at a level which you can't possibly comprehend (judging from your kampung-mentality remarks).

It is precisely because I love my country, that it pains me whenever it makes a blunder or a mis-step. You on the other hand, are probably the type who believe in sucking the country dry for your own personal benefit.

Did I for once said that Malaysia is failing as a nation? Nope, those words never left my lips (or in this case, my fingers).

All I was merely implying little child, was that we have a governmental cabinet which consists of people who most likely, will not be able to compete toe-to-toe in an intellectual debate with someone who has the benefit of a higher education in a relevant field.

Phew, that was a long sentence. Did I lose you mid-way? From your comment, I get the feeling that you are the type of person who gets confused when a sentence exceeds 5 words. I'm probably right.

Secondly, the other thing which I implied in my post was that in Malaysian politics, a lot of underlying factors such as family lineage and race come into play. This is not a new thing right? How long has the debate on meritocracy been going on? In case you can't answer that, let me answer it for you - for freaking ages!

It's no secret that a lot of competent and able ministers/politicians are sidelined in favor of a more well-connected individual. Are you denying this?

Hmm...I'm getting bored of responding to your comment. Most probably you wouldn't even understand half the things I am trying to say. I'll leave it for now. If you would like to carry on this 'stimulating' debate, feel free to post more inane comments. They are most welcome =)

Oh btw, on the bottom right of your keyboard are a few very useful keys. They are called 'punctuation' keys. Perhaps you should try using them next time eh. They don't bite, I promise.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

hallaj : Very true, good education does not a good leader make. You are right in pointing out that there were a lot of great leaders who did not have the benefit of high education.

However, there is one important thing I am sure you are aware of. Times are changing. We are now living in an era where knowledge is becoming an increasingly important factor in an individual and even a nations success.

From the word 'knowledge', I am not solely referring to 'book knowledge'. What I am referring to is a person's ability to absorb, comprehend and process facts and information. While a person without education can exhibit such traits, you have to admit that education does play a role in enhancing those traits.

Having said that, don't you think it is worrying that ALL of our cabinet ministers possess either an education in irrelevant fields, or worst still, NO education at all?

I am not saying that I will choose Malaysia's future leader based solely on how many certs he/she has, but when an ENTIRE cabinet is made up of such people, you can't help but wonder how our national policies are being formulated. By flipping a coin perhaps?

We need leaders who understand globalization. We need leaders who understand the intricacies of finance and economics. We need leaders who understand the nuances of industry and trade. We need better leaders than what we currently have darn it!

Don't get me wrong, I am all for Badawi. What he may lack in 'paper qualifications', he more than makes up for it with his wisdom, love for the country, and vision.

However, when a person like Rafidah Aziz continues to remain as our country's Trade Minister (for how many donkey years now!) eventhough our country's share of regional FDI has been dropping like a stone... I think there is cause for concern.

5:19 PM  
Blogger F.O.N. said...

Bernard: Well said. Guess you hit a raw nerve on some anon. person eh? SOunds like someone who said "Kalau tak suka, pergi la!" eh? (or something to that effect).Guess he's too afraid to admit that we are actually losing out in terms of intellect and knowledge. We need leaders who walk the talk, no immature people debating about trivial matters in the parliament! Oh am I expecting too much?

True on MITI and you forgot to mentioned our favourite Works Minister. =P

5:32 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

fon : Oh yah...our beloved works minister, hahah.

Hey, I just realised something. This anonymous moron also thinks that Singaporeans coming over the causeway to buy groceries and stuff from Johor is something to be proud of.

Oh my goodness! The reason for that is because Singapore's per capita income (USD26,000+) is 5 times higher than ours (USD5,000+)!

Oh wow! We have a low per capita income. Whoopee!

5:50 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

singapore reli has great leaders. not to say that Malaysia's leaders are dumb but better have good education than not having.

6:59 PM  
Blogger ::Lord Apprentice:: said...

great post man.

samy velu's hair looks looks too symetrical. hahahhaa.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

lord apprentice : I think they must have edited it a bit lah...hahahah. Maybe not using Photoshop though, I dont think Samy Vellu is so canggih. Maybe using MS Paint or something...LOL

12:01 PM  
Anonymous YY said...

Good Post Bern! *CLap Clap*
i almost fell off my chair as i read how 'qualified' our ministers are (edu. unknown) hahahaha

10:03 PM  
Blogger PinPin 彬彬 said...

Your post reminded me of a post i read from Tomorrow:

Only the elites would be groomed into the political scene of Singapore. There are some definite down sides to it too, as mentioned by their own young elite in that post.

Oh, and btw, my comment is just to share a good post with you. I do recognize the inadequacies of the leaders of our nation.

10:11 AM  
Blogger thegoz said...

hey there, nice entry there.

Damn, this makes me feel sad. We need more educated leaders...With all due respects to our leaders but it feels kinda awkward when some of those people actually manage our education system which are filled with educated people who yearns to be more educated. :(

8:04 PM  
Blogger Chris Chong said...


Hitler was an frickin artist. He was fantastic at propaganda but I doubt you could call him a great leader...

"Gee, let's try invading the Soviet Union and... sorry? What do mean Siberian forces? In Moscow? Yes, it's a bit chilly there but our troops should be fine. After all, we haven't had a single major defeat yet..." - Hitler, circa 1941

12:32 PM  
Anonymous ed said...

I have read this in forwarded emails and the person who wrote it seemed to suggest that the Malaysia "lost out" in the bridge negotiations because our Cabinet members are not as educated as their Singaporean counterparts, and therefore are not as smart.

Although, I don't want to start a debate, I feel compelled to bring up certain points about this posting.

Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels hit the nail on the head when he said that “a lie repeated enough times gets accepted as the truth.” Since there is no rebuttal to these emails and many have found it interesting or correct enough to keep circulating it, are we accepting them as the true reason behind the failed negotiations?

While the mail in question may have been right about the academic qualifications of the members of the two Cabinets, I find the syllogism plain silly. It is like saying A is like B and since that B is like C, therefore A = C.

I agree that tertiary-level education expands a person’s mind and broaden his perception but bookish excellence only is not the right measure of intelligence. The writer seemed to deduce that Malaysian ministers are not as educated as their Singaporean counterparts; therefore they are not as intelligent and therefore they lost out in the talks.

Whether it is right or wrong to abandon the project is a different question altogether. As trivial as it may seem, I feel a need to respond to this. Let’s just not accept silly and illogical postings blindly.


11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you all are selfish and dumbass

go to hell singaporean

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:37 PM  
Anonymous nasi lemak said...

ya..ya...i m selfish, i m dumbass. Malaysia must be very PROUND to have a SMART Malaysian like u!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not education per se, but achievements such as transparency and a meritocracy that enables Singapore to be world class.

But world class in what? Dare I say just in the humdrum service industries for what is in effect a city state with a homogenous class of metropolitan workers, , but no R& D nor design competencies. For these, are indeed value adds in the cognitive chain. So its forced to import them from all over the world with some chagrin from local Singaporeans for 'alien' talent excepting of courser their SPGs.

On a lighter note what originality is there when you have ridiculous names such as Kimberly, Waverley, Jason, Aaron ( no, not Hebrew), adorning faces and their chic epicanthi an folds? So why swipe at poor Samy's hairdo?

Is world class just world class copying? Monkeys with carefully applied make up and pretentious accents doth not world class make.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

ed : I agree with you somewhat. I personally don't believe that we lost out to Singapore in any way regarding the bridge negotiations. I just re-posted what I got through the e-mail because...well, because I thought it was pretty funny.

My main point is, isn't it interesting that all of our cabinet ministers have either limited education, or education in unrelated fields? That's my point, period.

If some people want to think that Malaysia is better of because of it then so be it.

What I cannot understand is why some people read my post, and then feel compelled to carry out personal attacks against me. Calling me a Singaporean and asking me to live in Singapore. Are we really a country where the mere act of expressing your views warrants such attacks?

And please note that I didn't say lack of education was the reason we failed in the scenic bridge negotiation. I am not an expert on the scenic bridge issue, and I don't pretend to be. I merely jokingly implied, "now we know why we fail in so many cross straits negotiations".

I appreciate your views. It's always good to receive intelligent, well-thought out views which everyone can benefit from. Thank you, I hope I have more readers like you.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

nasi lemak : I am glad you agree with me =)

anonymous : True, some people (including Singaporean leaders) say that Singapore lacks creativity and innovativeness. However, they are taking steps to correct this. How successful they will be in this, only time will tell.

However way you want to put it, for a small country with limited resources (Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Monaco etc) to achieve what they have achieved is definitely something admirable. And something which other countries would do well to take note of.

I do believe Malaysia can do well in the years to come. However, for it to happen, everyone needs to buck up, and embrace the vision that Badawi has set for us. We have to look outwards and learn from the other countries which have gone ahead of us. If we don't do that, I seriously believe that Kuala Lumpur will just be another has-been city in 50 years time.

History is littered with cities which have long lost their lustre. We have to be careful that the same fate does not befall our beloved Kuala Lumpur.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

And to all those haters who think I'm a Singaporean, open your squinty eyes and look at my profile on the right hand side of the screen for goodness sake.

See what it says? PE-TA-LING JA-YA, SE-LANG-OR, MA-LAY-SIA.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous message said...



3:04 AM  
Anonymous Putra Power said...

Hi there people, please get your facts right before you post anything, here are some of the profiles of our leaders: - hishamudin - khairy
click on Prime Minister and also click on profile,awards of PM: - pak lah
I'm not interested to find the others anymore because this shows that the comparison is full of bull..
Please don't spread inaccurate information and create confusion on the internet. It is best that you find all of those ministers education background first, then you can compare each of them. Well, Malaysians are still Malaysians.. always like to jump into conclusions before getting the right facts. Thats the REAL shame...

1:56 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

putra power: Ahhh, finally somebody who has the facts to back-up his opinions. Thanks for the info man, my bad.

Anybody else has info on the educational backgrounds of the other cabinet ministers?

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

Bridge: A bridge is a structure built to span a gorge, valley, road, railroad track, river, body of water, or any other physical obstacle.

How ironic. If you looka at it, that's the real reason behind this long-winded debate regarding an issue that's already been done and dusted.

People, the sad reality is:

1) It's perfectly OK for our leaders to NOT be as smart as our Singaporean counterparts. Does not having a brilliant education mean a serious lack of leadership capabilities? Nope.
To expect all world leaders to hail from Cambridge or Oxford or Harvard or some such place is a far-fetched.

2) This might be devastating news to some, but it's a KNOWN fact that MOST politicans were either
a) born into the correct families or;
b) have excellent contacts
Not only in Malaysia, but all over the world. (Bush Jr., Bush Sr., Mrs Clinton, Mr Clinton, Kuan Yew, Hsien Loong, Hussein Onn, Hishamuddin).
No doubt these people have qualifications, but INFLUENCE plays a HUGE part in politics and if you've got INFLUENCE, there's 50% of the battle in your favour.

3) Bernard Yong isn't from Singapore. Give it a rest, guys.

So... let's all just forget this little episode OK? No point for us Malaysians to screw each other over a BRIDGE.

If anyone's still terribly upset over the fact that our leaders don't have degrees from Cambridge, just pray, work hard and study well so that some day, Malaysia will be blessed by your presence in our Cabinet.


1:43 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Azwan said...

To the great credit of Sg leaders, they have managed to lift Singapore out of poverty into one of the most impressive economies of the world, despite their "lack of creativity". However, I deeply doubt the reason for our less than drastic economic transformation is due to the nonstellar academic qualifications of our leaders. Slice it and dice it anyway you want but the truth is the social makeup of our country has been of greater concern among Malaysians. The system still divides everything by ethnicity (universities, schools, political parties etc), each serving its own exclusive circle. The failure to integrate the schools into a single unified system signals a malaise much deeper than we care to recognise.

Perhaps its not such a bad system afterall, as it has ensured the social stability we currently enjoy. Humans will always find ways to segregate ourselves be it by a caste system or a separation by difference of income.

We can adopt the pressure-cooker education system that has proven to work for Singapore, or we can mold one that fits our needs and goals. Either way, hardwork will be necessary.

"My main point is, isn't it interesting that all of our cabinet ministers have either limited education, or education in unrelated fields? That's my point, period."

What exactly that you imply by "limited education"? they all seem to have undergone tertiary education and that is by most metric is beyond "limited". Another interesting point you brought up, what exactly do you consider education in "related fields"? Do you expect all politicians to hold political science degrees? Is it absolutely necessary in your view for Rafidah to major in economics and finance for her to rightfully occupy her current political capacity?

"Did I for once said that Malaysia is failing as a nation? Nope, those words never left my lips (or in this case, my fingers)"

The title of your post seem to imply something to that effect. Its a perfectly acceptable deduction.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

azwan: No, a trade minister does not have to be educated in trade and economics. I mean, why bother getting a suitably qualified person when a 'politically charming' person like Rafidah would do right?

If you think that Malaysia's recent economic performance is satisfactory in comparison with our regional peers, then by all means, be my guest. I on the other hand, beg to differ. Yes, we had a stellar run in the 90's, but I do not think in any way that it was due to Rafidah's competence. Like the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. and the 90's brought with it a particularly good 'tide'.

Also, please don't read my above sentences and assume that I am of the opinion that Malaysia is failing. Yes, we as a country are going through a challenging transition period right now, and we might be lagging slightly behind certain other countries. But like you said, hardwork is necessary if we want to see Malaysia take her rightful place as one of the most vibrant economies in South East Asia. A position I believe, will come to past as long as we give our best, and demand the best from our leaders as well.

As for the point regarding their level of education, let me just put it simply for all of my readers. Would you prefer it if the leaders of our country had undergone some sort of formal training in fields which are in line with the issues they have to grapple with on a daily basis? Yes or no? And since when did Science degrees come into the picture? Do you think that a science degree is relevant to a political leader?

With regards to the topic of my post, it says (in jest, might I add) "Why we failed"..and not "Why we are failing". My main point was that I have doubts about our politician's ability to carry a well-thought out and concise debate. Why do I harbor such negative views? You only have to watch the live coverages of our parliamentary sessions, or turn to the 'dewan rakyat' section in our local newspapers to see what sort of 'intellectually-stimulating' discussions take place amongst our elected leaders. A competent bunch, aren't they?

12:22 AM  
Blogger mf said...

My quick two cents: while strong leadership is important, it must be supported by a capable civil service (which does the leg work..)

3:53 PM  
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