Sunday, February 7, 2010

Singapore. A glaring lack of artisans and tradesmen

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was reading the SDP's excellent articles on the the Singapore economy which I strongly recommend, "The SDP's alternative economic programme Part I and 2: Getting rich quick, The Party - Manifesto" Monday, 08 February 2010 Singapore Democrats,

It describes among other things, the lack of Singaporeans productivity, something which I have always noticed.

I see an extreme shortage of motor mechanics, plumbers and technicians of all sorts and anyone who is in it apparently appears to have learnt his trade from an apprenticeship of sorts. Usually no formal training, and neither is it required by law. There appears, by and large, no formal education for any of this, unlike the United States and every other developed country.

Being Singaporean myself, with personal first hand knowledge of the mentality, I see at least 2 reasons for it. One the Asian mentality that looks upon manual work as menial and fit only for the ignorant. Smart students are supposed to study medicine and become doctors.

So every child that goes to school opts only for academic education and stay away from the technical trades.

The other reason is the very low pay and lack of respect given to tradesmen. Singapore society as a whole disrespects a tradesman mainly because he earns very little compared to office workers. Second he has to dirty his hands which is not appreciated.

Here in California the situation is very different. You can become very rich by working as a plumber and very often earn very much more than many lawyers even though the lawyer wears a tie and looks affluent. Air conditioning technicians, motor mechanics, construction workers are all very highly paid people.

And not only that, the society looks upon them as professionals too and know they are very skilled and certified, having spent several years training and studying for them.

So in this society, you see people who actually have ambitions to become mechanics and spend an entire lifetime brushing up their trade; having to attend periodical seminars and educational conferences to keep abreast of developments.

In Singapore many tradesmen receive no respect at all, are paid minimum wage and are shunned by society. They are looked upon as life's failures unable to become doctors. No wonder productivity of Singapore workers continue to fall. And since Lee Kuan Yew and his government have no real plans to address the problem other than to periodically write some high sounding reports, can it be assumed therefore that the bully boys are now on the receiving end of the economic equation, or rather the lack of it.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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Anonymous said...


Remember what Mao Zee Tong Says:

"Let the thousands flowers blossom.

When its blossomed I cut them out"

Please study the meaning first before you chall us.enge

Gopalan Nair said...

Mao Tze Tong has nothing to do with this blogpost! It is true he invited dissideents to speak and later executed some of them but that was in the 1950s and Singapore is not Communist China and Lee Kuan Yew is in no position to chop off any heads, thank God.

Anonymous said...

it is sad that in singapore, technical professions are not given the proper due recognition they deserve. when you mention ITE, people wrinkle their nose at you.

it's just a vicious cycle. children are told to put study first then co-curricular activities/hobbies (although there's this surge of "be a all rounder" which puts more stress on both child and parent), when these children grow up, the cycle repeats. hobbies that encourage creativity are unfortunately in a way discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree - and that is probably why many maids are bullied and abused in Asia, Malaysia etc

Anonymous said...

I know this feeling.....

As an aspiring Cartoonist/Illustrator and a Drummer......I support this journal entry....

I will also have you know that Lee Kuan Yew's brainwashing will never succeed in erasing my dreams.....It only fuels my desire to achieve them.....

Sincerely - Nigel Lai

(p.s....Have you noticed that one can become a gunsmith in America?....and there are schools that teach it?.....they only exist in the USA......)

Anonymous said...

dear gopalan nair

i really enjoy reading your blog, you are truly a sensible and smart ex singaporean.



Skilled Tradies said...

great post, very interesting