Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Singapore's Brainiest

I miss those days when I worked in Pasir Gudang.

There was a huge variety of TV programmes to choose from - a reasonably clear broadcast of Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean channels.

What I certainly do NOT miss is Singapore's kiasu culture.

I fleetingly mentioned a popular television show before (in a previous post) called Singapore's Smartest.... My apologies - actually it's 'Brainiest'.

Nevertheless, it has to got to be the most asinine of programmes. It is based on the premise that being 'brainy' is knowing a lot of trivia and math.

Now 'brainy' is generally defined as having or marked by unusual and impressive intelligence. Nothing wrong with that per se, except when your value as a person and success is obsessively dictated by how 'smart' you are.

So I googled up "Singapore's Brainiest" and came across this blogger, PJ, who evidently agrees with me on this issue.

This bloke, who I figure migrated to a different country (or as he puts it, "thankfully escaped") at the age of 16 even went a step further. He write to The Straits Times (this was in 2003).

Yes, Singapore probably has even less freedom of speech than Malaysia. This was the response he received:

Thank you for your letter to the Forum Page, The Straits Times.

We regret to inform you that we are unable to publish your letter. The Forum Page receives a large number of letters daily and only a small number actually go into print. We seek your kind understanding in this matter.

Yours sincerely

Noor Aiza
for Forum Editor
The Straits Times

The short of it is, it did not go into print, but apparently his blog was brought to the attention of the four top finalists of 'Singapore's Brainiest Kid' who apparently took exception to his remarks.

The four braniacs sounded off with:

Ahem, dear sir, we are finalists of the subgroup of the gameshow you criticised. Known over Singapore as Singapore's Brainiest Kid. The 4 of us strongly oppose your personal view which you have posted in your blog.

Firstly, We did Not, we mean NOT, ask you to watch it in the first place.

Secondly, we like doing this to put our given talents to the test.

Thirdly, do not say such remarks when you are not in it and have NOT experienced for yourself how wonderful it is.

Next time, Mr so-called confucius-who -did-not-speak-wisely-in-this-blog, watch what you say with your mouth, or rather,type with your fingers.

Thank you.

With absoloute disgust,
Anurak, Naomi,Faith and Perry.

Of course, I suppose we so often confuse intelligence with common sense so I should not expect these four to understand the point - that it is not that they are exploited (we like doing this to put our given talents to the test), but that thousands of children in Singapore are given the wrong message - that being smart is the ultimate thing to be.

I got this email from Anurak:

Dear sir,
I have read your blog entry of 10/4/07, regarding Singapore's kiasu culture.

Although my name was indeed included in the comment posted in the other person's blog, I was not involved in its authorship and had no idea my name was being used in such a manner. I seek your understanding and also apologize the rude behavior and manner of my friends. I would also appreciate it if my name was removed from the entry.

Thank you very much,
Anurak Saelaow Hao

Dear Anurak,

I am pleasantly surprised to hear from you. I am glad that you didn't author the letter. However, it is not about its defensive tone or haughty manner that I am concerned about, but the general attitude that intelligence is the ultimate trait to possess.

You sound like a well-adjusted young man. I wish you success and joy in life. Please understand that I do not remove details from my blog, but I trust this addendum clears things up.

Kind regards,

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