An administrator of the Raffles Junior College Confessions page reveals the reason why he decided to create the page and his story as a student from Taiwan.
The link to RJ Confession’FB site : www.facebook.com/RJConfessions/posts/207284359419726
admin1: I guess the time has come when I finally reveal my story and my thoughts, I hope this post will help all of you get a clearer understanding about why I created this page and why I commenetd the way I did on some issues. hope all of you take time off to read this till the end. Thank You.
“Memoirs of someone who once call Raffles and Singapore ‘home’ (and still do?)”
Before I begin, I hope that many of you understand that people can and do change and I believe I have changed since many of the events mentioned below so I hope you can at least, take a step back and think again before you judge me though I am perfectly fine if you want to call me a douche because some of my behaviors mentioned here are definitely something to be ashamed about. Also try not to tag anyone mentioned in my stories, they deserve a little privacy. Also, please follow through till the end, I do have some very important points in the last few paragraphs which I hope all of you will take time to read and ponder.
I remember well how my journey to Raffles started the moment I received my O level results, yes I was a JAE student.
I. The beginning of the end
My problems started appearing from my PW. I, who had always wanted to go overseas for education, naturally thought PW as unimportant (it did turn out to be rather unimportant for my university application), and hence slacked through most of it.
While my groupmates laboured hard over our WR, I would leave group meetings early to mug for my promos (which i Ithought was more important). Being the idiot that I was then, I did not realize the far-reaching consequences of my actions. When we got back our PW results, while in the other groups everybody got A, my group had 3 Bs.
My groupmates were understandably very unhappy with me. I know that PW season is coming (or has come, depending on how you view it) so please, do not make my mistake because trust me, you won’t to suffer from that kind of guilt ever.
II. The Dark Days
In J2 things got worse for me because of one thing: Love
I fell for a classmate of mine and despite her initial rejection I kept on trying till the point where the school had to intervene and threaten me with a police report before I stopped. It was also during this year that I faced many other challenges and was extremely depressed, often thinking about suicide and self-mutilating. I would often drag my tired body home from work after school and then plonk myself in front of my desk and start emoing when I should have been studying; those were the dark days.
Thankfully, towards A levels, a group of close friends showered me with concern and helped me bit by bit to slowly recover.
To those who are currently depressed, truth is no one can change your attitude but yourself but what your friends can do is create a conducive environment for you to do so, though at the end of the day, you still need to take action yourself to truly step out of your nightmares and face reality with a new attitude and try your best to distance yourself from the things that once haunted you.
III. The Departure:
I was born in Taiwan but my parents decided to send me to Singapore at the age of 3 in the hopes that I could do better in Singapore’s bilingual educational system.
But at the age of 18, the big decision had finally come:
- Was I to remain in Singapore where I’ve grown up and serve NS or give up my PR and return to a country which I barely remember living in?
This question was cause for endless arguments between my parents and I;
- of course I wanted to remain in Singapore, after all I’ve grown up here, I’m so much more used to life in Singapore and all my friends were in Singapore, why should I ever live elsewhere?
But for my parents, it was a simple decision, in Singapore I had to serve 2 years of NS but in Taiwan I only needed to do 4 months, and staying true to their business roots, they wanted me to make the most ‘efficient’ decision, of course choose Taiwan, you save more time this way; my mum was also starting to get sick of Singapore life and as she told us on the night before we flew off, “We’ve overstayed our welcome here, it’s time to leave”.
To them there was no emotional attachment to the little red dot so they never comprehended why I needed to think so hard about this In the end, they gave me an ultimatum, “If you choose to remain in Singapore, we will cut off all ties with you and you will be ALONE. We won’t provide you with anything, no money, no housing etc”
Faced with such daunting prospects, I left.
I remember how after the last paper of A levels, while everybody was happily going out to party< I quietly headed off to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and handed over the IC that just hours ago I had used as proof of identity for H2 Biology paper 1.
Mere words cannot describe how I felt as I handed over the IC, it was as if a part of me had died together with that blue piece of plastic.
So I hope Singaporeans do not become quick to judge foreigners who eventually leave Singapore, because very often, there may be hidden factors that have caused us to act the way we did and sometimes we ourselves are truly sorry to Singapore too for not having done more for the country.
So here I am now, serving my time in the Taiwanese army, m writing this story from my barracks, ready to post it when I return to Taipei when I book out.
IV. Thoughts in Taiwan
I returned to Taiwan some time in December last year, and started missing Singapore life almost immediately. I could no longer see green and orderly streets; I could no longer travel from one end of the country to the other just by an hour’s MRT ride.
It was in February when I read the confession pages of some Singaporean universities so fervently that it occurred to me to create such a page for Rafflesians. I remembered my troubling times last year and how much I would have benefitted from such an anonymous platform to seek help. The reason why I chose not to open this platform for the Y1-4 students as well is because I believe as a JAE student, it’s better that I leave Raffles Confessions in the hands of people who have experienced/are experiencing Y1-4 life.
Indeed, this page has helped me remember the life in Raffles, and more importantly the life in Singapore that I can no longer go back to now no matter how hard I wish. Thank you everyone for having sent in all these confessions!
The NUS medical school admissions debate struck a chord in me too. Though there was no way I could have applied for NUS medical school after giving up my PR, my parents still strongly encouraged me to try for medical school, especially in Taiwan, especially since I took biology in JC.
Imagine my father’s shock and disappointment when he realized I had no interest in medicine at all, he then proceeded to nag about this and try to convince me to apply for medical school at every opportunity possible and even going as far as to imply that I’ve let my entire extended family down by not pursuing such a career.
So I do hope that those of you out there, no matter how strong an opposition you may face from your parents, choose to pursue what you love. I know it is easier said than done, but try to find a person/organization that can provide support for your aspirations.
On March 1, I flew back to Singapore to collect my A levels results, while I was overjoyed to finally gain admission into Oxford; the joy was accompanied with a tinge of sadness though for I knew there and then it could be my last time in Singapore.
It was then, while in Singapore after spending the past few months did I start looking at Singapore in a new light; it was then that I realized just how similar the countries were and how I really hope that Singapore will not follow Taiwan into the mess Taiwan’s in now. (I’ll elaborate more about that later)
Just 4 days later, I enlisted the Republic of China Armed Forces. Since Taiwanese only serve their NS after all their education is completed and my NS batchmates were all born in 1994, they were the minority who didn’t enter university in Taiwan (despite the >90% university acceptance rate in Taiwan).
This helped me realize a problem plaguing Taiwan now; with graduate degrees now being more easily available than flyers, graduate labour was in abundance in Taiwan, hence the average graduate pay in Taiwan fell to less than S$1000/month, and the minority like my NS mates feel even more disinclined to pursue higher education upon seeing how little the degree is worth.
This ultimately resulting in Taiwan actually having LESS skilled labour because standards of graduates were now so low they could no longer be consider skilled labour while some really smart people, choose not to pursue higher education for fear of its little value in Taiwan.
Now, Singapore has recently opened up many more university places; while I understand that Singapore’s population has grown, I still fear that one day Singapore will end up with an abundance of graduates like Taiwan.
I believe everyone can succeed with the right attitude, but I do not believe everyone can succeed through higher education, some people may find their calling in craftsmanship and other technical skills; hence I personally feel that what Singapore should be doing is spending more time developing such students rather than encouraging everyone to jump onto the university bandwagon. I hope Singapore learns well from Taiwan’s failure of an educational system.
It was also during my time in the Taiwanese army that I had the privilege of meeting some people whom I would never have met in Raffles, here were people who smoked 2 packets a day, had full body tattoos; some even took ketamine and many came from broken families or from the streets.
But so what? They are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life, often going out of their way to help me and asking nothing in return. Those were things which few Rafflesians I know would have done for me.
So when the ITE debate came up, I was infuriated by the stereotypes that Rafflesians cast on these people; do Rafflesians really think of themselves as something better?
Some people go as far as to label them ‘in the end’, let me tell you something, Raffles was ‘in the end’ for me because that was where I hit rock bottom; in the end you realize whether or not something is ‘the end’ depends a lot more on your attitude and not where you are. I hope Rafflesians really get this point.
Let me tell you something about Taiwan’s history, Taiwan was once ruled by a father-son duo too and under them, life was prosperous but freedom of speech and political freedom was severely limited.
The people wanted freedom so they took to the streets; in the end, they got the democracy they wanted without realizing that they themselves were not yet ready to build a mature democracy.
What happened next is widely known across the world, corrupt politicians were voted into office, populist policies with only short term benefits but disastrous costs in the long run were implemented, slowing causing the country to slip from its economic pinnacle year after year.
All because the people demanded ‘more equitable distribution of resources, everyone should a chance to study in university, high school entry should be done by drawing lots and not through selective examinations’ Because, well, equality.
Now, I’m not saying that equality is bad, I simply think Taiwan has gone overboard, the society has become so ‘equal’ that just like the main character in John Steinbeck’s novel “ The Chrysanthemum”, Taiwan’s laws and systems be it educational or economic have now prevented the best from truly reaching their best potentials.
And why do I say all this? Because I do not want Singapore to suffer the same fate. Singapore had begun the story nicely just like Taiwan, but her future remains yet unknown. She is currently on the opposite end of the efficiency-equity spectrum as Taiwan, I hope one day, Singapore will be able to find the balancing point between this two as Taiwan never did.
The fault was never with Taiwanese as individuals; after all the Taiwanese are a very strong and resilient bunch but rather society as a whole has chosen to remain ignorant of many developments in the world and hence the people live in a delusional state, believing that Taiwan was still the way it was back in the prosperous times.
Likewise, I hope Singaporeans do not fall into this pit, if you do get the chance to go overseas to live, grab it! Once in another country you can often see the faults of your home country much better than when you were in it, only then can you help make the country a better place.
I am writing this message from the bottom of my heart not just to Rafflesians but to Singaporeans as a whole.
I write this because I still care about Singapore. Singapore has always prided herself in adopting the successes of other countries; I believe she can learn well from their failures too. I do not usually ask for my posts to be shared but this is one message I hope all of you will share.
And yes, if some of you are uncomfortable with the thought of someone with a known identity reading your confessions, I offer to step down from the RJ confessions admin team, whether or not I do so will depend on viewers’ response.
Thank you for reading till the end and have a nice day