20140226 If MOE uncertain on international student grant defaulters, Minister Heng should not speculate in Parliament

Parliament should not continue to allow questions to be sidestepped as if they were never raised or it risks becoming a farce.

The unfortunate situation Singaporeans have found ourselves in today directly resulted from a Parliament dominated by PAP MPs who treasure peace and silence over citizens’ welfare. This has been aided by the government controlled mainstream media

The most recent example would be MP Png who questioned Minister Heng on “the total amount of tuition grants given to international students in polytechnics and universities who defaulted on their bonds, and what actions were being taken to recover these grants.” International student tuition grants defaulters – MOE

Instead of answering the question, Minister Heng beat around the bush and came up with a non reply. Heng stated that “8 in 10 had either started serving their grant bonds” or “have been granted approval by MOE”.

But for the remaining 20 per cent, Heng speculates that:

a “..they have gone overseas for further study but did not seek deferment approval from MOE..”
b “..some are in the midst of seeking deferment approval,”
c “..some are seeking employment.”

Now, surely if thousands of international students comprising the 20 per cent had graduated in 2010 and 2011 and fall into a, b or c, shouldn’t the MOE have been able to confirm this by now?

Heng further claims that it has “in place bond tracking and enforcement measures to track tuition grant recipients for bond fulfillment.” This is highly doubtful. One has to question MOE’s tracking system which is supposedly to have been in place for years but until today, “final figures are not currently available”. Singaporeans are expected to accept “the work is in progress”! Why are we paying millions to civil servants and politicians to come up with a tracking system which produces ZERO statistics?

Original image @ http://www.clipartof.com

In 2012, a PRC NTU scholar reportedly said “50 per cent of my schoolmates break their bonds and return to china for good”. link
Heng should be upfront with citizens – what is the number of defaulters? How much has this caused taxpayers?

Every country prioritises its citizens over foreigners but Singapore is truly unique in the sense that it has its priorities reversed. Every year, the government provides $210 million in grants and $185 million in scholarships link to foreign students and has already spent billions of taxpayers money to our detriment.

eg. tuition grant for diploma student at polytechnic – foreigner students receive similar grant as citizens. link a foreigner undergraduate (Dentistry) could even receive a tuition grant of $24,400. link

Even if a small fraction of students had defaulted, this could translate into hundreds of millions in tax dollar losses.

As usual, our 150th ranking mainstream media has come to the aid of government’s flawed policies and incompetent civil servants ie “MOE doing more to track foreign students who took grants and defaulted on bonds” (link), “MOE improving its tracking of international grant recipients” (Today), etc. Again, no one is accountable.

Let’s also not forget that the Tuition Grant Scheme started in 1980, not yesterday.

Perhaps the real reason for being disingenuous is the fear of public outrage.

The above is just my speculation, following in the footsteps of DPM Heng.

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