EXCLUSIVE: Ex-MOE PRC scholar left Singapore for good to start company in China
Posted by temasektimes on March 2, 2012
Xin Ping (not her real name) was born to a small humble family in the industrial city of Liaoyang (辽阳) (picture left) in Liaoning province of China. Her parents were civil servants and they lived in a small cramped apartment on the outskirts of the city.
Xin Ping might have followed the footsteps of her parents if not for one fateful day – a friend persuaded her to accompany her to attend a seminar conducted by MOE officials from Singapore in the provincial capital of Shenyang (沈阳).
“The Singapore officials were very nice and friendly. They said they are coming to recruit college students to study in Singapore universities and we were told we would be well taken care of. I was very impressed by what I heard and I signed up my interest.”
After passing a pre-admission test and two rounds of interview, Xin Ping was on the plane to Singapore after being awarded an undergraduate scholarship to study Chemical Engineering at the National University of Singapore. To her surprise, a fellow classmate who topped her class was not given an ‘exit permit’ to leave China despite being given the same scholarship.
“I learnt later that he went on to study in Qinghua University (清华大学). The (Chinese) government barred the top students and athletes from leaving the country.”
Life was tough in the beginning for Xin Ping, exacerbated by the fact that it was the first time she went abroad alone and separated from her parents. She spoke little English as she started to learn the language only in middle school. She was put up with other scholars from the same batch with a foster family in Sembawang before the school term began.
“The six month English preparatory course was very tough. We have to pass an English proficiency test before we can study in NUS.”
Though Xin Ping was handicapped by her English proficiency, she did well enough to breeze through her four years in NUS and graduated with First Class Honors. She did not have to pay for her tuition fees and was given a generous living allowance.
Upon graduation, she found a well-paying job with a MNC in the petrochemical industry.
“The Singapore government sent me an invitation to apply for PR three months after I started work which I did for a matter of convenience and also because I need to travel to and fro from China to visit my parents. A year later, I was invited to become a Singapore citizen and after much deliberation, I decided otherwise.”
While Xin Ping has spent nearly ten years of her life in Singapore, she did not feel a sense of belonging here though she readily admits that Singaporeans are one of the most ‘friendly’ people she ever met.
“Singapore is a great city. The people are nice, the streets are safe and the government is efficient, but my roots are back in China. That’s where my homeland is.”
Upon completion of her bond, Xin Ping applied to be transferred to Beijing to be closer to her family. Two years later, she left to start her own company and is now a mother of two.
“China is fast catching up with Singapore. Twenty years ago, there isn’t even a Mac’s in Liaoyang. Now we have Carrefour, Walmart…people are flocking to China. This is where the money is.”
Does she miss Singapore?
Yes, she said, especially the cuisine and her Singapore friends with whom she still keeps in touch on Facebook where she learnt about the Sun Xu saga and contacted us.
“I am not defending Sun Xu – he probably wrote those harsh words in a fit of anger. The truth is – most Chinese adapted well in Singapore and they are grateful to Singapore for giving them the opportunity to succeed in life. I won’t be where I am today without Singapore. Being bilingual is a great asset in doing business in China nowadays.”
When asked why she did not express her gratitude to Singapore by taking up citizenship, she paused for a while before replying:
“Singapore is like a very rich man in hot pursuit of a girl, showering her with expensive gifts everyday, but the girl’s heart is with somebody else and while she may accept his gifts, she will not be together with him, just like me, my heart is with China, my fatherland. It’s a fact which cannot be changed. I will forever be thankful to Singapore, but gratitude is not love.”
Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Law Ms Sim Ann revealed recently in Parliament that the Singapore government spends some $36 million dollars on scholarships to over two thousand foreign students each year, or about S$174,000 per scholar.
The percentage of foreign scholars who leaves Singapore for good yearly like Xin Ping is not known.
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