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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.

Related articles:

Ex-MOE PRC scholar chose U.S. instead of Singapore to pursue his tertiary studies

Ex-MOE PRC scholar slams Sun Xu

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28 Responses to “EXCLUSIVE: Ex-MOE PRC scholar left Singapore for good to start company in China”

  1. great said

    This is the Singapore government’s doing. Wasting taxpayers money on ingrates. We are better off using the money on NSF and SAF scholarship.

  2. C.C. Koh said

    After reading the article I would say: Xin Ping is an honest lady that spoke from her heart. She would do very well in life and will receive abundant blessing. I wishes her much success in her endeavour.

  3. tan said

    //The percentage of foreign scholars who leaves Singapore for good yearly like Xin Ping is not known.//

    She was probably the 25% (300) who DPM Teo has referred to left for ‘various reasons’ but the pattern cannot be “discerned.”

  4. bobby said

    First and foremost; singapore Governemnt under the PAP is not spending enough money on its own citizens in Education; Health and Welfare.

    It welcomes all and sundry using Taxpayers’ money and end up with people like Sun Xu…as well as Xing Ping…

    Both Sun Xu is an arrogant, ungrateful uncouth inpertinent overgrown spoilt brat and another a well brought up grateful girl….DO NOT BENEFIT SINGAPORE AT ALL…yet our Government under PAP continue to recklessly spend taxpayers’ money in this area when it could have made a lot of difference for singaporeans…

  5. tueac said

    She is not in the wrong, she completed her bond and service. Leaving Singapore in a friendly statues, it might not occur to u that when her company expand and needs an oversea base Singapore could become a top choice.

    Also u can’t buy loyalty with money. I applaud her loyalty to her fatherland.

    If my comment is deleted I know what kind of site this is. U know wat I meant.

    • lolol said

      it won’t be deleted

      and this girl is good she completed her bond and service

      unlike sunxu ungrateful and beyond hope
      people like sunxu should be punished with law

      while prc like this girl can stay

      i don’t hate prc as i got prc friends too
      but i also felt insulted and hate ungrateful prc like sunxu and other prc like sunxu should be punished according to law [with no special treatment of course] and send back to their country

  6. aloysius12 said

    Yes, she is honest, downright earnest in her assessment of our motherland, but no credit to our MOE/NUS who is like the “very rich man” in this article – very impatient to woe. Now how much more must we endure before this “scrum of our country” realise their folly? No issue to that question – it is the taxpayers’ monies – not theirs and can be easily written as irrecoverable “bad debts”; and we move on to the next scene which is a repetition of those earliest. Even MPs treat these scrums as “untouchables”. Should be a forcus point for the next GE.

  7. Chua Silvester said


    The govt must adopt a Singapore-first in everything, including education. We must not squeezed our own children out of our universities to overseas ones and not offering them any financial help. On the other hand, the govt is so generous to foreigners, especially PRC nationals.

    As an affected parent whose son has been squeezed out of NUS, I wish to appeal to the govt to stop being so generous to foreigners while neglecting our own children. As overseas education comes with a heavy cost, would the govt consider offering some kind of interest loan or would liberalise the use of CPF funds for overseas education. Singaporeans are not asking for free scholarships like the foreigners BUT INTEREST-FREE LOAN to meet the cost of overseas education or allow the use of CPF funds.

    Please have a heart for the average-income Singaporean parents like us.

    • M*** said

      If you are a talented scholar every country will accept you and well treat. if not just have to make sure your children study harder or they smart enough to get a scholarship any where in the world.

  8. bliksemlighting said

    She served her bond, contributed to our society as a teacher and moved on with her life. What’s the problem here? They stay also you complain. They leave also you complain.

  9. YMC said

    Here’s an idea – and I’m not a Minister being paid millions of dollars – why not increase the scholarship for Singaporean citizens and reduce the amount spent on foreign students who seem to have zero empathy for our country and culture? And if they are going to offer scholarships to them – make them do our 2 years of National Service. The Singapore govt forces every Singapore male to do it – so why not them??? Why the double standard??? But I guess only people being paid millions of dollars can come up with such schemes. Come to think of it, the GFC was caused by bankers with similar enormous salaries as well. Just saying. Pure coincidence.

  10. mid said

    It is heartening to know that foreigners who are helped by our government are appreciative. But the question is: Where do Singaporeans stand in relation to foreigners? What criteria is the government using to award free educational assistance whether it is for locals or foreigners? There must be transparency and accountability!

    I am never going to let my taxes be used to fatten a foreigner while my family and fellow Singaporeans are at a disadvantage. Wake up, you ignominious papies, before we sent you out of the government!

    • M*** said

      If you are a talented scholar every country will accept and well treat you, If not just have to make sure that your children study harder or they are smart enough to get a scholarship any where in the world.

      Singapore needs to adapt more skillful people as it is good for our country.

      Do not be so narrow minded,

  11. Ling said

    After reading this article, my feeling was a mixture of anger and sadness. Anger with my government for their ardent pursuit of such ‘talents’, grooming them at our expense only to see these people using us as stepping stones to a better life. Sadness as our own children had to fight tooth and nail to enter our local universities, as we parents struggled to pay every cent of the expense except for scholarships which are handed only to a very handful.
    As you can glean from the article, what we are getting from overseas are also not the best people. In fact, many of them including the Vietnamese are very poor in English. (I understand this from people I know in the local universities) Many are also marginal students who are here because our universities have to meet the minimum quota set by our govt for foreign students.
    How can we love a govt like ours who put others before us.

  12. Steffie said

    So in other words she’s saying that PRC people are like prostitutes; selling themselves for money, making use of others and then throwing them aside… Actually, calling them prostitutes is an insult to prostitutes. I know of whores who have more integrity than that.

  13. oute said

    Lucky, she made a smart move or else she would end up like a “dog” leow.

    At least, she had an alternative and what about us. Where do we go to then.

  14. *Blingy* said

    I think that too many Singaporeans are missing the point of having Singapore-grateful talents in China/US (where many PRCs hope to end up also). Yes, Singapore is a stepping stone for many of these talents to become bilingual, appear more ‘westernize’ and less threatening to US immigration but I think the hope is for SG to have ‘guan zi’ with important, powerful, Singapore-inclined Chinese all around the world to help our growth overseas.

  15. Teng Nee Peng said

    Xin Ping should be applauded for her loyalty to her own country. Unfortunately, the analogy of puttng Singapore as a rich man pursuing her is distasteful and merely place her and her country man in a bad light. It reinforces their materialistic and mercenary mindset.

    To be fair, Singapore wooed her and many like her for less than altruistic object. Singapore has never let up on the message that we are a meritocratic society – read that as meaning – you do time, and we will pay for your time. Its quite a commercial contract really. How can anyone be wrong or right the in such an arrangement? Its business.

    She did her time. Contributed to Singapore while here and when the time came for her to pick a suitor, she sided with her heart and pragmatism. Can you fault her?

    For those who have not lived in China for extended period, you may not understand the incredible pressure just to survive. The competition – for those who seek material success – is something Singaporeans cocooned in their comfort cannot imagine.

    Allow me to quote one of my Chinese colleague who is a university graduate while I was working in China. He said : “Everything here has a value – except a human life”.

    Think about it dear Singaporean before we keep lambasting our fellow human who are just trying to survive.

  16. radixe said

    Ingrates? It’s not like singapore has no motives in bringing these bright people into singapore in the first place. If you don’t like it, you should have made them sign a lifetime “slave bond” to singapore, before paying for their tuition.

  17. darkside said

    The comments are an interesting read… many see the short term gain rather than the longer term strategy. And many still react from own limited knowledge and perspective as if all the assumptions are valid.

    So long as one show common respect and decency, there is little else you can demand from another human being. Before we are quick to condemn her description of Singapore since it was not in a nice light, one should evaluate if that is a true description. The truth hurts and we all should learn to accept constructive criticism and improve.

    On the note of spending on foreign talent… I know of at least one example where the foreign talent ended up setting up a mainboard listed MNC based out of Singapore. Think about how many jobs that created for Singapore and how much $alary being paid out each month. So did Sg get a good deal out of the $174k spent? Definitely. Will Sg get the same payout on the investment for every scholar – obviously not.

    For those whose children could not make it to the local U – if its due to their lack of merit, should there be any basis of complain? If you are a betting man (which Sg government is from my POV), who would you bet on to get your ROI? A local Singaporean with mediocre potential or a foreigner with promising potential? Even capable Singaporean boys and girls get scholarships from prestigious Unis overseas. Would you feel good if citizens from those countries start to condemn too?

  18. Yuppy Khin said

    Well that is how Singapore government get first class people to stay with them after the completion of the Uni. out of 100 if 30 stay back and eventually become Singapore citizen, this is considered gain as this new citizen will be able to contribute more than three time of what they learn to the community. Do not blame the foreign student asked why you guy be a Singaporean never appreciate the ready made infrastructure that all Uni and school for your guys to chose as you think is the government that owe it to you. Wake up as you young Singaporean duty is to study hard to help to plan for the country future which is also you own future!

  19. "Quitter" said

    Are we wasting tax payers money on scholarship for foreign students? The answer is : Yes and No. It depends on what the Singapore Government wants to achieve. Being a developed and rich country, if the objective is to provide financial assistance to foreign students who will otherwise not be able to pursue a tertiary education in their own country for financial reasons, then it is a worthy and noble action. On the other hand, if the objective is to entice foreign students in the hope that they will become Singaporeans, then I think whoever is responsible is naive and too simple minded. Whilst it is true that some may become Singaporeans and remain in Singapore, the real test is how many actually become Singaporeans in a situation where their country of birth do not allow dual citizenships … like China? This is the real test of loyalty to Singapore. I have lived overseas (in one of the most beautiful countries in the world) for more than 20 years but still proud to be a Singaporean.

  20. hard_to_enter_uni said

    “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”

    hmmm… sounds so easy

  21. DPhang said

    I’m a born n bred S’porean nor am I thinking much about its implications but after reading my colleague’s circulation, I suddenly remember the Chinese poems which talk about human emotions:

    “举头望明月,低头思故乡 ”



  22. David Leong said

    Will never forgive these great injustice the PAP gov did to Singaporean, Singaporeans have to pay thru their nose to get things that the Gov give out freely to PRC student. I will let my children & relative know and pass on these info to as many as possible.

    If the GOV is so kind and generious might as well spend it on our own people.

  23. RU YI Gee said

    RU YI Gee: Proof that not all PRC despises Singaporeans BUT choose to live in Singapore as my young dream Home.Here is my side of stories.

    I WAS born in China With more than 1.3 billion people (1,336,718,015 as of mid-2011), China is the world’s most populous country Population,
    Why I choose to live in a small stable country , good government of Singapore population of 5,076,700 – 2010 and the likeness of Climate issue make me favorable to live here longer.

    I got my PR ,study hard here and save my money earning in stocks,work m way till today date to open up a food stall called RU YI Gee and knowing well Singapore is with small population but I believe the people here is kind,wonderful,supportive and willingly to see my life better…I work hard with swear,tears to ensure my parent with me can stay with me till the last day of their life.

    I feel sorry for them on my leaving home at the ages of 16 year old and live most of my time in Beijing,study while working as a writer ,selling my own book to earn my day to buy a Condominium with fully paid now then travel to Singapore as my most dream home… here I’m have to goes through all the hardship again with my parent with me now….Hoping God will be with me and bless me not to be homeless again.

    Whatever it take me so far is worth trying….Singapore is definitely my dream Home.

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