Govt gestures mean a lot to S’poreans abroad

March 15, 2008 at 11:30 pm 2 comments

March 15, 2008

IN 1977, my husband and I went to the United States on an exchange programme. When we settled into a pleasant town, Scarsdale in New York, a local representative was quick to make us feel at home. He invited us to his church and his home and I was invited to give a talk about Singapore.

To gather material, I visited our United Nations office in New York where the staff were very helpful. Busy as the ambassador was, he spared me a few minutes. The ambassador, Professor Tommy Koh, warmly welcomed me into his office, asked how he could help and loaned me a documentary about Singapore.

He noted my contact details. I didn’t expect him to follow up as he was obviously a busy man. To my surprise, he did. We were among a group of newly arrived Singaporeans he and his wife hosted to a Singapore meal at their residence.

Subsequently, Mrs Koh arranged a visit for us to Chinatown to source for belacan, chillies and other Asian condiments. The Kohs invited us back on National Day. When I delivered my baby, Mrs Koh remembered. The Kohs made us feel proud to be Singaporean. We returned home to live because we are proud to be Singaporean.

It was different when my daughter enrolled in Cornell University. When the Public Service Commission (PSC) representative visited her university to meet Singapore scholarship-holders studying there, she hosted a dinner for the scholars. The few non-scholar Singaporeans who were excluded felt unappreciated and undervalued.

When my daughter was posted to Hong Kong by her company, she discovered no active organisation bringing Singaporeans, especially the younger ones, together. The website of the Singapore-Hong Kong Association was outdated.

Shouldn’t our Singapore missions, and government officials when they are abroad, do more to reach out to their fellow Singaporeans, and shun them less?

Tan Gek Kim (Mdm)


Entry filed under: Singapore.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. l'oiseau rebelle  |  March 16, 2008 at 12:29 am

    On the other hand, if PSC holds a dinner for every Singaporean in Cornell, they’ve to book the largest restaurant in the little town of Ithaca.

    I remember in my undergrad days a few reps from one of the scholarship organizations visited campus and had dinner with their scholars. Organizing a dinner for 200 people, on short notice, would be a logistical nightmare and I don’t think any of the good Ann Arbor restaurants can handle that! (Macaroni Grill, maybe.) When the same reps visited another campus with way fewer Singaporeans, they invited all the Singaporeans in town to the dinner.

    And seriously, do Singaporeans really need overarching organizations to bring us together? Even here in the Denver area, with some initiative and the concept of six degrees of separation, we eventually find each other.

  • 2. In which I write pointless letters « l’oiseau rebelle  |  March 16, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    […] In which I write pointless letters Published March 16, 2008 Singapore Dear Government of Singapore, […]


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