MP draws flak for his ‘radical idea’ of ‘time stamp’ on uni degree

West Coast GRC MP Ang Wei Nang suggested what he called  a “radical idea” in Parliament during the Budget debate — putting a “time stamp” on degrees obtained in Singapore universities. 

Radical it might be but his recommendation, made on Tuesday, hasn’t taken root.

Online, it has not gone like a lead balloon  with netizens  who have roundly criticised his idea, so much so that he felt he had to explain himself further  in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Mr Ang, who has represented the Nanyang ward of this GRC since 2020, and previously represented Jurong Central ward of Jurong GRC,would be doubly liable himself as he has a bachelor’s degree from the National University of Singapore, and a master’s degree from Nanyang Technological University.

In his Facebook post, he said  that he had merely wanted “to emphasise the need for Singaporeans to continually upskill to stay relevant in the modern economy,” as well as to “spark a conversation” about the matter.

That, he has certainly done. Many sparks have been ignited.

An expiry date on one’s degree, he had said in Parliament on March 1, would require graduates to “attend upgrading courses every five years or so”.

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“If you don’t upgrade, your degree will fade over time, and you can no longer claim the degree as your credential.

“Does this sound scary?”

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He added that if Singapore is serious about continuous training and lifelong learning, “we have to be radical about transformation”.

Acknowledging that this kind of change would not happen overnight, he said, “we have to start to transform our institutes of higher learning”.

Overnight, it seems, the profile of Mr Ang, who has been in Parliament since 2011, was significantly raised, as netizens weighed in on his proposal.

Opposition politician Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, a lawyer, wrote in a Facebook post that she was “stunned like a sotong” by his “idiotic” proposal.

She pointed out that if Mr Ang’s proposal were carried out, it would be to the detriment of Singapore  universities. “No one wants to study for a university degree that ‘fades over time’,” she said, adding that universities here “will be transformed into corpses. I’m baffled why the MP would think to air such an idiotic proposal in Parliament”.

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Several commenters said the problem lay with the MP’s inability to distinguish between a university degree and job training.

Activist Kirsten Han wrote that the MP’s idea wasn’t so much of a radical one but a “bad” one, to which quite a few commuters agreed.

One netizen commented caustically: “I think he needs to google the etymology of ‘radical’.” That word must have struck a nerve because it prompted more comments.

And of course, the “radical” idea has already spawned a meme.

Other netizens asked who would foot the bill for  “upgrading” the graduates..

The MP, however, put up a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon (Mar 3) to clarify the points he had endeavored to make. Clarify? With a touch of damage repair, perhaps.

“My intention was to emphasise the need for Singaporeans to continually upskill to stay relevant in the modern economy, and spark a conversation about what role IHLs (Institutions of Higher Learning) can play in this.

“Hearing from your sentiments online and offline over the past few days, I see that many Singaporeans are speaking fervently about this critical yet complex issue. 

Moving forward, the best solutions will be co-created with fellow Singaporeans to explore more viable avenues to futureproof our economy.”

/TISG

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