Thursday, January 10, 2008

Online Straits Times Forum Page letter.

The GEP's objectives are clearly laid out. But the MOE's reply wasn't as illuminating as I'd hoped. A few statistics would've been helpful ( as 'hazy memories' comments, how many GEP grads have left the country? ). Considering the tiny population of recruits and the government's close watch on the group, surely all this information is available at the tips of the authorities' fingers?

I've had the opportunity to interact with GEP students and alumni since my secondary school days, and have had both good and bad experiences. There are those who excel ( not surprising, of course ), and those who don't ( for various reasons ). Some are humble to a fault, while others strut around like they're God's gifts to the human race. I count many as good friends ( my JC and med school class are full of GEP grads ), yet others have proven themselves to be unscrupulous snakes who use their intelligence to get ahead by trampling on their friends and colleagues.

But this isn't the GEP's fault. What can you possibly expect when tender 10-year-olds are thrust into these intensive programmes? You're tested on your language, math and spatial skills. A family friend's daughter managed to qualify by studying from textbooks 2 grades above her level ( with multiple home tutors on hand ). Over the next 6 years, she failed to do well in the GEP and was overcome by stress-induced illnesses during the PSLE and 'O' Level exams.

One GEP grad made it to the top 3 during the university finals, impressing everyone with his academic knowledge and eloquence. Interesting how he once confided about fantasizing that he's a sniper, then systematically described how he would shoot individuals strolling along Orchard Road, and picture their horrified reactions in his mind.

Another fellow projected an online persona which is completely at odds with his real self. His grand tales of heroism failed to materialize during a clinical posting, and he was unanimously ranked last in a batch of 30 doctors.

It's easy to categorize success in terms of academic achievements and professional titles ( these two men have already attained both ). But what the statistics fail to capture is also what matters more ( or perhaps, what matters MOST ) -- integrity, generosity, humility... and sanity.

I wish I could write more, but it's been an awful week, and my mind weighs heavy with a load of ethical conundrums.

However, I highly recommend Damages, an absolutely delightful drama which expertly blurs the line between good and evil, boasting top-notch performances from Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan and Ted Danson. Close just snagged the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama. A well-deserved win indeed.

American Idol 7's double-episode premiere hasn't disappointed either. Bespectacled politician wannabe Kyle Ensley ( who did a very competent rendition of Queen's Somebody To Love ) and all-American cowboy Drew Poppelreiter ( who sang a George Strait piece ) stood out. I hope a guy wins this year. Let's break the female dominance pattern, people!

Films-wise, I'm psyched about Sweeney Todd and Indy Jones 4. Johnny Depp singing Sondheim, and Shia LaBeouf playing Indy's ?son ?sidekick -- enough said! :)

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