Dr Eng Kai Er (picture via Straits Times.com)

Dr Eng Kai Er (picture via Straits Times.com)

I read with amusement, the strange news on A*Star scholar, Dr Eng Kai Er, challenging her employer. If you find her name familiar, she was the A*Star scholar who streaked naked along Holland Village back in 2009. Now, she decided to fund an arts scholarship with her own pay to make a statement on her being forced to work in a job which she has no passion for.

At first, I wanted to be sympathetic, but when I got a more complete picture from this Straits Times report, I have no sympathy for Dr Eng at all.

Here’s why:

1. Dr Eng has a choice to break her bond and pay back her tuition fees. Let me post a very blunt comparison – not all Singaporean guys enjoy serving NS. We do not even have a choice. If Dr Eng really hates her job so much, she should just break her bond and stop whining.

2. Dr Eng took TWO scholarships from A*Star. She spent three years studying as an undergraduate at Britain’s prestigious Cambridge University before returning to Singapore to do a one-year research stint at A*Star in 2006. At the end of that, she took up a second scholarship to study for a PhD in infection biology at Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute. She completed this at the end of 2012 and now works in an A*Star research institute studying infectious diseases. If she did not like science, why did she take the second scholarship? Granted she may be only 18 when she took the first scholarship and can partly be forgiven for her youthful folly, but at 22? Why do a PhD in infection biology if you do not like science?

3. Dr Eng deprived others who are more deserving by taking up the scholarships in the first place.

4. Dr Eng wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money. A*Star is answerable to the government of Singapore on how they spend our money. Back to point 1, Dr Eng should just break the bond and pay back her tuition fees if she is so unhappy.

5. Dr Eng is being extremely self-centered. Many of us are in jobs which may not be that fun either, but we know we need to do so to earn a living. Dr Eng wants a free overseas PhD education, only do what she like for a living and kick up a fuss when she do not get what she wants. Grow up and stop being a baby.

6. Dr Eng can pursue the arts in her free time while holding on to her scientist job. If she really love the arts so much, I am sure she can find a way to balance it with her work. Otherwise, she just have to endure for a few more years and she will be free.

7. Judging from the sarcastic way she wrote her tumblr blog, one tends to form the impression that Dr Eng will not be treating her work seriously at A*Star and will just wither away her time there. She belittled her own scientific achievements. As a scientist with a PhD from the world’s top universities, she is smarter than so many of us, but so much more irresponsible too.

I know there are some who are praising her for being brave to protest in what she believes in and to encourage others to follow their dreams. However, I believe that she has a choice now(she can break the bond and pay back) and she made a choice then when she signed with A*Star. As such, her actions are extremely immature and unbecoming.

Sorry, but I think Dr Eng Kai Er do not deserve any sympathy at all.

I have more respect for bond breakers than Dr Eng. At least they have the courage to face up to the consequences of their choices. Dr Eng, on the other end, wants to have her cake and eat it.