No Easy Solution For Creativity

The following write-up was written in to STForums on Dec 29, 2010, as a response to an opinion piece penned by one Dr Yik Keng Yeong on Dec 28, 2010(see for original article). It also references 2 other articles published that day: (Blame parents for stifling creativity, Dec 28 and Price of failure too high, Dec 28).

Unfortunately…it wasn’t published. So here it is:

Dr Yik Keong Yong’s letter (Why choose when Singapore has best of both worlds, Dec 28) is an excellent example of creativity flourishing in ideal circumstances as highlighted by other letters that day; (Blame parents for stifling creativity, Dec 28 and Price of failure too high, Dec 28).

Parents who are understanding and nurturing, an environment for children to grow, experiment and excel in and a family, unbound by financial difficulties, one that can afford overseas University education, at an Ivy League University no less would allow any child to develop his or her creativity.

Unfortunately, the majority of Singaporeans are not born with silver spoons in our mouths. Many are at the whims of factors like socio-economic trends, which is perhaps the most crippling factor for creative minds to grow. Additionally, we must take into account that some Singaporeans wish to make a career and become a creative force; becoming the next Picasso or Michael Jackson. How then do we aid them, especially if they are from families with financial difficulties?

One can suggest that the government simply provide better financial aid for such families, but many programmes are already in place, and many times these cash vouchers are mostly used for the day-to-day affairs or bills.

There are indeed many avenues for now to unleash one’s creative force as compared to, say 20 years ago. But that is not, and will never be enough.
Singapore’s effort to produce creativity and creative talents cannot be a ‘footnote’ as suggested by the good professor. Our current system is not perfect, but modifications should be made to cater to the various strata of Singapore’s society. If anything, it has to be an ongoing effort, and one that is as creative as the people we want to nurture if we want creative Singaporeans to be more than just a footnote.



  1. Tim

    Ah I cant access the original article but I can imagine what Dr Yik said from what you wrote. Your reply seems legitimate although a tad weak in content.

    Your articles do get solid over the years.

    • Hi Tim,

      If I recall, the good docter mentioned how his daughter was creative and managed to enter an Ivy League school also went overseas.

      In my opinion his arguments highlighted how damaging extreme meritocracy is to any society. But then again ever system has its strengths, every system has its casualties. I’ll try to dig up his article, I do believe I have a hardcopy sooomeeewhhheree. *ransacks archive*

  2. Tim

    Eh no need lah. I do not wish to trouble you. haha. In fact I find that he had actually written quite a number of articles. And the number of replies to his articles are pretty numerous as well. This is going to take me the whole day.

    • I couldn’t find the hardcopy =(

      He wrote in reply to a letter that suggested that more schools needed to be modified to inject more creativity into students. He argued that the system was fine and wasn’t in need of any tuning. He then gave his daughter as an example, and how she attended, and I quote, an “Ivy-league” school.

      That really pissed me off. The sheer narcissistic and ignorance of the man. Not every child is born with a silver spoon in her mouth and gets to go through her schooling years without working. Heck, not every child even finishes his/her schooling years cause s/he has to leave school to support the family.

      That said, I was (and still am) more nitpick-y about his choice of example than his argument. eh heh…..

  3. Tim

    Oh Mr Bard oh.

    Oh yes that’s right. I spent my school years having to support myself. It was not easy you know I tell you.

    The system was fine and wasnt in need of any tuning? His choice of example didnt and still dont speak for the rest of the students. Ah words fail me whenever it comes to such people. Just want to throttle them to their senses.

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