One of the reasons ASN tries to integrate scholars into a network of support and recreation is probably to address the huge problem A* scholars face when they have to leave for their PhD – what happens to their other half? Most of the fiances/fiancees of A* scholars are not themselves A* scholars (although there are some notable exceptions) and because many of LZ’s friends are from A* I keep seeing the same problem over and over again – one person gets left behind, and an interminable 4-5 year wait commences. This is in the prime of their lives when most regular couples are getting married and having children etc.. In the best case scenario, an A* scholar dates another A* scholar. In the second best case scenario, an A* scholar dates someone who is also intending to do a PhD. Win-win. One of the worst scenarios, which is what we’ve seen, the A* scholar marries his/her other half and he/she takes spousal leave. If the other half is a scholar (likely, since where else would that A* scholar meet the other half?), the maximum spousal leave granted is 2 years. that means 2 years into that A* scholar’s PhD, the couple has to split and one has to move back home. Which also means that they are significantly less likely to have children in those 5 years – having kids with both parents and grandparents around is hard enough, what more having kids in a single parent system, that is, unless that single parent is super capable. Some ministries may not even grant spousal leave.

Of course if you are lucky/unlucky enough to be a PSC scholar, you can cite precedence of a certain prime minister’s son deferring his bond indefinitely to work at Google. He didn’t have to pay a cent as he did not “break his bond”. He is just “serving it later”, whatever that means. It’s been 2 years (so far) and counting.

Liangze proposes a new system (and here I will stop being gender-neutral as most of his friends facing this problem are males because he does not possess the necessary social graces to attract and sustain the attention of some solid female friends) – the girlfriends of A* scholars should be granted bond deferment so they can accompany their boyfriends on their overseas PhDs. I don’t think this is a bad plan, actually. After all it’s not saying that they will not serve the bond. And Singapore is trying to have more babies, aren’t they? And the godfather wants smart ones, doesn’t he? Of course one logical consequence is that girls would start “flocking” to the A* scholars so they can defer their bonds (the same way guys take up the PSC scholarship). They certainly need the help! The few I have had the privilege to know are normal/eligible enough but the ones LZ tells me about are seriously bizarre and will soon be weeded out by evolution without these countermeasures.

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