Top image: Original image by Straits Times.
Woe is the Ministry of Education.
After their multiple attempts at rebranding our education system by saying that we shouldn’t focus on grades, our Courts have repeatedly missed the memo.
In the latest instance of how good grades seemingly keep alleged perpetrators out of jail, a student from the National University of Singapore, Terence Siow, was merely given “supervised probation” after molesting a woman. In a Facebook post describing the incident, the alleged victim said it wasn’t her buttocks that he’d grazed—he had “run his finger along [her] genital area”.
In fact, the judge considered his offence a “minor intrusion” and his academic results showed his “potential to excel in life”.
If only I knew that getting onto the Dean’s List would allow me to commit crimes and get away with it, I would have murdered my group mates for not being able to consolidate PowerPoint slides.
In light of the news, a few of us at RICE put together our report cards from our time in school to see which of us would’ve been a better criminal.
As it turns out, MOE was right: grades don’t define your future. While some of us might have been able to get away with sexual assault, and others would have been sentenced to hang for merely thinking of a woman, we ended up working in the same place.
In primary one, I was first in class. In primary six, I was second last. Nonetheless, my teachers’ comments remained inane. “She shows interest in her studies,” remarked one deluded form teacher.
All that tells me is the five years in between were a wasted opportunity that I didn’t seize to steal my classmates’ recess money so I could buy more bowls of mee siam.
There are enough underlines on the report card of our creative lead, Toke, that even the Yellow Ribbon Project wouldn’t be able to save him. No opportunity to sexually harass or assault someone here; he wouldn’t even be able to get away with thinking of jaywalking.
Luckily for him, he’d have our writer, Justin, for company in jail. The latter would be serving a 10-year sentence and three strokes of the cane for
littering not being smart enough.
On the other hand, our writer, Sophie, was clearly a star student. No need to demoralise yourself by zooming in on her results.
Just know this: she would have been able to murder someone in cold blood, confess to said murder, repeat the crime despite “high likelihood of rehabilitation”, sexually assault a few more victims, and still get away with 40-hours of community service so she’d learn to treat people better.
Like Terence Siow, our account executive, Rachel, was also from NUS. She also had second upper honours. Had she decided to molest anyone in the MRT, rob someone in the lift, or barge into campus shower stalls with a phone held up, she would have committed a “minor intrusion”.
Unlike Terence, however, she ruined her “potential to excel in life” by embarking on a career in journalism—a crime that requires separate penance itself.
Perhaps writing an apology letter to herself would suffice.
To be fair to MOE, we have come a long way since Lee Kuan Yew practically exalted eugenics. According to a Straits Times report , he believed “pairing a very smart man with a very smart woman significantly raised the odds of breeding very smart children”.
Today, grades don’t matter that much.
Except when you join the civil service, film a fellow student showering, molest a woman multiple times, or study at the National University of Singapore.
Clearly, it’s still important to do your readings, attend CCA regularly, hold a part-time job as a private tutor, get into an elite university, and consistently stay on the Dean’s List. After all, you only need to commit your run-of-the-mill sexual assault to realise your pathetic 3.5 GPA won’t hold in court.
Just remember, when that happens, submit your report slips as evidence of your potential to excel in life. Best if you include a LinkedIn testimonial too.
We can’t even tell if this is satire. We’re tired. Commiserate here: email@example.com.