While funding for the local arts scene is always welcome, it is disappointing to see Dr Eng Kai Er use her one-woman arts grant as a thinly veiled attack on her scholarship agency ("A*Star scientist starts arts grant in protest against six-year bond"; Tuesday).
Depicting herself as the hapless victim of a scholarship bond and describing her scientific research as "narcissistic, masturbatory work" that she is not interested in show a shocking lack of appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on her doctoral studies, not to mention the academic and professional opportunities afforded to her.
It would have been far more honourable for Dr Eng to resign her scholarship once she had resolved not to pursue a scientific career. Remaining employed in the field while publicly sniping at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and the scholarship system is simply biting the hand that fed her.
I hope Dr Eng's example will not deter public and private agencies from offering scholarships to deserving students. Many scholarship holders, myself included, served out their bonds with dedication and gratitude to the last day.
Parents and schools need to help teens develop the maturity to be clear-minded about the scholarships they choose and the work they wish to do in future.
Eighteen is not too young an age to make a commitment for the next decade of one's life. A six-year bond is hardly indentured slavery: The savvy scholarship holder who dislikes his job would use the opportunity to hone his professional skills and position himself for his post-bond career change.
Since Dr Eng is unlikely to remain in the scientific field beyond her bond, A*Star might be better off terminating her bond immediately and channelling the estimated $700,000 in liquidated damages to a more deserving party.
Companies should not feel obliged to keep employees who make no bones about their lack of commitment to their jobs.
Estella Young (Ms)
This article was first published on November 28, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.