I used to have a dream that I would one day be able to place the letters MBA behind my name. The idea was sweet. I would get my first degree in the UK, work for a huge multinational for about three-years and then head towards Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern University to do my MBA. In short, I thought it would have been cool to be part of the great corporate network.
Well, things didn’t work out that way. I never got into a “big” corporation – I think the closest I’ve been to a multinational was two weeks at Rapp Collins. Didn’t have the credentials and earning enough for my next meal became a bigger priority to getting my MBA. However, as I continued to pound the streets looking for work, I still harboured the dream of calling myself “Tang Li, MBA”
That was until I meet “Chutiya Bhai.” My dreams of ever becoming an MBA went to the shit. Thanks to Chutiya Bhai, I realised that having an MBA was not everything it was cracked up to be – I lie – I realised that having an MBA might become detrimental to my state of mind. It was like fantasising over a hot chick for ten-years and then one day, you go on a date with her and you realise that she’s so rotten on the inside that shooting yourself before the date is over looks like a viable option.
Chutiya Bhai has an MBA amongst a host of other qualifications. He’s a very clever person. However, he is also unpleasant. Give him two minutes of your time and he’ll take two days telling you how rich and successful he is and how he managed to get to that stage by jacking over his professional colleagues. The man’s idea of saving money is to avoid paying his local coffee shop for food he’s eaten.
He did admit to me that he had a few personal issues to resolve with his family. However, you would imagine that someone with an MBA would have the education and
character to rise above it and succeed brilliantly. He didn’t – his only friends were the Old Rogue and myself – that was of course until Joyce decided she would rather be with me than with him (despite the fact that he makes loads more money than I do). If Chutiya Bhai was not bugging the Old Rogue about his issues in the office, he would bug me. We were meant to solve the world’s issues for him. Much as I did spend a lot of time in his company – I felt that, “If this is what an MBA does to you – thanks but no thanks.”
Ever since I’ve lost the ambition to get an MBA, I’ve been able to see things more clearly. I realise that MBAs do not make the best business people. Two of the best people I know are a Vietnamese girl and a Chinese egg seller. Both have debateable qualifications. Yet both have risen up from nowhere by having the right people-smarts. Both have helped bring prosperity to others and so have been rewarded in turn.
To be fair to Chutiya Bhai, he’s not the only person to shatter my dreams. One of the most prominent people to shatter my dreams was Professor Thio Lee-Ann, a former Nominated Member of Parliament and a Professor of Law.
Like the MBA, I had a dream of going to Oxford. Unfortunately, I was coming out of a bad love relationship and a drunken spree during my A-level year and so I didn’t get the grades required for Oxbridge. However, that didn’t stop me from admiring Oxbridge and holding up the place as an ideal of what a university should be. I suspect I didn’t make much of a student career at the University of London because I felt like a poor relation to the Oxbridge Universities.
The Professor Thio Lee-Ann came along and shattered my dreams about Oxbridge. I read her arguments during the debate on the repeal of 377A (the section in the Singapore Penal Code that criminalises anal sex between men) and was stunned.
This supposedly clever woman who had a professorship in law proceeded to produce pages and pages of drivel about how letting two consenting adults have sex in the privacy of their own bedroom would be bad for society. Her argument went along the lines of – if you let consenting gay adults have sex in the privacy of the bedroom, you will ruin society because everyone might turn gay. The clincher of her argument was – Anal Sex is like sticking a straw up your nose.
Not sure how she worked that one out? Throughout her ranting, she failed to provide a single, logical and legally sound argument as to why a private act between two consenting adults should be a criminal act. Her arguments were befitting a trash collector than a professor of law.
What was most shocking to me was finding out that the good professor had been to Oxford. I mean, I guess you could say that our local varsities have a way of passing certain people, but one would surely expect better from Oxford! How the hell did a woman with such an inability to think rationally and critically graduate from a University that is renowned for producing some of the greatest minds of our time.
Furthermore, my respect for the Oxbridge institutions were shattered when our Prime Minister, a Cambridge Graduate, and his cabinet (filled with Oxbridge graduates with MBAs) refused to recognise the drivel that Professor Thio was sprouting for what it is and proceeded to agree with her – they decided to keep 377a in the penal code but promised not to enforce it – which is a beautiful contradiction in terms.
I suppose I should be grateful to the likes of Professor Thio and Chutiya Bhai. These are people who help you to realise that sometimes the lost dreams that you had were lost for a reason. When you meet them, you suddenly become grateful for the things that you did not get and you bless your fortune for giving you the things that you had. When it comes to institutions, I think it’s always best to meet the products as well as reading the brochures.