An excerpt from The Straits Times’ (Singapore) interview with Mr Simon Tay, Associate Professor of Law (National University of Singapore) and president of think-tank Singapore Institute of International Affairs. A master’s degree holder in international law from Harvard University, Mr Tay was a nominated member of parliament from 1997 to 2001. He is also a novelist – his book, City Of Small Blessings is published by Landmark Books.

His wife Jin Hua, who runs a natural health shop, homeschools their 10-year-old son, Luke.

“The Singapore education system seems to be a highway where you drive very fast and, if the car doesn’t overheat or get into an accident, you get to your destination very quickly. But you may not enjoy the drive and you may not see the sights. And if you do break down and overheat, you are in trouble,” he says.

“If you don’t like the highway, is there another path? My wife gave it a lot of thought. For me, I see this highway I am not certain about, and I see that my wife wants to beat this path over the hills.”

The fact that they learnt three or four years ago that Luke is dyslexic affirmed their decision, and Tay says they have not decided whether he will go to school or continue to be home-schooled.

“There are benefits to home-schooling. We can go on holiday any time we want,” he says.

“The downsides: Socially he is fine because people come by the house all the time and his character is outgoing. But his teacher always loves him and thus he is not used to indifference, which is a tough thing in life to learn.”

– 22 December 2008