“My English teacher came to me and handed me a script…”
Former top ‘N’ Level student Joseph Wong has spoken up about the how he was pressured to give politically correct answers to the press so that he could appear to be a more perfect student.
And how, sometimes, teachers over-stepped their reach and intervened directly to put the words for the press in his mouth.
In a Facebook post, Wong said that he had mentioned the school was disappointed that he had said during in an interview with the press that he had wanted to be a vfx artist and a game designer instead of a more “aspirational” profession.
He said he was later handed a “script” with the right answers for the press.
“When I was in school I was consistently told by the vice principal to NEVER ever talk about video games again. I was a scholar and I should have bigger dreams.”
What left Wong reeling was an interview that got published that deviated from what he had tried to convey in the first place.
“I even saw later that night an article written from the first journalist. She censored my autism, she completely rewrote everything I said. Writing that I wanted to become a doctor and that my inspirations were local heroes such as Tan Tock Seng.”
As it turns out, Wong says: “The reporters were told to edit my initial script by request of the teachers.”
Wong said that he felt “really disappointed in myself and angry” that he had to say things he “never wanted to say”, and to “aspire to be someone I never aspired to be.”.
Wong wants to tell others who are caught in the same boat as him this:
“Don’t let others take away your voice, be in control of your own judgement.”
This is Joseph’s story:
“It’s been 7 years and I still remembered it like yesterday. It was late 2010 on an early morning. I was called to school 3 hours before the N level results ceremony.
My teachers congratulated me and told me I was the top student across the whole of Singapore. I was very happy, as an autistic who went from someone who needed help to get dressed till I was 15 to a top scholar 2 years later. I worked really hard for it and I was proud.
But that happiness soon faded and that day became one of the worst days of my life ever. The teachers quickly cut away from my success and a reporter came in to interview me as my teachers set back.
What would you love to do?
Me: I want to be a vfx artist and a game designer.
She smiled back : Whats your secret to being so good at studying?
Me: I wanted to prove to everyone someone with autism could be a top scholar.
Her: Is there someone you would like to thank for all that has happened?
Me: I would like to thank the master chief. He has been my childhood hero and he did the impossible I want to be like him.
From there it became clear to the teachers that I wasn’t giving a satisfied response. My english teacher came to me and handed me a script. She told me this is a big moment for our school and we need you to be more ambitious! Just remember these lines when channel 8 and 5 interview you later.
I was against this, I spent 2 years of my life working for this and now I had to conform to a script. To say things I never wanted to say, to aspire to be someone I never aspired to be.
I was confused and naturally later that day when the news came I wasn’t even given a chance to follow my script. Channel 5 catered to english speaking audiences came to me asking me questions that were very unusual and confused me and Channel 8 which catered to the chinese speaking audience did the same. (Edit3 : Please note Channel 5 and 8 didn’t censor me they just didn’t give me the chance to say what I or the school had intended)
The left the school disappointed. And the disappointment didn’t stop there. My relatives were watching the news and as soon as I got home I was bombarded with calls from my relatives asking me why did I say different things to channel 5 and 8.
I didn’t know how to tell them but I had absolutely no control of what I had to say. I felt really disappointed in myself and angry. It didn’t take long for articles written by Singaporeans commenting about my mannerisms and accusing me for lying through my interviews giving polarizing answers.
I even saw later that night an article written from the first journalist. She censored my autism, she completely rewrote everything I said. Writing that I wanted to become a doctor and that my inspirations were local heroes such as Tan Tock Seng.
I couldn’t sleep that night but everyone around me didn’t understand what I was going through. My classmates celebrating, my parents cheering for me. And then a call arrived from hong kong. A hong kong journalist came to me asking me for my story.
I was fking miserable at that time on video conference but I was made to put a smile and answer their questions. And thank god they were the only ones who published my desire to going into game dev and showcased my artwork too including my featured artwork on an alien garden which I made with UDK.
I could not get over it, and when I was in school I was consistently told by the vice principal to NEVER ever talk about video games again. I was a scholar and I should have bigger dreams.
“I just want to be like Monty Oum”
Her” I’ve never heard of him, but you would be better off respecting our founding fathers and being a doctor. Don’t you want to find a cure for autism?”
Me”No, I love playing Halo, I want to work for Bungie or be a freelance vfx designer”
She ignored me on that. I endured Stomp articles, various articles by the media for those 3 months lies, people poking fun on my inability to eat properly due to autism. I hated the media and it taught me a damn fine lesson
Left wing, right wing, chinese, english, tamil or malay, all media is manipulative. They have a goal and they go to where traffic is the highest and find any words or quotes from that hotspot to report to satisfy the beliefs of their audience.
I never had a fking god damn say in any of it. And thats why I stopped studying. I hated the school and I knew anything in school that happened onwards for my grades was irrelevant. I started studying e-commerce and video games to build a large enough e-commerce or online service to generate capital to finally do what I do.
Don’t let others take away your voice, be in control of your own judgement. Theres so many people with the mob mentality and their pack leaders will do anything to feed them a fresh piece of news for them to chew on daily. My biggest regret that day was not just walking out entirely and getting my cert via mail.
Don’t say anything if you don’t mean it…..
Edit2: I posted a photo of one of the tailored articles earlier as you can no longer find the archived articles from 2010. But I’ll have to shelf it back for safety. Singapore isn’t exactly a free place, I fear the names and logos on the article may implicate parties.
Edit3: Guys the government has NOTHING to do with this, while I do not like the way things are run entirely this is a conflict between me and the teacher of which while I’m upset I do not blame them and I understand their wish to make a really big entry for their first N level Scholar. The reporters were told to edit my initial script by request of the teachers.”