The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Singapore's love of lying.

You can tell how much is wrong with a nation, by how often it lies. So, by that measure, Singapore must be one of the worst nations on Earth...because it tells among the most lies.

This week, Singapore has told a lot of lies about Ainan and about us. This is what they do when someone turns around, as we have and walks out, because the nation has got to be one the most negligent on Earth where its homegrown talents are concerned. We left - and, instead of admitting that their approach, their rather careless approach, was mistaken, they decide to LIE about it.

There are so many lies in the Singaporean papers about Ainan that I don't know where to begin - or when to stop. Also I am tired of reading them, tired of listening to them, tired of being harrassed by them.

One of the more common lies is that we refused the offer of help from the MOE. This is not true. At the time major decisions were made to walk out on the MOE/GEP there was NO offer of help on the table...absolutely NOTHING. What happened is that we walked out because the GEP refused to arrange practical classes for Ainan, in Chemistry; they refused to let him take classes in any other subject at a higher level; they refused to give him maths support to aid his sciences; they refused to offer any more than one hour a week of theory classes at NUS High (which we didn't ask for...he was able to do the theory at home and the classes they offered were, contrary to the lies being told, BELOW HIS ABILITY at the time). We walked out because there was nothing on the table. However, Singapore, with its lying national tongue, is saying that we walked out on an offer of science workshops at the Science Centre. What crap. That offer came about 6 months after we had ceased all contact with the GEP. How could we walk out when we had ALREADY done so??! The offer is not what it seems either. It was an offer for us to PAY FOR classes at PUBLIC workshops that ANYONE could attend. There was nothing special about this offer. Also, it came after we had made arrangements with Singapore Polytechnic to have practical classes there. We were therefore unable to attend the workshops, in any case, because our son's time was already committed. So, the Singaporean media have created this lie that we walked out on help offered by the GEP to make us look difficult, when the facts are that they were OFFERING NOTHING at the time we walked out. That is WHY we walked out. Their account makes no logical sense, because it is a lie.

Another lie was told by Singapore Polytechnic. They said that they had kept to their commitment to us. How funny. Now is the time to tell the story of SP. Ainan went to classes at SP twice a week for a year. He enjoyed them very much and learnt a lot of laboratory chemistry. We were very grateful for the support. However, SP suddenly went silent and no-one answered emails anymore. The classes stopped. Months passed. Finally we contacted someone else and were told that Dr. Ng Kok Chin, Ainan's mentor there had had a stroke and fallen into a coma. He did not recover. After he was out of action, not ONE person at SP was willing to step and take his place and help support Ainan. It was very telling. You see, Dr. Ng Kok Chin is NOT Singaporean, he is a Malaysian Chinese man (and a very nice man too). However, the staff that remained in charge after he had gone, ARE Singaporean. How interesting, then, that none of them was interested in supporting Ainan once Dr. Ng's influence had vanished.

By the way, Ainan did NOT apply for admission to either NTU or NUS. Neither is, in our opinion, suitable, since both specialize in being uncreative. We sounded out NUS three years ago, about how Ainan could be admitted, and they said they would never accept Ainan unless he took three A levels in one session. NTU said he was too small for lab classes (all we ever asked about). We never asked NTU about admission. So, the Singaporean papers are lying about this one, too.

There is much I could say, but it would make a long and probably boring post. Let just this be said, however: almost all that has been said about Ainan and our conduct with respect to the MOE and his education is UNTRUE, in the Singaporean media. The truth is very simple: the MOE was unwilling to help Ainan in any concrete way, so we gave up on them. That is all. All their self-justifying lies are just attempts to save face and discredit us. Singapore totally neglected Ainan...but that is OK, because the rest of the world won't.

There are two main reasons why we left Singapore. Firstly, by suddenly dropping support of Ainan, Singapore Polytechnic left us with no educational intervention for Ainan at all. Thus, we had no further reason to stay in Singapore and much cause to leave. Secondly, the Singaporean media, in the shape of the New Paper, had begun to tell many lies about the MOE and us, and Ainan's schools and us. We felt we could no longer stay in a country that was actively trying to discredit us and diminish us in the media. So, we left.

Had Singapore Polytechnic not dropped all support of Ainan, without notice or explanation (they refused to answer emails about why they had done it...they just ignored us) and if the Singaporean media had been honest about us and the MOE, we would still be in Singapore.

So, one can only conclude that Singapore values its right to lie and save face, more than it does the need to retain homegrown talent. So, too, we can conclude that there is no genuine interest in educating Singaporeans to the best of their ability, within the education system (otherwise SP would not have vanished, so unexpectedly).

We are, however, happy to have left. So far, Malaysia looks a much better place to be, in every way but one. The only blemish is that the public transport system is rudimentary. Apart from that, as far as I can see, Malaysia is a much superior place to live, than Singapore.

So, Singapore, please keep on lying - and your citizens will keep on leaving. Well done on persuading us to leave. We are happier for it. Our lives have improved so much, I don't even know how to tell you. Thank you.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals. If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:02 PM 


Anonymous shawn said...

i agree with the "save face" thing about singapore. i am a chinese singaporean. and i happen to study at singapore polytechnic. i'm not that kind who gets easily embarrassed or gets upset at being ridiculed. i like to just laugh it away and forget about it and move on. and i really HATE it when people want to save their face by pushing their blame on other people or they don't like being embarrassed because they will not want to deal with rejection. i mean, can't we just have a more relax outlook? you know, like laughing at oneself for being so stupid and not caring what other people might think.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous truth said...

Dear Mr Cawley,

Singaporah is absolutely wise in lying and manipulating the facts. Well, the basic thing is about it's own history. What a shame!

2nd thing that you should clear very well, Singapore is trying to vanish malay people and try their best not to produce wise malay people and of course a muslim. They will never ever allow to do so.

If you could see in the military post, there is only one Malay guy who is in the high position. Actually they just cover it after such ages..malay people are not be allowed to hold the high position in military and police.

they don't trust malay people cuz they afraid those malay people are waking up after being slept for ages..they seized the land so they try to vanish them.

I'm so sorry to say that but that's the fact. So in this case you must remember that ainan is half malay n half irish..

so the malay n muslim sense is there..sorry if you don't like the statement. that's why they behave in such way. I could imagine how they will act if ainan is a chinese boy or less than that no such malay herritage.

if it so, they must be so so overwhelm to guide and help the boy. Well, it's very hard to accept the truth but it is so..

"berkatalah benar walaupun ianya amat pahit" --you could ask your wife wut it means.hehe

regarding to the malaysian transportation. I do agree on you but we are working on it to improve it. But you also should remember this country is not "big" like it's not that easy to manage all the things in once..but we are trying and I think we will achieve such efficiency although it will take a bit time.


3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) Take it easy. The vibes from your anger and frustration can be detected by sensitive, intelligent children. Let things be, let things flow. A government is made up of many parts and as much as I can understand your sadness as a Malaysian we expect our government to behave the way your government did.

(2) I'm sure it's inconvenient at the moment because you had to move. Malaysians more than understand the frustration. Every year, tens of thousands of middle-class Malaysians uproot and leave everything behind for nothing else but to get better education opportunities for their children. The upper-classes of course can afford the international schools.

(3) More important than to feed his intellectual giftedness is to feed his emotional and psychological needs. If I were a gifted child, I can easily misinterpret my parents' vibes that I am valued and loved mainly for my giftedness and that their urgency towards me has everything to do with a superior intellect I don't even realize I possess.

(4) In the end it's not what we do for our children but how we make them feel. I believe that gifted children have a strong intuition to seek out the medium and the channel to express and create with their abilities and they are not dependent on institutions to acknowledge and nurture that drive. But what they do need is the emotional support and appreciation of their psychic drive. To know that it's OK to not be measured against anything, it's OK if they don't want create anything of adult-value with what they have but to just enjoy the unfolding as it is.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your perspectives on Singapore, Shawn.

Yes, indeed, I think the need to "save face" leads to unfortunate behaviours. Like you said, society would be better without it.

Kind regards

10:39 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Good luck at SP, Shawn. Ainan really liked his time there. It is a pity they "curtailed" it (that was the word they used in their final means "cut short" that, for sure, indicates that they knew they were pulling the rug from under him.)

Best wishes.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Truth, I think you are right: being Malay and not Chinese is an issue - and a sad one - in Singapore. Perhaps they found it difficult to accept that Ainan was very gifted but NOT Chinese. Perhaps that threatened their world view, somewhat. Anyway, it is clear that they didn't really want to help we helped ourselves.

I like what I see in Malaysia...better still if it improves.

Thanks for your comment.

Kind regards

11:07 AM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Re. take it easy.

I must relay the truth on these issues otherwise the lies will stand unchallenged and become what people believe. So, I must write on them.

Ainan has an unpressured life. We are focussed on his growth and happiness and not on the "badges" he can win. If he wins a "badge" a qualification etc. we are happy about it, but that is not our central preoccupation - his well being is.

Thanks for your concern.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Cawley,

Having been in Singapore for a decade, you must have realised that there is no such thing as an "independent institution in Singapore".

Whether it is the media, the trade unions, consumers' association, the schools (and the Ministry of Education!) - they are all there to execute the policies of the PAP, to mouth the official line, to spin endless yarn to make the Govt look good.

I'm not the least bit surprised that the media would lie to make you appear as someone difficult and hard to please.

If you sensed that there had been concerted action by the media, Singapore Polytechnic (post-Dr. Ng, that is) and MoE, it is because the Govt controls everything in Singapore. It explains why they all pull in the same direction.

Shawn was absolutely correct in his comment on the "save face" aspect of the Singapore Govt. To them, saving face is more important than being upfront, being fair or just doing the right thing.

Just imagine this, Mr Cawley, if the Singapore authorities could behave in this manner towards harmless, non-threatening parents of a gifted child in a purely educational matter - how would said authorities act towards Singaporeans who speak their mind on national issues? You can appreciate with what "fairness" they will be treated.

Now I admit this is off topic, but would you consider writing a book on Singapore? You have been in Singapore for a decade, have dealt with govt officials, and last but not least, your interactions with people off and on your blog. I'm sure that you have abundant material to write a hard-hitting, insightful book about the nature of Singapore society. Let not your firsthand experiences lie buried and forgotten.

Best wishes,

10:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Clunies-Ross, for your insights as to why everything works in one direction, in Singapore. I think you are right: there is a single "dark hand", at work. It is a pity for the people of this nation - for without plurality of powers, there is never, really, any freedom to be. There will always be one force, stamping on the people, to mould them into a particular image. Is that not, in fact, how it is, there?

There must be diversity of powers, for there to be diversity of people. Singapore will, most probably, forever lack this.

If you are right, and what happened to us was a concerted suppression of Ainan's opportunities and growth, then, one can only conclude, that the government didn't want a Malay boy coming to the fore. To them, Ainan, little boy though he is, must have seemed to upset the status quo - that is, of a particular race being on top. Perhaps they didn't like to be overshadowed by a half-Malay kid and so did everything they could to quash his growth. How pitiful they are.

Thank you for all your considered thoughts. I hope they continue.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Blive said...

I am sorry that you have had such an unpleasant encounter in SIngapore with MOE. I am Singaporean and I am ashamed that you are treated this way.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Blive, for your thoughtful words. However, sincere though your feelings are, it is a pity that it is not the MOE apologizing rather than yourself.

The unfortunate thing about Singapore is that the power structure feels little need to heed the one gets behaviour such as we encountered. They saw us as essentially unworthy of consideration, despite our unusual circumstances.

Thank you for your kind words.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Ryan said...

Thanks for airing this matter to the public. I appreciate being able to understand the situation from different perspectives. Singapore media is not well known for its independence and accuracy. =)

I wish you all the best in finding a more suitable environment for your son to grow in. Let this be a reminder for other parents who wish the education system to be more flexible and accommodating to their children. I think you have made the right move!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Ryan, it would not have been right to let the MOE's carefully crafted image building go unchallenged, especially since it is built on falsehoods.

I agree. Ainan is enjoying his Uni and he is actually learning, which is a great change.

Thanks for your comment.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous CR said...

All the best to Ainan, and I hope he thrives in an environment that does not push him down just because the rest are jealous.

The "save face" mentality is a disgusting mentality and as a Singaporean, I am terribly ashamed that it is institutionalised.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous lim said...

Well, you need to understand how the system works (I guess those who serve NS will understand)..

Basically, there is a cock-up, and the one responsible will try to cook up a story favourable to him, his boss will review and and maybe add a bit of twist to the story, and so on... It is basically one-sided, since you are not "allowed" to defend yourself via state control media..

So, who wants to tell his boss that it is his fault, his inflexibilities that resulted in singapore losing a talent?

3:48 PM  
Blogger Chloe Ask said...

Hmm, it appears that your son is unable to learn on his own, he seems to be so dependent on hand-holding, be it Dr. Ng Kok Chin or somebody else. He could not manage in the lab, until the lecturer gave him personal attention after all the other students have completed their assignments - on their own. Is this the curse of prodigy or what?

5:41 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

"Chloe Ask" I must really ASK why you think so? Your "information" is complete bullsh*t. Ainan taught himself Chemistry ON HIS OWN, before he was six years old, on the internet. He also had NO handholding in lab classes FROM ANYONE and did ALL tasks ON HIS OWN. What sh*t is this? Who is telling you big porkies? Or are you just telling them yourself?

Singapore is filled with even more liars than I had supposed: is not just the media now who are lying? Is it the ordinary citizens too? Starting with you?

7:17 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, CR for your well wishes. So far, the environment looks much nicer than the one he has left. The people are warmer, the support is genuine. The Universiy is genuinely trying to help. We are very pleased.

Kind regards

7:18 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Lim for your insight. That rather explains what has been happening to us. It is, however, a disturbing way to run a country - with no-one accepting responsibility, and everyone rushing to invent a story to blame the victim. Is it any wonder that Singapore has such a high emigration rate? Surely people get tired of this kind of thing after a while.

Best wishes to you

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "Chloe" seems rather jealous and spiteful. I am glad Ainan has left Singapore. From what you write, Malaysia is altogether friendlier. Good for Ainan.

Best of luck.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Sophie said...

Malaysia must be very very glad and thankful to receive Aiman! I guess they will make sure he grow up in Malaysia and not leave the country ..

8:27 AM  
Blogger Sim said...

Well done! I moved out of Singapore to KL 6 years ago and I've never looked back. My lifestyle has vastly improved and even though I was born in Singapore, I feel absolutely no affinity to the clinical police-state.

Good luck with your move. In my experience, I'm sure the experience will be positive. On another note, th food is definitely better.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Sophie, we are happy in Malaysia, right now...happier than we were in Singapore. So, I think we still stay on an open-ended basis. I don't know how long we will be here, but it will be at least as long as Malaysia is able to support Ainan and our other children in a suitable manner. Signs are this will be for a long time, since the system is much more flexible here.

We are staying voluntarily...and not because "Malaysia wants us to stay" - though doubtless they are quite happy about it.

Thank you.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Sim,

Yes, we noticed that too. Our lifestyle has MUCH improved in Malaysia compared to Singapore. It is most odd. We are living much better lives here. It makes me wonder why anyone would choose to stay in Singapore at all...

I am glad that you are happy in your new life. We are too.

Best wishes to you.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I must really ASK why you think so? Who is telling you big porkies? Or are you just telling them yourself?"

In response to your question for "Chloe Ask": I recognise some of his/her statements from the article below.

For example: But Mr Suresh said: 'Ainan had difficulties keeping up with the rest of the class and learnt more effectively when the teachers coached him personally while the rest of the class was doing their own work.'

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a new article about Ainan getting "a little HELP":

10:26 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. Mr. Suresh has been telling that particular lie now for much of the last year. He is just covering for his own failures and that of his school - NUS High. They boo-booed big time in being rather pathetic in their response to Ainan - and this is his distracting lie. I wrote to his school about his lie...but they didn't have the decency to write back.

Ainan was BORED by their class because it was BELOW his level. He certainly wasn't having trouble keeping up...more like trouble keeping awake. They really should have done the right thing at the time...but isn't it easier to lie about it later?

However, in time, the truth will be known, because we will keep on telling it and Singapore will be known for what it is: a lying State.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The New Straits Times article is of higher quality. No doubt the press is freer in Malaysia than in the journalism is better.

Thanks for the link.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

To the rather lunatic comment I have received which doesn't deserve posting. I do note that you are anonymous...the maddest ones almost always are. Have a great day.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

By the way, anonymous, I think Princeton University (your IP address) should implement a sanity requirement for staff and students.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Princeton IP 140.180.13...

Hmm...from the immaturity of your insults, one can assume that you are very young and a student, rather than a grown adult staff member. The fact that you got so worked up and overreacted to such a great degree to my post on Singapore indicates that you are, most probably, a particularly patriotic Singaporean. That you are at Princeton, probably indicates that you are a scholar (though there was no indication of high intelligence in your writing).

This all leads me to understand that you are somewhat blind, lacking in insight and don't really understand Singapore at all. Otherwise there would be not insults and a rather mad tone, but some degree of agreement in your post.

I look forward to the day when you have grown up and can write more mature comments.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Another thought, Mad from Princeton: it will be interesting how you react to finally coming to understand what Singapore is really like.

Have a nice life...or at least one that teaches you a few truths.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Cawley

Re: Mad from Princeton

I don't mean to impose upon you. But is it possible to give a general idea of just what was written?

Leaving out the bad stuff (i.e. vulgarities, racist slurs, incitements to violence - assuming that there were any in the first place), could you quote (or do a "cut and paste" of the relevant part of) his/her arguments? I'm just curious as to the thought processes of these supposed scholars.

ALSO, I came across an interesting blog entry. The URL is:-

Have a read, and let us know what you think.


9:06 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Clunies-Ross,

If I do as you ask, and take out all the bad stuff, insults etc from the Princeton scholar, there is, in fact, nothing left at all. So I have posted all that is not insulting...none of it. Sorry about that.

Re. Singapore dissident's views on scholars. Hmm...I don't think he goes far enough. Singapore's scholars don't just fail to consider moral questions or political questions. I think they fail to think about much at all. The capacity for independent thought has been eroded in them. Their "thought" is circumscribed almost entirely by the needs of examinations - and consists largely in memory of many worked examples. I have not encountered really good, creative thinkers in the Singaporean school system. Something has happened to them...or they never were in the first place.

Thanks for your link.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the quality of the article. Through reading your blog I have learned something about Singapore that I didn't know before. I knew that the state controls almost every activity in China but one never hears similar things about Singapore. Clearly the situation does not seem to be all that different.

Adi Putra - the boy who was also featured on "the world's cleverest child and me" - lives in Malaysia. I wonder if he really is a child prodigy.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Carina, Singapore is, as many people have noted, seemingly like another province of China, now. There is little difference, really.

Re. Adi Putra. I am not sure. I don't know anything about him, other than what one reads in the press. I do observe that he does not seem to have taken any maths exams, that I know of. It would help, perhaps, if he did, at least one.

He did seem a little awkward on the show and I don't think he came across well. Some of his answers to questions were a bit uninformative. Perhaps he is not as good socially as his family are trying to make out.

I wish him well, though, whatever happens to be the case. Certainly he had early signs of gift, though I don't know where he is now or what is happening in his development.

Thanks for your comment.

Best wishes.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Pebblez said...

Is the Malaysian System even close to being adequate for Aidan?

Ain't the world's brightest brains at Cambridge or Oxford and Harvard? Is there a reason why Aidan is not there instead?

4:50 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Pebblez,

There are many good reasons for Malaysia over elsewhere. The first is that my wife's family is Singaporean and we need to be close to them, for her and the kids. The second is that Malaysia has been rather flexible for us...more so than we had seen in Singapore, so it is actually adjusting to our needs and providing what is required.

Re. "Cambridge, Oxford etc."

I had an unpleasant time at Cambridge, myself and I would NOT recommend that to anyone, who was creative, particularly not to a child. I think the culture there is fundamentally wrong, in many ways and is not suitable for a child to go to. So, yes, there are very good reasons for why not those Universities: I simply don't trust them to have the right response to him. They could, in short, be hell, to be at. I would not want that for my son.

Thanks for asking.

10:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape