Because every CV has holes.

WARNING: This document contains highly compromising and prejudicial information about the author, intended solely for individuals with no capacity to influence his livelihood. If you are the author’s employer or a headhunter, please exit immediately and confine yourself to the author’s more complimentary professional biography and sanitised profile.

c1970: Feigned a stomach ache in kindergarten to escape Chinese language class. First of many failed efforts to teach me any language other than English.

c1973: Rejected at primary school football try-outs. Within 5 minutes.

1977: Diagnosed with myopia. Ended dream of becoming a pilot.

1983: Failed Oxford entrance exam.

1984: Serial failure at the standing broad jump during Basic Military Training. Disqualified for Officer Cadet School. Downgraded due to injury, discharged from the infantry.

1984: Failed first attempt at becoming a paid journalist: rejected by the Singapore Armed Forces’ magazine, Pioneer.

1990: Application for BBC traineeship rejected.

1991: Failed to secure my first-choice beat, environment, when I joined the Straits Times.

1994: Accused by the Leader of the House of contempt of parliament.

1999: Rejected by the PhD programme of the University of Pennsylvania.

2003: Job application to the National University of Singapore rejected.

2009: Denied tenure by Nanyang Technological University. Informed that I had cleared all requirements, but government perceived me to pose a reputational risk.

2010: Removed as head of the journalism division.

2012: Job application to the new Yale-NUS College rejected.

2014: Job application to NUS supported by Faculty and Department but rejected by senior management.

2014: NTU contract runs out. Unemployed.

2016: Released book on intolerance and hate in India, Indonesia and the United States, after which things got a lot worse in all three countries.

2020: Broke world record for writing the most number of books about Singapore politics and media that make no difference to Singapore politics and media.

2021: Published a book-length study of censorship that failed to predict it would be censored.


2022: Ticked off by the wife for this elaborate exercise in humble bragging, failing once again to get anything past her.

To be continued

Vadai photo by