Cai Mingjie: Singapore Taxi Driver with PhD from Stanford University

By alvinology, August 16, 2009 9:49 am

Taxi Driver with PhD, dont play play okay
Taxi Driver with PhD, don’t play play okay

Chanced upon this blog written by a guy who professed to be “probably the only taxi driver in this world with a PhD from Stanford and a proven track record of scientific accomplishments”.

The man, Cai Mingjie (as identified via Tomorrow.SG), wrote in his blog introduction: “I have been forced out of my research job at the height of my scientific career, and unable to find another one, for reasons I can only describe as something ‘uniquely Singapore’. As a result, I am driving taxi to make a living and writing these real life stories just to make the dull job a little more interesting. I hope that these stories are interesting to you too.”

The blog was started on 6 April 2009, early this year. In his first blog entry, the man described how he used to a principal investigator at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) at ASTAR Singapore, a place where he had worked for 16 years. That was till an influx of foreign talents came in and he got retrenched from his job. Although he was informed of the retrenchment in 2007, he was unable to secure another job even till his termination in May 2008. By November 2008, he decided to become a taxi driver.

The blog reads like a novel of sort, about a scientist-turned-taxi-driver, diligently documenting quirky observations he made while driving on the road – the passengers he met, the various changes coming to our society.

I do not know this guy in person, but I like his 能屈能伸 attitude. I feel for his plight though. It is a waste of human capital when skill sets and academic qualification do not match with the job a person is holding. Definitely not a healthy trend if we see more and more Singaporeans in such a predicament.

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25 Responses to “Cai Mingjie: Singapore Taxi Driver with PhD from Stanford University”

  1. [...] on 6 April 2009, early this year. In his first blog entry, the man described how he useRead more at http://blog.omy.sg/alvinology/2009/08/16/singapore-taxi-driver-with-phd-from-stanford-university/ Tags: cai mingjie (0) Comments    Read More    Post a [...]

  2. 小寒 says:

    他是我大二的研究導師!也是我六年來的同事。我現在才知道!真是讓人心寒!

  3. alvinology says:

    Really? Small world… well, still, at his spirit is admirable.

  4. astar says:

    It is really ‘Uniquely Singapore’, the place you can find taxi driver with a PhD from Stanford University!!

  5. limchong says:

    yes, its really sad to see it happened.

    but CMJ’s fighting spirit is what i admired.

    Dr Cai, Keep it up. you will make your mark.

    limchong

  6. ChanTH says:

    I salute your courage and your determination to get a job, rather than mope around. Some prefer to be jobless. You are different. All my best wishes.

  7. [...] 当时,我就震惊了。look [...]

  8. A huge blog for entertainment new and views ,I am glad to post my comment on your blog

  9. [...] II praises the attitude of the taxi driver-blogger The blog reads like a novel of sort, about a [...]

  10. [...] II praises the attitude of the taxi driver-blogger The blog reads like a novel of sort, about a [...]

  11. [...] II praises the attitude of the taxi driver-blogger The blog reads like a novel of sort, about a [...]

  12. [...] II praises the attitude of the taxi driver-blogger The blog reads like a novel of sort, about a [...]

  13. [...] II louva a atitude do taxista-blogueiro: The blog reads like a novel of sort, about a scientist-turned-taxi-driver, [...]

  14. [...] II admire le comportement du chauffeur de taxi-blogueur : Le blog se lit comme un roman sur la vie d’un scientifique [...]

  15. RM says:

    This is certainly not ‘uniquely Singapore’. A typically Singaporean response – think that their problems are unique. Highly qualified people (even PHD holders) who are forced into menial jobs can be found a plenty in India, Pakistan and Philippines. Most likely in China too.

    Cai Mingjie’s plight merely highlights the crazy world that we live in. Where footballers, actors and singers are more valued and higher paid than scientists. Where having the latest handphone model or iPOD is more important than understanding the wonders of the universe.

    The problem lies with us. It is our materialistic attitude which is spawning commercial pursuits and stifling science. Hence the scientist suffers and the businessman prospers.

  16. [...] II chwali postawę blogera – taksówkarza Blog czyta się jak pewengo rodzaju powieść o naukowcu, który stał się [...]

  17. Zoo says:

    Don’t always look for appointment letter, regardless of your qualifications.

    Always on look out for business opportunities. Taxi may not be the option for us in future. What’s next? Foot reflexology?

    Entrepreneurship is the key to survive!

  18. isaac says:

    Interesting character, but if there’s an opportunity to contribute even more to society, why not do it?

    Singapore needs people like him in the R&D industry, so prob he should devote himself to it and help singapore progress by leaps and bounds.

    Taxi-driving itself is undeniably a contribution to society, but if you can challenge yourself further, why not?

  19. Ken says:

    I don’t think he really has to drive a cab to survive. With a n education as high as his, he can easily be a lecturer or a private tutor. Full time tutors can quite a lot of money. So I believe there are other reasons behind his decision to become a cabby. Not being able to find a job is definitely not one of them. Its too exaggerated.

  20. Jacko says:

    Well, I am not surprised at all. It does not matter which unuversity or Phd one has. What matters most is relevance. I believe it is only in Singapore that such an occurence attracts attention. I also believe that CMJ’s issue arises because Singapore has for too long equates academic performance with meritocracy. It is time to take a different view. Academic performance presents the credential of a person. Meritocracy refers to how well one performs in one’s job.

  21. I also believe that CMJ’s issue arises because Singapore has for too long equates academic performance with meritocracy. It is time to take a different view. Academic performance presents the credential of a person. Meritocracy refers to how well one performs in one’s job.

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