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vendredi, novembre 10, 2006

 The Wee Shu Min Drama: Please, get out of my elite uncaring face

I think all that should be said about this has been said, in many wonderful ways on, by many different people. I don't have substantive to add to the debate on it; I just wonder if all the drama has propelled her into superstardom in her school, especially within the quarters who DO hold similar views of how the "lower class" should be treated.

I'm not from RJC, but I do have friends who hail from there, and while the majority of Rafflesians are gorgeous, wonderful people, I do know of a handful who do actually thumb their noses down at those caught in structural unemployment, or who have missed the "entry point" into the Singapore system.

As much as I despise her post, her philosophy in life, her non-apology, and her FATHER's views and non-apology on the whole affair (he should step down, his political career's over anyway), I think it's really good that this debate has emerged at a time like this - the current system of so-called meritocracy works in principle, but a deeper understanding of the privilege cycle has to be obtained as we trundle merrily deeper into 2000+.

In my studies (exams coming up, sigh), I read about the development cycle, and how "modern" development aids that industrialised countries offer to third world countries exacerbates the poverty cycle through their policies. These policies, modelled and tailored for first world countries who have some form of equality when it comes to land ownership, are completely useless in third world countries, where land is owned by the (mostly corrupt) elite. Hence theat cycle starts: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

The exact same thing is happening here, except that we're doing it to ourselves. It seems as if the first batch of meritocracy babies have climbed to their positions in life based on their own abilities, and have thus used their position in life to benefit their families and children. But that's when meritocracy stops, and the privilege cycle begins - ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITIES open up to children of the privileged, and just after one generation, the playing ground is no longer even. It's a cycle that we've started - one created by Singaporeans for Singaporeans, and we should have the stones and the political will to create new amendments for a new generation.

Whither the lower income father who cannot read English, and thus misses out on the large scholarship bumper issue newspaper that comes out by The Straits Times? Whither the single mother who has to work three jobs just to keep her rented flat, and has no time to see her MP for help with electrical bills? Whither the desperate man who committed suicide with only $16 in his pocket, apologising to his wife about his inability to support her and their child?

We need to do some serious thinking on how to (1) create more access to opportunities for everyone [education system, educator training], (2) ensure fair and equitable treatment for the selection of scholars/"the elite", (3) channel more government money (and not just rely on VWCs) into the creation of bursary grants and in-need education grants, (4) create some way for the "elite" schools to be trained in emphathy... as stupid as that sounds, it needs to be done.

It's so strange how this topic evolved in my life - earlier in the year, I organised a reunion for my secondary school batch, and we were talking about the exact same thing, except that we were (without arrogance, I swear!) congratulating ourselves on how the school had trained us to relate to the heartlanders, while still equipping us with the skills to behave in higher society. (There was, of course, some rolling of eyes at certain other girls schools who did not have that same upbringing, but well, it's a school reunion, so you have to expect some form of school patriotism rearing its head.) I've also encountered it in my work in youth development in Singapore, and elitism was a huge topic when we allowed the youth free reign to talk about issues which they thought close to their hearts.

We need to do something about it.

ETA: Dammit, I should REALLY read the papers before blogging about current events. Chua Mui Hong has said exactly the same things in her Straits Times article today (Insight, p. 37), except with much better language and more clarity. I suppose I can derive some pleasure in knowing that I'm not just thinking out of my behind on this issue.

[The Wee Shu Min Drama: Please, get out of my elite uncaring face]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.11.06 { 0 comments }


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