RI Alumni: “In Singapore, we witnessed Mr Umbrage, Minister who called an NMP ‘illiterate’, and Senior Minister who says salary below S$500,000 per annum is mediocre”

This piece is written by an RI alumni, reflecting on the recent condescending comments used by some of our leaders. It was shared via Facebook.


This is written by someone from a lousy skool. Quite good surprisingly.

SG long term solution is egalitarianism, not elitism that creates ELITERATES. Where a cleaner is respectably paid compared with a doctor, lawyer, engineer. And acknowledged, respected for their contributions to society. Then families won’t feel the pressure to push their kids. Trust in the positive side of people who will want to do their best, with encouragement, not pressure. Instead of fearing people will do the least and be lazy. The latter is LKY’s fear mongering narrative for the past 50 years. The pressure has damaged society and our young, when teenage suicides have increased from excessive pressure and expectations in lousy schools. It’s time to progress and move on from his ideas in a vastly different world.

A utopian society is a romantic ideal. However, we should not race down towards a dystopian society. A re balancing of society is much needed.



Lord Young (1958) , the man who coined the word meritocracy, clearly understood the real dangers of meritocracy if misused.

Meritocracy, like other man-made ideas such as capitalism and democracy, are dangerous concepts when applied to their extreme ends.

In Singapore, we have witnessed Mr Umbrage who talked down to the reporter, Mr slip-of-the-tongue Minister who called an NMP illiterate and a Senior Minister who sees anyone earning less than S$500,000 per annum mediocre.

What happens in a society when mechanisms of mobility turn into fortresses of privilege?

What happens when meritocrats become insufferably smug, much more so than aristocrats who are measurably humbled by knowing they have achieved advancement quite often not on their own merit but from inheritance?

The carapace of “merit”, Young argued, had only inoculated the winners from shame and reproach.

Put simply, winners of the “merit” game can easily and dangerously be led to believe that their success in life is solely due to themselves and others who fail only have themselves to blame.

This is the meritocracy trap that Singapore has fallen into and a big dose of socialism maybe needed to dig the society out of the deep hole.


Racism is a political red herring used by the ruling elites to distract from the real issues of inequality, social justice, loss of dignity and self-esteem amongst the commoners, policies that over reward a few and under-compensate the rest on the false narrative that cognitive jobs pay a thousand times more than honest blue-collared jobs.

The hypothesis that minorities will always feel racially discriminated by a majority population is bollocks. Have you ever heard of a minority white Swiss banker, German CEO and British scientist becoming a victim of racism in Singapore?

Why is there no racism amongst the rich, educated and famous people in the world?

Billionaire Oprah is an icon in America, regardless of her race. Will Smith has no problems booking the best restaurants in Beverly Hills at short notice. The mega-rich are colour-blind. And I am also willing to bet that our highly paid MPs, mayors, and ministers of minority races are colour-blind and do not suffer the least from racism too.

Societies divided by class and caste have existed long before societies understood racism. Policies can only get you thus far and beyond which the free and ruthless market takes over.

There may be an EIP system to prevent racial enclaves in the HDB flat allocation system. But has any study been done to investigate elite racial enclaves amongst our privileged new citizens (> 500,000 of them in the last 15-20 years), PRs (>500,000 of them today) and EPs (200,000)?

Many core Singaporeans have served NS and helped built the Singapore of today and by some estimates, more than 100,000 of born and bred locals are now displaced by new Singaporeans, PRs, EPs and SPs.

This is the COLLATERAL DAMAGE caused by the ruling elites’ desire to turbo charge and punch our economy well above our natural weight.

Given that we are a tiny hub city with no natural resources, inflating the economy on “steroids” – huge overflow of multinationals and foreign talent – IS NOT A SIN PER SE.

What is sinful is when the “loot” or the “artificially inflated economic cake” created by multinationals and foreign talents – whom of course will have their generous cut – is reaped by a few elite Singaporeans while leaving the majority of Singaporeans, in particular the old and under-educated ones, to fight over the crumbs.

LKY warned that if we did not vote the PAP, our women would become maids in foreign lands. But instead, we now have 40,000 core Singaporean men driving Grab, 30,000 delivering food, 16,000 driving taxis, 40,000 cleaners and landscape personnel, 30,000 security guards etc. all of whom are lowly paid compared to the imported high-flyers.

Throw in Covid-19 stresses and the mix can become explosive.

Therefore, racism may not be all about elitism but is more likely to be substantially a part of it. The cure for racism is not so different as the cure for elitism. A more egalitarian and a fairer society is a less racist society.

To a large extent, racism is just an excuse or bogeyman used to mask the real problem of elitism, class, and caste.

And in Singapore, how can one not expect to see an elitist pecking ordered society when a certain ruling party MP once said that if a senior bureaucrat is not paid a very high salary, how can she conduct a meeting with a CEO of a corporation who is paid much more?

What a set of bollocks and false narratives.

In Singapore, money has been wrongly and conveniently used as the sole yardstick to measure job responsibility.

By this definition, Jacinda Ardern would not be able to do her job effectively because she is paid much less than many corporate high-flyers and does not live in a “good class bungalow” in New Zealand.

She earns less than $500k per annum and by our Senior Minister’s definition, she is supposed to be mediocre. Yet she was voted this year by Fortune magazine as the world’s greatest leader, beating all our Singapore leaders by a mile.
In Singapore, the ruling elites have inadvertently created a big elephant in the room known as elitism. The scholarship system worked well at the time when the nation was poor. Today, the same system perpetuates elitism.

Why is there a $2 billion private tuition market if not abundantly explained by an artificially created intellectual arms race?

Therefore real cancer that is permeating deeply into the Singapore society is elitism, not racism.

A highly questionable and gamed meritocratic system, where the top salaries are uncapped and gamed (with obscenely low individual taxes for the million-dollar earners) while the bottom salaries are uplifted in a miserly and calibrated way (all cleaners will eventually earn $2420/-by year 2028!).

So, the government now wishes to conflate elitism, societal stress due to excessive and unfair competition, Covid-19, loss of self-esteem amongst commoners, pretty much everything suffering caused by skewed policies, and conveniently blame it on one single issue, which is racism/xenophobia.

Racism and xenophobia are merely the external manifestation of some FAR DEEPER ROOT CAUSES that the ruling elites are slow to address.

By: Chin Kong Yap

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