Wow, the narrative has just grown even more creative! From the government’s insistence of the success of meritocracy in Singapore, to its constant reminders of its dedication to equality, the new refrain appears to be the splitting of hairs – trying to differentiate between “elites” and elitist attitudes! Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Chan Chun Sing (Chan) has even implied that the term “elites” is too narrowly and negatively defined! Sorry Mr Chan, but this sounds too much like defensive grasping at straws – I just can’t buy it even if I want to.
The general public in Singapore does not begrudge people who come from well to do homes, work hard and earn an honest wage. That is not the definition of elitism. What the average Singaporean is disenchanted by are the many privileged individuals who do not appear to have any regard or understanding of how the other half live. Increasingly, this is sounding more and more like our ministers. Singaporeans do not need to be educated on the definition of “elitism”. Rather, the ministers need to be educated on the lives of real people!
Mr Chan talks about “giving back” to society. How have our ministers, who have benefited from the largess of the system given back to society? They are in public service but earning sky high salaries equivalent to top earners in the private sector! Is this considered giving back? Perhaps our government rewards its ministers so well that they have arguably lost touch with reality? Just look at the way Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan has defended the raising of the operational costs of hawkers which displays a complete lack of regard for the plight of the hawkers. He was much more interested in defending his actions (or lack thereof) in the matter than addressing the problems faced by the hawkers.
Now, we have Mr Chan trying to defend elitist practices by making it seem as though it is an issue of the public’s misunderstanding of the definition of “elitism”. Is there a more elitist way of dealing with elitism?
In the face of a rebuttal of this nature, one can either explode with anger and exasperation or simply laugh. I chose the latter. It is so ludicrous that it is laughable. Honestly, I think we are all on the same page as to what elitism means. The elites may not intend to come across elitist but because our policies permit and enable the haves and the have nots to live in such parallel worlds in the same country, the elites become elitist simply because they have completely no idea how the other half live! And whose responsibility is that to resolve? Surely it is the government!
I wish Mr Chan would stop playing at semantics and actually work at policy!