27 Oct 2006

Another elitist face

A more coherent albeit elitist rant from shadowbamf.blogspot.com:

I am elitist. I believe those in the elite circles (no inverted commas) are better than those outside, not because they are naturally smarter, but generally because those who are there made it there on something, and they do deserve some recognition, more so than the general populace. So don't complain that the elite schools get more money etc. They actually deserve it.

There are two kinds of upper class citizens that generally exist in any society. The upper or upper-middle class in this context is defined by financial standing, those able to afford a relatively comfortable life, that condo/house, a flashy BMW or Mercedes Benz. And if you should be so lucky to be the offspring to reap your parents' paycheck, maybe even a more than generous allowance and your own car by the age of 18. Given that Singapore is an overall prosperous country, it wouldn't be far from the truth to say that there is a significant demographic in the population regardless of a widening gap between rich and poor, who would fall in this category of the upper-middle and above class.

And then there are the "elitists". It's a redundant term in social and financial standing because unlike a normal class system, it is a status given by one's self, intellectual superiority is automatically assumed and defined by him/herself.

Derek's argument that people become reduandant once they reach 40 is supported by evidence of taxi drivers. And erm, because he met a couple of taxi drivers who got retrenched and couldn't find jobs, says that everyone becomes obsolete at 40.

... I dunno about you guys, but i can easily name 10 people (not even related to the government!) that still hold good steady jobs over the age of 40. So please don't take your taxi drivers as case study for the whole populace.

Anyone can easily see that neither Derek nor the "elitist" are equipped with representative survey reports to defend their assertions. But this is irrelevant to the fundamental understanding that lack of evidence is not proof of anything i.e. an assertion of knowing people above 40 holding secure jobs does not disprove that others don't. It is intellectual laziness. It further reinforces my constant belief that colleges and universities, upper-tier or not, do not automatically generate people capable of thinking skills critical to logical debate.

Ironically enough, i don't think elitism is something the upper class invented from themselves. Elitism in my opinion starts from the segregation of certain people, because of social stereotypes, and all that crap. I get really annoyed when people go "Wah you from RJ ah. Must be damn smart lor" etc. When in actual fact we're really no different from the rest of you people. Except maybe for the fact that we do use our brains for something more useful. It's the mentality however, that people have about us, which we eventually accept for ourselves. So don't blame us for being elitist.

Ironically, Derek seemed more proficient in using a spell-check in his article, Future of Singapore. Ironically, this "elitist" who believes he is naturally "smarter" than most, believes his self-imposed status is really a consequence of social stereotyping, a ghetto mentality for excusing one's behaviour. I have my reserves as to what the "elitist" really deems his brain useful for, if such a person is unable to intellectually grasp a subject before branding the opposition with poor grammar (another irrelevant point to any real discussion) and name-calling. Surely that would be more akin to the on-goings of a kindergarden playground afflicted by crap flinging.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this (analsis?)... I enjoyed reading it and hope it would give that elitist writer as much annoyance as it does me pleasure.

Anonymous said...

one crucial difference between a cultured society and a crude one is whether the elite sees the need to give something back to society

I also happen to believe that the students in less elite schools need more help than those in elite schools; this is a less clear cut issue - you could argue that trying to over educate the less gifted is a waste of resources; however, if the elite does not see the other side of the argument, it is only a crude elite not a refined one

Anonymous said...

I might not like papalee but I have tremendous respect for the man and his achievement. To make Singapore what it is now is in my opinion not the biggest achievemnt, now countries will progress , its only a matter of time. He put us on the fast track, perhaps with more opposition we might have done it so fast as he would have to spend more time fixing them. But to me, his greatest achievement which will ensure that the pappies rule for ever is the social engineering of the people. The arguments going on here is the ultimate indicator of his success. I respect the Wee girl and the other elitist bloke, at least they have the guts to take their stand. Out there including the MIW,their families, cronies and perhaps a million more share the same belief as the two who spoke out and they will ensure the empire never falls.

Anonymous said...

o it's so easy to have guts when your father is an MP and can back you up

as for LKY, by remaining in cabinet, he is damaging his son's image, and prevents younger guys like Teo Chee Hian from being promoted, because GCT, Jayakuma, etc all follow his example and remain in cabinet

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

There will always be a segment of the population that is in the top 10%.

Call it the elite, upper-middle, upper, haves, or what-have-you.

The question is whether the path and road to this segment is open to ALL. In addition, those who have made it, what have you contributed back to uplift the rest of the 90%?

Marcus is only 17-18, so ranting "I am elitist" is possibly a way to attract attention.

When he gets older, if he is ever confronted with his old post, he will then realise how the world works, what goes around comes around.

When he is marginalised and unelite, who will help him in the system he so desires?

Lunatic Fringe
There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Anonymous said...

I think your segregation of the 'classes' of elites is rather arbitrary, especially the presumption of intellectual superiority. The intellectual elites are the academics. The term 'elite' simply connotes a degree of superiority.

And yes every society will have their elites; the difference is that in Singapore the mobility between social strata is greater.

Anonymous said...

Whatever it is, I will never send my kids to any of the Raffles skool... GCT's intention to have a more gracious society is a failure...

Heng Tew said...

Sigh, how did the Rafflesian spirit degrade to this state of degeneration? I was in the batch where the building still stood at Bras Basah Road, and we were posted to RI simply because we did well in our PSLE exams. Our school badge must have been one of the smallest around. I would have preferred a school nearer home, instead of having to take a bus there. There was no talk of elitism, our teachers did not put us on a pedestal, or as is practised in present schools, make us sit for those University of New South Wales exams so as to boost the academic standing of Singapore schools (also known as loading the statistics). Our school motto was, and I believe still is, Auspicium Meloris Aevi, meaning the hope for a better age. Derek Wee has this same hope, as do all of us. Why is he castigated for wishing for a better Singapore?

Matilah_Singapura said...

Here we go again, class analysis and class warfare. The rhetoric will never end, so long as folks cnnot accept that individuals are diverse, as are the many facets of their indivdual personalities and characters.

Shit, I'm elitist too. And also egalitarian. But they all depend on the contexts in question.

MrGreenMonkey said...

Exactly, whats the big deal? People are different and some stupid.

We can't dictate how others form opinions, if they are biggots with social needyness.

We need to just allow people to speak their minds, if only for Singapore to be progressive.

So lets give this guy a good frown and move on. The last thing we want is to let him get the attention he seeks.

Anonymous said...

Pawned!!!! great post:)

Anonymous said...

o both derek wee and the girl spoke their minds; that's not the problem; the problem is what's in those minds; an elite that does not understand the non-elite point of view is a lousy elite, not smart elite

Anonymous said...

one can be a elite and yet has the inner beauty such as humility, understanding, love, care and compassion is indeed someone to be well respected. However, if one is an elite and yet full of arrogance and always look down on those non-elites, then he or she is not a respectable person.

An elite may think he or she is smart but there are others who are smarter than oneself. yi shan pe yi shan kou.

We can never be able to predict what will happen to oneself in the future in our lives. Perhaps, after one accident could cause oneself to be lying in bed for the rest of our life. Then, this elite with smart brain could become a non-elite in this instance.

Likewise, a non-elite now may work hard and with some luck can also become a millionnaire entrepreneur one day.

Feng shui lung lui swang. A poor can become rich and rich can be poor. Nothing is permanent!! So, therefore it is still better to be humble at all times.

Anonymous said...

I don't want my son, who is now a P4 GEP, to be like Wee Shu Min.

My husband and I always remind ourselves - academic performance is not everything. What finally makes us more successful is our personality. We would prefer to have a mediocre-grades boy with good moral values.

No more Raffles. Too elitist. Its product is not what we want.

Anonymous said...

Please, if you will, please listen to this plea.

I am a student in the same Rafflesian tag as Ms Wee, of this controversy. But I would like to implore, whoever willing to read this post, to judge us as individuals and not as a lump sum.

The state of our nation is one where a child's fate is decided at 12 years old. With the proliferation of more special programmes this becomes even more so. I think its a sad fact that few will disagree but even lesser will hear coming from the mouths of our leaders.

I am one of those who fate has dealt a kind (some may think cruel blow)hand. I am one of the really lucky people. In Primary School I was always in the worst class (scoring below Ds and Es), treated as one without hope. Thankfully one teacher never gave up on me, as well as my parents who were always there for me, I somehow managed to get good enough grade to enter RI.

In secondary two, the through-train was announced and I jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of the school.

Having been through the system, may I attempt to elaborate on why this mindset occurs.

Because of the historical baggage, although most enter with the average kid-next-door mentality, they are forced to see themselves as the future of the nation (How true this is, is subjective). Sadly, with this internal influence and the sometimes external stigma linked to the brand, a number do begin to think in that way.

I was lucky that I once went on behalf of the prefectorial board to another secondary school's prefectorial investiture. It was there that I learnt, something so obvious which had missed many of the "elites". The only reason one is in a "elite" school is because he/she knows how to profit from the examinations system, and hence gets the whole package that comes with it. Remove the badges and uniforms and all us kids are no different from each other.

None of this says anything about the content of our character, which i believe (naive as some may think) is more important to live a menaingful life.

There are a good deal of Rafflesians whose parents drive taxis, are unemployed, or rely on the schools financial assistance. Not all of us are that financially well off.

It is really a vicous cycle that causes the continum of such negative perception resulting from a self fulfilling prophecy.

Many of us do sometimes come across as arrogant (I will admit that it does at times cross my mind to think that way) - and that is perhaps the biggest flaw of man.

It happens sometimes because we don't know what you would think of us, so we just shut up and try not to look at you, other times, it is sheer pride.

Because one has been favoured by the system and by the fates does not give one the right to trampple and look down on those who have not had the fortune. It is more important that we realise and undertsand that what we have is relative, what can be given can be taken in equal proportion.

There are many of us who think and believe this way. However how often will you hear us say this? Heard of elites in an elite school?

The elite brand will always remain, but the mindset is not always existent in everyone of them.

Some may lambast this as some stupid PR excercise by some idiot kid to bridge gaps; people belonging to the so called "elite" may laugh at the naivity of my thinking and lack of credence given to their intellectual prowess, with so much focus on luck and fortune.

I don't know, I'm just a kid.

I do know though that for the last 17 years of my life though, I have thought as you have seen. Whether life will twist me I do not know, I hope not.

Sorry to bore you with a long story.

Please, give us a chance.

Judge us as individuals by the content of our character, not by the colour of our badge.


clyde said...

Hello concerned mom and Rafflesian above. Parents definitely have a responsibility to raise good people first, straight-A students second.

On the other hand, I am not dismissing Raffles altogether. I may not agree with the system, but certainly no one should be afraid of striving to achieve positions in Singapore's higher-tier institutions, as long as you know what's more important. Ambition and ego can be a good thing if you have your priorities straight.

Anonymous said...

Well, at the end of the day, people become who they are as a person from the different influences while they were younger. I aint all that old yet (only at 26 or already 26)

People will learn habits of other people around them. Listening to their views and all, and maybe kenna 'brainwash-ed' in believing in something and therefore behaving in a certain matter. The environment makes them who they are... thats why parents play the most important role since they are the first influencial presence.

Next is who a person will mix with...
Notice the certain behaviours of different people who came from different schools? Example: (not saying they ALL are like that) ACSians have a certain behaviour even after they enter work life. Josephians (St Joseph's) people are 'talkative' or outspoken. CHIJ gals also have their particular trait and the list goes on. People from neighbour schools behavour in a different matter. Rafflesian .. (better not comment here).
(Dun get me wrong, I have friends from all)

NSF Commandos behave in a certain way as compared to the NSF clerks of 9 - 5 units.

Even people from different Universities in Singapore behave slightly different from each other.

We are always influenced by people around us, just that we are more easily influenced while we were younger. It will all depend on how strong a character is to fliter out what is 'right' or 'wrong'.

'Jing zhu zhe chi, Jing mou zhe hei'
(dunno really know how to translate tho, but it means something like - mix with the good and be good, mix with the bad and be bad. For this example only)

I am glad for the P4 Kid since his/her parents believe in moral upbringing as compared to good grades. As i believe good grade aint the most important factor. I aint having the best grades, but at least i know what humanity is i guess. If good grades = good job, yeah maybe last time. I guess now its a combination that also plays a part - Timing, connections/'guan xi'/, intelligence (that the scoring in exam kind), luck and so on. If the combination is right, one can employ those of good grades. Who needs the grades when u can employ them? haha

To the 17 yo Rafflesian, I understand your frustration (no i aint Rafflesian), but 66% is a 'strong mandate' haha, and I think you should know wat is a passing grade. 50? As I have mentioned above, people/environment influences people. Dun get me wrong, I think you are a nice chap from what you have typed.

I aint earning less than my uni friends, but my priority now is to be a 'good person' or an 'elite' when it comes to humanity/personality/moral values so on so on.. Guess that wont bring me the furthest but I get the distance somehow being self employed.

If Shu Min was older .. I will also tell her ' Please get out of my 'elite' uncaring face!!!' . Hope you will grow up to be a better person.

Sorry aint come from a school with excellent scores (So pardon my grammar) as my school dwells more in moral education listed above.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Be proud that you are in RI, or SJI, or Changkat Changi. You are the best when you strive to be the best - wherever you may be. Do not feel the need to apologise for being in RI - many other people are now aware that the RI badge is not a sign of your morals - it is your parents upbringing and the clique you hang out with. Chill out.

Anonymous said...

I was from RGPS, RGS, RJC. A Rafflesian through and through.

Now, at the ripe old age of 25, and long past those school days, I am slogging my ass off in shenton way, in a office of people from all kinds of background. ITE, poly and the so called neighborhood schools.

Sometimes pple ask what school i was from, and when they hear that i was from the Raffles lineage, they put a halo over my head and give me THE look. Most of the time, i'd just smile and pass off with a " I was lucky la.."

My point is. This elitist sh*t is something that other put onto us. I dont feel special, and I dont expect to be treated differently. I dont go around telling pple I was from RJC. In fact, I cringe at it, because I can predict the reaction that is comin. But pple do start to treat you differently, scrutinise your every move, and come to expect more from you.

At the end of the day, that is only just a school. What you become as a person, or what job/career you choose, really still depends on the hard work that you put in, just like everyone else.

Anna said...

I concur with the true-blue Rafflesian.

Being a Rafflesian myself, I feel the "cringe" too whenever I'm asked which JC I graduated from.

Especially when the enquirer is someone I've just met. Most would pass expectations and judgement on me before even recognising me for who I am.

We are greater than the sum of our experiences. My identity cannot be solely represented by the 2 years spent in RJC.

To cling onto the Rafflesian tag and boast of being an academic elite - that smacks of insecurity and superficiality. Is there really a dearth of virtues, such as kindness, graciousness, resilience, etc. in one's personality that external affiliations must be invoked?

Yes, we can be proud of our academic achievements. But we must move on - Life presents us so many other mountains to conquer. I hope WSM and all other self-branded elitists will learn that.

Anonymous said...

You cannot expect to call oneself an elite based on the school that you go too.This is high school and the actual prestige of the high school will only propel one's career so much.

To be an elite is to be at the frontier of an area, be it wealth, status or power but it also means that they are portrayed within the society as a role model.

This whole debate about the 'elite' social class and the elitism are only propelled by the facade of superficiality which most Singaporean are affected by.I agree that egalitarianism is appropriate but this whole rant about elitism is useless,it is not political ,it is the rant of those who are envious of the 'elite' status.

In Singapore the standard of living is high.They have good education system,excellent roads and public transport and a strong economy.With this high standard of living the personal agenda in closing the gap between the social classes I believe are misguided.In this debate more people are interested in the pursuit of materialistic gain and status that the individual will get should the gap be lessened.Let's face the fact what will be gained will be more dollars in your pocket.Closing the gap will not improve the quality of life by much.So tell me if there are no major benefits why should there be a change?

I find no qualms about the elite social class what is important though in this issue is that it is imperative that social mobility should be encouraged.The actual success of the individual is not based on the credential of their education. For example former PM of Australia,Paul Keating, did not even go to a university he even left school when he was 15 and he is successful, he is considered an elite.I know that the Asian mentality(being an Asian myself)that we place education as our top priority we tend to forget that passion and dedication are qualities that are needed for success.Those wannabe 'elitist' they are not an elite they may be called intellectual or smart, they may be able to have a talent in memorizing whole textbooks but think for a moment how is that any useful in the real life.How is writing a pre-written 2000 words essay under 40 minutes useful?