Friday, January 09, 2009

Am I out-of-touch?

I just read "Not the time to flaunt your riches" by Seah Chiang Nee of the star online (Malaysian newspaper) which described the recent insensitive revelations of one of our top civil servants.

What I had not known were the following incidents, also described by the author (but not attributed):

A bigger controversy flared up four years ago when Wee Shu Min, the teenage daughter of a Member of Parliament, came across the blog of a Singaporean who wrote that he was worried about losing his job.

She called Derek Wee “one of many wretched, under-motivated, over-assuming leeches in our country.

“If you’re not good enough, life will kick you in the b***s ... Our society is, I quote, ‘far too survival of fittest’,” said Shu Min, who hailed from the elite Raffles Junior College.

“... Unless you are an arm-twisting commie bully, which, given your whiny, middle-class, under-educated penchant, I doubt,” she added before signing off with “please, get out of my elite uncaring face”.

This, I knew about. Here's the wikipedia article that archived and documented the event.

Raffles JC, which has produced several state leaders, had another brush with student snobbishness.

When a student found that a Raffles girl was dating a boy from a lower-achieving neighbourhood school, he hit out at him and had a message for lower-ranking students everywhere.

“Quit trying to climb the social ladder by dating students from top schools.”

I found two sources, unfortunately one written by the above author -

1) from
Last year, ‘Big boy' posted on an internet forum, claiming that he knew of somebody from a neighbourhood school dating a girl from top school Raffles Girls' School (RGS).
Four months and 500 postings later, it is clear that the responses to this issue can be classified into positive and negative sides. For example, ‘kennys8' supports this relationship, saying that ‘love has no barrier'. However, there are people such as ‘Cynic' and ‘RJCdude' were adamant that the relationship would be doomed. RJCdude even posted, "Quit trying desperately to climb the social ladder. The higher you go, the more you will feel your inferiority."
RJCdude may have a right to express his feelings, but it is obvious that he is discriminating against students from neighbourhood schools. He is most probably from the top school Raffles Junior College.......

2) and from (by Seah Chiang Nee).

The original sources seem to be from forum discussions long gone.


A reporter recounted how her friend was shaken when her young daughter came home one day and mentioned in passing that poor people were “stupid, obviously”.

Coming from RI/RJC back in the late 80s and early 90s, I never knew (or realized - if it were true) of any of my peers who felt this way. Sure ... we felt like "gods" and creatures of superior intellect (I know I did), but I never got the feeling that any of us ever looked down on others (at least, to this extent)!

So, are these the odd extreme (albeit high-profile) cases? Or is it the start of a disturbing trend? More importantly, am I so out-of-touch to be so blissfully unaware of these cases?


Kaffein said...

That's what meritocracy does. It builds an elite-based thinking where the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful while the income gap widens.

Going down this path is actually slipping down to the system of third world countries where the powerful and rich decide how the poor should live.

Isn't that slowly creeping into our society now? It is indeed a sad thing.


Chee Wai Lee said...

I'm not 100% certain meritocracy is the root cause. I started out in a humble neighbourhood school (Montfort Primary) before I was selected to take the GEP exams and unexpectedly made the grade (till today, I do not know if they screwed up the results, hehe).

Frankly, one of the few ways that such an opportunity was open to one such as I was through an implementation of meritocracy.

My family is neither poor nor rich (hence my prior belief - now broken - that almost all Singaporeans existed in the middle class range).

As for my peers in the GEP, very few I knew I found to be stuck up nor did they look down on others. Hehe, if my friends read this, they will be very interested to find out who I thought were jerks - and I'll have to admit, they were colored by my teenage experiences. I have learnt over the years to constantly re-evaluate how I feel about people.

Anyway, maybe society has changed a lot since I was in the education system ... or maybe I was indeed out-of-touch.

takchek said...

That forum was icered (hosted on a HK server), and it was well known among netizens for its no-holds-barred politically incorrect, racist and elitist postings.

Chee Wai Lee said...

lol, sounds like the kind of forum I would like to avoid.

The trouble with such forums is that while I appreciate free-speech, extreme and unreasonable views just end up throwing me off emotionally.
Plus (imho) most of the people there aren't even there to have a civil discussion on issues, much less to listen to (potential) voices of reason.

Thanks for the info, Takchek!