I read with amusement with respect to what our leaders say about why foreigners like to take up citizenship here in Singapore. Apparently, here in Singapore, you do not need “guan xi” or connections to do well. Here in Singapore we go by a system of meritocracy, something ingrained in us since we had the required brain level to process Social Studies. I agree that the idea of meritocracy is an extremely important concept, and must be carried out to ensure a fair and just society. But then again, are we really sure that we do not need connections?
I have always felt a tiny sense of disgust when people talk about meritocracy. Yes, meritocracy is important. It is important to let peasants think that meritocracy is a pillar of our society. It is damaging if one day we all felt that our society is not based on meritocracy. Yet, are we practising what we preach?
We say Singapore is a meritocratic society. If you work hard, you will get what you deserve. You’ll get promoted based on your capabilities, not on connections. Yet time and time again I have been proven wrong. Connections do get you somewhere, and meritocracy is only a front.
Why do I say that? Just take a look at the top schools of today. Can we find any white horses? We don’t even need white horses. Can we find anyone who’s in the school today that got in not because of stellar academic results, or excellence in other fields? I bet we can. Where is the meritocracy then? When you could get into a top school by connections, even when you fail to make the grade, when other Singaporeans are denied a place just because they cannot get the required aggregate or L1R5?
I read further into the article, where we say the scholarships are given to those that deserve it. Yet how many scholars do deserve it? Is it that white horses are all of excellent gene material, that by nature of them being offsprings of our leaders, that they have the natural ability to pass all scholarship interviews smoothly? I do not know, and I can’t argue. But what about those few who are in our local schools? Those scholars from overseas who come to Singapore to study, most seeing Singapore as a stepping stone to another country like the US? Those scholars who cannot even raise our academic level, and fail to even keep up to peasants like me in University?
Or like the one sitting beside me today who continued writing when the professor declared that the time is up? And even discussed with his friend and wrote down what his friend told him, just because the situation was so out of control since the professor didn’t have the brains and asked all of us to hand the script on our own to the front? There’s no need to point fingers. Yes the indian “scholar” over there. Yes, the china “scholar”. And we think they deserve it. They can’t even introduce proper competition in our academic environment without cheating.
So don’t talk about meritocracy like it is for everyone. Yes meritocracy is here in Singapore, but it’s only for peasants. Within peasants versus peasants, meritocracy prevails. For the elite, their very nature would enable them to win. Meritocracy? White horsepocricy.