2006-11-10

A Social Divide

I usually dont agree with what most Singaporean politicians have to say but this one actually does go in line with what I personally believe.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/240301/1/.html

It basically mentioned the growing social divide within the Singaporean community back home. Where the smart and the successful are given different priorities and privileges as compared to the rest of the nation. How special attention and (almost complete) ego-boosting is given to this "Elite" group in Singapore. I know...I was one of them once.

My personal experiences is when I was in Junior College in Singapore and it was started off with a simple speech that included the line "You are the top 20% of Singapore". It didnt mean much to me at that time but thinking back, we were almost brainwashed into thinking that it was actually true. How wrong was that system? Segregating the youth of the nation into categories such as the Streaming system we used to have and now the "Band" system. Isnt it just another means to seperate the "bad" seeds away from the "good" ones?

This doesnt just stop in the education system of course. Recently, after chatting with a few other Singaporeans over here, I learnt that Singapore was beginning to welcome back Singaporeans who have been overseas for a long time. Ah! But what conditions were attached to this "welcome"? I wondered indeed. I cannot confirm this as yet (and I will attempt to resolve this lack of real info in the near future), but I was led to believe that only the "Elite" and "Talented" are welcomed back. Now isnt that a blatant double standard? If that is true, then it goes against everything I believe. In equal opportunity. If you truly want to welcome people back, it should be open to anyone who wants to...not just selected individuals. They might as well send them personalised letters of invitation and not tell the rest of the world.

It really sucks to be in a world where people give double/triple/multiple standards to different groups. It is a daily struggle even for me but I am more conscious of it these days.

Even something as small as subsidies for student events. Recently, we went down to Canberra for the Singapore Community Day. There was this huge problem with funding in respect for students (sadly I am no longer a student). The system in place now works on giving a fixed amount of subsidy to each student irregardless of where they are. So student from Sydney is given the same amount as one from Brisbane. Now...it seems to make sense until you actually calculate the costs for each individual student. $30 for someone from Sydney can equate to the whole busfare but to someone from Brisbane, it is only perhaps a small fraction of the busfare. Does it make sense?

My idea is (albeit different views from some of the other people in Brisbane) that every student should only need to pay as much as the next student in another state. It makes sense to me. Perhaps it shouldnt just be on the shoulders of the High Commisioner's Office to fund it all but instead work with the local organisations within that state to raise funds for the trip. But in the end, every student should be paying the same amount for the trip to a NATIONAL community event. And with recent changes (still pending) to the plans, if the annual Community day will be moved from state to state, then everyone will have a fair share of having to make the extra effort to raise funds. As long as people are willing to help each other out (a practice lacking in MANY Singaporeans), things do work out.

Just a few tweaks here and there might eleviate the problem of social divides in most countries. I once heard this somewhere and perhaps you'll agree. "If you dont want your people to revolt and rebel, provide them with food, water, shelter. As long as they are not hungry, thristy and have a place to live comfortably, they will not be resentful." (para-phrased of course). What do you think?

4 comments:

Lindsay said...

it was so blatantly obvious when i was in school doing german and going to the moe language school and being in a class full of "elite" school students who sniggered at my friends and i because we were from neighbourhood schools and spoke singlish.... we knew we was better than all of them coz we werent being fake (although i still failed my german by 1 point... :( ). And its true what the article and u have somewhat mentioned, things need to change. i live in an hdb apartment so does that make me pathetic and poor? seriously, the government needs to do something about it. and we all know singapore is never going to give me PR even if i begged and gave them a million dollars.

nadia said...

You guys all know which secondary school I came from and you can't go any higher than that. When you are a 13 year old, you don't know any better. It's true that the system over there breeds social divide. When I was still a student there, I never had other friends from the same school. The ranking system encouraged competitiveness, but resulted in the my-school-is-better-than-yours mentality.

All the events and activities we were involved in all surrounded the upper class. The "top" school students, their richer parents, their famous parents. Our social circles were what you could say "elite" and I wouldn't say it is the fault of the students. I'd say its a flaw with the system.

nadia said...

oops. friends from other schools I mean. Let alone the "neighbourhood" schools. It was just unheard of.

Gavin said...

i think no government should fund travelling to an event. it should be by choice. heh... I know schools in the US will fund such trip if you belong to an organisation and can prove that it is essential to club activities