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The Elitist Chauvinist Pig

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Ah, Elitism is breeding amongst us. It is a disease that infects us subconsciously and we only realize it when reality strikes. Recent articles by Ms Sandra Leong and Ms Sim Soek Tien really put things into perspective does ‘nt  it? And who would forget the infamous blogger  Wee Shu Min, daughter of an MP, labelling a struggling worried Singaporean concern about his job security as “one of the sadder class”? The out-pour of emotions among netizens were overwhelming to say the least.

Elitism is inevitable especially in society where meritocracy is prevalent. Just refer to our educational system. We’ve been streamed or “put into our places” since primary school, you’re smart if you land in EM1, screwed if you’re in the Accounts or Arts class in secondary school. I was from the Accounts class, and we were told that being in the “last” class, we have already closed many doors in life — Oh come’ on… ! Coming into adulthood, the pain is more evident. There are annoyingly sanctioned paths to success in Singapore. Private/Investment Banker, Doctor, Lawyer, are all the desired paths. Take the boom of the financial sector in the last 3 years or so. Every university grad wanted to get into the banking band wagon. Never mind if you’re not suited for the position or it isn’t your passion, status quo is more important. (one of the reasons why bad banking practices occur – my previous article) Such society pressures actually restrict talent to be harnessed in the most efficient way. Our government is not really concerned actually. Lack of sporting or artistic talent? Import blatantly.

I totally detest the fact that streaming of students is being done at such an early age of education. While the government’s intention would be to cater for the different learning efficiency of a student, I beg to differ. Basically, the society pressures by especially your teachers, parents and fellow students contribute to the feeling of condemnation if you are being placed in a less desired stream.  Such bashing of self-esteem at such a young age can result in a domino effect which translates into the influence of people he mixes with  and the perceived “route” that he should take in the future. A good number will grow out of it and excel in the later stages of their life, but the rest especially from the lower-income group where the environment at home is not stimulating enough to push oneself to excel will further fall through the system. I can certainly attest to that.

Such meritocracy makes us Singaporeans painfully aware of our relative positions in society. We just need a form of measurement and feedback to satisfy our need for status quo. A MNC company, a corporate rank, your office address, will quench that need. No where in the world will being an insurance agent, or doing sales for a multi level marketing firm bring about such social stigma. It’s really astonishing sometimes. Such jobs to me are totally respectable.

Adding to that ingredient of elitism is that we are insufferable materialist. Nothing titillates our senses more than the Bang & Olufsen system, BMW car or Hermes bag. It is actually very human and even more so for Singaporeans. How about the 5Cs, something we all aspire to attain once we enter the workforce? Basically such superficial items helps you differentiate yourself and put you in an elite class of citizens.

Our free market economy, capitalism, materialism and government direction all contribute to the elitist chauvinist concoction.

In retrospect,can we really fault the Singapore government?  Human capital is our one and only resource. We must stay competitive externally and internally. Performance triumphs all else. Lure of the elite class will attract more wealth, talent and lead the nation to its development path. But will stellar GDP figures translate into a world-class, developed society? Remember, what great leaders like Churchill, The Pope, Truman and Ghandi  preached; a society is measured by how it treats its weakest members.

On a personal level, I am guilty in certain aspects. Being educated in Singapore Management University, it is real simple to identify with the elitism mindset. Almost everyone is fighting for that management trainee spot in JP Morgan, Mckinsey, GE, just to name a few. Most of us come from the upper or middle upper class families, and traveling to places like Eastern Europe or America on a study exchange is becoming more of a norm. We are marketed as the best, and thus we think we are the best. All I can say is thank God I am free now.

Here’s my take on how to eliminate the elitism mindset in us. An attempt.
1) Be aware of the difficulties of others. We don’t have to look too far. There are many needy families in Singapore too. My university professor once mentioned that the gross average/mean monthly income of a Singapore household is a mere $2500. Go figure.
2) Volunteering. Being aware is not enough, action is required, and definitely not to merely boost your resume/CV. Intention is very important.
3) Appreciate a person for who they are. Character, passions, interests should take precedence when we want to know a person. NOT where he works or studied or what’s his ride.
4) Finally, to totally get out of the rat race and for a total change of mindset, I suggest to relocate to another country for a period of time, take in fresh perspectives..something that I intend on…..

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Written by Nabs

April 15, 2010 at 10:20 am

Posted in MIND, Ramblings

One Response

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  1. […] “…we are insufferable materialist. Nothing titillates our senses more than the Bang & Olufsen system, BMW car or Hermes bag.” Nabs […]


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