Tag Archive | "meritocracy"

Meritocracy helps keep women out of S’pore parliament

Meritocracy helps keep women out of S’pore parliament


Parliament satisfied there is a natural mechanism for weeding women out, explicit discrimination not necessary.


Singaporeans from all walks of life who possess varying levels of sexism, are glad that the Singapore parliament does not explicitly discriminate against women from occupying a seat.

This after Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development, defended Singapore’s record of women in politics.

She argued that there are more women in parliament now than 10 years ago and it is more important to anchor political representation on meritocracy, rather than impose gender quotas.

Da Nan Ren, a local, said he is heartened to hear about meritocracy’s role: “Singapore, or men in general, do not need to systematically bar women from politics, because we rely on meritocracy to do that for us.”

Meritocracy, acting as a natural filter, has managed to limit women to 25.4 percent of parliament seats.

This issue of gender was first brought up by Workers’ Party’s Sylvia Lim, who had asked if the Singapore government is happy that out of the 99 seats in parliament, only 25 are occupied by women.

She is a woman, contrary to popular belief.





Is this JC kid the only one out there?

Is this JC kid the only one out there?

Tags: , , , , ,

By Isaac Ho & Joey Tan


Kid from Temasek Junior College gets jealous that his ITE counterparts have a swimming pool, writes in to TODAY, gets slammed online and has since begged for forgiveness.

His name is Kwek Jian Qiang and there are probably more kids like him out in the wild, stewing in their jealousy that ITE campuses have swimming pools while theirs don’t.

Or maybe it’s just Temasek Junior College.

Or maybe it's the ugly-ass green uniform

Jibes aside, seriously, give Jian Qiang a break!

I bet, being young, stupid (hey, JC kids can be dumb too ok?) and impressionable, he probably got the idea that ITE = “it’s the end” from a scene in Jack Neo’s ‘I Not Stupid’ show where Hui Ge was conversing about ITE with some random hairstylist.

Jian Qiang obviously thinks that getting into a good school is the one and only way to success in life. He’s not alone. Because everyone in this country gets brainwashed from Day Zero in primary school, that excellence = good grades = good schools = the right to feel superior to everyone else.

But it’s not just the education system. Upbringing also plays a huge role in deciding which 17-year olds decide to rant about ITE to a national publication and which decide to take a bus from school to the nearest stadium to use the public pool.

Seriously, Singapore’s a tiny place. Is it so hard to travel a few bus stops to use public facilities?)

I was once a JC kid too. But – dare I say – I was probably brought up differently from the stereotypical JC elitist.

My parents never demanded straight As, nor have they ever given me a dressing down for poor grades. I swear, their responses never really strayed far from the ‘just try your best’ or ‘it’s alright you’ll get it the next time around’.

And unlike what NS-haters might say, joining the army does have its advantages.

Having close to 80 guys under my command made me realize that merit takes many forms and that rewards for merit can come in many forms too. Plus there’s nothing quite like the threat of a blanket party to cut one down to size. I soon realised that even if you do think you’re superior, you’re at the mercy of everyone else in the bunk.

But not everyone gets opportunities for reality check so the harsh question remains, ‘How many more Kwek Jian Qiang’s that Singaporeans got to know on boxing day do we have out there in our schools?

Singapore Dream is within reach

Singapore Dream is within reach

Tags: , , ,

Even failed presidential candidates prove Singapore’s meritocratic system is alive and well, says Koo Tsai Kee. This commentary is a 60-second reduction of the original published in The Straits Times on Sept. 6.

Koo Tsai Kee was the former minister of state for defence.

One recurring theme for me, as a result of this presidential election, was about opportunity and social mobility.

Here’s why:

The three candidates who failed in their bid for presidency – Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian – came from humble and deprived economic backgrounds.

They might not have become presidents, but their triumphs and tribulations speak of the Singapore Dream.

This year’s presidential race should reinforce our belief that the Singapore system of meritocracy is working well, and needs to continue to evolve to be relevant.

Because ultimately, the poor can still dream big.

This is evident when you consider the three failed candidates: All went to Raffles Institution and rose to their respective careers.

Jee Say, a washerwoman’s son, went to RI and then to Oxford on a government scholarship.

His path to the Istana is a vindication of the meritocratic system.

Cheng Bock lost his father as a teenager but he went to RI and later graduated from medical school to become a general practioner.

Although he laments that the system robbed him of the chance to become a specialist, history will remember him for his contribution to society.

Kin Lian was so poor that he didn’t complete his A Levels, he still managed to acquire professional actuarial qualifications and led NTUC Income as the CEO of a working man’s cooperative.

These three Tans are evidence of the success of social mobility, which is what gives hope to people.

With the aspiration these three Tans showed in wanting to become president, they have showed hope – a virtue that keeps society afloat and will raise it to a higher plane.

Moreover, social mobility is even greater these days as more students go to polytechnic and university, more scholarships are on offer and better paying jobs are available.

RI still has the lowest number of students wih graduate parents among the top schools.

But if there are fewer poor students in RI today, it is because there are fewer poor people in Singapore overall.

Social mobility must be alive today because that is also what explains the success of today’s immigrant children.

Their parents came to Singapore with old clothes and little money but the determination to succeed. And they succeeded because social mobility is alive and thriving.

And also because Singapore’s meritocratic system is blind to economic background and country of origin.

With the presidential election over, let us celebrate the Singapore Dream.

The writer is a former minister of state for defence.