Singapore seems set to be an ideal resort for the elite and rich in the not-so-distant future. I mean, the top educational institutes that produces batch after batch of intelligent, eloquent geniuses are here. Even Yale is partially offshoring to Singapore. The wealthy foreign talents are immigrating and building their empires here. Hordes of blue-collared workers continue to toil and struggle to create the perfect retreat for the perfect people.
How far does our valued notion of meritocracy reach out to? It extends only for all Singaporeans, of course– but can we truly accept a job when more highly-equipped foreigner is waiting for it, along with the government’s disapproving sigh while the job is reluctantly given to you? Let us talk of meritocracy in education. “Education is a social leveler” is a phrase we all give no merit to. Because it is a hard fact that some primary schools are better than others, giving students who manage to get into those schools an advantage to go to a better secondary school, and thus a better Junior College, and so on. A better life could be obtained just by going to a better primary school, and no, there are exceptions of course, but this would not be a hasty generalization fallacy.
Because as children, environment is something that influences and cultivates us. Cultures of different schools vary from extreme ends. There’re schools that teach us of values and leadership and excellence, and others with seniors smoking and stealing blatantly, with outright disrespect to teachers. Then isn’t it natural that the parents would clamor and fight for the ‘good’ primary schools? It is, but somehow, realize that only the slightly higher-class families manage to get placings for their children. That is because only they have the means to do so. Moving house to get within a distance of the school for a spot? Sure. Volunteering with a special skill-set required? Sure. These parents would do anything to ensure a much-coveted seat for their children, and they usually succeed because they have the resources and abilities to do so. And therefore the cycle continues and the rich remain rich, while the poor remain poor. Now that’s a fallacy and a terrible generalization, but still remotely true.
Singapore As A Society
As with all societies though, the rich cannot survive without their lackeys (jk). The lower/middle-class are needed to sustain the society, for without office workers, how can there be a boss? How can we do away with technicians, cleaners or shoe polishers? All jobs are integral in maintaining a proper, functioning society, but not all these jobs are desired. In fact, because Singapore offers such low and superficial job recognition, doctors and lawyers, the highest-paying ones, are treated with such awe and admiration while jobs like taxi drivers and salesman are put on a much lower level. I guess people don’t want to do these jobs for some reasons. The first is because of an inherent Singaporean trait– pride. Who would feel proud of being a dishwasher? Who would feel proud of such a meagre pay that comes with it? And why do we feel this way? Think back to how we treat the hawker centre cleaners. We don’t give a shit about them, even though they’re so essential to our society, to us. Next: who aspires to be a bus driver, a construction worker? Who wishes to spend their whole day driving a bus?– I’m sure that ain’t anybody’s passion or interest.
And that is why we have no right to complain about blue-collared workers being outsourced here, unless we see more Singaporeans stepping into the sun, donning thick, sweaty outfits and toiling everyday, building some extravagant apartment for god-knows-who. Jobs are everywhere, but we are picky.
Singapore has developed way too fast for most to catch up with. While we sort of understand the Pensive Arbitrary People’s good intentions (but many flaws), we also have to run on our own and help those who have fallen.