NUSS Forum : Elitism, SAP schools and Singapore Inc.

By Goh Meng Seng

SAP schools should be more inclusive. That's one of the points I have made during the NUSS Forum.

This is not really a "NEW POINT" which I have made, just that it was not emphasized in the past. I have made this point way back in GE2011 during my Tampines Election Rally. I have held this view since I was 13 years old when I was enrolled into River Valley High School (RVHS), a SAP (Special Assistant Program) school.

When I first studied at RVHS, I was quite disturbed because there were no Malay or Indian students. We are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic country yet I was not able to grow up in a learning environment together with other races, which was truly regrettable.

Such deficiencies negatively impacts the overall outlook and perspective of a SAP school student. Luckily for me, I made an extra effort to know more Malay friends and try to understand them, their religion and culture. I even took the effort to read part of the English translated Koran back in secondary school.

I always feel that we should make an effort to include Higher Malay and Higher Tamil (last time we termed it as "First Language") in SAP schools so that our fellow top Malay and Indian students who have done well are accorded the same opportunities in reaping benefits from the system which had and continues to serve top Chinese students in Singapore (with a most excellent education).

The lack of Malay and Indian students will deprive these top Chinese students a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to mingle around with other ethnic groups and thus, reduce their ability to integrate and understand these ethnic groups better. If these top Chinese "elites" were to become future leaders in various fields of society, including politics, then the problem of a disconnect with other ethnic groups can become very real. This is totally unhealthy.

I raised this point concerning SAP schools when a participant asked about "elitism" in Singapore. I feel that the main problem is not "elitism" per se but rather how we could actually form a cohesive leadership lasting generations after generations if our SAP schools fail to be completely inclusive of other ethnic groups within our society.

Furthermore, with regards to political leadership, the main problem with the PAP government is not just about the ruling elites being disconnected from the ground but it is also about their manner of running Singapore like a company instead of a country.

A company only cares about profits and bottom lines (i.e. GDP growth at all cost) and it could just get rid of people who are unproductive. But for a country like Singapore, there will be people who are unproductive for various reasons but could we as a nation simply discard them? Of course not! We should just stop this nonsense of Singapore Inc.

This post was first published over at the Singapore Alternatives blog on 19 August 2015. It is reproduced with permission.


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