Meritocracy in Singapore is badly tainted

By Simon Lim

“Although faith in Meritocracy is weakening, the ideology will remain a key principle for recognising individuals in Singapore. Though meritocracy is under siege, it has not failed. In the last few years, meritocracy has taken on a negative overtones due to its association with elitism and there has been an ongoing debate over social inequality and stratification in society. Even those who rail against meritocracy struggle to come up with a better system”– Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

True meritocracy is a very noble ideal and lest you are unaware, meritocracy comes from the word, Merit. During the early years of our nation-building, true meritocracy had indeed served us well; only truly the best were appointed to roles based on his/her merit. However as inequality and stratification surreptitiously crept in, more sinister machinations have since taken root in society - should we continue to ignore or pretend everything is sunshine and rainbows, our ostrich mentality will definitely cost this country a great deal.

Pray tell, what has gone wrong with the notion of meritocracy in Singapore so much so it is now terribly weakened, much questioned and despised by our own citizens?

Well the answer is very simple really, if only the Lee Hsien Loong administration is willing to be courageous and honest with itself: meritocracy in Singapore under this useless government has become a badly tainted farce. Genuine meritocracy on the other hand is pretty much six feet under.

Meritocracy when tainted, whether real or perceived, shall almost certainly obscure transparency which is a cornerstone of good governance.

There are simply too many instances of People’s Action Party ministers’ spouses being appointed to senior positions in government or government-linked companies (GLCs) as well as growing numbers of senior military officers with zero private sector experiences whatsoever roped in to head important government agencies and/or GLCs. To me, alluding the above to meritocracy is no different from, say, calling a one night stand in Geylang a romantic encounter.

I stronly urge Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his ministers including Ong Ye Kung to stop treating us as fools and insulting our decencies. Think!

This was reproduced with permission from editors of TR Emeritus.


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