Runaway Elitism

It was only a few weeks ago that Vivian lectured the young doctors not to overcharge their patients, in other words not to be too greedy and raise the cost of living of the people. Chok Tong has followed up with a similar call on Saturday night when he spoke to his famous alumni, the Rafflesians, in a dinner to honour him with the honourable Gryphon Award. His main theme is about meritocracy, elitism and the entitlement mentality of the elite. He made a call for the successful luminaries to give back to society, to the less fortunate and the less able.

Elitism without compassion is bad. Sure. An uncaring elite class that has no compassion for others, thinking only of their entitlements and how deserving they are is not a good thing socially and politically. It is good to share a little with those who have little. Actually elitism is not a bad thing and can be a good thing with a little compassion, generosity and empathy. It is not much difference from a benevolent dictator or a king when he rules with a heart of gold and for the good of the people.

In reality, asking the rich and powerful to share their wealth is a naive idealism, an aspiration that is good to hear and talk about. Putting into practice is a different matter altogether. Many of the rich and powerful will be so busy scheming of how to take more for themselves and would not have the time to think of sharing. How can they share when they did not have enough?

There is really no need for the rich to share with the poor. All they need to do is not to keep on taking. Whatever they take, the money must come from somewhere. And the more they take, the more someone else will have to pay or to have less. It is a different matter if the money comes from outside the country. Not that no one pays, but the payers are not the citizens and it is easier to account to the people. When one takes more and the citizens have less, it will definitely create tension in the system, a widening income gap. Now you know the reason why the income gap is getting wider? Unfortunately all those who are taking could not see this, or they don’t have mirrors in their homes. They cannot see who is taking and taking and from whom.

And to make matter worst, they are taking not just because they are meritocratic and elitist, they are going to make their children and grandchildren elitist without a thought on meritocracy. Or the children of elite are meritocratic by inheritance.

Chok Tong spoke about the discussion between LKY, Devan Nair and Winsemius on the issue of accumulation of wealth. The ideal philosophy was that ‘all wealth should revert to the state on the owner’s death so that each successive generation would start on an equal footing, and success would depend on hard work and ability, not inherited wealth’.

Chok Tong said the idea was found to be impractical. By who? I think Winsemius must have been overruled. He added that ‘the Govt has tried to level the playing field by putting more resources into education, including preschools, and giving financial aid to the needy students’. So inherited wealth will not level the playing field and should be retained and estate duty abolished. How is this to measure up with the concept of meritocracy?

There is nothing wrong with inherited wealth. The family and descendants deserved to inherit the wealth of their parents. Their parents worked for it, or their parents took what they could from the system. What was practised in the old system was to retain a tax structure to tax some of the wealth of the deceased estate for the state to redistribute to the people in other ways. As long as the tax structure is reasonable, it is not a bad thing. To allow the whole loot, oops, I mean the whole lot of wealth to be passed down, is only to accentuate the inequality in society and definitely is not promoting meritocracy but elitism. There must be a balance between over taxation and zero taxation on inheritance. Inheritance is entrenched meritocracy and inherited elitism, not individual meritocracy. It is meritocracy of the family, of the tribe. It is not about levelling the playing field. It is elite protecting their elitism and wealth.

When one is bragging about the merits of meritocracy and level playing field, and then supports tax free inheritance, the contradiction is obvious. It is like saying one thing doing another thing. Anyone talking about entitlement mentality of the elite? My family and children and grandchildren are entitled to be elite.


oldhorse42 said...

Our elites are behaving badly. The latest example is one minister pilfering tooth picks from an expensive restaurants. That is greed or entitlement? And he actually boasted about it. The owner of the restaurant must have winched at the disclosure that his expensive food outlet is now better known for quality tooth picks rather than their siao long pow!

Anonymous said...

"When one is bragging about the merits of meritocracy and level playing field, and then supports tax free inheritance, the contradiction is obvious."

RB, it is a matter of opinion. But even if there is obvious contradiction, is there anything Sinkies can do about it?

And that's what really matters.

So Sinkies (include opposition of course) need to try real hard to do things that really matters.

For a start, maybe just announce first they will try hard. Then try hard later. No time limit. Hahahaha.

Anonymous said...

Our elites are behaving badly.
oldhorse42 July 29, 2013 8:55 am

That is a matter of opinion. And for those elites contesting elections, if they can still win despite "behaving badly" opinions from netizens, that's what really matters.

Anonymous said...

If majority voters have the opinion that those parties not ready to be govt will not get their votes, then such an opinion really matters.

Because the outcome of such an opinion matters.

Anonymous said...

"The owner of the restaurant must have winched at the disclosure that his expensive food outlet is now better known for quality tooth picks rather than their siao long pow!"
oldhorse42 July 29, 2013 8:55 am

Not really lah. Those who go to the restaurant will go for what really matters, which is the siao long pow.

Who cares about what the minister said about toothpicks? Does it really matter?

Anonymous said...

Germany's elite in the 3rd Reich were the Nazis.

Anonymous said...

How often have we been told: Do as I tell you, don't do as I do. Singapore's brand of elitism is particularly egregious. LKY once said that all he needed was 200 elites to run the country. So let him have the 200 and leave him be. Now we have these 200 having all the goodies and pretnding to care about the less fortunate. Sickening.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. The Nazis were just a bunch of out-of-touch cronies with delusions of founding a dynasty that will last 1,000 years.

Matilah_Singapura said...

You cannot have meritocracy without also having elitism, and vice versa.

However is the so-called meritocracy a REAL free - market based, where those who "win" do so without "cheating" by colluding with their criminal partners in got - - where losses are "socialised" by passing them onto the taxpayers bill, whilst profits are divided up amongst the conspirators; or by wiping out COMPETITION by legislation or covered up criminal means.

The Pap's idea of meritocracy is based on Confucian principles of a PLUTOCRACY of self appointed elites... This is a bullshit fake meritocracy, much like sport where some contestants get their competitive edge by using performance enhancing drugs I.e. CHEATING

Anonymous said...

Q: What do you call a bunch of self appointed elites?

A: Cronies.

Anonymous said...

I once asked Darkness what he thought about meritocracy and elitism in Singapore.

He told me in a real meritocratic society. You will never ever see a bunch of useless people giving themselves the highest salaries in the world for doing such a lousy job of running a country.

Darkness went on to stress repeatedly. We do not live in an information democracy. He even predicted one day blogosphere will be the Breakfast Network and he went on to mention something that I cannot understand,

"hopeless people who give closed door speeches in the school of Rajaratnam." I do not understand this part at all.

On elitism. Darkness mentioned, the real elites have all migrated from Singapore. And those that remain are now planning to cash out. He went on to say with the recent gloss on the broadcasting act where the govt of the day now has the legal right to censor the Internet.

Many of our brightest and most promising currently studying abroad will never return back to Singapore.

As these people given their breadth of world experience will always value freedom. They will always pose a threat to the PAP hegemony, that is why the govt is so afraid of smart people.

According to Darkness these real elites will live elsewhere. He went on to tell me, this is the reason why the influx of foreign talent is necessary. As in reality, the real problem that the govt is trying to augment is the massive brain drain that Singapore faces. He went on to share with me, without intellectual capital. It is not possible to grow sustainably.

When I asked him whether I should work in Singapore after graduating. He told me that is your choice.

I asked him whether these real elites will one day return back to Singapore. He said yes. Darkness went on to mention how Taiwan became an innovative dynamo during the early eighties when many Taiwanese working in the US returned back home to start enterprises. He went to say, this was the generation that actually killed off the KMT. As they showed the rest of Taiwanese what a real elite really is. But Darkness told me, a lot of money will be needed to bring down the PAP. He mentioned this was the reason why he spends so much time networking with these people.

He went on to mention the overseas Singaporean is our last hope to make a better tomorrow.

Matilah_Singapura said...


>> He went on to mention the overseas Singaporean is our last hope to make a better tomorrow.

I used to think that too. However many if not most have embedded themselves and their families in their new homes to the point where they could care less what happens to Singapore. Because of the "largesse" from cashed-in CPF, good educational qualifications, and fat profits from property they sold off, Singaporeans tend to be the among the most financially secure and resourced immigrants wherever they go. Suffice it to say, the great majority of them do very well in their new homes.

Very few "quitter" Singaporeans feel that they "belong" to their former homeland since the cuntry was, over time, taken over by "the PAP-is-the-government-and the government-is-the PAP". Essentially Singapore the personal property of the state and its plutocracy of Confucious-minded administrators and NOT the people -- who are essentially powerless; until the day comes where they arise from their slumber and mass delusion, and ACTUALLY REALISE that they are in-charge, if only they could assert themselves.

Sadly, that day is -- to me -- but a fading hope. So, for me, I say "fuck it", I'll make it my Hotel -- to enjoy the awesome things about it and to shield and ignore the idiots who supposedly run the show -- a show of smoke and mirrors, based on a PLUTOCRACY which governs by "edicts" and virtual "enslavement" of the docile, compliant population.

The Sheeple TRULY DESERVE the government they get, and the cuntry they've lost.

However I have to admit, Singapore is a rocking awesome hotel. Even David Beckham says so :-)

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Overseas Sinkies will at best treat this place like Matilah, a hotel, a great hotel to visit and meet old friends or reminiscing the days and places when and where they grew up.

No right thinking oversea Sinkies would want to plonk a million or more for a little mickey flat when they could live in a 4 or 5 bedroom 10,000 sq ft property for probably half that price.

What quality of living Sinkies are talking and bragging about, cooped in a little flat and paying a million or more for it, and will last only for 99 years.

This is the biggest con job that Sinkies are made to believe, quality living. What is there to make them come back?

Anonymous said...

How to expect the People to believe the Slave Drivers who had not only showed themselves to be greedy. They have also proved themselves to be short in conscience.
They really have the cheeks to implore the People to be compassionate.
What do they themselves do with their self awarded multi-million Sin Dollars yearly remunerations?

Matilah_Singapura said...


If is isn't happening already it soon will:

The "new breed" of overseas Singaporeans will be people like the rich ex-PRC/Indians-now-Singapore-citizens who'll make their pile in Singapore, then return to their former cuntrees to live like emperors and maharajahs, only returning to Singapore as "hotel guests", but able to come and go as they please because they hold pink NRICs. Most of them will be keeping their HDBs, as that "subsidised" home is a cash-flow goldmine capable of returning over tens of thousands of dollars in rental income per year. Those who have private property can expect even more filthy cash-flow.

I'm definitely not alone.

If you know how to play the system, you can definitely "win". Best part: it is totally legal.

Living well is the best revenge

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans got to
be pragmatic.
Matilah makes a good
advisor on how to
live well.
Singapura mati does
not affects him at all.