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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lydia Lim, My New Heroine

It has been a wonderful holiday.

I hardly went near the computer ever since The Husband took end-of-year leave. For the first time in our lives (being busy and active people) we threw time out the window and lived each minute as it came. No plans. No stress. One wakes up whenever... sleeps whenever... eats whenever. Stay in pyjamas all day. There is no tour guide to follow, no plan to implement. December floated past in a blurred sequence of indolent sunny days. It was a holiday of happy nothings, where I fled anything that needed intellectual processing and basically reverted to babyhood - eat, sleep and discover aspects of the world previously unknown.

Thus it was that, not till today did I come across a piece written by Ms Lydia Lim, published in The Straits Times on December 15, 2012. I noted that the piece has resonated with enough people that it has been reprinted in many other newspapers outside the country.

The part that spoke to me was this:

In Singapore's market-based system, money also buys children higher-quality pre- school education, tuition and enrichment classes. All these serve to enhance and boost whatever natural talents or merit children possess, and to perpetuate advantages from one generation to the next. At the same time, no one can fault rich parents for using the resources at their disposal to help their offspring stay ahead of the pack. 

 The danger, of course, is that over time, inequality begets greater inequality. The cycle of advantage becomes structural, as does the cycle of disadvantage. Those who criticise such structures are NOT attacking meritocracy, they are critiquing the status quo. They are warning that if left unchecked, certain aspects of Singapore-style competition will lead to an ever more stratified society, which those stuck at the bottom will come to decry as unfair. 

 But change will not be easy. For starters, the winners of the current system will resist it, and they are armed with wealth and influence. For another, any change to tilt the balance in favour of weaker and less-advantaged groups risks being seen as anti-competitive, and therefore anti-meritocratic as well. 

This lady (Deputy Political Editor of the Straits Times), Ms Lydia Lim, spoke my heart.... and she did it so eloquently that my heart hummed and thrummed and resonated with every word she wrote. The full article can be accessed HERE.


Blur Ting said...

The winners will resist it - how true!

It will be a hard battle.

During our time (in the 70s), most parents in our village school were not educated. Luckily mine were. Hence I sailed through the first few years of primary school and topped the class because I had an advantage. By the time we got to P3, many smart kids had caught up and were overtaking me.

I am not sure if this scenario is still happening now that all parents are educated.

Petunia Lee said...

Ting - Now it's money. Even educated parents can't keep up. It's those who can afford specialized help.