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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mexican Pulled Pork

Little Boy loves the Mexican Pulled Pork from Margarita's at Dempsey so I decided to learn how to make it. I found a recipe HERE... and idiot-proofed it for me to manage.

You'll need 2 batches of spice mix (cumin, coriander, 5-spice powder and salt)

One batch of spice mix goes into a briny spice soak. Put more salt if you have more water. There should be enough salt to flavour the meat. The pork will absorb the salt so don't put too much either. Soak 2kgs of pork shoulder for at least 12 hours.

The second batch of spice mix is used as a spice rub. Rub throughly all over the meat.
Roast in the oven for 4 hours at 120 Deg Celsius (with fan on).

The roast should be easy to pull apart into shreds. Freshly out of the oven, it is moist and succulent. Tastes great with rice or on top of a toast. I forgot to take a photo so this photo is not mine... it's Kevin and Amanda's.

Reheated in the toaster oven, the shreds dry out and become a little crispy. It's different but just as good tossed with spaghetti, some chilli padi and spring onions.

On top of roti prata... with cheese. It's nicer with avocado but we ran out. 

This recipe takes a long time because the meat needs to sit for 12 hours in a briny spice soak, and then cook for 4 hours. But overall, it's still a fuss free recipe summarised into Soak. Rub. Roast. Pull apart. Quite hassle free because much of the cooking time requires no supervision at all. Just leave it to soak/roast and you can do other things.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cement Truck Killed 2 Brothers

There was Mom, Dad and 2 sons. Then the accident happened.

There is pain words cannot express. I am a mother too.

I wish I could do more to assuage the pain but I cannot. I don't even have words to describe it. So I shall just share this learning point here and hope that it'll protect other little children.

Food Republic: Fortunate Restaurant Dim Sum

Red bean paste and banana crepes

Beancurd rolls

Vegetarian parcels

Green egg yolk buns and grey black sesame buns

This is the best ever dim sum place I've found.

Good dim sum in Singapore sets one back by about $45 to $50 per person at my brother's favourite East Ocean Restaurant in Ngee Ann City and my favorite Min Jiang Restaurant in Goodwood Park Hotel.

This place I discovered makes good dim sum for $35/= for 4 people to eat. All the food court dim sum I've tried so far taste very bad. There is more fatty meat than lean meat. The shrimp used is not fresh. Yuck! Fortunate Restaurant that has a presence in many Food Republic foodcourts does good dim sum at small prices.

The fillings of the salted egg yolk buns and black sesame buns are rich and creamy. To die for! The vegetarian parcels are crunchy with loads of black wood ear mushrooms. There are large morsels of springy shrimp everywhere you bite. The prices are small and the food is good. This means the 4 of us indulge once every week! Sometimes twice.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Singapore Motherhood Forum

I have always fantasized about being a journalist writing for a magazine or newspaper. So when  Singapore Motherhood approached me to write a piece, I was naturally more than thrilled. I guess this is as close to being a journalist that I will ever become? There's even a real life editor to work with at Singapore Motherhood Forum...

Cool right?

Anyway, here is the article, very nicely edited by a right and proper editor too!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Trophy Baby

I stepped out momentarily with a Trophy Baby... a baby so cute and attractive that when she chose to take a walk around the swimming pool at the Shangri-La Hotel in her little white dress and pink shoes, EVERY ONE smiled at her and talked to me.

Petunia basked in the reflected glory of this child and wished... oh so wished... that she were mine. This smiley child with eyes like pools of black framed by long lashes.

Meet Beanie... again.

Beanie can talk a little now and she understands everything we tell her. To convince her to leave the poolside... because she was trying to maneuver me with her big and determined eyes to put her IN the pool, I told her that she should go indoors and ask her Mom to give her fish food for the carp in the pond.

Mom of course didn't know what Beanie wanted... and no one really understands Beanie yet even though she understands all of us perfectly well (which just goes to show that kids ARE smarter than adults). Well... one thing lead to another and Beanie started wailing.

Anyway... one packet of toddler crackers went into the carp pond and Beanie was happy again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Echinacea Seedlings... Patience!!

We have such voracious birds around our house with a predilection for tender shoots that I found it impossible to raise seedlings until The Husband devised this makeshift greenhouse on a rack for me. I am raising echinacea seedlings this time. They'll give flowers in 3 years time. Along the way, some will die so I made sure I seeded many pots.

The seedlings are fragile and need careful tending. They grow rather slowly too. It takes a fair amount of patience and 5 minutes every morning. But this plant is really important to our family so I guess I'll just have to make time. See here and here, for the use of echinacea.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Election Drama!

I was trawling the internet for a Youtube rendition of the Les Misérables song "Do you hear the people sing?"trying to see if I could review some more beloved footage from the movie. To my surprise, I discovered some bit of Singaporean drama HERE. Some Singaporeans have Singaporean-ized the British song about a French uprising, for the Punggol by-elections.

Maybe someone will decide to sing it in Singlish and make a funny Youtube video of it. Mr Brown?

Most people think that the uprising in Les Misérables refers to The FIRST French Revolution of 1789. There were actually THREE French Revolutions before La République Française with its mantra "Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité." became a reality. French history was NOTHING like British history. France has an extremely violent past.

The uprising in Les Misérables refers to the June Rebellion of 1832. One can tell this because someone called Lamarque dies at the start of the musical. French history records that General Jean Maximilien Lamarque died on 1 June, 1832 of the same cholera that decimated the populations in the poorest quarters of Paris. People suspected that the Royalists had poisoned the wells used by the poor. This outbreak of disease was the last straw for many poor people who had suffered decades of harvest failures, food shortages, rising costs.

The rebellion was unsuccessful at that time (1832) . It wasn't until 1848 that King Louis-Philippe was forced to abdicate... and he lived out the rest of his life in England. Quite poor thing really... this poor King. Early in his life, he lost his father to the guillotine. Then he lived his youth in exile. After that, he became King for a bit (1830-1848). Then, he was exiled AGAIN!

What an un-peaceful life! This said, France was very very very unpeaceful in those days.

What a Delicious Tart!

Helena Bonham Carter in "A Pattern of Roses"

Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech" as the Queen of England.

I watched Les Misérables and cried buckets (like everyone else) but after that, all I could think of was The Tart (that's not being like everyone else). I was floored by Helena Bonham Carter's portrayal of Mme Thénardier. To me, Helena Bonham Carter has always been the embodiment of English class. So, when I saw her in Les Misérables, my eyeballs popped. Now she has become the embodiment of BOTH English class and English crass. I trawled the web to find the footage of her vulgar strutting and blackened teeth seducing an English officer with a well-placed ummmm... hand grope. But all I could find was this footage that disappointingly has NONE of the provocative sway of the hips and vulgar display of shoulder. 

Watch the movie will ya?

It left me filled with disgust and admiration. Disgusted at the character she played, but in complete awe of the woman playing the part with so much skill that it fairly displaced the woman in my imagination.

This must be what a well-used French prostitute would look like in 1862... and I am gripped by the sight - a sort of vulgar fascination with the gaudy colors. I can almost smell her cheap perfume overlaid upon the sweat of squalor. Gee... you can smell the woman from off the big screen.

No one else I know has this reaction. Everyone else was floored by Anne Hathaway playing Fantine (the tart with a heart). Me... I preferred the pungent saltiness of Helena Bonham Carter playing Mme Thénardier (the heartless tart).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sharing English Resources

Dr Pet will be sharing SELECTED resources for teaching English HERE, as and when she creates them.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rice Ignoramus No More

Rice is so much a part of Singaporean living that I never really paid attention to it. I knew I didn't like eating it very much. I preferred the variety of European breads that has recently come available in Singapore. I liked the crustiness and chewiness of these breads chockfull of nuts and seeds. However, when I ate Vietnamese rice in the Mekong Delta, I marvelled at its sticky chewiness. It was so delicious I wanted more. So I began to examine the different types of rice.

There is rice for paella, fried rice and bryani (that don't stick). There's rice for risotto and sushi that do. Then there is jasmine rice that I've eaten almost as soon as I began to eat rice. Jasmine rice is the only rice I've known and eaten at home... and it wasn't something I hankered for. I thought I was genetically programmed to like bread instead of rice. It turns out that I had just not met the Right Rice for Me.

Today, I bought the Right Rice for me - a short-grained rice from Taiwan. It was chewy QQ ... very al dente. I ate and wanted more, which never happened with jasmine rice. Not my type of rice I suppose.

Round Short-Grained Rice (kinda sticky and very al dente)

Little Boy likes rice that doesn't stick together. He likes separate grains of rice like in the nasi bryani across the road... and he often complains that jasmine rice sticks together too much. So for Little Boy, I bought a packet of Indian basmati rice - a long-grained rice that sticks not at all. I'll make fried rice with that rice, and that'll make Little Boy happy.

Long-Grained Rice

Then there is jasmine rice of which I bought the cheapest grade for Milo to eat. Milo loves jasmine rice. He'll even gobble it down plain.

Long-Grained Rice that tends to be slightly sticky.

After all these years, I now find out that there is rice and there is rice... and thus one must match the rice to the dish... and even the person.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alec Is Expelled

This is a test audio for Dr Pet's English Enrichment students. Would Dr Pet's students kindly click and confirm that this audio works? Please RSVP on whether you can play the audio. Thanks!! I will email all of you the worksheet that goes with this audio as part of the preparation for Deep Reading Techniques Lesson 1.

Please Click to Access (Click PLAY Button on the Webpage to Access)
Alec Is Expelled

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Showing All My Love For You

You know there are men who climb the highest mountain, cross the widest ocean and bash through the densest forest just to prove their love for a woman? I am told that such acts are a very specific Love Language that certain men speak eloquently even though it means little to their Lady Love.

I've just figured out The Husband's Love Language for me (yes... after 20+ years). The Husband shows his love by procuring electronic gadgets of all sorts for my use. When The Husband asked if I wanted a Kindle Reader, I was a staunch believer of paper books. I said that proper paper books smelt good and I could flip the pages. Besides e-books aren't even real books, right?

"Kindle Reader? No way! I am old-fashioned." said I proudly. The Husband got a Kindle Reader anyway. I grumbled and scolded but he shrugged his shoulders. Meanwhile, the Kindle Reader sat gently on his table for 6 months. One fine day, I wanted a book. The Kindle book was a fraction of what the paperback cost on Amazon... and I could get immediate gratification via Kindle wireless.

One minute, no book. Next minute, yes book. 

Waaaaaaaah.... So began my love affair with my Kindle Reader. It's wonderful. I have a whole library in there and it weighs almost nothing in my bag. The Husband put it into a nice brown casing so I feel like a real Cool Mama carrying it around. 

The Husband smiled a little smile.

Then, The Husband asked if I wanted a SMART phone. I didn't exactly know what a SMART phone was but I was sure I didn't want it because it was so expensive. My old phone was only $35 and I could send sms-es just fine. But when I saw how people could use the SMART phone to warn each other about where traffic policemen were hiding in the bushes (it's unseemly how they love to hang out in the bushes!!), I was sold. The Husband went right out and delivered a Samsung Galaxy S3 to right under my nose. I kissed my old handphone lovingly, thanked it for years of loyal service and embraced my Samsung Galaxy S3. And oh... it was lovely. There was Whatsapp. I could keep in touch with different cliques of friends all at the same time and from anywhere. There was Google Maps so I didn't get lost anymore. 

The Husband smiled another little smile.

"But the screen was rather small," I complained. Lo and behold, The Husband conjured up a Galaxy Note. Then, The Husband decided that I should become a Mac convert. I didn't like that very much because the software licenses I had bought to analyze qualitative and quantitative data were all Windows based. The Husband rolled his eyes and bought me an Acer, which died after 6 months and needed $850 to bring back to life. The Husband went and remonstrated with the Service Centre on my behalf, resuscitated my Acer free... and then declared, "I told you a Mac is better!" And then a MacBook Air appeared... which I learnt to LOVE far better than my Acer. 

The Husband smiled again. Smugly, this time.

By this time, I had begun to understand that The Husband knows my high tech desires far better than I know them myself. So when he said I needed a Time Capsule, I did not demur. I wasn't quite sure what  a Time Capsule was but I knew I needed it because The Husband said so.

It turns out that it is this REALLY cool box that wirelessly (and automatically) backs up my entire hard drive... and allows the whole family access to all the family archives. Without having to plug in thumb drives or transfer data, I can access photos and videos of our family from was far back as when the kids were babies. So you see, I was right to trust The Husband on this. I do need a Time Capsule.

Hmmmm... I wonder what else I need next?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Some Hard Bargaining... and Roti Prata

10 Rounds of Jogging
Little Boy jogs reasonably well... at least well enough to have been picked for Track & Field.  But thanks to my maternal carelessness and laziness, he hates jogging, and so he turned up his nose at Track & Field. Sigh! He announced today that the class had to jog 3.2 km at PE today... and that he did better than the Track & Field boys in his class. He was pleased about that.

I took the opportunity of his pleasedness to gain his commitment for jogging at least twice a week at home. I proposed 12 rounds in our neighbourhood and he counter-proposed 10. So 10 rounds, it was. I was not pleased. I hadn't expected my gong-gong son to bargain. You know... he has always been such an obedient one... and if not, I've pretty much been able to outwit him somewhat.

Not this time! This time, he was neither obedient nor naive. Sigh! I should have seen it coming. He is an adolescent and so I should have started bargaining at 15 rounds. Dang!

$2 and $3
When I pressed the issue rather grumpily, Little Boy said (looking quite pleased with himself), "Let's change the topic huh, Mom. Let's talk about something nice. I earned $2 today cleaning my friend's locker with tissue paper. Tomorrow, I'm gonna fix his combination lock for $3."

I was a little taken aback... "Wow! Your friend must own a gold mine!"

Little Boy replied... "I dunno about that gold mine but he wanted to pay me 50 cents to clean his locker. I negotiated upwards to $2/=. If he meets my price, I'll fix his stuff. Hopefully, I'll get my own gold mine sometime."

I was even more taken aback! That's like negotiating upwards by 400%. Gee... who does that? And then I kicked myself. My boy drives a hard bargain. I should have begun my jogging negotiations at 25 rounds!! I must be losing my touch because I asked why he didn't help his friend in need. Little Boy replied, "Help him? Why?! He charged me 50 cents of interest a day when I borrowed $1 from him last week!! I'm never gonna borrow money from anyone again!!"

Now, THAT is not a bad lesson to learn eh?

About Roti Prata
The roti prata stall has the longest queue in the canteen. Ya gotta queue so long that ya sometimes have no time to eat your prata and ya gotta get a friend to eat it for you. That's not much fun really. After all, you've queued ages for your roti prata right? And you don't even get to enjoy it.

Little Boy and his friends decided to collaborate. One boy queues for everyone's roti prata. One boy queues for everyone's drinks. Two boys are in charge of miscellaneous purchases from the less popular stalls. One boy rotates from queue to queue so that the other boys get to go to the toilet in turn.

So, today, the boys ate their fill of everything they wanted, with time to spare to play.

Uber Cute
Ohhhhh... I can't get over how CUTE these little 12 year olds are. At every age I've thought Little Boy cute. He was cute when he was pre-verbal and trying to get me to understand him. He was cute when he was trying to feed himself. He was cute when he submitted his CCA form to the Suggestion Box in lieu of the CCA Box. I can't believe I'm still finding him cute now... when all he's doing is learning to organise people and collaborate. I'll probably think he is cute on the day gets married... holds his first kid in his arms...

Oh... so CUTE!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

About Meritocracy

A few heartwarming articles have appeared in The Straits Times this past week. I've been tying myself up into knots trying to explain on my blog "how a meritocratic system based on academic ability breeds a new elite which passes on their advantages to their children. This creates an uneven starting point for children from homes with less money and poorer social capital." (Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion Editor, Friday, 11th January 2013, The Straits Times)

Oh well said Chua Mui Hoong!! In so few words too! Unlike the reams I spew!!

Further, Soon Sze Meng (Friday, 11th January 2013) wrote "The relentless focus on meritocracy, market-driven policies and economic growth have resulted in Singapore topping the charts in both GDP per capita and income inequality... If growth is pursued without effort to narrow income inequality, social distances result. This refers to the difference in lifestyles and experiences between the haves and have-nots, evident in different strata cocooned in increasingly separate living environments with limited opportunities to interact, thus fraying social cohesion."

Reading the words of Soon Sze Meng, I cannot help but think of the horrendous rape of the 23 year old physiotherapist by 6 men who waylaid her on a bus. If you think carefully about it, that was a crime of hate NOT a crime of lust.

Nowhere else in the world can one find such abject ignorance as in the slums of India. A young Indian who found himself locked into a container where he was napping (having no home to stay in) was shipped to Singapore where the newspapers reported that he had never been taught the notion of time. Yet, Indians form a disproportionate number of PhD candidates in many USA and British universities. These are the academic elite.

The reality in India is that if you have family resources (intellectual and material) you can help your next generation gain MORE resources. We all know that money can be used to make more money. More money can be used to make even more money. Well... that principle holds for every type of resources from emotional to social to academic, and is very well-documented in research on Conservation of Resources Theory, by Dr Stevan Hobfoll.

Over a few generations, social inequity becomes more and more apparent. Indian society today is fraught with social fault lines. The rich try as best they can not to hang out with lesser quality people. The poor look upon the rich with envy and hatred. Envy that the rich are so blessed from generation to generation. Hatred because there are obstacles everywhere to their attempts at making a better life for themselves... social obstacles (social class prejudices) economic obstacles (lack of money) and intellectual obstacles (the poor go to poor schools, if at all, and some don't go to school at all). What is worse is that, very often, crimes against the poor go unpunished. The hate build up in the poor.

The male psychology possesses immense drive to acquire status and wealth. Here you have a bunch of working class men who hate the world for having denied them opportunities, consigning them to a lifetime of hand-to-mouth existence. They have less mating rights than others simply because they are poor. Others, better educated and better connected, can exploit these folks legally (and often illegally). Rich folks often use poorer women for sex and buy them off with money. A lot of anger builds up over time. Then they see these well-educated young ladies traipsing around earning more than they do (girls that such men will never have to hold and cherish to death do them part)... and some primeval urge to master and conquer takes over. Infuse that urge with a miasma of anger and hatred handed down through generations... and you have the horrendous crime against a young lady of a better class... A crime so terrible that it involved inserting a sharp object into her vagina to pull out her intestines.

It was a crime of hate, NOT lust. But heightened emotions in their rawest form can get confused in the human mind. The hate and lust mingles and comes forth in a violence that both exhilarates and satisfies.  Until social inequity is reduced and class hatred simmers down, it would be hard to ensure the safety of women from good families in India. Any other solution addresses the symptoms and won't be the cure.

Then along comes Donald Low who makes the following suggestion for a cure..."Because people start with differences in talent and resources, equalising resources at the start to some extent is justified on the grounds that this is necessary to ensure equal access to opportunities. Such a system is still meritocratic as the equalisation is done at the start of the competitive race and does not diminish incentives for everyone to run as fast as they can. The race is competitive and meritocratic but the state has intervened to adjust starting positions and given those with fewer resources a head start" (Donald Low, Friday, 11th January 2013).

It is my opinion that there is nowhere more important than in education where this must be done. Give every child rich or poor the SAME quality of teaching (not just have brighter and better-trained teachers go to GEP). Ensure bright children in EVERY school have easy access to HOT skills teaching (not just GEP). Ensure all classes are small enough to properly teach thinking skills (not just in GEP). Ensure high and consistent quality curriculum in every school (i.e., not have a dedicated branch write high quality curriculum AND exams ONLY FOR GEP). Let's not stream children by raw results ALONE because then children with rich parents who can afford enrichment will always get to the best teachers and schools. More resources begets even more resources.

We are not like India. Yet. But we could get there in a few generations.

I must say that I am heartened that there are so many successful and intelligent people who are not moved by self-interest to protect the rights and privileges of the "new elite" that they are part of. Lydia Lim, Chua Mui Hoong, Soon Sze Meng and Donald Low are assuredly part of this "new elite" - well-paid, well-educated and cosmopolitan. Fortunately, they not only have clear thinking, they also have good hearts.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Signing at Kinokuniya

I thought it was very kind of Kinokuniya to organise a book signing for me, an unknown author. It was a fun experience and I learnt a few things about selling books.

Step-by-Step to Cream of Vegetable Soup

This soup takes so long to prepare that I make HUGE quantities. I use 3 thermal pots of 5 litres each and fill all 3 to the brim. I then freeze into portions. It comes in handy when anyone is sick and can't eat heavy meals. One bowl of this soup delivers a lot of nutrition and is very digestible. Thanks to the astragalus herbal stock at its base, it also helps immunity along by increasing white blood cells when taken on a regular basis. The frozen blocks also mean that a nutritious meal can be ready in 15 minutes with some fish balls, greens and garden herbs thrown into the soup.

This is the quantity of vegetables we lugged home from the market.

All the vegetables become this small lump of fibre that we threw out at the end.

Step 1: Bring water to boil with wolfberry seeds, astragalus, red dates, ikan bilis and soy beans.

Step 2: Cook in a thermal pot over 12 hours, reheating every 3 hours to make sure the water in the thermal pot stays hot.

Step 3: Strain away the herbs and throw. Boil vegetables in the herbal stock. Cook in thermal pot over 12 hours again.

Step 4: Cool the pot of soup. Stick in a handheld blender into the cooled soup and blend thoroughly.

Step 5: Strain the liquid through a sieve.

Step 6: Microwave russet potatoes.

Step 7: Blend the potatoes into the soup.

Step 8:  Add in evaporated milk to make it creamy.

Step 9: Some like it without milk. Some like it with. In our family, evaporated milk is a must.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bald Patch

Those who know Milo will know that the fur on top of his head and snout is ever so soft and silky. It's veritable tactile ecstasy to rub the top of his head with my fingers. There is only one Singaporean word for that feeling - shiok. I've been doing that quite a bit. Rubba dub dub.

And now there is a bald patch. My dog looks like Friar Tuck.

Friar Tuck
Image taken from HERE.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Potato Chinese(TM) in the News!!

Ms Kok Siew Kuan wrote an article on Potato Chinese(TM) in the Shin Min Daily News. I thought she did a great job. The article was succinct and true to the interview I gave, even on the more technical aspects of learning psychology. She left out however, the notion that Potato Chinese is very tedious and unpleasant... and NOT recommended if one has the time and the family circumstances for more pleasant methods (i.e., parents know Chinese or are prepared to hire high quality Chinese input).

We did Potato Chinese(TM) because Little Boy was going into P5. We had no time. We needed very very spectacular gains in little time. If I had had time, I would have used other ways to spare my son the agony of Potato Chinese(TM).

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dr Carol Dweck's Research

I love the work of Dr Carol Dweck, and was thrilled to find a video on it. It is because I KNOW Dr Dweck's research that I criticize so very strongly the Singapore education system's propensity to label our children's intelligence levels and pop them into Streams of Gifted (very smart) Express (smart) and Normal (not as smart).

Enjoy her video...


Moral of the Story: If you want your kids/citizens to keep on striving, stop praising them for innate intelligence and ability. It doesn't matter HOW smart your kids/citizens really are or are not, you will demotivate them. Demotivated kids/citizens, even if very smart, won't perform. Demotivated kids/citizens, if not smart, will do even worse.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Unsolicited Book Review #2

A Daddy I don't know wrote about Pet's book HERE. Thank you Mr Walter Lim.

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.