Sunday, October 29, 2006

Elitism in Singapore

Heh heh. I was flayed by some in my earlier post on "The Singaporean Graduate" - for example, "This is one of the lousiest post I have read on your blog Tony." Well, here's a bit more of the same, on the type of graduates Singapore seems to be producing.

But before I proceed and get myself flamed again as making "sweeping statements", please note that this is a commentary on increasing significant trends. It is not however an observation that all or even a majority of Singaporean students or graduates are described as follows.

I was in Singapore for a couple of days over the end of last week for my company's board meeting (possibly one of my last ;p) and other business matters (hence the lack of posts). One of the biggest furores playing out in the local section of The Straits Times was a blog entry by the daughter of one of Singapore's newest Member of Parliament, Wee Siew Kim. Mr Wee is part of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Group Representation Constituency (GRC) team in Ang Mo Kio. I can't make any online references to the articles because the Singapore press isn't free, but I'll try to outline the background here.

It all started when Ms Wee Shu Min, an 18 year old Raffles Junior College student (yes, that's both Kian Ming's and my alma mater), responded to a post by a Mr Derek Wee (unrelated to Ms Wee) on "The Future of Singapore". Mr Derek Wee was lamenting the fact the ultra competitive society in Singapore whereby you are regarded as "over the hill" once above the age of 40.
Taxi drivers are fast becoming “too early to retire, too old to work” segment of the society. I like to talk to taxi drivers whenever I am heading for the airport. There was this driver. Eloquent and well read. He was an export manager for 12 years with an MNC. Retrenched at 40 years old. He had been searching for a job since his retrenchment. Although he was willing to lower his pay expectations, employers were not willing to lower their prejudice. He was deem too old. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another No. 1; having the most highly educated taxi drivers in the world.
Derek Wee's post might just have been lost in a sea of many such posts abound in Singapore's blogosphere, if not for a vicious and callous blog response by Ms Wee on her blog, which has since been shut down. Here are some excerpts of her blogpost, thanks to Singapore Election Watch.
mom's friend sent her some blog post by some bleeding stupid 40-year old singaporean called derek wee (WHY do all the idiots have my surname why?!) whining about how singapore is such an insecure place, how old ppl (ie, 40 and above) fear for their jobs, how the pool of foreign "talent" (dismissively chucked between inverted commas) is really a tsunami that will consume us all (no actually he didn't say that, he probably said Fouren Talern Bery Bad.), how the reason why no one wants kids is that they're a liability in this world of fragile ricebowls, how the government really needs to save us from inevitable doom but they aren't because they are stick-shoved-up-ass elites who have no idea how the world works, yadayadayadayada.

i am inclined - too much, perhaps - to dismiss such people as crackpots. stupid crackpots. the sadder class. too often singaporeans - both the neighborhood poor and the red-taloned socialites - kid themselves into believing that our society, like most others, is compartmentalized by breeding. ridiculous. we are a tyranny of the capable and the clever, and the only other class is the complement...

...dear derek is one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country, and in this world. one of those who would prefer to be unemployed and wax lyrical about how his myriad talents are being abandoned for the foreigner's, instead of earning a decent, stable living as a sales assistant. it's not even about being a road sweeper. these shitbags don't want anything without "manager" and a name card.

please, get out of my elite uncaring face.
Shocking? You've got it. But it certainly is a way for an 18 year old to gain national prominence, and possibly cost your parent a stillborn political career.

In an initial statement to the press, in response to the fierce criticisms received by his daughter, he offered his qualified apology a la Lee Kuan Yew.
What she said did come across as insensitive. The language was stronger than what most people could take. But she wrote in a private blog and I feel that her privacy has been violated. After all, they were the rantings of an 18-year-old among friends.

I think if you cut through the insensitivity of the language, her basic point is reasonable, that is, that a well-educated university graduate who works for a multinational company should not be bemoaning about the Government and get on with the challenges in life.

Nonetheless, I have counselled her to learn from it. Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it.
Now if that isn't condescending, then I don't know what is. The apology that wasn't led to an even bigger furore amongst Netizens. "Wee Shu Min" topped Technorati for a couple of days, equalling the feat achieved by several other Singaporean girls for equally infamous incidents. It led to a second apology two days later, probably under instructions from his political masters, which essentially took back what he said in his first "apology".
I am sorry that my statements carried in The Straits Times of Oct 24 offended some readers. I should not have said what I did about people’s inability to take the brutal truth and strong language.

I have also counselled my daughter Shu Min. She is fully aware and remorseful over her tone, insensitivity and lack of empathy. I have advised her to learn from this.

We both apologise to the people whom we have offended, and especially Mr Derek Wee.
That, in brief is the long and short of the entire saga. Without going into the political impact on Singapore's society (you can read that here) as that isn't the objective of this blog, it tells a little about the education system in Singapore, particularly in relation to children belonging to the upper middle class.

Ms Wee is a scholar (10 A’s in O-level, strong bilingual, French), the sort that is "earmarked for an easy road to high office". Clearly, the Singapore education system is able to produce top academic scholars who are intelligent and eloquent. However, it is quite clear that the system's ability in inculcating the emphathy for the plight of the less fortunate, humility, a sense of social responsibility, obligation and community spirit is left desperately wanting. It is all the more disappointing that it is the more intelligent (yes, from Ms Wee's blogpost, you can tell that she has some brain matter in between her temples) and likely future leaders of Singapore, who are proving the system's shortcomings.

Some will place blame on an "elitist" education system. I beg to differ. I believe that an "elitist" education system, in the attempt to provide the best education to the minds and brains for the country is not mutually independent from a caring and compassionate society. This means that an "elitist" education, with all its supposed negative connotations, does not necessitate an elitist "class" mentality. I'd like to think that I was educated in the top schools in Singapore, and subsequently at a top school in the United Kingdom, without them making me a heartless bourgeois. In fact, I believe that a elitist education coupled with the right balance of moral upbringing (both at home and in school) will make a person better equipped to make more fruitful contributions to society in subsequent years.

In 16 years' time, should my Xin Ying grow up and write like Ms Wee, please do not hesitate to tell me in the face that I have failed miserably as a parent. I will definitely retire from whatever I am doing at that point in time and probably spend a couple of months in a monastery to serve my penance. This is my personal opinion obviously, but I believe the real failure here is Mr Wee Siew Kim.

29 comments:

DKR said...

I fail to understand how you can extrapolate the rants and ravings of one spoilt, 'elitist', Singaporean child to include the whole Singaporean education in general. Don't get me wrong, her stance on the matter is clearly indefensible althought she may have raised a valid point or 2, but extending this ideology to the Singaporean education system in general is just a little far fetched perhaps?

DKR said...

Just a continuation. I would place most of the blame on her 'priveleged' upbringing and the fact she probably got all she could ever want as a child. These things happen just as often in the big cities of Malaysia, particularly KL as well. It's amazing the number of people who I have met that may have recieved the best local and/or foreign education, who come for well to do families in KL who have a very similar mentality. So I don't really think it's an educational issue as much as it is an issue of poor upbringing.

dulcinea said...

It is true that Miss Wee reminds me of several of my Rafflesian schoolmates who couldn't see beyond the end of their noses, who gave me the "I feel sorry for you, but it's alright - our government can provide for you now" speeches when they found out I was Malaysian. Who regarded themselves the upper echelon of society, however I know for sure they are a small minority - but the question is whether that small number in power is enough to do harm.

But nevertheless it is true that she is not an extrapolation of all Singaporean youth nor of Rafflesians. I have much praise for the Singaporean education (some complaints too, but it's only human to find fault) and I have much to thank it for opening my eyes to a world the Malaysian education system sheltered me from. There are times when I have found it easier to have broader discussions with my Singaporean classmates than some of my own narrow minded fellow Malaysians who have been living too long in our shallow result-driven education system.

Maybe it is the elitism of Raffles. Maybe it's her 'priveleged' upbringing. Maybe it's several other political factors that are now changing the face of Singapore. Maybe it's even the immortal words of Philip Yeo who prophesied that undergraduates would only be fit to wash test tubes... so don't complain and face the harsh reality of life. Unless of course you've graduated from an overseas university with a GPA of 4.0, then you're one of the elites.

ahoy said...

"I can't make any online references to the articles because the Singapore press isn't free..."

My, I do love the pun you made there.

Blueheeler - the dog that sniffs out fishy news said...

Not wanting to comment on spoilt brats in S'pore - and there are many of those - I just want to make an unrelated observation.

Wee Shu Min is 18-yrs-old. I argue that she writes 'English' with more eloquence than most of the 'native' English speakers I know. Moreover, for a teenage, Shy Min is highly opinionated, if albeit a bit harsh.

How many Malaysian-educated 18-yr-olds can muster up so much eloquence in English (or even Malay) and also assert herself so forcefully? Singapore's education may produce brats like Shu Min, but this same system also produces vocal, intelligent adults.

Anonymous said...

I am stumped that Blueheeler is actually awed by Ms. Wee's eloquent insolence. The standard of English among many young people in Malaysia might be pathetic, but if I were Ms. Wee's English teacher I would tick her off, not admire her.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure whether it is the education system or the family upbringing that produces such rantings/insolence. What I can relate from personal academic experience in Singapore is that students are generally getting more self-centred and more willing to voice out without going through the "big brain". I guess the Western countries (e.g. US and UK) are also facing the same problems.

40+ Singaporean said...

Nature or nurture? If this is the debate, then I am afraid there will be no universally agreed conclusion. In any case, Ms Wee's parents should not be totally responsible for her words and action. She is after all 18 years of age.

I am a parent myself. I only know too well how much of an individual a person that age is and how little control her parents may have. Having said that, her father would have been better off not apologising the first time, if he did not intend to apologise at all.

A number of commentators online as well as in the Singapore local press have correctly pointed out that this young woman (I'm not sure addressing her as a lady will be appropriate) has no humility, lacks empathy and is totally insensitve to concerns (and by extension), not expected to plights of fellow human beings less unfortunate or capable than her. Her father had not recognise or acknowledge this and came up with feeble excuses and even accusation that her 'privacy' has been violated. If her comments are meant to be private, they should not be made in a online blog. As some pointed out, other Singaporeans have been prosecuted, under the Singapore legal system, for comments in their supposedly 'private' blogs.

So is this the works or results of the Singapore educational system, her upbringing or just her genes? I can make a reasonable case for any of these. The Singapore government may believe that genes plays a bigger role. Afterall, it is no secret that LKY believed it to the extent he implemented a graduate mother scheme some years ago in Singapore, which thankfully has been all but abolished.

Anonymous said...

Be careful!

When their MM made reference to the marginisation of Chinese in Malaysia, it created a furore over here.

Now we are talking about them. Let's practice what we preach.

Benkaiser said...

During trying times, we feel low,
because it is such a blow,
as such, we shall not bow and give it another go,
certainly it is not easy to do so,
but we must try our best,
to fight against the flow,
to drill our way through,
to get out of the shithole,
and we shall glow.
....
....
and WE SHOOT MEAN people
like
WEE SHU MIN,
the rotten apple.

RISE UP, PEOPLE!

Anonymous said...

Tony P, you have got it wrong again. At 18, I do not believe she is yet a "Singaporean graduate". Who knows, being from a connected family, and a brilliant student at that, she may yet be sent to Oxbridge, or Yale, or Harvard, and ended up like a Kian Ming or Tony P. I am a Singapore graduate. I am also a UM graduate. I have very well-mannered kids, as others had told me. But I would still prefer that they graduate from Singapore rather than UM. Certainly not UPM, since my kids are not quite good at yelling and shouting. There is no evidence to suggest Wee Shu Min yelled out or shouted those thoughts. I believe she quietly expressed them in her own private blog. If push comes to shove and I must make a choice between only the two, then I should prefer that my kids express themselves somewhat intellectually in their private blogs, whatever their views may be, than to repetitively scream out phrases devoid of any intellectual content at others and into their faces. Somehow, I prefer honesty to violent outbursts from seemingly well-behaved kids. I suspect that Ms Wee will be remembered, as she is brilliant and comes from a connected family. Sometimes that works to your disadvantage. To illustrate my point, can anyone recall the name of even one of those people shouting in UPM some months ago? Such is life.

Nick said...

People change. Don't write her off yet.

Tony P said...

To Anon Mon Oct 30, 08:56:19 PM

Just some brief points:

1. Ms Wee will soon be a Singaporean graduate. A Singaporean graduate does not necessarily mean graduating from Singapore.

2. Let me repeat, I'm not saying all Singaporean young adults are like Ms Wee. While the numbers may be small, it appears to be an increasing trend.

3. I'm guessing you were brought up in Malaysia but are now staying in S'pore. Yes, you will have well-mannered kids because you may be a good parent, but will you have the same well-mannered grandkids?

4. There is no such thing as a private blog (unless, you put in a password enabled access). Remember, the Government sued for sedition for supposed "private blog" comments.

5. Short of writing her article in capital letters, or presenting it in a podcast format, I can't see how the manner in which she wrote her post is not equivalent to "shouting and yelling". What Ms Wee did was the blog (and "high-class"(?)) equivalent to "repetitively screaming phrases ... into their face". As for "intellectual content"? I let readers be the judge.

5. A person can grow up to be an intellectually superior, "honest-to-self", outspoken racist/ Nazi/ evil-doer. I'm not sure about you, but I certainly prefer an intellectually weaker, honest-to-society, quiet and respectful kid. (if the two combos were the only choices).

Tony

p.s., and Nick, for her and Singapore's sake, I sincerely do hope that she changes for the better.

p.p.s., 40+ S'porean, at 18, you are already a young adult. I can accept that it's not the parents' fault if she can't do well in Physics or Maths. But not having any iota of emphathy, understanding or charity for the poor and less fortunate - it's 99% poor upbringing.

jerng said...

Ooo... Tony, I like this chick. Never saw her blog, but definitely likeable I'd say. A bit the pretentious but nothing a little spanking couldn't undo, I'm sure.

In a more quantitative manner, one might phrase the utility gained from "empathy" and "community spirit" as being the ability to rationalise complicated cybernetic functions in organisms similar to oneself.

jerng said...

... but the reason I came to your site today (as you know, I almost never read blogs), was to show you this, which you might already have seen, and to suggest that unless something's done about Malaysian... we're going to end up with a massively destructive culture of derogatory abuse against "brown trash". The shit has already risen, but it has not yet hit the fan....

chenchow said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
chenchow said...

In my interactions with Singaporeans (when I was at Raffles and later on in university), I would say that I hardly sensed of any Singaporean who would be criticizing their government, especially in those days when I was in Singapore, when blog wasn't even introduced. In recent years, I did sense that more of them are more critical of their government.

On the seemingly "elitist" post by Shu Min, I would say that it is the general mentality of many "elite" students and scholars in Singapore. This situation happens among some Malaysians too, although I would say that the situation is not as serious, as we do not do a streaming of schools at early stage.

In Singapore, the good students after primary schools would be selected to elite schools like Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls School etc and from there, their interaction circle gets very small, and eventually the "elite" would go to top Junior Colleges there. Although they have a little variation of system nowadays, it would take at least a generation to change the perception of the ranking of schools.

And hence, it is quite easy for these "elite" students to think of the other segment of society as "not-as-good", and hence, it is easy for them to point fingers blaming others. Sometimes, people get carried away by stereotype, and especially in Asian society, people's types of jobs are often associated with their social standing. Parental influence, especially those parents who are from elite group would impact the situation too.

If I am not wrong, a few years ago, there was a hoo-haa in Singapore over a girl from the top junior college, who dated a guy from an average junior college (or it could be a guy from the top junior college who dated a girl from an average junior college). And a number of Singaporeans were discussing on whether such a relationship was appropriate. Whether their top brains should be together with their so-called "not-so-top-brain". It was reported in one of our local newspaper too if I was not wrong.

However, one aspect that I think should be happening would be that Shu Min should be the one responsible for her writing, rather than her father having to issue press statement to clarify on that matter. This is not a healthy situation. This might indirectly cause parents to keep close tabs of their children's action, and hence impede their children's ability to act on their own accord. After all, she is already 17 or 18 years old.

That's just my two cents.

Casper said...

Hi Tony,

I think this is the problem with the 'elite', a term that can be extended to the prince and pricess of Malaysian elite who probably don't believe anyone would still live under a leaky atap house after the success of NEP.

It is therefore, again, unfair to conclude that such a 'trend' applies to all singaporean kids / sg education system. I think for the majority, life is getting tougher in the increasingly globalised world and this will bring them closer in touch with the real world rather than out of it.

casper@www.e-malaysian.org

Anonymous said...

Hello there, and good evening. I am Anon Mon Oct 30, 08:56:19 PM.

Brief response:

1. I must have misunderstood you. Your previous posting on the same subject ended with a reference to Singapore education. So I thought you were talking about a person graduating from a university in Singapore. I thought you were referring to Singapore education, but I see you are actually referring to the society.

2. "That increasing trend" is everywhere, be it Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, or New Zealand, the only 4 countries I have stayed in for any significant amount of time. I am sure it is a worldwide phenomenon.

3. Like you, I was brought up in Batu Pahat (LPS2 and HSBP), and I am now living in the Klang valley. I have 2 siblings in Singapore, though. I let my kids be, and lead by example. Always have. What they will become is not important, and neither are their kids' character important. If kids turn "bad", please do not blame society, any society, but look to parents, wherever situated. For example, I never thought society breed corruption - parents do that. I believe we call that "kurang diajar".

4. Appreciate the clarification. To that extent, you are right. However, sedition is a separate issue - I can send you a private letter with contents that could amount to sedition.

5. You are right, equivalence and intellect are matters for opinion. I agree with blueheeler's remarks. Shu Min is rude and callous, but I could see the intellect behind her unkind words. I have viewed the UPM screaming video - could not detect any intellect.

6. Yeah, it looks like you would like me as your kid. I would not want my kid to be like me, though, in terms of being Mr Nice Guy. I prefer an honest expression of belief, however strong, to the sopan santun hypocrisy that is ever so prevalent in our society. As I said, Ms Wee is callous, but expresses her opinion honestly. Not unlike the Takaful guy who, whether or not he was right in his views, dares to express his honest opinion. Our reaction to both shows up our Malaysian intolerance to expressions of personal opinions that does not agree with our own. So we call that Takaful guy "insensitive". I believe if he publishes his opinion in Australia or New Zealand, he would largely simply be ignored. I would prefer to have as a friend who does not wish me "Happy Deepavali", or whatever, rather than polite and "sensitive" politicians who are destroying our livelihood. If I, for one, had been more vocal in my younger days, even at the risk of being callous, perhaps we would have a more matured, confident, and honest society today. What to do, I was "half-past-six with no guts".

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note the power of the internet to invoke populist and egalitarian sentiments. Shu Min’s remark is just a case point. Her untutored candour has nothing to do with her privileged background, her MP father, her junior college, or the Singapore education system. It is just a stark reflection of the power of the internet to reward as well as to punish the uninitiated.

Unfounded and sweeping statements that are just as immature as Shu Min’s are made regularly in this blogsite, but without any real threat of reproach. Why?

When an 18 year-old student makes a mistake, we should be more forgiving. After all, we have all made mistakes when we were young. That’s how we learn anyway. If she had just been an ordinary girl from a humble HBD background, I am certain it would not have raised such a storm.

I can sense the knives are out whenever the topic of Singapore is raised in a blogsite that is supposedly dedicated to the improvement of the Malaysian education system. I have blogged here before that it is rather pointless to compare the products of the two educational systems as they are under-girdled by very different assumptions about how the two societies should be organised. It is rather pointless to compare “durians” and “rambutans” when we are at the same time benchmarking them to “strawberries”.

Let’s not lose sight of the original aims of this blogsite.

To move forward, I would like to see more Bumiputra views posted in this blogsite in order that we can also learn to see things from the other side of the fence. “Any idea means nothing if it cannot be converted into practical application”. (Bridgman and Davis, 2003: 188) In the case of Malaysia, unless the views of the mainstream Malays are incorporated, it would be difficult to initiate meaningful change in the education system.

It would be an achievement if this blogsite can encourage more interethnic dialogue on education in Malaysia.

xero said...

Meh, I'm not impressed at all by this arrogant girl's comments.

To me, this is a manifestation of the PAP political hegemony in Singapore.

In my opinion, the growth of an elitism culture in Singapore is real. To be fair, I guess we can say that this is the 'darker' side of Singapore's brand of meritocracy, which to me seems to be a 'winner takes all' or 'survivor of the fittest at all cost' variety. Contrast that with Australia's egalitarism culture, where meritocracy is also practices, but of a more compassionate kind, where there are policies to assist the less fortunate, and there's no stigma attached to those who are not capable of entering universities.

I find her attempts at pooh-poohing socialism amusing. I wonder whether he knows that her father's party is a democratic socialist party?

So what if she's a high academic achiever? From my experiences with Singaporean students, their reluctance to discuss anything about Singaporean politic strikes me as disturbing. And for all the Ivy Leaguers and Oxbridge MPs in PAP, apart from Mr LKY, I fail to spot any vibrant and visionary MPs in their stable. Where's the next Tony Blair or Bill Clinton in PAP? Instead, they all just seem to be to be faceless boring technocrats. Cheh.

Anyways, hope that Mr Wee Siew Kim will lose his seat to a Worker Party candidate in the next GE :P That would just be sooo ironic. Would give anything to see his daughter's face when that happens :P

Anonymous said...

Tony, you raised some good points. Thanks for highlighting the matter here. I am not familiar with the Singapore education system - I went to public schools in Malaysia and to a university in the UK - but any education system that propagates arrogance and shelters students from the hardships faced by sectors of society will produce educated but cold and narrow-minded graduates.
Anyway, I especially liked your comment
"5. A person can grow up to be an intellectually superior, "honest-to-self", outspoken racist/ Nazi/ evil-doer. I'm not sure about you, but I certainly prefer an intellectually weaker, honest-to-society, quiet and respectful kid. (if the two combos were the only choices)."
In a world where performance-is-everything, intelligence-is-God, manners-and-morals-don't-matter, glad to know there are people like you still around.

Nik Nazmi said...

Hi Tony,

I share your sentiment. The blog post by the kid was stupidly insensitive - if only she had a dose of humility. But that does not mean that we should not emulate Singapore's emphasis on intellectual elitism.

A true intellectual elite should not only be the best in the sense of talent, intelligence and ability; but also compassion and understanding.

I wrote about the need to emulate Singapore's emphasis on intellectual elitism in the Edge recently, "Dismantling the One-Size-Fits-All Education System" available at my blog www.niknazmi.com

Anonymous said...

I think Ms Wee is just another young 18 year old arrogant, inmature, outspoken teenager who has not tasted any personal suffering in real life. I am sure there are also plenty of such spoilt brats in Malaysia too.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked and disgusted by Ms Wee's comments..but even more so, I am disappointed with people who admire her "honesty" and "intellect". Is intelligence really that much more important than humility and empathy? And is it really intelligence anyway? I would qualify such narrow-minded beliefs as ignorance. Is being eloquent all you need to be qualified as intelligent? And getting straight A's?
In this world, with the advent of globalisation, economic instability, social unrest and the rise of intolerance towards other people's culture and race, I think we need a strong healthy dose of love.
Yes, people should strive to be "elite". To be the best they could be. But not in a way that discredits other people's effort and condescendingly berate them for not being elite. Ms Wee has no idea how hard the world is because she was born with a silver spoon hanging off her lip. I feel ashamed and sorry for such apparent cold-heartedness.
These are my thoughts. And I am 18 too.

Anonymous said...

when i was studying in singapore, a teacher once highlighted the issue of poverty in a General Paper class. She came up with pictures and articles and asked students to read and get their thoughts on them. Most of them told the teacher they had no empathy or feeling whatsoever for the impoverished. I think this is just what tony is trying to highlight about the singapore education system.

Anonymous said...

We should be sorry for her that she:

- was brought up in a well connected family
- most likely had no monetary problems whatsoever in her young yuppy lifestyle
- attended an "elite" school

This still does not exclude her from being an "elite" moron, as indicated by her post. She apologised ... you think she regrets what she said? Habits die hard and she has been living the privileged life for all her 18 years. Let's send her to a war torn country in the Middle East or Africa for a year or so. See how she likes it huh?

Anonymous said...

As a Singaporean, I'm dismayed at Tony's blog about education in Singapore. Tony benefited from a Singapore education, paid for by Singaporean tax-payers. He should say "Thank You" instead of being negative. Unfortunately, Tony has revealed himself to be an ingrate. I disrespect Tony.

Najah said...

When I was forwarded WSM's explosive blogrant, it was several days after the initial outburst and there was ample time for the public to respond.

I take this issue personally because I married a (rafflesian) Singaporean and we decided that our son would be Singaporean (for now, as is usually the case). I have a few Malaysian friends who are in the same situation and it was interesting to see their response. Most saw this as a creeping threat to their children's future, another reason not to send their children into the Singapore education system. Personally, after reading the public outrage at WSM's initial post and the subsequent non-apologies from the MP father, I realised that there is a case FOR Singapore society.

1) That WSM is free to air her views and that she is equipped to be succinct and eloquent in communicating what she really felt.

2) That the rest of Singapore were free to tell her (and her father, school etc) how they felt about what she said. In fact, most of the rebuttals were just as eloquent and precise.

The public backlash was huge. That should say something about the general Singaporean population (old and young). WSM is a minority and what's great about this situation was that the majority may possibly have changed the mind of one (misguided) person, if not a few more of those like her. At least I hope so.

Now, since we're comparing, I can assure you that even though nothing like the WSM incident has happened in Malaysia (in that scale at least, though I blame the lack of decent internet access in the country), don't think that similar, if not more vicious things are said in private parties, clubs, cigar/wine-tasting/whatever elite "do" you can think of. The fact that there are those who so blatantly flaunt their wealth in our faces, ordering traffic to give way to their luxury cars so that they don't have to sweat in traffic like the rest of us, handing out name cards emblazoned with their father's titles (how many Nana binti Datuk bla bla bla have we all come across), should tell us something about the state of eliticism in Malaysia.