What is elitism?

With reference to www.dictionary.com,



consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group.

The interpretation of Elitism can be as follows: feeling that oneself is superior than others in terms of academic, physical
capability etc than other people. People who are elitist often have a narrow and warped mindset that they themselves are better than others just because they may be superior in one aspect of life. This is apparent in Singapore, especially in the academics, which can be seen in the evidences substantiated.

Elitism in Singapore

Elitism is the advocacy or existence of an elite dominating element in a system or society. Elitism is prevalent in Singapore and it causes a divide in the minds of the students in Singapore. These students coming from different streams preformed notions about each other and they hesitate to befriend one another. This situation is aggravted when students share with each other misleading negative comments about students from other streams.

Evidences of Elitism

1. Newspaper article by Sandra Leong, an ex-Raffles student

In this newspaper article, it exemplifies how Raffles Junior College students, who never get a chance to mix with others may
start to develop cynical views on those who may not be well-off in studies or have a good job. This article highlights that those
from elite schools may start to develop an 'exclusionary attitude' and may feel that those who attain less than what is viewed to be
good may be ostracized.

2. Wee Shu Min incident

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wee Shu Min elitism controversy occurred in October 2006. Wee Shu Min, daughter of parliament member Wee Siew Kim and a then-eighteen year-old student on Raffles Junior College's scholarship programme, found herself in controversy after posting on her blog what were viewed by some Singaporeans to be elitist, naïve, and insensitive statements against heartlanders.
Dismissing the views of Derek Wee who voiced concerns on job security and age discrimination on his blog, she shot back with a take-no-prisoners diatribe, calling Derek a "stupid crackpot", belonging to "the sadder class" and overreliant on the government. Her post also called for Derek to "get out of my elite uncaring face". Her response triggered an avalanche of criticism, as it came on the heels of the sensational suicide of an individual (said to be facing financial difficulties) at Chinese Garden MRT Station. As a result, her name topped Technorati's search terms for a week. She has since appeared to have apologised on another blog and shut down her own.

In response to the scandal, Wee Siew Kim stated that he supported Shu Min's point in principle and that "people cannot take the brutal truth," but he and Shu Min's college principal also expressed disappointment and counselled her to be more sensitive towards others. Wee also claimed that his daughter's privacy had been violated. Critics pointed out however, that he appeared to have endorsed her elitist remarks and failed to address values such as empathy and humility, and that he was apologising for the tone, but not the content of his daughter's response. Furthermore, the government had previously made it clear that there was no such thing as Internet privacy with the imprisonment of bloggers under the Sedition Act just over than a year earlier, and that Wee Shu Min should be old enough to take responsibility for the consequences of her statements.

3. Newspaper article by Muhammad Farouq Osman

" I READ with interest Mr Zakir Hussain's article last Friday, 'Meritocracy's hidden danger' which gives a revealing insight into Singapore's brand of meritocracy.
The article states that about 53 per cent of Public Service Commission scholarships go to those who live in private property.
While there is general acquiescence that these scholarships are indeed awarded on the basis of academic performance and individual achievement alone, the preponderance of the socially privileged among them merits scrutiny.
These students largely hail from the crème de la crème of schools and have benefited from the various schemes that cater to the academically talented, such as the Education Ministry's Gifted Education Programme.
Their dominant social status arising from higher household incomes suggests that they possess the cultural capital required to 'make it' in life, as nurtured by their parents who are likely to have attained qualifications at the tertiary level.
In their scholastic journey, this group of students are likely to be enrolled in the Integrated Programme where, since 2004, they have been allowed to bypass the O-level examinations, in favour of taking the A Levels at the end of a six-year course.
This is a manifestation of greater elitism being built into the education system, where the same elite minority continue to receive value-added education throughout their schooling years at the expense of vast amounts of public funds.
As a result, Singapore's education system, which has always been held up as a model of social mobility for all, is attenuated because one group benefits from a distinct advantage over the others. The public perception that there is an inherent link between students from wealthier households and high academic achievement is pervasive.
Over the years, there have also been concerns about the attitudes of these students who are among the best and brightest and who are likely to secure positions of pre-eminence in society in the future. The raison d'etre for this stems from the fact that there have been several scholars who are known to have broken their government bonds in favour of more lucrative job offers, which smacks of individualistic competition and selfishness, among other factors.
There is the danger of a dichotomy developing in an increasingly stratified Singapore society, exacerbated by widening income gaps where the mentality of 'us versus them' prevails.
By then, the people's faith in our so-called meritocratic system would have shattered."

Muhammad Farouq Osman

External Associations

Team Sunshine - An SMU CSP group community that specifically targets secondary school kids with programmes designed to dispel elitism across streams