Elitism Quotes (PAP)

PAP_elitist
Standard

Small collection of quotes by PAP Ministers etc. on the “aristocracy mentality.” Thanks to readers for contributing some of these :)

1. “Without a natural aristocracy. . .society will lose out.”
— Lee Hsien Loong, 2015

2. “I don’t respond to anything on The Real Singapore, which is a Facebook page and website written by morons, commented on by morons, and read and shared by morons.”
— Calvin Cheng, 2014

3. “The problem today is that PAP is a bit too elitist. . .they don’t feel for the people; overall, there is a lack of empathy.”
— Ngiam Tong Dow, 2013

4. “Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful.”
— Charles Chong, MP (on senior civil servant Tan Yong Soon’s S$46,000 five-week course at a prestigious French cooking school)

5. “I feel my own angst riding with the common people. But I suppose it’s good to get the feel from the ground every now and then, to connect with the peasantry.”
PAP Supporter and former Law Society employee, Nicholas-Seth Leong on his second MRT trip in 2012

6. “Please, get out of my elite uncaring face.”
— Wee Shu Min, scholar-daughter of former MP Wee Siew Kim

7. “Remember your place in society before you engage in political debate… Debate cannot generate into a free-for-all where no distinction is made between the senior and junior party… You must make distinctions – What is high, what is low, what is above, what is below, and then within this, we can have a debate, we can have a discussion… people should not take on those in authority as ‘equals’.”
— Former Foreign Minister George Yeo (1994)

8. “They (top civil servants) get paid more, they’re highly educated, and they have bigger egos, bigger than any government employees I’ve met anywhere else in the world. It’s not good or bad, but they consider themselves superior to almost any government employee in the world.”
— Renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith on civil servants’ ego in Singapore (2011)

TanChooLeng

9. “$600,000 a year is peanuts.”
— Mrs. Goh Chok Tong (2004)

gohchoktong

Source: FB

10. “We are our own check. The integrity of our leaders, of our MPs. That’s where the check comes from. . .not this seductive lie of check and balance.”
— Goh Chok Tong, 26 August 2015

11. “I didn’t ask for it. That was the rate for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.”
President Nathan who doesn’t feel he needs to defend his high salary which was criticised extensively online. (The Sunday Times, 7 Aug 2011)

12. “I don’t think that there should be a cap on the number of directorship that a person can hold.”
— PAP MP John Chen who held 8 directorships

13. “It’s not for the money because some of the companies pay me as little as $10,000 a year.”
— PAP MP Wang Kai Yuen who held 11 directorships

14. “One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around.”
— Former PAP MP Mr Choo Wee Khiang, in a speech in Parliament in 1992

15. “Smaller Medisave means you’re lazy and work less.”
Khaw Boon Wan (2013)

16. “There’s no ladder to climb when the top rung is reserved for people with a certain name.”
— Forbes (2009)

17. “The elite’s privileged position in decision-making and exclusive formulation of organisational policies will only serve to reflect the elite’s self-interests instead of that of the masses.”
— Classical elite theorist Robert Michels, via Soh Yi Da

18. “Our funds are accountable to the government. I would not believe that transparency is everything.”
— PM Lee Hsien Loong, The Telegraph UK

19. “As an anti-PAP retired civil servant, I can tell you that all the PAP media events are staged with great care. Every photo opportunity is meticulously planned. As a former government press officer told me, we must manipulate the message.”
TRE Comment

20. “We are same — same but different.”
— Lim Swee Say via Teo Chee Hean (2015)

21. “Only rich or corrupt people work for free.”
— Vivian Balakrishnan, when asked about the salaries of Members of Parliament (2015)

22. “The reality as societies developed is that leaders often come from the same social circles, educational backgrounds and even family trees.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 2011

23. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1987

24. “In short, the elite.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1966

elite_meaning

Google search for meaning of “Elite”

+ + +

For more PAP ministers’ quotes, check out the following resources:

1) Top 30 Quotes from the Ivory Tower (TOC)

2) Photo Album (Martyn See)

3) Great PAP Quotes (Comment saved by Chris Ho)

4) Infamous Quotes by SG Leaders (AskMeLah)

Excerpts from The Emerging Elite, by Devan Nair

Standard

Transcribed by Jess C Scott from Not By Wages Alone (Selected Speeches and Writings of Devan Nair, 1959-1981).

Full article at Singapore Repository.

* * *

Excerpts from “The Emerging Elite” (1973)
by Devan Nair

devan_nair

Devan Nair:
Istana File Photo

(1) The shortcomings, weaknesses and foibles of the elite have their reactions on the ground. . .there should be periodic and public assessments of ground level reactions to them.

(2) What distresses me is the feeling that, at ground level, the new elite in Singapore appear to be generally regarded, not as the inspiring social leaders they ought to be, but as somewhat odious but necessary evils.

(3) There is a very vital reason why our new elite should take a hard look at themselves, the image they project to the ground, and their social values, or more correctly, what strikes the ground as their lack of social values. . .in order to rule and to lead effectively, there is a fundamental pre-requisite. And this is the acceptance by the ground of [the] aspirants to political and social leadership in Singapore.

(4) It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class. . .in more senses than one, [they] are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today. However, freak generations are never repeated by history. Indeed, it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.

(5) One unpleasant side-effect has been the creation of [an] elite with an enormous appreciation of their own financial value and a singular lack of any larger social consciousness or commitment. The success syndrome has engendered in many of them, not loftier and more worthy social drives, but baser and narrowly personal and selfish appetites.

(6) Excessively self-centred, [the new elite’s] primary concern seems to be the constant enhancement of their own market value, and the extra perks they can get for themselves.

(7) What [people on the ground] do resent is the lack of any tangible signs of general social concern or commitment on the part of the new elite. . .flamboyant life styles, and vulgar displays of affluence and spending power, do not endear the elite to the ground. They only estrange.

(8) The fact remains that an elite in any society must be a minority. And the sole social and political justification for an elite, in the long run, is the degree to which they can lead and inspire a whole society to higher levels of achievement. If they fail to do this, and are content merely to serve themselves and feather their own nests, there can be only one end-result — social and political instability in the Singapore of the future.

(9) It would be much easier for members of the emerging elite in Singapore [if] they took their own market value a little less seriously, and concentrated much more on widening and deepening their social values and commitments.

(10) What is called for is less of the cocktail circuit and more of the community circuit. . .all this must be done sincerely. For nothing smells more rankly to ground level noses than insincerity and hypocrisy at the top.

(11) After all, it requires only a little reflection on the part of our emerging elite to help them restrain their own selfish concerns. The simple truth is that they are where they are today, with their enhanced market value and special perks, because of the discipline and wage restraint exercised by the working population.

(12) The elitist aspirants to the future leadership of Singapore must be educated to realise that to be accepted as leaders of society, they must be clearly seen to be giving of themselves, their time and their energies, in a whole-hearted way, to the community. Those who choose only to receive, but not to give, will deserve, not the crown of leadership, but the failure of the Singapore effort to create a more just and a more equal society. It will be a failure which will be placed squarely at their doors.

C.V. Devan Nair, in The Emerging Elite (1973)

Book Review: The Ruling Elite of Singapore

Standard

* Featured on The Real SG, SG Daily, The Online Citizen and TR Emeritus.

The Ruling Elite of Singapore is a brilliant publication, in which Michael Barr, a senior lecturer in International Relations at Flinders University, Australia, explores “the complex and covert networks of power” in the city-state of Singapore.

The text is divided into eight concise chapters, written in a clear, objective style that is not bloated with academic jargon. The content is juicy without being slanderous, and factual without being pedantic.

The book takes an incisive look at the “twin myths that Singapore is a meritocratic and multiracial society,” by revealing how the power of personal networks and the centrality of Chinese ethnicity form the true core of the networks of power and influence in Singapore.

The introduction gives a quick outline of the book, which is very useful for quick reference. I especially liked the summary for Chapter 3 (“a brief account of the historical evolution of the elite, the basis of its monopoly of power and the nature of its self-perception as a proud, self-satisfied elite”).

Chapter 5 features a quote by retired Permanent Secretary, Ngiam Tong Dow, who said in a 2003 interview:

“However good [Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School] are and however brilliant their teachers are, the problem is that you are educating your elite in only two institutions, with only two sets of mentors.”

This comment highlights a lack of diversity in the process of elite selection and elite formation. It reminded me of the case with Wee Shu Min in 2006 (who exuberantly advised all commoners to “get out of [her] elite uncaring face”). While this disgraceful incident was not mentioned in Barr’s book, it displayed the self-entitlement and snobbish behavior that often accompanies a closed, elitist mindset.

Barr takes note of “the Lee family’s supremacy” in Singapore with a reminder (through a quote by Hamilton-Hart) of how the Lees are “effectively off-limits as subjects of criticism.” Barr also mentions how Ho Ching and Lee Hsien Yang have never been brought to account for any part in running down the value of their respective government-linked companies. Instead, both were praised and rewarded, despite their companies having engaged in “high-risk ventures that failed spectacularly.”

In the final chapter, Barr is diplomatic in pointing out how even the scenario of an opposition victory would not “necessarily challenge the system bequeathed by Lee Kuan Yew.” The author offers some critical thoughts without being overly optimistic or judgmental, in an effort to determine how much change or continuity there will be in the near future of Singapore’s political situation.

The job of an objective academic or historian is neither to sing praises nor hurl insults. It is to gather information and study the facts, in order to provide analysis and insightful commentary in order to educate the reader. I believe Barr has done very well in this regard, with his book’s intense focus on Singapore’s “ruling elite.”

It reminds us that politicians are supposed to govern society, not simply reward themselves at the expense of their serfs, I mean, citizens, because they feel entitled to do so.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the author, Michael Barr, for expanding his original paper into a full-length book, to the prestigious I.B.Tauris for publishing the title (and providing fine editing), and to Palgrave Macmillan for distributing the title in North America, where I am currently residing.

— By Jess: a former Singaporean who has a keen interest in the country, its people, and the direction of its leadership.

* * *

More Information:

The Ruling Elite (Amazon.com)
Book Depository (Free Shipping)
Michael Barr – Flinders University (Author)
I.B.Tauris | Palgrave Macmillan (Publishers)