Yesterday morning, I attended this discussion session on inequality at *Scape Centre to expand my thinking, and to hear more in terms of perspectives of other young Singaporeans on this current hot topic. This is good because this closed-door event is not organized by any other governmental organizations, with a “government statement”. There was no media coverage, hence everyone who came is able to share his/her most honest insights based on observations and growing-up experiences.
I haven’t read the book titled “This Is What Inequality Looks Like”, written by Ms Teo You Yenn. I will find an opportunity to search for it to read one day.
I believe there is a certain extent of inequality in all countries, including Singapore. The crucial point, is how do we acknowledge it, tackle it as a community of Singaporeans, and take concrete actions to uplift others who are struggling to scale up in life, due to their disadvantaged backgrounds.
During break-out group discussions, I gave my own inputs, from the angle of someone who is from a low-middle family background, neighbourhood school, Normal (Academic) stream, EM2, ITE, hard-of-hearing, late mature honours degree student-to-be-next-year.
Speaking from the point-of-view of someone who went through the education system in the 1980s, I always thought MOE had a bit hand contributing to inequality among Singaporeans as they grow up. There is some degree of educational stratification, resulting from the effects of Primary 3 streaming examinations.
I guess I must be the only one who could be from a low SES background, in a room full of university students, civil servants, academics, editors, lawyers etc. Thankfully there was one media professional who understood fully what I meant because we are the same age-group! Haha..
There was one speaker who spoke on 3 elements which are needed to beat inequality – choice, circumstance, and community.
On personal basis, I think we must always remember this – we always have a choice to decide becoming good or bad. Complaining is of no use. Being aware of own circumstance is also important. Look at where you are now, with a macro view. With a calm rational mind, I believe you can strategize, and with a never-give-up attitude, you strive to go to where you want to go.
If you can visualize it, you can achieve it definitely. The warrior mentality.
Community wise, I think it will be good to be aware of the available avenues one can turn to, for help. A community of supporting hands. To navigate smoothly through the seas of life, it matters too when it comes to whom you know.
Your inner circle of friends.
Your inner circle of influences.
Are they able to support and challenge you intellectually, to elevate you to a higher level?
I am a firm believer of positive peer influence. I often emphasize this heavily to the younger ones – You have to be selective with friends whom you mix around with. Like that saying goes, “If you want to fly like an eagle, don’t swim with the ducks!”
The questions posed are difficult. This should spur us all to think hard about inequality in Singapore.
What kind of Singapore do we want to see in 15 or 50 years’ time?
Kudos to Clarence and Jin Yao for doing this grounds-up initiative!
To tackle this issue, for a start, I think we ourselves can really start sharing our personal stories on online media platforms about how we overcome odds/challenges to beat perceived inequality on our own, to go where we want to go, to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to fellow Singaporeans who are currently struggling at their disadvantaged backgrounds.