The question, therefore, is not whether children from low-income families can make it to RI, become President’s Scholars, or succeed in life (answer: they can), but the proportion of children who actually do. Mapping out the extent to which these children and their families make it and the extent to which a level playing field exists – assuming that it is equity, not equality, we desire – are moreover useful for understanding the structural challenges they face. This also underlines a second opposition to the disproportionate emphasis on anecdotes (even well-meaning and meaningful ones): That structural problems demand structural solutions, not just piecemeal calls for changes in mindsets or stereotypes. Continue reading
The success of the upcoming national conversations depends if “naysayers” and less-privileged Singaporeans participate in these discussions, as well as the extent to which they can set the agenda and to extend their participation beyond these one-off endeavours.
And having participated in the Our Singapore Conversation series in 2012 and 2013 and the sessions by the education and defence ministries, and having benefited from the interactions with different Singaporeans, the risks of running over the same old ground and of selective engagement must be noted. Continue reading
Now that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has delivered this year’s Budget, and with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) working to explain the different components of his speech, the brouhaha last month surrounding the MOF’s engagement of young “online micro-influencers” to publicise the Budget appears to be more symptomatic of a deeper malaise: That the government struggles to meaningfully communicate its policies. The communication is a familiar it-is-what-it-is approach, characterised by missed opportunities to explain how policy decisions – when compared against alternatives – were made and to help Singaporeans better understand policymaking, and in the process dispel myths. Continue reading