Why are the elites always looking down on ordinary Singaporeans?

Veteran diplomat Tommy Koh lamented recently that Singapore is a First World country with Third World citizens. Instead of pointing his fingers at the PAP-Government for fueling the lack of civic-mindedness that citizens of an advanced country should have, he accused Singaporeans of being selfish and unkind.

Other establishment figures added their weight to Koh’s comments and blamed Singaporeans for everything – from being uncouth, to treating their maids badly, to failing to return the trays at hawker centres after meals and driving discourteously.

Why point fingers at ordinary Singaporeans when it is the Government which is propagating the culture of ‘to each his own’? Didn’t the Prime Minister recently say that Singaporeans had to cannibalise ourselves? Didn’t he also extol the sense of insecurity and paranoia as virtues? How do you expect the citizens who live under such constant duress to react?

And also, almost 40% of the population in Singapore are foreigners. Many of them are from third world countries. These negative behaviours the elites refer to could have much easily come from foreigners as they could have from locals.

Take the issue of littering, for example. Sometime ago, PM Lee chastised Singaporeans for garbage they supposedly left behind at the Laneway Festival.

If after almost 50 years of ‘Keep Singapore Clean’ campaign, Singaporeans had not learnt to pick-up the trash after themselves, then something is seriously wrong with the campaign, or our people are not teachable, or our society has changed so much beyond recognition that this value is now alien to them.

On 12 Oct 1988, ST reported that most middle class Singaporeans will not throw rubbish or spit in public in Singapore. So, what happened since then?

Mr Goh Chok Tong then chimed in on PM Lee’s chastisement of Singaporeans over the garbage problem and said that it ‘looks like a case of “monkeys see, monkeys do”‘.

So, who are the ‘monkeys’ that aire following other ‘monkeys’? The very people who put you in power?


Ravi Philemon




24 Responses to “Why are the elites always looking down on ordinary Singaporeans?”

  • PC Ong:

    Confucius teach us to reflect on ourselves. Dr Koh is saying it to help us improve ourselves. What is wrong with that? Why people so thin-skinned, can’t even take a little criticism?

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  • MikeB:

    Read between the lines; perhaps he is trying to hint gutless 70% Singaporeans to wake up and see what is happening to their country. He is supporting CHANGE for a better Singapore for Singaporeans. Everyone has a limit, enough is enough…

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  • UniQ:

    When one points the finger at someone, they forget that 3 fingers are pointing back at them in an obscure manner. See the analogy ?

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  • Ethics of Natural Aristocracy:

    The Analects were recorded by Confucius’s disciples, probably at the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century B.C., during the Warring States period. Composed of twenty chapters, each is made up of aphorisms, questions, and notes attributed to Confucius and twenty of his disciples, most notably Master Tseng, who wrote twelve sayings of his own; Jan Ch’iu, who became a lieutenant in the powerful Chi family; and Tzu-Kung, who became a prominent diplomat. Though scholars generally agree that the Analects cannot be regarded as a direct transcription of Confucius’s sayings, they acknowledge that the work provides an excellent summary of his main philosophical ideas.

    Central to the Analects is the virtue of JEN, often translated as humanity, good, or reciprocity. TAO, another key concept in the work, refers to the way that individuals, families, and governments should conduct themselves in the world, in consonance with Cosmic Order, while LI involves the performance of rites, ceremonies, and group activities that foster a connection with the world beyond the everyday. Confucius’s teaching method stressed independent thinking on the part of his students and he strove to define concepts in an abstract, universal manner that could be applied to different cultures. As a result, his philosophical principles in the Analects are not precisely defined, thus evoking diverse sometimes conflicting interpretations. For example, the Analects’ emphasis on discipline, duty, and manners has been used by some political leaders to justify Dictatorial Rule, whereas Confucius’ view of the state was that it should serve the people in Propriety and Goodness.

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  • MenInSheepClothing:

    Do you know that in Singapore you lose your belonging(like hand phone or wallet), 9 out of 10 it will not be returned to you? Recently my friend left a small purchase on the food counter of IKEA(within their premise) and walked away after a meal. Within an hour of checking with staff from IKEA, they told her item was gone, despite security camera around.

    Anybody care? No.

    Singapore looks righteous on the outside(rule of law) but don’t look at the things they do beneath the law(their leaders justify greed and persecution of those who attempt to hold them accountable etc etc). The people, their children or breed, are equally lawless beneath the legal system(or lawfully blind and idiotic like sheep).

    The more crooked the people, the more law. That is the Singapore today. Toleterant of nonsense by the elites. Ugly self centered and self enriching people nobody really likes.

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  • To Tommy Koh:

    Why only now you say that?
    Not 10 years ago?
    Not when you held a high pay job in the civil service?
    I remember vaguely a cynical investor, a frequent TREMERITUS contributor, recently complaining about his mother not getting a NTUC fairprice discount card promptly.
    I presume he is rich, belonging to the top 20% percentile of the population.
    Yet he is crying publicly, pressuring PAP controlled NTUC and its PAP crony fairprice CEO, for a discount card for his mother.
    I am not surprised his mother also buys grocery from fairprice for him and family.
    This is Singapore.
    The rich are fighting to get richer, a second condo, or a landed property.
    PAP sets the tone for this.
    LKY said correctly to the effect that 80% are sheep.
    Majority are just living from hand to mouth, those have more will fight to get more.
    Prices rise, PAP gives token subsidies, rebates, vouchers, discounts.
    In the case of fairprice, who benefits, who pays higher prices?
    Obvious, CI’s mother and ilk, the rest pay for because fairprice will increase its prices!

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  • RDB:

    Monkeys in power as gagament can think properly meh. Don’t they naturally swing from tree tot tree!

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  • oxygen:

    @ Ravi Philemon


    A kinder and gentler Singapore? FO!!!

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  • oxygen:

    TO AVOID DOUBTS, just ask Ivan Pavlov on his classical conditioning findings.

    Pavlov’s Dogs


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  • 70% love it:

    What can you do?
    70% love it.

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  • Att. Indianee Humka Chan:

    A serious reminder to Indianee n Stupidus Humka Chan that nation is above party else committing treason n for security reason no other definition treason faces the severe sentence of extinction. In ancient China it means wipe out entire clans up to nine generations! Nation above party. Polanpa inexcusable

    Note well Indianee n Stupidus Hum Ka Chan,

    Nation above Party

    else extinction nine generations for security reason!

    Also tell Shame, with aliens/citizen population ~>1! talk of be alert of foreign interference is just bullshit. PAP cabinet responsible n commit treason so heed what constitution n laws of the land have installed for crime of treason. in Chinese tradition it is extinction of entire clan 9 generations not just Shame himself! Cabinet ?.. Better resign n hope for the best of the kindness of the persecuted becoming prosecutors!

    ho ho ho down the black chimney with a hugh bags for dark op! ho ho ho down the himney

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  • What's Wrong ?:

    Govt adopt ‘You Die Your Business’ and ‘Fight And Steal you Lunch From Others’ so Singaporeans just following Elite orders. Not surprising.

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  • True facts:

    His father moved the country to first World while the son moved the country back to third world as he run out of ideas.

    True facts that’s why only fts working now locals jobless. Dishonourable son.

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    Let’s talk some “feng Liang hua” or i n Cantonese “Fong Liong Wa”.

    If we don’t litter, cleaners have no jobs. If we return trays, cleaners have no jobs.

    Let’s create a huge mess and in so doing create more jobs!

    We must adapt to 3rd world people by acting like them! Don’t say we all never understand foreigners hor.

    We must be rude, nsaty, ungracious and always try to run faster than the next person. Guess who inspired us?

    We must bully and ill treat our maids just as we are ill treated and bullied by employers, unjust wok clasuses, horrible environments etc.

    During the 1970s, the govt ran a courtesy campaign with a jingle to boot. Indirectly saying we are all rude.

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  • think of our future w/o PAP:

    no where else on this planet can we find bodohs like sgs.
    giving them blank cheques GE after GE…
    so much so that the miws think theyre so high and mighty!
    treating real sgs like floormats and walking atms.

    enough is enough–just VTO.

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  • TruBlu:

    Lets be brutally frank here.
    What Ravi observe is true.
    I can only say one thing.

    Since secondary school days,such * scholars * hail from SUPER SCHOOLS such as RI and somehow they inculcate the STOOPID NOTION OF ELITISM.

    I have come across many of them.
    They think TOO HIGHLY IF THEMSELVES N DARE OPENLY LOOK DOWN ON students from * kampong * schools or * gangster * schools.

    Such elitist students grow up to become farking arrogant n later on when they take on top govt posts, their BAD HABIT carries on in public * service *.

    Boys n gals from top mission schools are somewhat better.
    When they take up govt posts, they still have some conscience left in them unlike GOVT ELITE SCHOOLS.

    SORRY to those few good chaps from such schools but generally what i observe us true.
    I do mix around with such people during ARMY N at my workplaces n other encounters.

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  • Harder Truths:

    Because the ordinary $ingaporean keeps kow-towing & kisses their *** all the time?

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    PC Ong:
    Confucius teach us to reflect on ourselves. Dr Koh is saying it to help us improve ourselves. What is wrong with that? Why people so thin-skinned, can’t even take a little criticism?

    Dear PC Ong,
    It is not that these Singaporeans are thin-skinned and cannot take a little criticism.

    To me, these group of Singaporeans(Ang Mo Tua Kee type) are the worst lot who demand democracy but will beat up anyone who does not agree with them.

    These group of Singaporeans (Ang Mo Tua Kee type) are like the Hong Kong coward black shirt masked face pro democracy protesters. Beating people who disagree with them.



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  • gets hotter and spicier:

    //Singapore is a First World country with Third World citizens.//

    of course la. sinkie land is made up all sorts of chat-ba-lang people with all chat-ba-lang motivations lar and don’t forget a significant portion have also shared the title as sinkies (third class + 151th standard hor ?) via open-leg policy ?

    this chat-ba-lang standard going to get worst lar when the chat-ba-lang competition for jobs + space gets hotter and spicier lar ?

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  • conflate the situation:

    //These group of Singaporeans (Ang Mo Tua Kee type) are like the Hong Kong coward black shirt masked face pro democracy protesters. Beating people who disagree with them.//

    aiyoh. why try to conflate the situation of sinkies with hk people lar ?

    what coward lar ? hk people smarter politically lar (but even so must pay the price lar in the chaos lar), do you think they will not be gong gong daft daft showing their face and get arrested easily by those who have the licence to use force (beating people ?) + gun (shooting people ?) and still have the backing of the law doing the “dirty work” for the politicians who are the first cause of the problem (but do not have to face the protesters in the frontline) and who may disagree with / ignore (pretending to listen to them only hor ?) the demand of the people lor ?

    do you mean that some elites can force their policies (passed ‘legally’ hor like 4 = 5 and selected = elected) on the people who may disagree with such policies and people must still play the role of obedient children and keep quiet under the disadvantageous rules set up by the former ?

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  • Re PCOng:

    If Lky is still around, pcong will really get him excited n his face will get triply contorted with frustrating rage n out will be PAP is sad to recruit 就6 cylinders falling sick to remain alife with 2 which is no damn use to pap n singapore. singaporeans r daft but now some r bcoming damn idiots approach to moron,. As a professor has once said to me Low IQ needs help but stuppidity is criminal n the criminal severity increases asymptoyically from aft to idiotic n beyond redemption moronic. PCOng has find his end.

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  • Anon:

    The good professor is not wrong in saying that Singapore is a 1st world country with a 3rd world people. But curiously, he stops short of examining WHY structurally and culturally this is the case. Instead, he predictably chooses to imply that this is something that individuals themselves can do much about. Psychological explanations seem to be the default go-to explanation when things are not right, but structures and govt policies are praised when things Do go well. There is an asymmetry in the go-to explanations. He should know better that ideological and cultural conditioning play a very significant role in shaping individual choices and behaviours in the very first instance. If policies are promulgated that encourage self-serving behaviour, and if such self-serving behaviour manifest itself as exemplars by prominent appointed individuals, it naturally legitimises the ‘each man for himself mentality’. Reinforce this with tight pressurised competitive conditions where each individual at ground level has to scramble to simply cope and make ends meet, and you have a recipe for so-called ‘third world’ behaviour, though many third world citizens, like the Singapore of old, display a refreshing concern for the welfare of others around them. In short, the underlying meritocratic system, the winner takes all, and the loser has to scratch out a living, that is the cause for encouraging each man (sic) to take care of himself before all others.
    Try an experiment. take an average Singaporean and immerse him in a Norwegian socio-economic system, or even in Scotland where I live, and in 5 years, I will wager, that Singaporean individual will have seamlessly and almost unnoticed absorbed all the civic minded behaviours that Tommy Koh laments is lacking. Without thinking, they will stop for old folks to cross streets, courteously give way to other cars trying to get out, return food trays of their own volition, and many many small things that make for a softer more caring society. No more rushing around, no more ‘choping’ of seats, or parking spaces etc. All these are a result of our artificially created scarcity and the exaggerated consequence of losing out. It need not be the case. Singapore can be still successful, innovative and pioneering without these artificially created ‘do or die’ situations. If only, the powers that be are able to step back and see that there are many other ways of arriving at a thriving economy. Sadly, it does not appear likely.

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  • NimaHo:

    PC Ong:
    Confucius teach us to reflect on ourselves. Dr Koh is saying it to help us improve ourselves. What is wrong with that? Why people so thin-skinned, can’t even take a little criticism?

    Totally agreed that people are so thin-skinned. People see, people learnt esp. from the PAP elites. Hohoho! Jing-ho!

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  • from the great wise C:

    //Confucius teach us to reflect on ourselves.//

    aiyoh. the wise C must have also taught (or somehow given the idea to) the white monkey idiots to read 4 as 5 and selected = elected ?

    you (perhaps learning much from the great wise C) would do the white monkey idiots a great favor by asking them to reflect on their wayang too ?

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