Under our system of meritocracy, the elites win even when they lose

Ng Chee Meng lost in the general election but gets to stay on as secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

He and his fellow People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates for Sengkang GRC, Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC were all defeated yet they can be appointed grassroots advisers under the People’s Association (PA).

Meanwhile, elected Workers’ Party Members of Parliament are not allowed to take charge of grassroots organisations. They also cannot make use of publicly-funded PA facilities for meet-the-people sessions and community events while unelected PAP grassroots advisers can do so.

In the aftermath of GE2020, there has been much talk of renewal, reflection and soul-searching for the PAP.

The PAP does not need to look far – just start by levelling the playing field and upholding the tenets of justice and equality.

The PAP has to concede that the assertion by Minister Chan Chun Sing that he would be “the last person to ever allow the PA to be politicised” does not hold up under scrutiny.

The PAP must surely realise that Singaporeans do not see the PA and NTUC as independent, apolitical organisations. Neither can the Elections Department, under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office, maintain its independence.

As long as the PAP clings on to the status quo, it is choosing to turn a blind eye.

Under the current system, even losing an election can still feel like winning. Winning, on the other hand, comes with penalties – like opposition elected MPs being denied appointment as grassroots advisers, denied the use of PA facilities, and having to go through unelected PAP grassroots advisers for community improvement upgrading projects.

When push comes to shove, PAP losing candidates are let in by the back door.

In 2011, Ong Ye Kung lost as a candidate for Aljunied GRC. He was “parked” at NTUC and Keppel Corporation and returned to contest GE2015– not in Aljunied GRC but in the safe and secure Sembawang GRC. He got in effortlessly and got fast tracked to a ministerial post.

There is every possibility that Ng Chee Meng will take the same route. He will bide his time at NTUC and could return to contest in five years’ time not necessarily in Sengkang GRC but back door via a safe GRC. No fighting spirit, fortitude and perseverance needed.

The message is that an elite can do no wrong. Any setback is temporary. There is always a path forward. The PAP – as benefactor and guardian angel – has full control of the chessboard and can move the pieces at will.

Isn’t that the very antithesis of meritocracy?

Unless the PAP has the appetite for a radical shift to address inequality, injustice, entitlement and elitism, all the reflection and soul-searching post GE2020 would be fruitless.

Augustine Low




36 Responses to “Under our system of meritocracy, the elites win even when they lose”

  • John Richards:

    Meritocracy in Singapore is nothing more than the PAP’s version of the caste system.

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  • Tremendous:

    1, if you have been a general, stay on another five years in the same place, fight and reclaim your group constituency. Most of all, don’t behave like your masters who only know how to play dirty by denying legitimate resources for the nation’s elected representatives. But maybe you won’t do that because you will have cold feet the moment the role to work at ground level is given to you. Don’t be like some education chief who came through the backdoor in the second round.
    2, if you got 47% and can still be labour chief and an opposing contestant got 48% without anything, you are just someone suffering from the loyal puppy syndrome. You are a product of a false meritocracy and resilience system. Doesn’t matter if your master gives you the signal to deploy you elsewhere for the next five years and then head for another group representation constituency. You and your master haven’t been hearing the people right. Either that or you heard the people right but refused to speak up against your master for their sake. In any case, you have deluded yourself till elections came so blame no one but yourself.

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  • SGP:

    “Under the current system, even losing an election can still feel like winning. Winning, on the other hand, comes with penalties – like opposition elected MPs being denied appointment as grassroots advisers, denied the use of PA facilities, and having to go through unelected PAP grassroots advisers for community improvement upgrading projects.”

    Why should community upgrading projects be tied to support in voting PAP candidates as funds come from taxpayers whether they vote PAP or Opposition party! Can residents of Opposition wards withdraw from paying taxes?

    The whole system of PA & grassroots advisers should be overhauled as it stinks of Pee And Poo stains!

    PAP’s integrity is questionable! After GE, the PAP-govt should think of serving the whole nation to improve the citizens’ quality of life regardless of which party is managing the estate!

    This is the right thing to do for PAP-govt!

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  • Realist:

    PAP meritocracy — husband PM, wife Temasek CEO, ownself reward ownself scholarships, promote own spouse n siblings….truly world class!

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    Dear Augustine,
    You said “The PAP does not need to look far – just start by the playing field and upholding the tenets of justice and equality.”
    My grandmaster LKY and master PM Lee already said that politics is not a walk in the park.

    It is not in our PAP interest to make things equal and easy for Opposition.
    It is every man for himself.

    Your Ang Mo is Angel Donald Trump also make use of state resources to prevent his opponent Joe Biden from winning.


    And your fake democratic country ROC Taiwan President Tsai also make use of state resources to prevent his opponent Han Kuo-yu from winning.


    Please print and share my post to educate more Singaporeans.
    USA and ROC Taiwan show that it is every man for himself.
    Democratic means fair and equal ? Hahaha….
    You must be high on drugs …

    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must? be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

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  • A lot of hot air!:

    Quote: “Unless the PAP has the appetite for a radical shift to address inequality, injustice, entitlement and elitism, all the reflection and soul-searching post GE2020 would be fruitless”. Unquote.

    I think it will be more appropriate to say that it will be just a lot of hot air! They cannot change! They will not change until they are kicked out!

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  • meritocracy satire:

    In 1958, Michael Young published a book called The Rise of the Meritocracy as a satirical criticism of the concept of meritocracy. From Wikipedia:

    It describes a dystopian society in a future United Kingdom in which intelligence and merit have become the central tenet of society, replacing previous divisions of social class and creating a society stratified between a merited power holding elite and a disenfranchised underclass of the less merited.

    Ridiculous To follow a satire piece as Nation building principle

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  • 53% Leader:

    If there is gerrymandering, is that meritocracy?

    If there is rubber stamping, is that honesty ?
    Is that people representation ?

    Note that I am asking only. I never allege anything. Simple English.

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  • Charlie:

    Paper generals do not have fighting spirit and fortitude — they run away when the going gets tough and hide behind the PAP skirts. That’s meritocracy for you Sg style!

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  • Future Kings:


    The culture of entitlement has taken a deep root in the Singapore society slowly but surely over the past 50 years of PAP reign. How did it all started?

    It started with meritocracy (rewarding and promoting anyone who performs well) that raised a few farmers and peasants onto the high pedestal of society, e.g. a washer-woman’s son was raised to the most powerful position of the land. After a few of such meritocrats attained high status, wealth and power, they began to think of themselves as The Elite Class, who are entitled to rule the country because they are the best thinkers and performers. And also further entitled to $millions pays and bonuses, beyond conscionable rationale.

    After ruling the country for some time, they began to think that they are entitled to rule forever and so they proclaimed themselves as The Aristocrat Class, the Untouchables. No one can challenge them. No one can criticise them. No one should tell them what or how to do certain things. No matter what actions they take, they must always be right. Never wrong. Never need to apologise. They are now entitled to do wrong things and be considered as right. This is the epitome of Entitlement and the zenith of Meritocracy. It is now called Meritocrazy!

    Even opinions are now considered as an entitlement!

    Opinions are expressions under the article of Freedom of Expressions enshrined in our National Constitution. They are not entitlements. Every intelligent human being is born with the freedom to express himself or herself. This is Natural Law, not man-made law. It is power-crazy men and women who try their best to suppress and alter this Natural Law of Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Experience that has brought so much injustice and suffering into the world.

    Entitlement, similar to privilege, means someone/authority gives it to you. Which means it can also be withdrawn from you if you behave badly or do not fall in line with what has been laid down by that someone or authority. Or you can be POFMA-ED by the iron-fist ministers’ idiosyncratic interpretations of truth and falsehood.

    The Freedom of Expression enshrined in the Constitution nobody can take back from you. Not even the highest court of the Land. Unless the Constitution is suspended and a new Constitution is drawn up and approved in a Referendum to replace the previous Constitution. Many military coups’ juntas simply abolished the old constitution and replaced it with a new one. Never go through proper legal process. No referendum. No elections. No consensus. Power simply rose from the barrels of the guns. He who holds the gun holds the power.

    The law of the jungle reigns supreme in times of disorder and chaos. It is the commoners who always suffer, always on the losing end. That’s why commoners are inclined to think of their freedom of expression as an ENTITLEMENT!

    Future Kings

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    Meritocracy like Aristocracy is PURE PaP CRAP!!!

    it is better KNOWN as Hypocrisy!!!

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  • Sojoürner:

    The Singapore system is not a meritocracy. It’s been a cronyism encrusted nepotistic money mad favor trading plutocracy since the mid 1980s and is becoming ever more so. It is very good at one thing though – convincing the general population that even with all its evident manifold flaws the current system is the best that can be hoped for.

    Our “electoral process” has ever allowed for anything resembling a meritocracy? Candidates are handpicked. As long as “merit” and “money” are synonymous, the system works as it should.

    This masterful stroke of self serving propaganda having succeeded the vast “merit-less” swath of the population silently suffers in cowed silence. Clearly, for some people it is. “You succeeded because you are the best”. Which is, as anyone knows, usually hogwash.

    One of my favorite quotes is “Even if you win the rat race you are still a rat.”

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  • RDB:

    In short lingo, PAP is a DICTATORIAL GaGaMent lah!!! Bloody cow2ards with proper laws and practice of fairness for competitions… As they are all COWARDS to their very last breath.

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  • Samuel S:

    Simple the first thing this government need to do is to abolish PA. Of course PAP will not do so, so the best way is to remove PA in oppositions wards. Why must oppositions MPs need to approach defected PAP candidates to get funds to improve their wards? Until PAP changes their mindset in operation in opposition wards, they will never gain back these wards.

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  • Pioneer:

    So, now you know why they created the GRC scheme which is opposed by many of countrymen (women, included)and opposition parties.. For them, this allow them to move “lost”ministeers to a safe GRC. To hide new candidates who they knew have potential to become ministeers. So many cases elected this way, you can check the history in internet.

    Now, that the WP has won 2 GRCs, I think people are worried that they may introduce new amendments and changes to tighten the GRC scheme. They have the mandate, so I think they can do it, e.g. the reserved papsident. Our 10 WP MPs and the 2 PSP NCMPs can vote against the motions, but still cannot save us. NCMPs are allowed to vote in ParLeemen, but what for when they have 83 white Papayas ?

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  • C wong:

    Start a petition

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  • opposition dude:

    “The PAP does not need to look far – just start by levelling the playing field and upholding the tenets of justice and equality.”

    And as long as PAP pretends this isn’t happening and does nothing about it (as we all expect them to) then this will only deepen our impressions of them not being transparent and, as usual, play dirty.

    PAP is like sour grapes, lose already cannot tahan that they lost and still must win in some capacity. Opposition MPs not being able to use peoper facilities to conduct MPS is one glaring example. You really have to admire how Mr Chiam and Mr Low did it before 2011.

    As far as Ng returning, if it should happen and he goes to some sure win GRC then we can also say that he is a loser and that PAP allows ex 4G people to come in after they have been kicked out by voters. More ammunition for us to shoot PAP with whoo hoo!

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  • No Point To Talk Anymore:

    PAP cannot change. PAP will not change. They played dirty.

    No point to talk anymore. Just kick them out by your votes or other means. KNNBCCB

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  • Don’t humiliate elite 2:

    Image damaged but public thinks otherwise, no legal contest, lky image totally gone! It was opined among the elites, real ones not the bootlicking fakes that lky still influential mong the compliant bureaucrats n a repeat of former SDJ Michael Khoo whose stand firm in his professional etiquette of not compliant may just happen is more likely n the outcome may be disastrous n cannot be saved even with Covid 19 as Chan CS lamented the truth of pap fate depending of crisis including sars, twin tower n death of lky.

    So PAzp is definitely not practising meritocracy upon elitism but a deprived form of meritocracy Based on polanpa capabilitywhich only woukd succumb the lesser humans n definitely not the genuine elites characterised by real talent sufficient to stay on with his integrity, honour, dignity intact n more importantly he has the confident to succeed to go on his own if the ambient become intolerable relative to his red line limit.

    Elites r Elites. Polanpa aren’t definitely no elite. Meritocracy based on talent, resourcefuness n independent thinking n initiative is system based on elitism but meritocracy based on how well one fares in bootlicking or brownosing or polanpa is definitely not a system on elitism butbrather on a group of depraved profesdional with nfi of his professopionalism n negligibly low in confidencein his own ability that he has to deprave himeself to succumb to do the bidding of the bootlicking source! So please Singaporeans have respects for our elites n not dumped them together with the scums which need arrogance to cover his inadequacy n shame of depravation!

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  • Dun Bluff Mi U Tink I 2pid?:

    This is the problem.

    Who is the Chairman of PA? Pinky
    Who is the Deputy Chairman of PA? Cotton-Comes-from-Sheep

    Look at the rest of the Board and you will know why the Oppos can’t use the PA facilities..


    Why are public funds used to support their agenda? You draw your own conclusions..

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  • Trust PAP - an oxymoron:

    Strait Times: PAP’s openness to sharing information will determine extent of realistic policy alternatives, says WP’s Pritam Singh

    Correct. But do not hold your breath. PAP has NEVER been open and transparent. (That is why there no REAL accountability in the public sector.)

    It is wishful thinking to believe PAP will be FULLY open to sharing information to allow WP to come up with policy alternatives Why? Because by NOT providing FULL information it can easily claim WP policy alternatives are not feasible.

    Remember when WP took over Aljunied GRC it made it difficult for WP to take over running of the town council by withholding information and records.

    PAP is always self-serving and cannot be trusted. It is that simple.

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  • xoxo:

    thats why its not MERITocracy.
    Its me-LEE-tocra$y?
    The idea is to lick boots and you will be rewarded whether or not you are meritorious.

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  • Story Time:

    One day, a new minister introduces an old woman as Mrs Leeching. He “step down” very soon after.

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  • Harder Truths:

    The pappy is a cash cow for anyone willing to support them and play the political game of ‘I carry your balls and you support my a$$e’.

    Never can go wrong.

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  • Uselesstankl:

    vote for pap some more….





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  • Mai hum natural aristocrat meh:

    Looney warms no cockles in our hearts; verily his absolute power has corrupted us (almost) absolutely. Even the whole wide world knows he and his fellow cocks peck deeply into the Crony Provident Fund.

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  • Ah Meng:

    Now u hv a Loser running the show in a big organization here. Do u respect this kind of a Loser leading in an organization? Would u follow a Loser leader? Probably u wud if u wanna be the lackeys or u r the cronies of aleetocracts.

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  • owl:

    Ng Chee Meng is KEE CHIU’s buddy.
    If your bed-mate is in trouble,you help him?

    And,KEE CHIU is secret blue-eye boy of Lee Ah Long.
    Sure,protect mah?

    Thats why former PAP’s poster boy Tan Chuan Jin is waiting to be re-instated.

    Where got democracy?
    Thats WHY it is merely MEDIOCRITY!

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  • Good for Singapore:

    Good that NTUC Chief is not a Minister.
    Time to delink the two.NTUC should be independent and represent workers interest.
    NTUC and PA should not be headed by political appointee.
    Good for Singapore.

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  • OK Lah:

    OK to have a NTUC chief that is not a Minister or MP.
    Now can concentrate to fight for Workers welfare and create more decent jobs for locals.
    Thanks to Sengkang Residents…

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  • NotMyProblem:

    C wong:
    Start a petition

    Petition for what?

    GRCs were initially to ensure minority race representation in Parliament, but now only useless Chinese MPs enter Parliament by GRCs.

    Murali entered parliament for the first time in Bukit Batok SMC as a rookie alone. So do you still believe in GRC for minority race.

    If GRC is for minority race, why when Halimah left Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, she did not insisted for a by-election to elect another minority to replace her?

    PAP already conned you so many times, you still want to believe PAP?

    Just vote in opposition from more GRCs, PAP will abolish it!

    Don’t blame PAP, blame the voters!!! Voters know very well they are been screwed, but they just love it!!

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  • Cockling:


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  • lol plz stop:

    @Good for Singapore
    @OK Lah

    Are you guys daft??? NTUC is still, and will always be under the govt control.

    Labor laws will always favor the employer in order to keep them happy. This is the SG model, and it will not change. Why?? $$ rules in Singapore.

    You try to live for another 50 years. Maybe your odds of a true labour union existing in Singapore will appear

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  • Moronic joke?:

    Lately saw a video on Taiwan media on SIN dishonorablfe imbercile son n his gorilla commenting on HK civil commotion. It must be a joke of the century thpo hear that he advise the Honkies to sit downwith Xi administration n told them what they Hongkies want when he himself refused shamelessly to tell what Singaporeans want with regards to the $100 million question, the 10 million population n the real COF issue n how r the $28+++ millions spent on the couple of days meeting between Kim n Trump? More importantly the financial deatils of how thev $60 billions his cabinet took for Covid 19. Instead of simply telling what Singaporeans asked peacefully, he n his ministers have been using POFMA to suppress n his female minister has been wanting to see Singaporeans behaving like Hongkies before nshe n her fellow ministers would understand their issue?

    Wayang in Sin is bad enough but wayanging outside Singapore is real stupidity? Tell Singaporeans the $100 Millions saga, the CPF n the new CPF Life scam to see the young singaporeans facing the problem of their CPF as they would in 10 years time with their CPF life? Lies, lies lies. POFMA is to suppress the truth b the truth is it is violating the Constitution, a criminal offence? Compliant beauracracy? Lky image already gone by clealy telling on the dead man n seat warmer face they were bullshing in the trio declaration. This is worse than image loss as it means pouring shit over the two PMs!!

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  • xoxo:

    so,going back to Devan Nair’s time or worse?
    Now,even Devan was an MP.
    After him,Lim Chee Onn,OTC,LBH,all ministerial level?

    So,will Ng be replaced?
    How to have TRIPARTITE when Ng is now non-gahman?

    Still can keep high pay job meh?
    Maybe let the SK winner,He Tin Ru be NTUC CHIEF?
    Afterall,she from *WORKERS* PARTY?

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  • Pap meritocracy =“polanpa:

    CCS already told into the faces of SIN Pmets that he has no problem is displacing them from their jobs with aliens way before the GE2020 n yet the PMETs remained indoctrinated to the fakes from POFMA. Trust the 48%singaporeans who have awakened n vote all the opp parties bexcept the moronic Sinners still trusting the greedy, traitorous yellow n rotten bananas in white n their poison apples just to lure these moronic sinners into voting them back to screw them flats! What i s ne,xt is the whole greedy PSTLBs to be karmaed with their poison poison or for Heng to wake up from his evil dream n starts to kick out the AGsn the compliant bastards for if they r compliants they r no b good to go forwards Tell Singaporeans the truth about the 100 millions, the 28 millions Trump kim shits n the 60 billions. Be reminded your heart attack as a forewarning ir it is not fake by the spillout reason of pap existence till now else face worse warning n finally …. as Taiwanese famour taoists will tell you!

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