Home > Impartial Views > Meritocracy needs a social net

Meritocracy needs a social net

Meritocracy, the ethos of the Singapore model, allows social mobility and the filtration of the best of the best to lead the country to greater progress. However, such a system would also mean that those who can’t catch up end up being left behind further and further away as the nation continues to move forward. We should enlarge our social net to catch the increasingly number of needy people who fell through the cracks.

A dominant political party with suppressive laws on expression runs contradictory to any claims on willingness to listen to ground feedback. Minister George Yeo became the first to openly agree that there is a disconnection between the ruling party and the citizens. Such admittance was unthinkable before this election came about. The benefit of having more opposition party is already showing before polling day. The question is: Will the ruling party truly act on their words of willingness to listen to ground feedback and solve the issues that gripes most Singaporeans? Or will they turn back to their old ways, amend the constitution and tilt the next election in 2016 more to their favor? The only guarantee to compel the PAP to come down to ground level is only via pushing more alternative voices of opposition parties into Parliament.

I applauded the PAP for leading the country to great economic growth since Independence. While I critic on some of the PAP policies, there are some which I totally agree. Economically, some policies such as ERP actually makes sense in theory. What other ways are there to prevent an increasingly crowded road? Hitting the wallet makes great economical sense as money is the most utility maximizing–meaning it has the greatest motivational force to alter human behavior. That is why you see policies in Singapore are mostly crafted around money. High fines to prevent people from littering. An auction system for COE to make sure the consumers always pays the highest price to prevent prevalent buying of cars. However, ERP is only a short term solution. Sooner or later, those who can afford will internalize the cost, some will normalize their reaction towards ERP, and some will simply give up on owning a car. The long term solution is not restricting people from entering some parts of the city. A longer term solution would be diverting human activity to other parts of the country such as promoting office buildings and entertainment centers in other parts of Singapore.

Going on with a policy without feedback from the ground and not even bothering to convince the people only exacerbates more resentment against unpopular policies. Not many citizens are educated enough to understand the complexity of policy modeling and not many are trained in the fields of policy making and economics cost and benefit analysis that hardworking and highly educated civil servants can comprehend. The ability to convey to the greater mass in simple words and the willingness to put in effort to convince people of the merits of the policy are also important factors.

More importantly, I look for better explanation of policies implemented, more consultation, more transparency, more feedback mechanism, more inclusiveness, and greater inspiration in a leader in today’s new world.

Categories: Impartial Views
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