Making a Mockery of Meritocracy


by Augustine Low

The PAP would have us believe that meritocracy is the bedrock of Singapore’s success. How true is that? How transparent is this concept of meritocracy?

Let’s just take one aspect of meritocracy – scholarships. Are government scholarships awarded based purely on merit? Are we given the details and background of those awarded these scholarships? Who sits on panels, committees and commissions that dish out the scholarships?

All three children of Lee Kuan Yew were President’s Scholars and the two sons went on to become SAF Scholars. What is the likelihood of that happening based on merit? It’s like striking the jackpot many times over – the odds are probably more than a billion to one!

Tony Tan’s son Patrick Tan was a President’s Scholar, and so was his daughter Patricia Tan. Patrick, by the way, also received the President’s Service Award, personally handed to him by his father when he was President Tony Tan. And perhaps by sheer coincidence, too, Patrick was granted an unheard-of 12 years’ disruption from national service to complete further studies, and eventually served in the specially created post of medical researcher.

But back to the subject of scholarships. Teo Chee Hean’s son, Teo Eng Siang, was gifted a PSC Scholarship, not to mention Lee Hsien Loong’s son Li Hongyi. And we might as well throw in the fact that Mah Bow Tan’s son, Warren Mah, was bestowed an MAS scholarship.

The above is just a snapshot, the tip of the iceberg.

Over the years, how many government scholarships have been gifted to children of those at the top echelons of government and public service? For every one that is given out, another deserving Singaporean loses out – and that Singapore could be in dire need of a scholarship because he or she comes from a not-well-to-do family.

It’s the reality of the sad, sad concept of meritocracy as practised in Singapore. It makes a mockery of what meritocracy is supposed to stand for.


  1. If really so, we would not see such a great and dishonorable leeder as well as our national icons and pride going down the tube over the last decade or two! Even our important institutions are running down to a symbolically important one while the highest house of the land a papleementary circus……….

  2. In simple term, it is called ownself award ownself. That is why all the grassroots tripod their white master like there is no tomorrow and faults left unreported as all they want is to be in the circle of the so call elites to gain benefits that commoners no matter how talented or hardworking they are can nvr touch or get. That is the backbone of Singapore downfall. All the scholar who came back. Which one really shines??? Look at NOL, SMRT and ‘LTA all run by scholars and yet failures after failures. Give the alternative parties a chances to shine in the next GE, save the white the trouble of picking the next pm from the bunch of clowns. Wake up lah. 70% also wake up lah. Once the whites form the govt in the next GE then there is no turning back.

  3. I think not too many would arrive at this conclusion based on the article alone…too simplistic. But it’s hard to ignore the existence of an elite class that bears the trademark nepotism either. Perhaps this element of distrust more than anything else makes a quick leadership renewal critically important…as people will start pointing out and taking a stand against the widening chasm.

  4. But why cry about all this now? When the right opportunity comes at voting stations, still vote for them. Many “crying” views about our rulers today are from you, the very double standard 70% asses who voted for them to begin with. So lets just stop this lampa wayang and vote otherwise to start with. Got lampa?

  5. Not all scholarship are smart or clever. Most of these govt scholars are due to their parents in these high position, but in fact, these scholars are just a normal student.

    It all bullshit and Rob others of the scholarship just because these idiots are too greedy and want to show off.

  6. “The PAP would have us believe that meritocracy is the bedrock of Singapore’s success. How true is that? How transparent is this concept of meritocracy?”

    We would never know for sure, would we? But one thing is certain though. The credibility and trust of this ruling regime under LHL is rapidly being eroded away. Always amazes me how MIW can speak with a straight face about integrity, honesty, trust in the midst of all these unanswered concerns.

  7. Given a benefit of doubt , let’s say Tony Tan’s son and daughter are given the scholarship based of the fact that their father was a president and not genuine capability ….
    The father itself an incompetent puppet alr and isn’t made president because he is capable , the chain reaction just continues non stop starting from his appointment as a puppet president and scholarships for his off spring ,wow now I need to reassess the term “scholarship”.