The Legitimization of Inequality

Meritocracy is generally celebrated as an ideology that promotes equality of opportunity, and hence, seen as just. Xuan Yee interrogates this view by exploring the moral, psychological, and intellectual ramifications of meritocracy when taken to its extreme. He argues that an unquestioned belief in meritocracy is dangerous, for it encourages the successful to justify their own moral deservingness of their position in society, and thus, legitimizes inequality.

Read more

The Loving Critics Have Votes, What They Want Is Voice

While recent events have triggered concerns over democracy and fundamental freedoms in Singapore, Seow Yongzhi argues that these debates conflate the terms “democracy” and “liberalism”. Democracies, as Yongzhi points out, can be highly illiberal. Instead, what Singaporeans want is not necessarily democracy, but liberty – the right to voice their disagreements.

Read more

Imagining Utopias: The Importance of Moral Idealism in Singapore

“It is tempting to believe that the cynic is, somehow, more intelligent than the dreamer. But in truth, pragmatism is no smarter than idealism.” Lee Chin Wee argues that, in discussions about Singapore’s future, we should leave room at the table for idealists and dreamers. In his view, it is a mistake to treat the government’s growth-oriented and metrics-focused narrative of pragmatism as gospel truth. When Singaporeans present and grapple with competing visions of the ‘good’, this strengthens social inclusion and improves policy-making.

Read more

The Limitations of Subject-Based Banding: What About Single-Stream Schools?

Much of the debate on MOE’s recent moves to integrate schoolmates of different academic streams via Subject-Based Banding (SBB) has focused on whether SBB will be effective, or what the implementation of SBB will look like. However, one underdiscussed aspect of MOE’s policy change is its lack of impact on single-stream schools. Izzah Haziqah Haris explores why this is a problem, and potential policy options to deal with this issue.

Read more

How Immigrants Don’t Want Other Immigrants

We’ve been extraordinary in economic development. We can be as good at defeating xenophobia. BY ROYCE QUEK Rome wasn’t built in a day: and it also wasn’t built by the people and riches of its own lands. Instead, its armies conquered Greece, North Africa and Asia Minor through the manpower of not just Romans, but the many Roman allies: fellow Italian cities which had been subjugated by Rome and were forced to give soldiers to the Roman war machine. With this strategy of co-opting other cities into its growing dominion, Rome swept all before it. But the Italians weren’t happy …

Read more

Sea Levels are Rising, and so will Social Anxieties

BY HOE JIA WEN Climate change has arrived.

It is no longer simply a threat for the hypothetical future generations, but a problem for our generation, and particularly, our children’s generation. For the first time, 2015 saw the global average temperature hit 1°C above than the pre-industrial era, moving perilously closer to the 1.5°C limit that countries committed to Paris only the year before. Singapore’s own annual mean temperature has risen by 1.7°C since 1972, from 26.6°C to 28.3°C in 2015 (NCCS). …

Read more