Guard against 'parentocracy'

I applaud Mr Russell Tan Wah Jian for taking a stand that is certainly going to be unpopular ("'Elitism' can be good for society; Forum Online, Aug 11). It takes courage to speak one's mind, and we need more people with such courage.

However, he has missed the point of the debate. The criticism of Raffles Institution being a "middle-class" school is not just about the "elite" receiving more privileges. It is a critique of the nature of Singapore's meritocracy altogether.

If only wealthier students get in, are we really getting the best and brightest students groomed for the future? Are we not merely developing children whose parents did well? If so, then we have no meritocracy but what some people call a "parentocracy" or "moneytocracy".

Many of our leaders came from humble backgrounds. We need to make sure that talent born into lower-income families have the same chance to prove themselves.

The recent debates have not merely been about making the system "fairer" in terms of merit, but also about ensuring that our top students genuinely learn to put community above self.

We succeed only because we are supported by others in society. Those of us who do "better" must remember their debt to the rest of society.

Loh Ping Shun