Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Saturday evening warned of the threat of elitism, saying it can divide the inclusive society that Singapore is striving to build.
The way to guard against it is to adapt and strengthen the practice of meritocracy that has served Singapore well.
"What we need is to get the successful to understand that they have a responsibility to help the less fortunate and less able with compassion, to give back to society through financial donations, sharing of their skills and knowledge and spending time to help others do better, and to serve the country," he said.
He made the point at Raffles Institution's 190th anniversary dinner, where he received the school's Gryphon Award, which honours the most distinguished alumni. The award's first recipient was former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Goh called on top schools, including RI, to play a role in ensuring that elitism and the sense of entitlement do not creep into the minds of their students. The Government, on its part, will continue to have policies and programmes that give a leg up to those who have fallen behind.
He said: "Those of us who have benefited disproportionately from society's investment in us owe the most to society, particularly to those who may not have had access to the same opportunities. We owe a debt to make lives better for all, and not just for ourselves."