The Straits Times
Published on Nov 14, 2012

Awarding scholarships: Don't tar the young with same brush


DR WONG Ming Keong ("Ex-NUS scholarship panel member's view: Today's recipients are less grateful"; last Thursday) applies a novel twist to discrimination by suggesting that the children of the affluent should be deprived of scholarships simply because of their backgrounds.

It turns the principle of meritocracy on its head and ignores the basic fact that secular scholarships should be blind to all divisive characteristics except for academic brilliance, leadership qualities and flawless personality.

To tar the young of today with the same brush is as discriminatory as practising ageism on older citizens.

Older folk have the tendency to bemoan the passage of the good old days while missing the de rigueur regimented manners of the past.

They forget that our younger generations must wade into the relentless competition of globalisation and do not have the luxury of the leisurely niceties of life that Dr Wong's generation - and mine - enjoyed.

If we look around us today, there are ample examples of well-brought-up, well-nurtured young adults in our midst. We should not let one bad apple spoil the barrel.

Innumerable scholarship holders apply themselves assiduously to the tasks at hand so that our lives function seamlessly. They do not garner the kind of publicity that outrageous behaviour generates, nor do they pathologically crave it.

And the beauty is that they come from a diversity of backgrounds, rich and poor inclusive.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)