Redefine success to eradicate class differences

The key to eradicating class differences is changing the soul and culture of our nation (Tackling the class divide: We, the people, also matter; Oct 7).

It is unfortunate that many of our people evaluate education, life and achievements based on what economists would term as the human capital model.

The money, effort and other resources invested in bringing up a child and educating a student is perceived as building human capital.

Like for an investment in physical capital, returns on human capital are measured in terms of both financial and non-financial benefits, including wages and other material benefits.

To many, the concept of success is based on achieving a self-centred goal, which includes enjoying what I call the seven Ps - personal net worth, position, power, possession, pleasure, prestige and privilege.

We need to redefine meritocracy, achievement and success to ensure that they are not about forging ahead at the expense of others. And neither are they about improving one's socio-economic status while leaving others behind in life.

In the process of producing better results, a good human should also reach out to help others raise their levels of performance and accomplishment, as well as share in the responsibility of helping the last, the least, the lonely and the lost.

When we build such a compassionate culture, we will be a strong nation and one that is both liveable and lovable.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'Redefine success to eradicate class differences'. Print Edition | Subscribe