Wee Shu Min saga - a slap into reality

So sourced out all the relevant posts:

Derek Wee's original entry: Still up at http://derekwee.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 02, 2006
When I read the Straits Times article (dated 24 Sep) on PM Lee calling the young to be committed and make a difference to Singapore, I have so much thought about the issue.

I am 35 years old, graduated from University and gainfully employed in a multinational company. But I cannot help but feel insecure over the future of Singapore. Lets face it, it’s not uncommon to hear, “when you are above 40, you are over the hill”. The government has been stressing on re-training, skills upgrading and re-adapt. The fact is, no matter how well qualified or adaptable one is, once you hit the magical 40, employers will say, “you are simply too old”.

We have been focusing our resources and problem solving on low unskilled labour. But in reality, our managerial positions and skilled labour force are actually fast losing its competitiveness. I travel around the region frequently for the past 10 years. It didn’t take me long to realise how far our neighbours have come over the past decade. They have quality skilled workers, and are less expensive. When I work with them, their analytical skills are equally good, if not better than us.

It’s not new anymore. Taxi drivers are fast becoming “too early to retire, too old to work” segment of the society. I like to talk to taxi drivers whenever I am heading for the airport. There was this driver. Eloquent and well read. He was an export manager for 12 years with an MNC. Retrenched at 40 years old. He had been searching for a job since his retrenchment. Although he was willing to lower his pay expectations, employers were not willing to lower their prejudice. He was deem too old. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another No. 1; having the most highly educated taxi drivers in the world.

On PM Lee calling the young to be committed and make a difference. Look around us. How dedicated can we be to Singapore when we can visualise what’s in store for us after we turned 40? Then again, how committed are employers to us? But we can’t blame them. They have bottom lines & shareholders’ gain to answer to. Onus is really on the government to revamp the society. A society that is not a pressure cooker. A society that does not mirror so perfectly, what survival of the fittest is. But a society, where it’s people can be committed, do their best and not having to fear whether they will still wake up employed tomorrow. Sadly, Singapore does not offer such luxuries and security anymore.

On the issue of babies. The government encourage us to pro-create. The next generation is essential in sustaining our competitive edge. Then again, the current market condition is such that our future has become uncertain. There is no more joy in having babies anymore; they have become more of a liability. It’s really a chicken and egg issue.

Many of my peers, bright and well educated have packed up and left. It’s what MM Goh called “quitters”. It’s sad but true, Singapore no longer is a place where one can hope to work hard their lives and retire graciously. It’s really the push factor. A future is something we sweat it out, build and call our own. Unfortunately, people like me, mid 30’s going on 40’s, staying put by choice or otherwise, we can’t help but feel what lies ahead is really a gamble.

To PM Lee and the Ministers, we are on a different platform. Until you truly understand our insecurity, the future of Singapore to me remains a question mark.



Ms Wee's blog reply:


Thursday, October 19, 2006

mom's friend sent her some blog post by some bleeding stupid 40-year old singaporean called derek wee (WHY do all the idiots have my surname why?!) whining about how singapore is such an insecure place, how old ppl (ie, 40 and above) fear for their jobs, how the pool of foreign "talent" (dismissively chucked between inverted commas) is really a tsunami that will consume us all (no actually he didn't say that, he probably said Fouren Talern Bery Bad.), how the reason why no one wants kids is that they're a liability in this world of fragile ricebowls, how the government really needs to save us from inevitable doom but they aren't because they are stick-shoved-up-ass elites who have no idea how the world works, yadayadayadayada.

i am inclined - too much, perhaps - to dismiss such people as crackpots. stupid crackpots. the sadder class. too often singaporeans - both the neighborhood poor and the red-taloned socialites - kid themselves into believing that our society, like most others, is compartmentalized by breeding. ridiculous. we are a tyranny of the capable and the clever, and the only other class is the complement.

sad derek attracted more than 50 comments praising him for his poignant views, joining him in a chorus of complaints that climax at the accusation of lack of press freedom because his all-too-true views had been rejected by the straits times forum. while i tend to gripe about how we only have one functioning newspaper too, i think the main reason for its lack of publication was that his incensed diatribe was written in pathetic little scraps that passed off as sentences, with poor spelling and no grammar.

derek, derek, derek darling, how can you expect to have an iron ricebowl or a solid future if you cannot spell?

if you're not good enough, life will kick you in the balls. that's just how things go. there's no point in lambasting the government for making our society one that is, i quote, "far too survival of fittest". it's the same everywhere. yes discrimination exists, and it is sad, but most of the time if people would prefer hiring other people over you, it's because they're better. it's so sad when people like old derek lament the kind of world that singapore will be if we make it so uncertain. go be friggin communist, if uncertainty of success offends you so much - you will certainly be poor and miserable. unless you are an arm-twisting commie bully, which, given your whiny middle-class undereducated penchant, i doubt.

then again, it's easy for me to say. my future isn't certain but i guess right now it's a lot brighter than most people's. derek will read this and brand me as an 18-year old elite, one of the sinners who will inherit the country and run his stock to the gutter. go ahead. the world is about winners and losers. it's only sad when people who could be winners are marginalised and oppressed. is dear derek starving? has dear derek been denied an education? has dear derek been forced into child prostitution? has dear derek had his clan massacred by the government?

i should think not. dear derek is one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country, and in this world. one of those who would prefer to be unemployed and wax lyrical about how his myriad talents are being abandoned for the foreigner's, instead of earning a decent, stable living as a sales assistant. it's not even about being a road sweeper. these shitbags don't want anything without "manager" and a name card.

please, get out of my elite uncaring face.



And, Ms Wee's dad:

A lesson learnt, says MP and dad Wee Siew Kim - ST

'WHAT she said did come across as insensitive. The language was stronger than what most people could take.

But she wrote in a private blog and I feel that her privacy has been violated. After all, they were the rantings of an 18-year-old among friends.

I think if you cut through the insensitivity of the language, her basic point is reasonable, that is, that a well-educated university graduate who works for a multinational company should not be bemoaning about the Government and get on with the challenges in life.

Nonetheless, I have counselled her to learn from it. Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it.

In our current desire to encourage more debate, especially through the Internet, our comments must be tempered with sensitivity.

I will not gag her, since she's 18 and should be able to stand by what she says.

The new media of the Internet is such that if you don't like what she has said, you have the right of rebuttal.

Hopefully, after the discussion, everyone will be the richer for it. As a parent, I may not have inculcated the appropriate level of sensitivity, but she has learnt a lesson, and it's good that she has learnt it at such an early stage in life.'

- ANG MO KIO GRC MP WEE SIEW KIM on his daughter's comments



Finally:

Oct 26, 2006
'Insensitive' blogger also lacked humility, empathy

I REFER to the report, 'Teen blogger counselled for her 'elitist' remarks' (ST, Oct 24).

I believe Miss Wee Shu Min has drawn enough criticism for her insensitive and offensive remarks. Hopefully, she will learn from this saga and move on.

The public should spare her further personal insults and allow her to concentrate on her exams, bearing in mind that she is just an 18-year-old with a major examination coming up.

What I am dismayed about is how her father, MP Wee Siew Kim, appears to agree with her opinion and sided with her when he said: 'She wrote in a private blog and I feel that her privacy has been violated.'

If Mr Wee feels that his daughter's privacy had been violated, is he implying that the Government was wrong to punish bloggers who posted racist comments on their supposedly 'private' blogs that were viewable by anyone with just a click of a button?

I should think not. One should always be responsible and conscious of his choice of words, be it in an essay or a blog.

In the article, Mr Wee also stated that '(Miss Wee's) basic point is reasonable' and 'some people cannot take the brutal truth'.

I have read Mr Derek Wee's commentary and I feel that he is not the unmotivated or whiny, discontented worker that he was portrayed to be.

Mr Wee was merely airing his fears about how older workers are finding it difficult to cope with today's competitive and practical reality.

At no point did he state that he was dissatisfied with his job and I believe he will 'get on with the challenges in life'.

It seems that Mr Wee Siew Kim endorsed his daughter's 'elitist' remarks and that her only mistake was insensitivity.

The issue at hand is not merely about insensitivity; it also involves values like humility and empathy.

If Mr Wee's only concern for his daughter is about being politically correct, then I am afraid he is missing out on something fundamental.

Hopefully, Miss Wee will learn from this episode about humility and empathy as well.

Yang Sixiang




Got all these articles from YA's blog, regarding the recent Wee Shu Min incident. I wanted to comment on that post, but I decided that it would be better if I copy over all these articles and give a once and for all comment to YA and other readers on the net.

Firstly, I think Derek Wee has a point, though he is a bit too pessimistic. The mindset of employers does need to be changed, and this really poses a problem for Singaporeans, regardless whether you are an 'elite' or not (see this, Wee Shu Min). How many times have I seen people over 40 looking for jobs in the MPS that I'm serving in. There is this problem, that employers cannot simply maintain this mindset, for Derek's concern is really real. The core problem, as I said, is this mindset, though I dun think it's going to end up that bad as Derek has said.

Secondly, what the heck, what is this Wee Shu Min doing? What is she saying, man? This is apparently a demonstration of arrogance at the highest level in a Singaporean student. The core message, which I read it, is that she is an elite, and Derek should shut up and go inside his room to repent because she is the elite and he should listen to her. What naive arrogance... Contrary to other people, I dun think the issue is about her learning humility and empathy, though it's certainly important for her. It's about her creating this image in people that these are the people we have groomed in 'top schools' and these people are supposed to be the 'creme-da-la-creme' of the nation. We have these people running around criticising other people in a certain way, proudly and (sadly) arrogantly proclaiming herself to be the elite!!! Let me tell you something, I consider myself as part of the elite, now that I'm now in NUS (hey, anyone in NUS should consider yourself as an elite if you subscribe to that, if not, just ignore me). Of course it doesn't mean that I'm subscribed to the idea of elitism, but this is just for discussion's sake here in this post. I consider that and I would never go down and criticise this man, Derek Wee, of his comments. The point here is that we have these girls running around commenting on such things... they should be dragged out of their house and paraded around the street as an elite (I know it sounds a bit harsh) to teach her a lesson on arrogance (to be paradoxical here). She did apologized in a public statement, but her character has already been shown. Elitism is certainly a part of her mentality, because you dun go around talking elite, thinking that no one reads your blog, and go around later saying that you are ignorant about what you are doing. Let's admit the hard fact, you are arrogant, and you consider yourself as an elite, and you are, therefore you are. No point now saying sorry and act sorry. Of course, we will never know if she will change for the better, cos God works in a weird way. But I think she demonstrated, at that point of time, a feeling, in fact an extreme feeling of extremistic arrogance of the arrogance of arrogance. She, for that moment, became the most arrogant entity on earth since the British was defeated by the Japanese in Singapore (this, I must admit, is a personal prejudice), even more arrogant than what I have ever known. Let's make it clear, I was an arrogant chap, and still am, this I can never deny. The fact lies is that this girl can't manage her arrogance. This demonstrates the impact of the current education or GEP has on students all over Singapore, that this is the kind of students we are producing. Of course this is generalisation, and I'm well aware of this trap and I'm not going to say that all students of the top schools are like that, cos I know humble students as well.

My third comment here, has regards with Mr Wee Siew Kim's comment. He is extremely right when he said that we should get ahead with the challenges of life. In fact, as human beings, as creations of God, we should not be defeated by the pressure of life, by all the challenges in life that God has presented in front of us. Perhaps, this is the main point of Ms Wee's comment also, only the way she puts it (it repulsed me). In that sense, I believe that this is the responsibility of any Singaporeans, not just the government. It often struck me about how ironic that people often commented that the government should be more liberal and yet they wanted government to be responsible. In some ways, the government should be liberal, but if people want government to be responsible in some social issues, then it must accept the fact that the government needs to be illiberal to get things done the way people want it. But for now, getting back to the main topic, as Singaporeans, we have to be prepared for challenges in life. The government plays an important part in creating the environment where we can learn to handle these challenges and educating us, but we ourselves have to go out personally to fish and not expect the government to give us the fish.

In the end, I conclude that the whole saga just invited a slap from reality into Wee Shu Min's face. Her comment showed extreme elitism, and the comments that followed merely also missed the real issues. Derek Wee's comment has showed real grievances though it sounded pessimistic, and it had not warranted such a rebuttal from Wee Shu Min. I recount the days when I was still in PJC, I think I was also that arrogant, though not that arrogant to the face as that. For one, I was arrogant enough to relate with the sentiments of the post, but humble enough (at least) to handle my own arrogance. This saga, can therefore, in short, demonstrate that arrogance and pride, when mishandled, can create a lot of unnecessary troubles.

Before I end my blog post, just for a treat, this is what I commented on Shuyi's blog :
sis, for the first time, I will want to comment in a very strong way, and I seek your forgiveness for this in advance. I must say, that it is simply not right to put MPs into the way you want to view them through one incident or so. Before we even comment on these people, we have to ask ourselves, are they really like that? Do we know them well enough to understand the starting point of their actions. I have seen my MP being insensitive to people, for particular reasons. They may find him insensitive, but he has a reason for so. We also have to ask ourselves are we being fair judging them this way. I know I'm now defending the PAP MPs, but I feel that it is simply not right to throw such comments. MPs have to take into consideration people's feelings, but isn't it very selfish of us to really ask them to consider our feelings, each and everyone of the four million Singaporeans' feelings? I honestly think that it is impossible. Sometimes, because they are humans, they tend to lapse. It is possible for me to be selfish and ask my MP consider my feelings everytime I record his cases for him, but is that really the way to do things?

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