“You want people to stand up, not scrape and bow. But if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out.”
- Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore At 50: What Lies Ahead? conference at the Institute of Policy Studies conference
The word “aristocracy” has triggered shock and indignation, but the sentiment Lee Hsien Loong expressed on Thursday evening was not at all new.
It’d be inaccurate to believe that Lee was trying to describe Singapore as a place with a hereditary nobility/monarchy - what he was talking about is simply Singapore’s system of “meritocracy”.
Singapore, as we are often told, is a meritocratic society where people are rewarded for the amount of work they put in. What Lee is saying is that these industrious, ambitious, brilliant people should be accorded respect because they’ve earned and therefore deserveRead More »from COMMENT: Of "natural aristocracy" and earning your place