PM Lee defends system of meritocracy

Singapore's trade-reliant economy is expected to grow 1.5-2.5 percent amid "serious economic problems" in the US and Europe, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, pictured in July 2012, said Wednesday

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday said it was important to calibrate on fundamental strategies but warned about the dangers of turning things “upside down”.

Defending Singapore’s meritocracy system, he said, “I ask myself if we’re not going on merit, what are you going to look at?”

Cutting to the chase in a speech addressed to more than 1,600 People’s Action Party (PAP) activists, Lee noted, “You have a choice. You can look at wealth – they got money, you give them. You want that? You have another choice. You have connections, you give them. Some countries do that. I don’t think that’s the Singapore you want.”

Some had previously questioned the value of meritocracy in the city-state, especially in the academic system of the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).

Lee reminded Singaporeans that it is the same meritocracy system that allowed students with disadvantages and disabilities to progress.

While a balance is required between meritocracy and economic growth, Lee said that he does not believe less growth is better.

He warned that it is the low pay workers and the young people that would stand to suffer first should the economy slow down.

Lee also took the opportunity to remind the party to take the lead in convincing Singaporeans that the party’s policies will benefit them amid increased foreigner influx.

“We want a Singapore where citizens belong and feel as one, as well as an open, cosmopolitan city that welcomes foreigners with skills and talents to help us succeed,” Lee emphasised.

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