Affirmative action is a dirty term in Singapore, even in the face of growing socio-economic inequality (read last week’s commentary, “Government Scholarships: Merit and Need”, here):
“Maybe the anxieties of race-based affirmative action across the Causeway has convinced many that preferential treatment is necessarily deleterious. But can we approach this from a socio-economic angle? If applicant A and B display similar levels of competencies – results, co-curricular accomplishments, leadership or community service – but A has conscientiously worked his or her way up through dysfunctional or disadvantaged circumstances, why shouldn’t he or she be given the edge? If this act implies a need to move away from a pedantic (albeit long-standing) focus upon “merit” per se, especially in the face of apparent helplessness against income disparities in Singapore, then why not?”
The screenshot is an editorial from The Straits Times, published on September 27, 2013.