Thursday, July 30, 2015

PAP will form the next Government, Vote Opposition without fear

There is an article on TOC titled 'PAP in panic mode, loss of power inevitable'. The title is only half correct.

Yes, it is true that PAP is in panic mode. If it is not, why should it convene the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee just two months after Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away?

Surely it shows that they want to ride on the depth of emotion shown by Singaporeans following the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. But it also shows that they are afraid that the longer they delay, the more fiascoes there are going to be, and that the sentiment of the voters are going to be turned against them because of these.

Some say that GE 2011 was a watershed election. But what were the major fiascoes before that GE? Well, I can remember Mat Selamat's escape from detention, the escalating property prices, influx of foreigners... These were the issues.

The mess of the last election looks trivial when you compare it with what has happened since then:

There was the SMRT drivers protest, there was the Little India riot, there was the AIM saga, there was the 6.9 million population paper, there were 2 major MRT breakdowns in 2011 and 1 really, really big one this month...

These makes me shudder! Why are we having a snap election? What about the future is the PAP so afraid of? What's going to be the magnitude of such failures?

That said, I do not think that the PAP will lose power in this election. A more realistic expectation is for the opposition to win just 15 seats in the next election.

So, the PAP is not going to lose power any time soon. Although I will be happy to be proven wrong, I predict that they will return to form the next Government.

Why is it important to know that? So that you can cast your vote for the opposition without fearing if there will be a change of Government.

In fact, with the massive outpouring of grief after Mr Lee's death, and the euphoria over the Jubilee Year celebrations, there are chances that some people who voted for the opposition in the last election may vote for the PAP this time round.

But is it to our advantage for the PAP to have a larger percentage of votes than what they had in the last GE? Perhaps not!

Even if there may not be a reversal of some of the more populist policies they had implemented as a result of how we voted in the last election, they may increase the pace of foreigners who come here to live and work; and without exploring other options to pay for social spending, they may just increase the GST to 10%.

There is one way you can prevent this from happening. Vote for the opposition!

Vote for them without fear because there's not going to be a change of Government any time soon. And also because voting for the opposition will mean that you will keep the Government on its toes to serve you diligently for the next 5 years.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Natural aristocracy and the detriment of our society

See entire cartoon here:

Lamenting the lack of concentration of brilliance in Singapore, PM Lee Hsien Loong in a IPS dialogue held recently said that he believed in having a certain natural aristocracy in the system (a form of elitism where people are respected because they have earned that) for without that society will lose out. (Transcript of Speech here:

His views are of course not new and he had articulated them in another Speech in the year 2007, expressing why he believed that Singapore does not have enough talent for two A-Teams (link:

I am not sure if this view is healthy for Singapore. Why I say that? Let me quote a few persons and articles before I make my point.

An academic speaking at a forum focused on Singapore's middle-class in November last year said, "when we think about the middle class, we think of security, comfort and social mobility. But all these are sort of in decline".

2 years ago, a secondary school's Vice-Principal had this to say:
"How many of our leaders and top officers who say that every school is a good school put their children in ordinary schools near their home? (Only) until they actually do so are parents going to buy (it)." (
An Economist article discussing America's New Aristocracy has this to say about the culture of tolerance for dynasties in the USA:
"today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains."
DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam replying to a question if 'Lee Kuan Yew's family will always be in-charge' while acknowledging that it would be the most unusual if it were so and that most Singaporeans would not expect it, also said:
"I mean to be frank, if you look at parliamentarians below the age of 30 in India, every single one of them is a member of a political dynasty. Every single one of them. So, we believe in meritocracy, it’s hard work, sometimes it’s imperfect. There’s always advantage in family connections and wealth but we got to keep working against that.” (
Every parent would want to ensure that his or her child has a good shot at life, a better one than he or she has had. And in trying to ensure that they have the best of opportunities in life, they will not hesitate to use their wealth and connections to give them a leg-up in education and career.

In the case of natural aristocrats, it is in their interest to ensure that the talent pool remains small so that their own children will have the best opportunity in taking a bite of the cherry.

In that sense the view that Singapore needs natural aristocrats and that our country does not have enough talent for 2 or more A-Teams is unhealthy because it is circular reasoning.

It is extremely hard to work against wealth and connections. Even if we keep working against it, after the passage of a generation or two, natural aristocracy may become the basis for a prescriptive one - much to the detriment of our society, where ordinary citizens may have to scrape and bow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Letter of condolence to PM Lee Hsien Loong

I sent the following message of condolence to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong:

Mr Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister of Singapore

Dear Mr Prime Minister

I write to express my heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the passing of your father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I come from a disadvantaged family where I had to leave school at 16 after completing my O Levels, not because I did not qualify to pursue education further, but because I wanted to support my mother, who as a single-parent was holding down 3 jobs just so that she could send her children to school and put food on the table for us. My mother had always expressed the deepest respect for the late Mr Lee and credits him for putting in place a good system which rewarded those that worked hard. 

I am a product of his vision of a people who are self-reliant and had also half-jokingly remarked to some of my friends that I was a 'son of Lee Kuan Yew', because regardless of whoever was the actual Prime Minister (no offence intended), psychologically I saw only Mr Lee Kuan Yew to be the man in-charge of the country. My worldviews and opinions were shaped by the policies of his Government. I believe many people of my generation will feel the same way about Mr Lee.

With the passing away of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, a part of us is also gone. My family and I grieve deeply with you at the passing of this giant. But he will live on in our memories!

Yours sincerely

Ravi Philemon

Sunday, August 17, 2014

ஈழம் முதல் காசா வரை (From Eelam to Gaza)

I wrote and recited the poem 'ஈழம் முதல் காசா வரை' at the 'Speak Love Not Hurt, Speak Words Not Heard' event which was a poetry reading, music performance and candlelight vigil held in solidarity with Gaza.

ஈழம் முதல் காசா வரை
போரை அறிந்திடாத எங்கள் நாட்டில்
போரை அறிந்திடாத எங்கள் நாட்டில்
சுடுவதெல்லாம் வெறும் சப்பாத்தி பூரிதான் எங்கள் வீட்டில்.
மாரடித்து அழும் ஓசை கேட்குமோ இடுகாட்டில்?
ஓர் இனம் மாரடித்து அழும் ஓசை கேட்குமோ இடுகாட்டில்?
எனக்கும் கூட கேட்கவில்லை channel 4வின் கொலை நிலம்
அறை செவிட்டில்.

விளையாட்டுத் திடலில் பிள்ளைகள் இல்லை
மருத்துவமனையில் மருந்துகள் இல்லை
வானொலியில் இன்னிசைப் பாடல்களில்லை
எல்லா மகிழ்ச்சியும் எங்கே போனது

விடுவிப்பென் என்று சொன்னவர்களும் குற்றமற்றவர்கலில்லை
அமைதி தேவை என்று சொன்னவர்களும் அரசு படையினரில்லை
மனித உரிமை என்று கூவினவரும் கைகோடுக்கவில்லை
ஆள் ஆளாய் துவண்டு விழுந்தனர்

கண்டும் காணவில்லை
அழிந்தனர்  ஈழத்தமிழர்கள்
கண்டும் காணவில்லை
அழிந்தனர்  ஈழத்தமிழர்கள்
இது இனப்படுகொலை part 2 சந்தேகமில்லை
காசா பாலஸ்தினர்கள்.
நீ Like செய்தால் மட்டும் போதுமா

Translation in English:

From Eelam to Gaza
In a country where we have not known war
All we fry are chappatis and puris in our houses.
Can we hear the beating of the chests and crying in the graveyard?
Can we hear a People crying, beating their chests in the graveyard?
I too didn't hear till I watched the Sri Lanka's Killing Fields in Channel 4.
A smack on my head.
There are no children on the playground
only dead bodies.
There are no medicine in the hospital
only mortar shells.
There is no music in the radio
only emergency siren.
Where has all the happiness gone overnight?
Those who said they will free are not free of guilt
just opportunists.
Those who said that peace is necessary are not Government forces
just oppressors.
Those who cried human rights did not give a hand
One by one they fell on the spot.
We saw and yet didn't see.
Died Tamilians in Eelam.
Have no doubts, this is genocide Part 2 -
People: Gaza Palestinians.
Would you just 'Like' this on a website?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Free my CPF

The CPF Minimum Sum (MS) will be raised to $155,000 from July this year. The CPF Board's intention for the MS is to provide members with a monthly income of about $1000 (for those who have the entire MS in their retirement account) for 20 years from the drawdown age.

But there has been a lot of well-documented unhappiness about this MS scheme. For example, in December last year MP Lily Neo posted on her Facebook about how one of her resident was unhappy because Dr Neo "could not get CPF to allow him to withdraw his savings". During the "Free My Internet" protest at Speakers' Corner last year, I also observed a number of older men protesting with placards which read, "Free my CPF".

Prior to the introduction of this MS scheme in the year 1987, CPF members could withdraw all their savings in their ordinary account upon reaching the age of 55. The MS was $30,000 in that year. In the year 2000 the MS had risen to $65,000, or by 116 percent in 13 year. And Moneysmart pointed out in their article about how MS was further increased by 138 percent in the next 14 years, and is now at $155,000.

I am all for doing away with the MS scheme and allowing CPF members to withdraw the entire amount in their CPF ordinary account when the time comes, for the following reasons:

  1. The money in a member's CPF account is hard-earned by the member alone. Upon reaching the withdrawal age, the Member can buy an annuity with it, or invest it in whatever way he or she wants and the Government should have no business dictating how the member should spend it. 
  2. As Moneysmart pointed out in their article, wages in Singapore are unlikely to keep up with the annual CPF MS increase. 
  3. Not a lot members have MS in their CPF upon reaching the age of 55. If you only receive $200 or $300 monthly from the MS scheme because you don't have enough MS, how will that support the member in having a basic standard of living in their retirement? 
  4. Mr Lee Yock Suan, then-Minister for Labour, in introducing the MS scheme in 1987 said that the MS scheme is only a form of encouragement, and that it is the duty of children to look after their parents in their old age - which means that according to the PAP Government, with or without the MS scheme older people will be fine. 
  5. If the Government wants older Singaporeans to live with dignity in their retirement, it should help them better plan for retirement. For example, legislation could require CPF members to buy insurance for retirement, which will guarantee him/her an income of at least $1000 upon retirement. Where the CPF member does not have enough in contribution to CPF to purchase such an insurance because his/her income is low, the Government can think of a top-up mechanism where the difference in paying for the premiums is shared by the Government and the employer of the CPF member.
picture credit: Dr Lily Neo's Facebook

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dialogue between organisers and protesters of Philippine Independence Day celebration best way forward

Last week, I felt concerned enough about Philippine Independence Day celebration saga that I wrote to the Philippine Embassy saying that I am sorry for the harassment the organisers have gotten, but that I also believe that there is some level of miscommunication and cross-talk between the organisers of the event and those that protest (at least some).

I assured the Philippine embassy in Singapore that the protesters do not mean ill-will to the people of Philippines and that they appreciated the contributions of the Filipinos to our country. I expressed that the protesters' frustrations were more about the immigration and manpower policies in place.

In the email I said that I knew of some of these protesters and asked the Philippine embassy if I could facilitate a dialogue between these protesters, and the organisers of the celebration. I believe such a dialogue would be a win-win for both the organisers of the event as well as the protesters, as the organisers would be seen as engaging the protesters in a rational manner, and for the protesters to clear any misunderstandings and bring their concerns across.

I reiterated that it is very important that the people of our countries remain good friends, and for that I believe there has to be better communication. I expressed that I believe that this proposed dialogue could be one means to that.

The Consul from the Cultural Section of the Embassy of the Philippines replied to my email thanking me for my interest to be a bridge between the protesters and the Committee. They said that they will refer my offer to the Committee with a recommendation that they contact me directly.

Even if I don't end up facilitating this dialogue, I hope such a meeting will take place so that both parties can better understand each side’s position better and to explore how to accommodate each other.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hypernationalism does no one no good

A Facebook post by the Philippine Independence Day Committee 2014 (PIDC) inviting Filipinos to celebrate their national day in Ngee Ann City on June 8 has irked some Singaporeans so much that they have gone on to PIDC's Facebook page to demand that they cancel the celebration.

Besides intimidating the organisers online, some of these protesters have also reportedly called PIDC to say that they have no right to hold the event at Orchard Road.

PIDC felt distressed enough by these hecklers to take down their Facebook page for this celebration. But they have said that their Independence Day party will go on.

Initially protesters taking issue with how PIDC had used the Singapore skyline in their celebration notice, that certain words like "two nations" and "interdependence" which the organisers had used, and that celebrations of a foreign country will be held on Singapore's soil; demanded that PIDC cancelled the event. They said that PIDC should only celebrate the event in the Philippine Embassy of Singapore.

They claimed that the Philippine Independence Day is a political event as it commemorates the day that country got its independence for its colonisers and not a cultural event like Singapore Day. I'm not sure if they have purposely overlooked the fact that the Philippines doesn't have a signature event like Singapore Day to engage overseas Filipinos.

When other Singaporeans pointed out how unreasonable their demand was, and that overseas Singaporeans had celebrated events like Singapore Day and even our own National Day in foreign countries, very often with support from foreign government related or supported agencies, the hecklers changed their tune saying that foreign flags should not be flown in Singapore - even when there is absolutely no proof that the organisers intend to do so.
This is a picture taken at the Philippine Independence Day celebration in Jun 2012 at the Atrium in Suntec City. Do you see any Philippine state flag being displayed anywhere?

The protesters said that they wouldn't have an issue with the celebration if it was held indoors or even in a park, adding that they didn't raise a ruckus in the last few years when the Philippine Independence Day was celebrated in less conspicuous spaces.

I am not sure if the protestors did not protest these celebrations in the past years, not because it was held in a less conspicuous place than Orchard Road, but because they were not aware of the celebrations previously. Or if they weren't feeling as emboldened then as they are now, after the Government's Population White Paper received unprecedented backlash, thinking they will have the support of majority of Singaporeans.

Without providing any proof whatsoever, they claim that foreign countries allow overseas Singaporeans to celebrate our National Day on their soil only in a park or far away from the city-belt. They fail to consider if the real reason for that could be because these overseas Singaporeans may choose to celebrate such events in a place where it is easy for them to congregate, and not so much if it is in the city-centre or not. Or because the number of Singaporeans in these foreign countries are too small that booking a public foyer instead of a function room in a hotel will seem ridiculous.

PIDC may want to celebrate their Independence Day in Ngee Ann City not because they want to take over our space as claimed by those that protest, but because it is the only space big enough in a location that is familiar enough for the Filipino community in Singapore. Let's not forget that there are reportedly about 180,000 Filipinos in Singapore, and most of these congregate in places like Lucky Plaza  in Orchard Road on the weekends.

The organisers after all want to hold the celebration in a privately owned space. If Ngee Ann City wants to lease PIDC the space, and if they get the necessary licences from the authorities for their celebration, I see no reason why they should not.

To a certain extent, this anger by these protesters is understandable. I am not sure if their anger, even if it seems directed at the people of Philippines, is directed instead at the Government of Singapore.

The Government had interfered in the booking for facilities by activists and Non-Government Organisations (NGO) in the past. And also, some private organisations, for various reasons, have not allowed activists and NGOs to rent space for their events, or in some instances have also cancelled the booking of space in the last minute, causing the NGOs and activists much anxiety.

The anger may also be against the Government policies which have allowed a large number of foreigners to come live and work here in Singapore with us. Besides the Chinese from mainland China and the Indians from India, the Filipinos are another big foreign community in Singapore, who are perceived by some to be competing unfairly with the locals for space and opportunities at work and schools.

But whatever these reasons may be, there is absolutely no reason for the protesters to be objecting to this celebration of the Filipinos in the manner that they had, especially when PIDC has publicly stated that the event was to "express the gratitude of Filipinos for the opportunity to work and stay in Singapore".

Yes, I agree that some the posters designed by PIDC to advertise the event is insensitive and even offensive.

But, the protestors could have red-flagged the poster and sought clarification and even an apology from the organisers for it. But without better calibrating their protest and by overblowing the issue to what it has turned to today, the protesters have done no one no favours.

Not even themselves.


Afternote:As I had pointed out in the article, the poster here is insensitive and even offensive. I just noticed it not too long ago. But someone pointed out to me that this is not the poster for their latest celebration, but a poster from 3 years ago, from the year 2011. How come no one raised any ruckus then? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Feedback to Committee of Inquiry into Little India Riot

I sent the following feedback to the Committee of Inquiry into Little India Riot. Hope it was useful.

Mr Chow Chee Kin
Committee of Inquiry into Little India Riot on 8 December 2013

Dear Mr Chow

Although I did not witness the Little India Riot first hand, I was at the recent fracas in Rex cinemas at Mackenzie Road where reportedly a crowd of more than 100 people, mostly foreign workers, refused to leave the cinema after the theatre cancelled the premiere of a Tamil movie.

I witnessed first-hand how the police officers who turned up for crowd control had difficulties communicating with the disgruntled moviegoers. One police officer I observed, used the word 'Dei', possibly in an attempt to establish camaraderie with the crowd. But in Tamil, the term 'Dei' is only used on people who are younger and/or are familiar (e.g. younger brother, close friends, etc), and is never used on people who are older and strangers as it is considered disrespectful. It was quite evident to me that the crowd's inability to express their grievances clearly to the police officers, as well as the officers limited language ability prevented them from communicating effectively to one another. Because of this, at one point I also had to interpret for the police officers, and convey the wishes of the moviegoers to the police as well.

My full account of what happened in Rex cinema on Thursday, 9 January 2014 is here:

Throughout the time I witnessed the police trying to resolve the dispute between the movie-going crowd and the cinema operators, I casually observed that there was only one police officer with an Indian name, but he did not speak much, and if he did, it was certainly not in Tamil. Things could have gone out of hand that night if not for cool heads, both the police officers on the ground and the moviegoers, who decided to seek extra help in understanding one another. Kudos to the police officers for that.

This incident made me reflect on the riot in Little India on 8 December 2013, and my questions are, how big a part did ability to comprehend language play in escalating the incident on that night of 8 December 2013, and could the incident been better mitigated with officers who were able to speak the language of the unhappy crowd?

Little India is a very unique place. It is the only place where tens of thousands of foreign workers, workers who probably speak very little English, congregate on weekends. I acknowledge that it might be impossible for all first-responders to be effective communicators in another language that might be foreign to them. But Tamil is one of our official languages.

Were sufficient Tamil speaking first-responders deployed for crowd control on the night of 8 December 2013 at Little India? If they were, what is that number? How effective (or ineffective) were they on that night?

Are officers who are able to speak our official languages, well represented in the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, so that they can better communicate to the crowd in similar emergencies?

Besides Little India, there are other areas where foreign workers congregate on the weekends, could trained interpreters be recruited to be deployed at emergency situations which may require a particular language ability in order to avert a damaging situation?

I hope my feedback has been useful to the Committee. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any clarification.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Change and the Singaporean DNA

There is an commentary in the Today newspaper penned by Devadas Krishnadas titled 'Handling change has always been a part of the Singaporean DNA', dated 4 February 2014.

In the commentary, Devadas lists the gripes Singaporeans have had in recent years - the 2013 Population White Paper, urban flooding, corruption cases of high-profile public servants and Government's intention to regulate the internet - and selectively quoting from historical events, suggests that Singaporeans are survivors, and so must adapt to changing circumstances.

Averse to Change?

The writer of the article in Today newspaper has rightly pointed out that it is our ability to embrace change which has allowed us to thrive as a people - as a nation. And Singaporeans have never been averse to change. Not the generations before us. Not the current one. And I am sure not the one that comes after us.

The difference is, whereas there was sufficient space for people to change and embrace change in the past, that very necessary ingredient for change to happen in a more acceptable manner - space - is in short supply now.

With 7498 people per square kilometre, Singapore is already the 3rd most densely populated country in the world now. And if our population grows to 6.9 million as projected in the Population White Paper, we will have approximately 10,044 residents for each square kilometer in the year 2013.

While unabated population growth may be a sure way to grow our GDP and with it the wages of our top-earners in Singapore, it may further adversely affect our total fertility rate and our quality of life.

So, when our people reject the population white paper, it does not mean that they are xenophobic, or take perverse pride in cynicism, it only shows that we want to survive and strive in a land we have made our own. And to survive and strive, we need new ideas and vision.

Taking the easy road

Are there other alternatives, ideas and vision to take Singapore forward? Or have our elected leaders started believing their own rhetoric, that this is the system we have and that this is what we have got to work within? If that were so, then it is the leaders that need changing.

Asking such leaders to change by re-looking issues and policies from another angle may be of course harder, and the price to pay, perhaps deemed too high. So the easy way out would be, ask the people to accept uncreative leadership which places a burdensome yoke on the people's shoulders, just so that these leaders can hang on to power.

Contest for space

If we looked at the biggest protests last year, the White Paper protests and the protest against the licensing regime for online news sites, both were in opposition to encroachment of space - one actual physical space, and the other cyberspace.

We want not just a roof over our heads, but also space to run, play and have fun. Familiar spaces, which we can point to our children and tell stories. More individual space in our trains and buses. Space to grow our careers and families at the same time.

And we want the Government to butt out of the internet - the most open 'public square' Singaporeans have for public discourse.

The Singaporean DNA

From the Graduate Mothers' Scheme to more recently, the former-Education Minister's intention to reduce weightage of mother-tongue language examinations in PSLE, the average Singapore citizen has not been afraid to speak out against schemes and policies which he or she thinks will disadvantage a majority of Singaporeans.

The protests at the designated space in Hong Lim Park, as well as in cyber-space - and the discussions and debates in coffee-shops, pantries at workplaces and homes all point to the fact that Singaporeans react the way they do because of their DNA. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Even if being risk-averse is in the Singaporean DNA, the ability to embrace change is also in our gene pool. Singaporeans will take calculated risks to change status-quo if they feel that they are being disadvantaged, and live with the upheavals such a change may bring.

We did it almost 50 years ago, in 1959, and are certainly capable of doing it again in the future if there is a need to do so.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Proud of my 'poor' Singaporean stench

I was outraged reading this news on TRE: Briton belittles people taking public transport.

When members of the public asked him why he made those remarks, he apparently deleted his Facebook account, and later posted an apology with a clarification <HERE>.

Although I am shocked by the Briton's remarks, I am not totally surprised. Let me tell you why.

With COEs hovering over the $70,000 mark, and with financing restrictions on motor vehicle loans, it certainly looks like eventually, only the rich would be able to afford and drive cars in Singapore. Already 63 percent of Singaporeans take the public transport now. The Government wants to increase this to 70 percent.

Towards achieving this, the Transport Minister, Mr Lui Tuck Yew said in an interview to Bloomberg TV that the Government "had to take some measures here in Singapore that are both unorthodox and somewhat controversial and expensive."

So while the rich zoom around town unperturbed by ERP increases, car-parking charges and ever-increasing road capacity to cater to their ease of transportation, 63 percent of 'poor' Singaporeans have to cope with over-crowded trains and buses, buses and train that frequently breakdown, public transport which don't arrive on time, and transport fare hikes.

While prime land like Sentosa Cove and Marina Bay become playgrounds for the rich and powerful, the 'poor' gets pushed to the peripherals of Singapore to places like Woodlands, Sembawang and Sengkang. (An article I wrote earlier on this topic is HERE.)

While world leaders like Pope Francis points out that "there is no hard evidence that trickle-down economics has worked for anyone, except the rich", our leaders make comments like this:
“In fact, if I can get another 10 billionaires to move to Singapore and set up their base here, my Gini coefficient will get worse but I think Singaporeans will be better off, because they will bring in business, bring in opportunities, open new doors and create new jobs, and I think that is the attitude with which we must approach this problem.” <LINK>
Why, by pegging their salaries to the top 1000 earners in Singapore, our political leaders seem to be identifying more with the well-off than with the common man on the street.

Do you still remember, "Please, get out of my elite uncaring face"?

No, I am not saying that all the filthy rich are smug, but when the rich and powerful have better (unfair?) advantage in domains like transportation, land allocation, and education, it is quite easy for them to remain aloof and adopt an elitist mindset - to lose touch with the aspirations and challenges of the ordinary Singaporean.

My worry is, that there may be far too many among the filthy rich who feel like the Briton, but only make such comments in their closed circles.

But as for me, I am proud of my stench - the stench of a "poor", ordinary Singaporean, and am also proud of the sacrifices my mom had made in raising me!

Article was edited after it was published. Considering the Briton's apology, I have removed the Youtube video.