Photo of Michelle Chong from Noose

Michelle Chong recently took to Facebook asking why Singaporeans are so unmotivated these days, and that no one actually takes pride in their work. I cringed when I read that, and then I realise she is just one of the many elites living in Singapore with an elitist privilege.

So to best explain “elitist privilege”, we simply just put ourselves in her elitist shoes judging matters from her elitist point of view. In her first example, her production which she worked very hard for, had a less than desirable end-effect. Well, it is something she worked very hard for and someone else screwed it up, so she has every right to be angry at whoever produced the crap right? Who cares about listening to excuses, the end product was ruined – and all is that matters. Never mind that she was apparently not present at the post-house touching up, or did not bother to have a trial run before the actual media screening – hey! It is not her fault if someone screws up isn’t it? A production team is not a team if not everyone takes responsibility for the last guy at the work, but in the eyes of the elites, if even a team member screws up, it will never be their fault. Selfishness and blaming others are after all traits of elitism, ticked.

In Michelle Chong’s second example, an interior designer (ID) firm apparently did a shoddy work, or so she claimed. It probably did not dawn on her that the ID is using a subcontractor builder who probably be using another subcontractor plumber to do the work. If we apply the same elitist privilege mentality from the previous example, it is not the ID’s fault – blame the subcontractor builder who probably is blaming the subcontractor plumber, who again is probably blaming the contract worker who did the actual shoddy work at Michelle Chong’s atas bathroom.

Of course again, the elitist mentality applies here: who cares if the ID firm uses subcontractors, they were paid for the job and hence they should be responsible. The elitist mindset says “You have no pride in your work even when you are paid for it.”

Well, dear Michelle and elites, Singaporean working class are barely earning enough to feed themselves and their family. We are overworked and we do not get paid over-time. Do you pay more if we “take pride in our work”? No, I see, so you want free labour you cheapskate rich people is that right? That premium you paid to my boss do not trickle into my pocket, so why should I “take pride”?

Elites like Michelle Chong do not understand the hardships of life, and slogging the hours only to realise you are forever trapped in poverty. Meritocracy does not applies for non-elites like us, we do not get appreciated in dollars or praises. Unlike you rich people, promotions or higher salaries do not awaits us at the end of 10 years of hard work. We commoners get retrenched, pay cuts and insulted by more rich people like you for being lazy. Evidence? Our 70 year olds wiping tables at kopitiams or collecting cardboard are living evidence. Unlike you rich people, we have no savings and our HDB flats are depreciating assets unlike your free-hold property.

Why should I bother indeed, please lah do extra for what? Will my boss pay more if I value-add? Value-add means more work, so why should I do work for free just as you wouldn’t pay me for not doing any work?

The elites do not care
1) if I earn a living wage to even feed myself and my family, or
2) if I clock more than 44 hours a week for free, or
3) if I get appreciated for doing quality work, or
4) if my mental and physical well-being is taken care of, or
5) if I am retrenched tomorrow because I am too old, or
6) if my job is taken away by a cheaper foreign labour,
7) if I even have basic employment rights, or
8) if I am 80 years old wiping tables at S$4 an hour,

so why should I care if they are getting quality work?

Most Singaporeans do not take pride of their work because their basic Maslow needs were never taken care of in the first place. To those who believe they are under-paid, don’t bother. Really. Michelle Chong is just another elitist pest running a holier-than-thou attitude on you. If Singaporeans let such elitist talk down on them, very soon they will start asking why the elderly cleaner is not using anti-bacterial tissue swipes for their tables. Value-add mah, talk easy, pay lah.

STR Editor
Alex Tan