Wee Shu-Min Affair
The Wee Shu-Min Affair a.k.a. The Wee-Wee Saga/The Adventures of Elite Girl
- The Original Posts – Derek Wee and Wee Shu-min
- The Uproar
- Wee Siew Kim’s Apology
- The 2nd Apology
- The Aftermath
Cartoons courtesy of Sei-ji Rakugaki
1. The Original Letters
“Future of Singapore,” by Derek Wee, “Many of my peers, bright and well educated have packed up and left. It’s what MM Goh called “quitters”. It’s sad but true, Singapore no longer is a place where one can hope to work hard their lives and retire graciously. It’s really the push factor. A future is something we sweat it out, build and call our own. Unfortunately, people like me, mid 30’s going on 40’s, staying put by choice or otherwise, we can’t help but feel what lies ahead is really a gamble.
To PM Lee and the Ministers, we are on a different platform. Until you truly understand our insecurity, the future of Singapore to me remains a question mark.” (2 Oct 2006)
“Original Blog Now Removed – Full version available here” by Wee Shu-Min, “…dear derek is one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country, and in this world. one of those who would prefer to be unemployed and wax lyrical about how his myriad talents are being abandoned for the foreigner’s, instead of earning a decent, stable living as a sales assistant. it’s not even about being a road sweeper. these shitbags don’t want anything without “manager” and a name card.
please, get out of my elite uncaring face.” (19 Oct, 2006)
2. The Uproar
“Future of Singapore”, Solitaire Joker, “I wonder if the future of Singapore belongs to people like her.
If so, I have no wish to be part of this future. It would mean that little would change.” (20 Oct, 2006)
From Sammyboy’s Alfresco Shop:
“the issue here is how she said it. More precisely, her mindset. If she were the daughter of some rich tycoon – a Paris Hilton, a Xu Chun Mei – I’d say to hell it with and let her make a bi*ch of herself.
But if she is indeed the daughter of an MP, and a very possible future “leader” in Singapore – whether it’s in the civil service or a GLC – then such mindset is worrying. She seemed to have taken the wrong foreign language, for she should be reading Nietzsche in German instead.
Disgraceful. Utterly disgraceful….” -satoshi83
“So sad that it is these elite people, who treat us with contempt, that have their university education financed by government scholarship and paid for by taxpayers, like you and me.” -teh si
“there is a lot of arrogance in Sg. I think it is not due to ability or talent. it is due to overcompensation and ignorance. the young girl is ignorant of greater things that’s why [she] speaks so pompously, many adults in the work place can be like that too.” -NLA
“There are many ways to put your views across but hers is over the top – caustic, rude, demeaning and condescending (have I missed any other …. )
I can’t believe its Wee’s daughter.” -Scroobal
“Looking Back Home” Wei Kiat’s Blog, “I had been trying feverishly for the past 10 minutes, but the less-than-elite mind of mine still could not figure out how spelling affects the ability to get an iron rice bowl, except in her own dreamy view of how the world works, where everything seems to lie in the hands of spelling errors and grammar mistakes.
No doubt this girl is a high flier in terms of academic. But I guess she couldn’t shake away from the world of of academic results when it comes to real life. Spelling and grammar are important when you are 18 years old and writing an essay for your teachers, but unless she felt that her life consisted of only General Paper essays, she shouldn’t be that much ignorant, and much like a “stick-shoved-up-ass elite who have no idea how the world works”.” (Oct 19, 2006)
“The Wee Shu-Min Cyber Drama” Hear ye! Hear ye! “If Shu-min had been my peer, I would most probably have been tossed into the trash can. My dad was a blue-collar worker, and my mum’s a housewife. By some stroke of miracle, I was granted access to good schools and received a good education. However, to her, she probably thinks that it is her right to enter a good school and receive top education. Her worldview is different because that’s the kind of world she knows.
… I think that what should really be examined is what led her to develop such a high and mighty attitude.” (Oct 21, 2006)
“Class Disconnect,” Kitana, “But my point is this: is meritocracy really working? Are we allowing people from the heartlands to go through the system and excel so that they can in turn, help the rest of their class to move on up? Or are we simply creating more clones of an elite class, that once they escape their own class, they will no longer identify with the issues of the common man? Yes, there are definitely exceptions, but for the most part, how true is the mindset that that RJC girl has? My suspicion is that it isn’t unique to her alone. It’s just that not that many people would be silly enough to blog about it. But still.
And you wonder why the disconnect.” (Oct 21, 2006)
“Wee Shu Min just me, us, just like another Singaporean, just better Engrish” What’s in Your Goodie Bag? “Do we not recognize her attitude (as contrast to her views) of human beings as potentially dangerous taken to its logical conclusion- there are leeches and those who believe they rule over them. There are those that we can be sad for, those who could have been winners and those who could never be. We have kept dangerous ideas out of our shores, censored a million things, but what if, what if this portending darkness of ideas which is anti-human, this darkness is already within us? Wee Shu Min, whether she likes it or not, whether we like it or not, is after all, just one of us. Does she really believe what she wrote, will she if she realise otherwise, change her view as a rssult of this debate, or will she just repress those views since they are unpopular. I wonder about the man who had the courage – nay, the desperation, who jumped off the track – and I wonder, how truly, truly, does Shu-Min think of a man like that?” (Oct 21, 2006)
“The brilliance of youth” My Singapore News, “What we see in her is the tip of a smelly iceberg. It transcends from the little spoilt brat that demands the maid to do everything for ‘it’ to the peanut people among the elite. Not all elite are in the same shitty mindset. Thank god.
…Our society has indeed stratified into two separate worlds, not so much in material wealth, but in the value of life and life philosophy. On one end, money is not enough. On the other, money is never enough. And for the latter, the world owes them a living because of their talents.” (Oct 22, 2006)
“Of blogging and censorship views” George Yeo “Words matter. Words said to your face matter. Words overheard also matter. Kind words can lift our spirits. Cutting words can be demoralizing. For this reason, all communication in human society is regulated to a great or lesser degree.” (Oct 24, 2006)
3. Wee Siew Kim’s Apology
“I think that if you cut through the insensitivity of the language, her basic point is reasonable, that is, that a well-educated university graduate who works for a multinational company should not be bemoaning about the Government and get on with the challenges in life.
Nonetheless, I have counselled her to learn from it. Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it.” – Wee Siew Kim, full version available at ‘Elitist’ Blogger Counselled
“Half-Assed Apology That Wasn’t” Insane Polygon “I guess when it comes down to half-assed apology that’s not really an apology, the men in whites has honed it down into a fine art. If you don’t think you’re in the wrong, then please do not apologise. A half hearted one is worse than not apologising at all.
Obviously empathy is not a lesson you deem important enough to teach your precious daughter. And for goodness sake, why is the father “apologising” for the daughter? Where’s your precious, why has she not said anything about the whole ruckus she started in the first place? Why is no one apologising to Derek Wee?” (Oct 23, 2006)
“Open Message to AMK MP Wee Siew Kim,” Ripperstrife “I am deeply ashamed to see someone as pretentious as you sitting on a parliament seat. Why do I say pretentious? If this is how you daughter and father think in private with your elitism views of the society, I cannot even fathom why you should continue being an MP. Surely, how can someone like you begin to imagine what it is like to be near bankrupt because of a business failure? How it is to be debt ridden? How it feels like to be at your prime age of 40 and yet feel insecure about holding on to your job? Where is your compassion and understanding of the unfortunate ones who are only venting their frustruation through a virtual medium? It sickens me to see that sort of remarks coming from a minister.” (Oct 24, 2006)
“Scholar Behaving Badly” desperate youth “wee sk’s response, which takes the form of a personal attack on derek wee, ignores that the latter purported to be voicing concerns not unique to himself, but ones that are shared by other singaporeans of his age group. just last week the results of an international study by kelly services saw singapore ranked among the top three countries for age discrimination …; shouldn’t that have been a cue to take people’s thoughts on this issue more seriously?” (Oct 24, 2006)
“The Wee-Wee Saga” Whispers from the heart “we are not a tyranny of the academically capable and the clever, we, the peasants are the upper class, their masters with the whip. … WEE, wee, wee darling, how can you expect to have an iron ricebowl or a solid future if you cannot empathise accordingly? … the world is about winners and losers. it’s only sad when people who could be winners are marginalised and oppressed by the elites.
please, get your f***ing elite uncaring face off this tiny dot.” (Oct 24, 2006)
“Wee Shu-Min, Globalisation, Singapore and America,” Mr Wang “In Singapore, my sense is that the government is more likely to tell you: “Get out of my elite uncaring face”. Not in those exact words, surely they would be more diplomatic, but the spirit of it would be largely the same. Yes? … Then they wonder why so many Singaporeans want to emigrate, or don’t like serving NS, or dare not have babies. Heheh.”
“Noblesse Oblige” Insane Polygon, “Perhaps, in order for Singapore to survive globalisation, this is the way we have to go, to quote Wee Shu Min, Singapore will have to suffer the tyranny of the clever and the capable. Who am I to say she is wrong.
Certainly it will be a society I want no part of – to live in a society ruled by the dictums of Darwinian policies – where survival of the fittest is the order of the day. People are not animals and we shouldn’t live like animals or to be governed like animals. In a society without compassion for the poor, the sick, the old and the weak, what purpose and dignity is there left? Maybe Singapore will be stronger, if we do indeed weed out the weak, much like what elitists would probably like to do, but at what costs?”
“Wee Shu Min: elitist, yes; intelligent….?” Wormie “Ms Wee has every right to rebut Derek’s observations. However any rebuttal should be done without any prejudice or emotionally. Calling Derek a crackpot and a leech is overboard by any standard; especially if his observations are accurate and when Ms Wee herself had not been subjected to the harsh reality of working life. Her rebuttal smacks of arrogance. And when she received negative feedbacks, she conveniently choose to run away. As she is ‘unfortunate‘ to have a MP father, she should have known better that the use such strong derogatory terms can invite costly lawsuits if used on the wrong people. Luckily, Derek is a forgiving person.” (Oct 25, 2006)
“I sho smart u sho stupid” Goodie Bag, “But the underbelly of this is that some might see those who refuses to participate in this mantra, who tried but failed, as a person who is a “leech” – as something less than human, less worthy of respect. This attitude is sad for Singaporeans, for humanity, if this attitude translates into the philosophy of the leaders of the future. When human existence is reduced to being rational economic agents – where we are no longer human, Those who share such views debase others, fellow Singaporeans, as much as they debase themselves.”
“Unpublished Letter to Wee Siew Kim,” Chia Ti Lik, “Whilst the less discerning may opine that MP Wee has apologized on behalf of his daughter, in truth both father and daughter have exhibited no more empathy or remorse than when the remarks were first made in Ms Wee’s blog. MP Wee’s remarks albeit more diplomatic had in fact exhibited an even higher level of arrogance and lack of empathy. …
Whilst I do not hope that the current establishment gets richer as a result of whatever discussion that takes place, I do hope that the former does get a lot humbler and wiser for Singapore will need leaders who can truly empathize with the people instead of having to live with parrots perched tree high above ground and their dissonant cacophony of callouness and insensitivity.” (Oct 26, 2006)
“Empathy” the odd joker, “To presume that everyone could and can be the same as the people at the top of the hierarchy is an illegitimate view, silly at best, socialistic at worst. Whatever happened to the ‘Staying Together, Moving Ahead’ slogan that our ruling party espoused during the elections?”
4. The 2nd Apology
‘We both apologise to the people whom we have offended, and especially Mr Derek Wee,’ the MP said. … Yesterday, in his apology, he said: ‘I should not have said what I did about people’s inability to take the brutal truth and strong language.’ – From Straits Times 28th Oct
Responses & More Commentary
“The Secret Identity of Elite Girl,” Insane Polygon, “As for that whole apology thing, the half-heartedness with which it was initially made is worse than not apologising. Patronising to the core. If WSM and her father don’t think they are wrong,they shouldn’t apologise. Just come out and defend your viewpoints with good arguments. Instead WSM closed down her blog and than her father came out with some gibberish. Even if I don’t agree with your viewpoints, I can still respect you for the courage of your convictions. But here, it just makes you look like hypocrites. Apologising for the sake of appeasing angry constituents and probably mostly to save face and your own political career. If you want to be an elitist, at least give us some good arguments to support yourself. If you can’t even do that, then how elite can you truly be?”
“Humility is not a lesson that is easily taught and…” Urbanrant, “For him to make the insensitive remarks that ‘Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it,’, it showed a callous disregard for the electorate that voted him into power (although he did got into parliament by virtue of a walkover in 2001).
I often wonder what is the price of having that many MPs who “walk”(over) into Parliament so easily. I guess now i know the answer.”(Oct 28, 2006)
“Sorry misses the point” E Pur Si Muove, “The main point is still that Mr. Wee had added insult to injury by issuing a non sequitur of an apology. In addition, Mr. Wee has neatly answered the question: where did Shu Min get her smarmy attitude from? The most likely suspects are family and friends; Mr. Wee’s reponse supports strongly the hypothesis that the elitist attitude comes from at least one person in the family; the father in particular. But in that case, should the father have any business running a constituency if he appears to have condoned tacitly the class divide that characterizes the attitude of someone who says “Please don’t bother me with your problems”?” ” (Oct 28, 2006)
5. The Aftermath
The Wee Shu-Min Saga has spawned artistic pieces:
The Importance of Being Elite by Han
The Adventures of Elite Girl by Insane Polygons
"2 hours that changed me" Trisha Reloaded, "There is no glory in being an elite. No honour in trumpeting one’s own success. For if not by a fortunate roll of the dice of life, any of us could end up like Mr Y or Mdm C. Any of us could be born into a family visited by sorrow upon sorrow, where circumstances work against you and fate tosses you around like sand, so that you can’t get out of the shit even if you want to. So for those of us in which life has been unbelievably kind to us, a good measure of gratitude and humility is called for. Survival of the fittest is the rule for the animal kingdom. Surely we are above the beasts? Surely we are meant to rise up higher? Instead of dashing to be the first, perhaps it is far nobler to slow down, and give a hand to the downtrodden, the unfortunate, the unskilled, the retrenched, the slower, the old, the sickly and the poor. When we can restore even a modicum of dignity to our fellow beings who have no hope, surely that makes us more human."
"My Comments," by Derek Wee "Some may be wondering how I feel about the whole episode. Well, my objective was to create an AWARENESS of the plight of people in their 40s. Looking at the numbers who have visited my blog & the “accidental” limelight as a result of a “visit from the elite”, I should be happy some level of awareness has been achieved indeed. Although this is not new, but at least people are taking a step back to reflect. It’s also about time our government face the “brutal truth”; of the feelings of the post 65 generation." (Oct 29, 2006)
"Political Elitism Enhances Class Divide," Seah Chiang Nee @ The Star "The problem is serious. “We have a crop of well-off MPs who have little empathy for the poor or needy, seeing failure is an individual’s fault. Political elitism and arrogance are undoing the PAP’s strong record of achievements,” ... “Otherwise, the PAP cannot survive a one-man-one-vote democracy for more than two or three elections.” " (Oct 30, 2006)
"Singapore Elite Members" chungkwong's blog "Whatever their superior points, elite members should be constantly asking themselves: what do I give back to society for my privileged status? They should think of the example of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, for this is what distringuishes a cultured society from a crude one. The CEO earning 1M a year should be asking whether they are 100 times more indispensible than the cleaner who makes 10K, and even those whose management had produced huge profits for the organization should be asking whether the cleaner had benefited from the achievement, whether the CEO has done enough to keep everyone working in the organization motivated, for the long term benefit of the organization."