Friday, August 11, 2017

National Day Middle Finger Meditations

It is amazing that a day before National Day, I made an obscure reference to Henry Park and the Law of Attraction responded by giving all of us this courageous kid from Henry Park who took the chance and gave the middle finger to all Singaporeans during National Day. I am sure the poor kid must have been given a hard time by his parents or teachers for what he did.

Before I share with everyone my version of the moral of the story, let me share with everyone a small snippet of my life.

SMU Law Faculty is under new management and it's fair to say that things are certainly getting better for SMU Law Students. For the first time in my life, I sense that SMU is trying to engage with alumni and working really hard to consult with us on making key changes to the syllabus and pedagogical techniques. The alumni responded enthusiastically and I could certainly feel the passion in the seminar room with the new Dean talking directly to us.

But one small observation bothers me.

As I am quite clueless about the legal industry, some JD classmates pointed out to me that the eager folks who came back to help out were the older generations of former Justice Legal Clerks and basically the best of the best that SMU ever produced. If Law School were DC comics - these guys are the New Gods; if Law School were Marvel - they are the Inhumans. They gave well argued points on how legal education can be improved and enhanced and backed it up with industry experience.

[ Side note : Do Law undergrads pay some version of Magic the Gathering that feature prominent lawyers and member of the bench ? Can I tap my Associate and Trainee card to play a Writ of Summons ? Can you tap a tap a Senior Counsel to play a Strike out my Proceedings card ? ]

Then it suddenly hit me.

This is just like a JC reunion. Successful folks will come back to see how everyone else is doing. More ordinary folks will not want to show their face unless they are also into MLM or insurance.

The views represented in alumni feedback sessions, through no fault of anyone, would be overly represented by the folks who had the most positive experience of SMU law school. Why else would you come back?

Law School is awesome when you're kicking ass, but it's worse than eating SAF coconut bun in the 90s when your ass is being kicked.

There may be fewer folks who represented the views of those who might be able to give valuable feedback which makes Law School better for the rest of the 80% of the graduates, such as those :

a) Who tried hard by missed out from getting with a Latin distinction grade by 0.01.
b) Got dumped by bf/gf just before the exams.
c) Who fell sick and had to drop out from the entire semester.
d) Just can't get their writing up to par to meet university standards.
e) Almost had a nervous breakdown from the workload because they have no muggers.
f) Became class pariah and was never willingly invited to form a group with someone else.
g) Who are enraged by some professors who can get tenure in spite of being tardier than a Henry Park primary school student.

Social science research has that same problem. Some research samples are drawn from US universities and run into the bias of being white, industrialised, democratic, highly-educated and rich.

But let's come back to National Day.

If you want a primary school that represents highly successful Singaporeans whether they are parents or students in the future, you will choose to feature a bulge-bracket white-shoe primary school like Henry Park. And then you hope that a successful upper middle-class kids will never give you the middle finger... That hope was dashed last night.

I would like to celebrate the NDP middle finger.

It reminds us that no system is perfect.

It's not even close when everyone is trying their best.

The Changkat Monyet Primary School kids stayed largely at home to watch NDP or may be helping out at their parent's hawker stall. They can't give you the middle finger, but when they get shunted to the Normal(Technical) stream and look forward to a life of constantly being undervalued by society, they might just decide to give a big "fuck you" to the society they live in. The 30% who keep blaming everything on the 70% has a constant middle finger thrown at the rest of Singapore.

But things are looking great.

At least in yesterday's NDP - These folks were represented.

[ Note : I think a bunch of us ordinary mortals were quite committed to future Alumni activities and we've made a pact to attend as many as we can in the future. ]

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