Telling schools to cut down on air-conditioned classrooms is akin to "removing air-conditioning in A-class (hospital) wards to keep the C-class patients less envious", said Dr Koh Poh Koon.
The former PAP candidate for Punggol East was criticising the recent Education Ministry directive to schools with air-conditioned classrooms to install fans and use air-con only when necessary.
Writing on his Facebook page, Dr Koh said: "Instead of making it comfortable for all students, we have decided to make it equally uncomfortable for everyone... We must not be tempted to ensure equality in society by pulling down those at the top."
He added: "I hope we will...not be populist in our policies."
Speaking later to MyPaper, Dr Koh clarified that he had nothing against reducing air-con usage in schools if it was meant to save energy. But if the intent was about "making it a so-called level playing field, then it's really creating equal misery".
The former student of the now-defunct MacRitchie Primary School, Maris Stella High School and Hwa Chong Junior College pointed out that many public places like libraries, as well as buses, are air-conditioned, as are many homes. "So should most Singaporeans not use air-con too?" he asked.
By using air-con as a signifier of elitism, "we are equating it with outward materialism and opulence. But I don't need air-con to be a snob. Elitism is a mindset."
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