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I am Singaporean VI – The World Famous (Successful) Dictatorship November 29, 2006

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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I was eating at the Mensa today when i overheard this conversation. German talking to someone who looks Turkish.

I quote, to the best of my memory:

‘I don’t see why ordinary Germans are complaining about their lack of civil rights and liberties. They should go to countries where they have no freedom, no political freedom, like China, or SINGAPORE. They should see how the poor people there deal with it because they don’t have a choice and then they will appreciate what they have in Germany.’

Well, well. Uncle Lee, the world’s eyes are on you.

Crazy Weather November 27, 2006

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Winter is coming. It’s true! 1st December will be the first day of winter.

But it doesn’t feel like winter yet…strangely. The weekend was rainy but somehow the rain kept it warm and cosy inside. We had what, temperatures of 15-17 degrees in Trier? In fact, it was so cosy yesterday that i decided to put on a jacket and go for a long walk around Petrisberg to Olewig through the vineyards! Sadly…the vineyards are now all but barren. They harvested all the grapes off them and there’s nary a leaf or a stem left. Gone was the riot of colour which greeted me the first time i wandered that place, replaced by a cutting cool breeze.

Sunset was beautiful, mainly because there was no concrete jungle to block the view. It was simply breathtaking. Something you never see in Singapore – the riot of red, azure, blue-green, oranges, golds and whites. I love the fall. But oh well. All good things come to an end, and fall will come again.

Winter awaits…

I am Singaporean V – Kopitiam Konspiracies November 23, 2006

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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So Mr. SDP has been sent to the slammer. AGAIN.

What makes this man tick? After years and years of being fixed slapped with lawsuits from Lees Jr. and Snr., one would have thought that he should just smuggle himself out to maybe the UK or something. You know…pay a human-trafficking organisation 10,000 bucks for a ticket to anywhere in the world, but if something goes wrong, you’ll be selling your kar chng in the Bong-Bong Hotel in Patpong…’500 baht! Me love you long time!’

Sounds familiar?

Anyway. Of course there’s a lot of kopitiam talk about this lah…just like there’s kopitiam talk about everything under the Sun. GST hike la, elections la, which kopitiam laksa tok kong la, where you can find mee siam with hum la, and so on, and so forth. But as the thinking people we are (see previous chapter,) we also talk about conspiracies.

For example, the idea that Mr. SDP is actually someone in the payroll of the PAP to discredit the opposition. I mean, that’s perfectly plausible…how come he hasn’t been detained indefinitely? Something must be wrong right…i mean, of course, we can’t talk cock about anything else because of the following:

  1. We don’t have secret UFO bases or government agencies working hand-in-hand with extraterrestrials. (I mean, you can’t use aliens because foreign talent are everywhere)
  2. We don’t have nuclear silos which the US wants us to shut down
  3. We don’t perform human experimentation with government scientists formulating all sorts of weird diseases to unleash upon the unsuspecting populace (unless you consider the Defamatory Lawsuit Phobia)
  4. There aren’t horrendous genetic experiments being carried out in Singapore (unless you suspect BioPolis)
  5. We didn’t try to make the RSS Dauntless disappear à la the Philadelphia Experiment
  6. There’s no Area 51…but maybe will have District 51 soon.

Yeah…so got to talk about this kind of wu liao things lor. But seriously, would we be very surprised if Mr. SDP WAS in fact someone paid by the Government? I know i wouldn’t be. I mean, although he has exposed much of the flaws of the system (like his farcical court trial where it became clear that the judiciary was part of politics after all, so when it comes to politics, you can expect to go to jail, do not pass ‘GO,’ do not collect $200.) But he may just be an extreme form of mr brown, who gets it all the time so that we will stay well-behaved.

Aiyah…it’s just a kopitiam theory lah…don’t tell me you want to install listening bugs at the kopitiam, so you can scramble cops to arrest the people for political dissent where in some lift in some HDB block some old lady gets robbed because the police weren’t monitoring the cameras but the listening bugs.

On the other hand, like that can increase government income. Every time we say ‘lah’ you can send us a $10 summons…So when we say ‘Wah lao…last time say ‘lah’ dio $10 summan’ you can send us another 3 summons. Like that, win already!

I am Singaporean IV: Thinking People November 22, 2006

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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Lol…okay this is gonna be quite light-hearted.

I remember that when i was in green, there was a huge emphasis on thinking soldiers. You know…must think la…don’t get your commanders (i mean, regular commanders) into trouble and don’t get yourself into trouble. So of course we thought…we thought up of some pretty interesting stuff too! For example,

  1. Euphemisms for ‘sleeping during office hours,’ which is actually a very serious offence. For example, we thought up of studying the insides of your eyelids, examining the dust particles on your pillow, erm…observing the circular motion of the fan, and lots more.
  2. How to tekan people…ok ok i shall not reveal it here in case some military big fuck comes by and decides to re-form the SAF (come on. you can’t be a soldier without suffering any form of tekan at least once…)
  3. How to smoke. Of course, the literal sense as in the oxygen sticks (then you got to learn how to quit), but more importantly, how to smoke your boss. Unfortunately, our boss was very difficult to smoke. (Ain’t that right, boss?)
  4. Thinking of how to maneuver through politics. That means basically, a no-nonsense policy when you’re on duty (lol…because no one will cover your ass…like i told my junior officers, ‘DOO = biggest fuck in the unit’ is got reason one lei…) Also, know what’s right and insist on it. Like me v.s. CO in New Zealand.
  5. How to play pool like a pro…considering i was a pool noob in JC…hahahaha and i could end up pwning people! GODLY.

Okay. In school also…we’re encouraged to think instead of regurgitate…you know…when you get information, must think to process it lah. But unfortunately…this hasn’t been very successful yet…because most of the students are mindless automatons who just absorb and regurgitate. I mean, facts are facts right…so you can’t possibly go wrong.

It’s interesting how thinking is encouraged in almost all aspects of life these days. For example, last time for boys it was like…Shut up and go to school. Shut up and study hard. Shut up and accept your punishment (how about 1 stroke of the cane for 1 mark?) Shut up and go to a good JC. Shut up and go to the Army. Shut up and go to university. Shut up and get a job. And so on, and so forth.

Now, different already! Because we are expected to think, it’s now…Shut up and let me go to school. Shut up and let me study hard. Shut up and let me enjoy JC. Shut up and let me choose my uni course. Of course, it’s not so vulgarly expressed la, but you can’t say that this doesn’t happen. Maybe because we’re expected to think for ourselves that people are not so willing to obey blindly anymore. When my folks expected me to study science/engineering or what for uni, i told them i had it up to here with the sciences and i wanted to study a subject where i could think more and not just absorb.

See, i is thinking citizen also!

An interesting thing about thinking is that while we’re being encouraged to think and think and think, we’re not allowed to think about something, namely, our country. So, it looks like this now:

Government: Please think when you are in school so you can learn and not regurgitate. Please think when you are a soldier so you can work more efficiently and make the SAF a more efficient body (a.k.a. 3G Army.) Please think when you work, so you can increase your work productivity. For every 5 years, please do not think about what’s good for the country. Shut up and work/eat/sleep/do whatever you want. But normally, please think. It’s good for you. We also know what’s good for you in particular aspects, so you don’t have to think there.

Okay..it lessens the load on our overloaded brains.

Toodles!

I am Singaporean III: Say Whatever to Politics November 21, 2006

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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What’s the first word many of this generation say when it comes to politics?

Whatever la, nothing is going to change anyway.’

I have a sneaky suspicion as to where GST is going to, why upgrading only takes place on the most insignificant things (like covering drains when we’ve survived without them for ages,) and why the government accuses us unanimously of complaining, and why people stopped talking about reducing emigration.

Firstly, in all the hubbub about the GST rise (actually a rise from 5% to 7% is a rise of 40 [forty] %…not a 2% rise.) Of course it simply means that goods prices will go up by 2% lah. But for a tax raise, it’s outrageous. Well done, Dear Leaders, for masking the actual raise under a smart veil of smoke or it being only a 2% tax raise. I think a 0.1% tax raise will not satisfy your hungry souls (and of course the stomachs of elitists like a certain RJC girl,) so yah…someone must have come up with the WITS Project title of ‘raise GST by 40%, but tell everyone its only 2%’ and maybe he got $10 for it. Good boy…

Either that, or our politicians and our people as a whole cannot differentiate wordplay from math. Someone is smoking, and the others all just see the smokescreen. zzz…

In connection to that, of course, the money cannot just go to the coffers la…the government has to show us that upgrading actually takes place! This is naturally in the form of highly worthless ‘upgrading projects’ which everyone could do without, like covering the drains to prevent dengue, or by building a large monument just outside my place. I’m sure the money could to go better uses…because we’ve lived pretty okay without them in the past anyway. You could actually save the money and well…give it to the poor and needy who are going to be affected by your little GST hike.

Have you noticed that these days, the government has been accusing us of complaining? Aiyoh, some things we also donno how to do what…since you all are so powderful like you all make yourselves out to be, then confirm will be able to help us la! Pardonnez, but we’ve been brought up on the impression that Government = good/omnipotent/bla-bla. And now YOU say that we are complaining instead of giving you solutions?! I thought you, our Dear Leaders, were supposed to ensure our welfare. Leadership not by example, i see…

Anyway, whenever we have a solution or when we have a mission, the powers that be tend to see it as dangerous…so the moment we say something which might just be interpretated to be anti-government in the slightest sense, we’ll be punished with Something Really Nasty called a defamation suit. Or we’ll be challenged to prove ourselves in the next election *yawn* and then when we don’t get support because of lack of media coverage/smear campaigns/forgetting to submit our minority forms, you’ll laugh at us and say ‘See? WE’RE the best for you. yadda.’ So…so LPPL for what? You want us to be more forthcoming in providing solutions, but you’re scared of us being active. And knowing all politicians, they won’t do anything unless it’ll do themselves good. So there.

Lastly, haven’t you noticed that no one has been talking about emigration lately? I mean, sure, it was a hot topic like a few years back when people said those who stayed overseas after their studies or whatever were ‘quitters’ and deserved to be condemned/sent to a Hell where Chee Soon Juan is also known as Satan. (I mean, he’s probably better than Satan, but yeah…the government’s impression of pure democracy is Hell, anyway, so.) Lately, with the influx of foreign talents, no one has been talking about emigration. This only shows one thing, namely:

I’m sorry, but i think the people upstairs don’t love us so much anymore. =(

Now before you all start crying out in agony ‘Oh, My Lee, why hast Thou forsaken me!’ you should remember that meritocracy is the system our government was built on. Never mind that meritocracy was once used in a cynical sense of the word. Meritocracy states that you will be rewarded according to the amount of merit you show in contributing to society, or being of noble birth (see above.) Yeah before i get distracted again, it means that we’re not so highly valued anymore. So we can emigrate for all we want…as long as your sons have served NS (or get out before your sons are born.) But then, many of you men will find NS an amusing, if not rewarding, experience…

You can always migrate and kick Junior home for the Army when he’s of age!

So yeah…seeing how politics is like this…and seeing how our leaders are well, human too, just say ‘whatever’ for the next 5 years. Wait for the GE then talk lar…

Uncle Bush’s Visit November 17, 2006

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Thank you, Uncle Bush, for visiting Singapore. Thank you for showing us, the citizens, what a paranoid efficient police force we have. Thank you for showing us that you’re the King of the World and everyone else is just your bitch. Prime example would be how your security happened to be tighter than IMF security.

Thank you too, Uncle Bush, for giving the ‘A’ and ‘O’ Level students 1 more hour to pray/sleep/cram/worry/whatever. You rock, Uncle Bush.

Thank you once again, Uncle Bush, for being the crazy man who just happens to be the President of the United States. So, thank you for being there, even if we didn’t need you. Thanks for being in Iraq, and thanks for trying to start democracy in the Middle East, even if Iraq would’ve been steadier if he remained in power.

Thank you, Uncle Bush.

GST November 17, 2006

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Until i was reminded by something today, i actually tended to think of GST as Government Service Tax. You know…we have to pay more to congratulate the government on winning the elections, again.

Well…it’s Goods & Service Tax, okay?? Sometimes my twisted name however seems more fitting…like the intentional mispronunciation of civil servants as sewer serpents.

Eh, we is no Native Engrand Speaker ok? Paiseh lah…

Originally 3%, then now 5%. 7% soon. 2 raises in quite a short period of time lei…and the fact that this tax applies universally doesn’t make sure that the peas…erm, poor are taken care of (unless there is concrete evidence that the tax goes to helping them) and well the rich don’t care anyway. What’s 2% to them?

Ok ok, so the Mehrwertssteur here is 16%. But well…there is Sozialhilfe here. Where do those taxes go to?

Pineapple Tarts, Semen and Charcoal November 16, 2006

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Last time, when i was still in green, there was this person in my unit who was notorious for having an insatiable hunger (with a preference for the night snack, especially pineapple tarts.) Everyone called him ‘pineapple tart’ behind his back. Indeed, once he was known for plundering the night snack bag of my friends (my specs), leaving them with almost no more night snack.

One wonders where those pineapple tarts went. Maybe he took them so he could sell them at some pasar malam…or maybe he took it to satisfy his 40329 stomachs.

Anyhoo, he’s also reputed for being a perfect example of what NOT to say when you use the spoken English tongue. An example for all of you. Some background of course…during SEP maintenance, you’ll require cement and changkuls for digging. So…here it goes, on a typical day in the R&S Battery…

Pineappletart (P.): Eh u go and prep the stores for SEP maintenance later.
Sergeant (SGT): What stores do you need, encik?
P.: Give me 2 packet of 5kg semen and 1 charcoal.
SGT: Huh? Encik, charcoal how to dig?
P.: I said charcoal means charcoal!

…(interlude, play nice piped music)…

(later.)

P.: Eh so how the stores?
SGT: Encik i got your charcoal already…but a bit difficult to get 10kg of semen…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 24 SA, Swift and Precise. You all rock.

I am Singaporean – II: Faster Talk Before HKK November 16, 2006

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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So ah…i heard that our Government is ready to tighten Internet laws…

Everything also wanna tighten. Maybe before that they should tighten the screws in their heads.

What ‘open society’ are we talking about? Where is this openness? The call goes out to attract more fallen foreign talent to Singapore and freedom of expression, a particular aspect of an open society, and also a particular aspect which is defended by the law in other countries, continues to be repressed.

Why? This is maybe another reason for me not to swell up in pride and say ‘I am Singaporean.’ Why?

So far, the Singaporean governmental system, which is probably one of benevolent despotism, has worked. On both sides of the term. True, the government can be despotic at times. But then again, because the government takes care of us, (not ‘take care’ in that sense lar…’take care’ as in ‘give a fuck’) we’re happy to sit on our bellies and enjoy the good life we have. Wait a second…GOOD life? Okay, okay. The life which keeps food in our bellies and which keeps the electric lights running. But then again, so many things have happened in the past few years (or maybe i became old enough to recognise it in the works) that the despotism part of the whole term comes out in the clear.

Let’s take a look…

  1. For one, the Singaporean political system has an element of monarchism. Monarchism in that power is passed down from father to son. I wonder if it’ll go to grandson however. I heard one is good, if adeline is right. The one i know isn’t.
  2. Measures like tightening laws, making groups of 4 require a police permit to meet (wah lan…next time eat bak chor mee at night also must go to police post to lim kopi already) and well…using this permit thing as a prophylatic to crime – isn’t it absurd?! Excuse me while i laugh my head off. SERIOUSLY. Why on Earth would the Government suspect us to be up to no good?! I thought the saying went, ‘人之初 性本善’ okay okay maybe we’re all psychopaths deep down. I mean, you can’t trust me enough, but you trust us with your votes?! Jeez.
  3. Brain-washing. There actually was a point of time when i believed that multi-racialism, multi-ethnicity and tolerating your neighbours actually WAS something unique. Lately, however, because of the increase in people being charged under the Sedition Act, or for criticising some governmental organisation (either directly or indirectly) that i started to see it as a cover for whatever the government wants to implement. Tightening the Internet laws on whatever we blog/podcast/youtube/whatever has been justified, forazumper, by ‘curbing socially disturbing discourse’ or ‘protecting the unique multi-ethnicity of our country,’ yadda. It’s beginning not to make sense anymore. If you really want to arrest tons of people for making seditious remarks, just go to any SAF camp and install listening bugs. You can arrest an entire battalion if you wish. This over-emphasis on multi-ethnicity is well…going overboard. We know. We live side-by-side. I’m not going to beat up a Malay dude because i don’t like his face/skin colour/race/religion. Nor am i going to expect that he is going to beat me up. GET THAT CLEAR.
  4. The use of two very heavy words: defamation suit. Far Eastern Economic Review has been sued by Lee Senior and Lee Junior for guess what? Defamatory remarks again. It’s just a reminder that our political leaders are superheroes, and if you spit at them, they will use their superpowers to get fix you. The thing is that the judicial system, instead of acting as a check/balance to the government (i.e. being independent) probably is very much working with the government. I wonder why FEER dismissed claims that the issue be decided in an international court of law. Because the plaintiffs would lose? No, seriously, i wonder why.

Wah piang…with the proposed tightening of laws ah…better faster talk! Wait HKK then you know…

Erratum: Apologies. FEER didn’t dismiss the claims. The local courts did.

I am Singaporean (Why I Am Cynical) – I November 7, 2006

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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I am Singaporean.

I don’t say it proudly, or say that people should come to Singapore to admire our concrete jungle. I state it in a matter-of-fact, i’m-neither-proud-nor-am-i-unhappy kind of tone. I am, in addition to that, horribly cynical. I don’t think, for one, that it’s healthy to wholly believe some flag-waving man for aims which sound as lofty as ‘nation-building’ or ‘speaking pure English’ when i firstly do not believe in them, and nor do i see it happening, anyway.

I am studying in Germany, and i express my own views. If it doesn’t sit well with you, please go away. This is Singapore. Taken from another lens, namely, a lens 10,000 miles away.

Coming to Germany has been like a breath of fresh air – a place where, shall we say, freedom is the keyword? In comparison to home, Germany looks like the Land of the Free – no one is going to discriminate against you if you’re politically active, if you laugh at the Chancellor (it goes on in public radio) or if you study really unusual subjects. What can i say about Singapore? In comparison to Germany, i do feel that my countrymen are manacled and shackled not physically, but ideologically and mentally.

How so? Let’s take the first 3 examples, shall we? In terms of political activism, the government tends towards the view that political activism = bad. No reason why. It’s just bad. The one-party (which is probably a realistic euphemism of saying ‘autocratic’) government which has kept food in your bellies and made sure you had a job must be good, because it’s been ruling ever since the country was born. I mean, even leadership of the country is a matter of familial inheritance. The government wants homogeneity in the political beliefs of its subjects, namely, the people, while it tries to stir up variety amongst the people.

During the May elections, while the Prime Minister celebrated his victory, his old man delivered another scathing oration on how a multi-party government cannot function in Singapore, just because his portion of the votes suffered a sharp decline. Is every vote to the opposition a personal affront to this man? Apparently so. He refers time and time again to combating Communism, Malaysian ultras and all in the good ol’ 5o’s and 60’s – but it’s all history. They’re going to Hell and you’ll be reciting your good deeds at the pearly gates. So lay back and enjoy life already! Apparently not however because like every parent expects his/her child to grow and prosper, so is this man no different. Psychologically speaking, the Singapore-LKY bond can be said to be that of a child to its parent – only that the child is trying to escape parental control now, and the parent, unknown and afraid of this, sees no alternative but further tightening the iron grip.

It’s the same with freedom of press. Need i say that Singapore ranked almost at the bottom of the list for a Reporters sans frontières survey for press freedom? I mean, you don’t get nude girls in the papers (which is good, for the sake of public decency) – but at the same time, the newspapers are, if anything at all, the mouthpiece of the government. That’s not so bad. What’s bad is the open censure and punishment of people who express views another way – again, another aspect of a subtly totalitarian government. So mr brown gets taken off Today, because this government is worried that what he says will stir up disenchantment and revolt in our little city. Much ado about nothing.

One thing about Singaporeans (the youth especially) is that we do thrive in passive resistance. So every 4 years, some of us mark crosses in the opposition box or draw turtles (thus nullifying your vote) and we listen to the mr brown show despite governmental criticism of him and all. Well done. But who speaks up? I’m afraid no one will – because speaking up has been shown to be a dangerous activity and if you get into trouble, your friends will not want to play with you anymore. Sad, but true. Everyone would rather wait for some brave soul to speak up than speak up themselves. Everyone wants to blend into the background, preferring anonymity over everything.

Sadly it’s the same with academic freedom in Singapore too. I tell someone i’m studying German at the university and they go ‘what?’ It’s no surprise that education here is very tightly focused on the sciences and engineering subjects – and of course, is influenced by politics as well. So the government feels that Life Sciences, for example, is going to be the Next Big Thing and announces that it is going to invest 5 billion bucks in a science park, et cetera. So students flock to study Life Sciences (some against their natural interest, but because well, next time got job la) and as things are now, a Bachelor’s in Science in this subject has been inflated so much that it is now nearing worthless.

Sad, sad reality. I wonder how many students who studied that subject because they thought that it would get them a good job realise what they’re in now. A very lum pa pa lan situation…and guess what! Now there aren’t enough engineering students…so the government tries to attract students to the engineering sector. Politics la, politics. Difficult game of chess to play there. And all along, the Arts, which are perhaps the most difficult subjects in university to study because it involves more understanding than learning – they’re classified as subjects which are studied because the students weren’t good enough for the sciences.

That view was prevalent in JC already – don’t tell me it’s not prevalent in university. Don’t tell me that all subjects enjoy equal value. That is bollocks.

More parts to come. When it strikes me to. And well, if you read this and feel that i don’t know better, that i’m a wastrel, i’m not. I’m just daring to say what others don’t.