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I am Singaporean XVIII – THEY are Out There. February 21, 2007

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

There is a problem with humanity, namely, the dichotomy of Us and Them. It’s everywhere…from cliques in school to Uncle Bush and his holy war against ‘Muslim terrorists.’

But i am not a great philosopher (because as of now i am still studying the subject) so i will reduce the breadth of this particular argument to the Singaporean scene. Now, i will attempt to bring the question of Us/Them through various aspects of society – maybe you will gain some insight into what is wrong…

  1. The Individual. Of course, man is ego-centric…when it comes down to the most animalistic of moments (i.e. kill or be killed), man will kill. The I always takes precedence over the Them – sometimes, the I takes precedence over the Us. My instructor in the Army used to use the term ‘me, myself, and fucking i’ – indeed, much military training is meant to assimilate the I into an Us. Almost everyone is selfish at times (myself included) and some people are religious because they don’t want to go to Hell. Well and good.
  2. The Family. The family is a very tightly-knit unit – thus, the phenomenon of the Outsider is always most prominent here. But i do not perceive it to be a social ill – after all, the family is the core of all society. If not for this Us/Them dichotomy, there wouldn’t be families anymore…and even i can’t imagine a world without one. This is more so in Asian societies – Asian families tend to be close-knit and, as a result, closed off to Them. Can be shown by some parents, who cannot imagine their children living overseas after their graduation. They offer all sorts of incentives, like buying a car, or things like that, just so their children will come back and settle with a Singaporean girl. Similarly, many parents cannot understand why their children want to stay overseas (although an overseas education is deemed to be of utmost importance.) – after all, our children are part of Us…they cannot live in Their culture!
  3. Politics. I think the Us/Them dichotomy becomes a lot more nuanced but a lot more problematic on this niveau. The impression i get from the politicians sometimes is that they want to convince us that there is actually a greater Us, but then again, a lot of their policies seem to run against it. There is a lack of transparency, and even discrimination – the blogosphere is perceived to be a problem area requiring a ‘clean-up’ (with a clean-up crew of anonymous PAP agents, what else!) there is always this perception of taking from the people to give to themselved – So are we actually Us, or are we just the Servants in a Master-Servant relationship? Is the concept of ‘Us’ just a lie?
  4. Politics once again. What of the defamation lawsuits? Silencing is a very good method of polarising a society into Us and Them…That is probably the clearest sign of ‘Either you are with Us, or you are with Them (and deserve to go into jail, accordingly.) I can only wonder what a Grand Coalition in Parliament will look like.
  5. Society in general, especially the élite/peasant divide…we have élite JCs, élite secondary schools, élite this, élite that. And, this élitism does show! Scoffing at ‘neighbourhood-school types’, Science students scoffing at Arts students, My-Dad-is-Richer-than-Yours, and so on. I don’t know, but i think the Us/Them mentality is very strong in the minds of the élite…i mean, ‘get out of my elite, uncaring face’ wasn’t that long ago right?
  6. International Relations. Until a world government can form, it was postulated by Locke that nations will still act in a state of nature to each other – that is, the individual state comes first. Us/Them is obvious, very obvious – but everyone does it anyway, and there’s nothing much we can do about it.

Of this, i think the 3rd point i discussed is most disturbing. So is our existence justified only by our service to our country? And what do our politicians do? I would really like to know, but i don’t want to become part of Them. No, i’d rather remain with Us. Us, not Them.



1. the Stark In Winterfell - February 22, 2007

Sia lah…Aaron reads ur blog pro…heh…i wish my folks could buy me a car to induce me to stay…

Actually the 5th point is also very disturbing…particularly if the said elites become leaders of society…should that happen u could get a situation where for the sake of some big shot pride…instead of burning saturday’s for ndp u will have parents burning the bodies of children who fall in the North and South.

2. guojun - February 22, 2007

What can we do? Ultimately, do you think people will stand up and take a stand against said megalomanic?

3. the Stark in Winterfell (aka Nedstark) - February 22, 2007

They dun even want to stand up for singapore when the birthrate is falling so much so that more TDH fellas are going to be invited into singapore…u say leh?

4. Siu - February 22, 2007

You know apart from using the greater US excuse, I do realise another commonly used one is the “We are fighting for the survival of the country” excuse.

Survival of Singapore 1 : SMGoh said last elections, foreign investors will be scared away should PAP get voted out. No foreign Investment = Downfall of Singapore.

Survival of Singapore 2: Mah Bow Tan said Spore needs 6,5 Million people to expolit the oppurtunities of the economy for survival, regardless even if 60% of the 6.5 Millions are foreigners.

Survival of Singapore 3: Teo Chee Hean said it is the duty of every citizen to defend the nation, be it military, economical, political, social etc.

Notice that in point 3, Teo Chee Hean actually acknowledges that defending the nation comprises of more than just serving NS(Military). At the same time, MINDEF is reviewing the Army-Defectors law to increase the punishment for those caught defecting Army. So for the local born and bred guys, tough luck.

I can’t help but wonder perhaps by emphasising such total defence policies, the Government is trying to justify why foreigners turned citizens in Spore need not serve NS as they have contributed to the “defence” of the nation as well. Pathing way for the influx of the extra millions of foreigners???

5. Siu - February 22, 2007

The point I’m trying to say is, our existence is justified only by our service to the country because if we dont serve the greater US, Singapore wouldnt survive and if Singapore doesn’t survive, we wouldn’t exist. There seems to be this constant fear of annihilation in the government. It’s as though if Singapore slows down to take stock of it’s progress, we will be wiped off the face of earth the next day. Poof, no more Singapore. And the only way to prevent that from happening is by being in line with the government’s policies and being ready to serve the US anytime. anywhere, when PAP calls.

6. guojun - February 22, 2007

That’s human nature for you i suppose. Anyone in power will be afraid of losing it…of course, the PAP predicts apocalyptic consequences for Singapore – but having had no other party in charge, that can become a very real fear in Singaporeans.

Survival is always the best way to captivate the hearts and minds of the people…

7. the Stark In Winterfell - February 23, 2007

Heh…like the thing about having not enough lawyers and doctors…are they merely paving the way for more TDHs to come to singapore and justifying their actions once the lawyers and docs see their income kena potong?

In fact the income of the said professions have been generally potonged unless ur a litigator like shanmugam or davinder…

8. guojun - February 23, 2007

shhh! wah lao. hahaha.

9. Siu - February 23, 2007

You have a point there. Can lawyers in Spore work elsewhere if they wanna migrate? Are they schooled in international laws? If so, they shouldnt be afraid, if not, I fear for their ricebowl. Who would wanna employ singaporean lawyers who have a reputation of being the hands of the government rather than justice.

10. guojun - February 23, 2007

Unfortunately, i doubt so – even so, they’d only be allowed to work in Commonwealth countries due to the differences in the judiciary systems unless they are willing to go to uni again.

11. the Stark in Winterfell (aka Nedstark) - February 23, 2007

Many of those who study Law want to do it for Money, Fame so on so forth…perhaps thats why they leave at the end when they find out that its not as glamorous as they make it out to be….

12. guojun - February 25, 2007

Money and Fame – i hope you don’t wish to do it for these reasons too. If not you can join Darth Vinder’s stable…haha

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