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I am Singaporean XXX – Prophylaxia June 11, 2007

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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I am referring to this entry on The Online Citizen regarding the dismissal of Alfian Sa’at.

Well, well. I found it very perplexing at first as to why an award-winning local playwright would be summarily dismissed from his relief teaching position, and with such great haste as well…until i read about his socio-political leanings, and the fact that he has written plays centering on the theme of homosexuality and criticism of the government. This is also seen in MOE’s refusal to engage Alfian on the topic: when pressed by Alfian, MOE replied with vague, ambivalent answers, answers which, if Alfian has reproduced the letter fully, do not answer his most pertinent question: Why was he dismissed?

Alfian’s correspondence can be read here.

Nor are the replies to the other parts of his questions replied fully. Take part 3, for example. When asked why he was terminated so abruptly without any chance to tie up loose ends, MOE replied that only the best make it, yadda yadda. That sets off smoke alarms in my head.  It reminds me of the sophistical doctrine of ignoratio elenchi, the irrelevant thesis. And what’s more, the alarm and the abruptness of his termination reminds me of what one would to do a malignant tumour – to operate immediately. And i must say that the students DO NOT benefit one bit from this change – the decision is purely political, in my opinion. After all, education is something which moulds the future, if i remember correctly, and people like Alfian Sa’at? Dangerous! He is like a cancer on the smooth educational landscape of Singapore!

Thus, rather than let him go on (even if he was very talented and diligent), they axed him. Gone. No more. With this, he has also been dismissed from a governmental board, barring him jobs in the public service. It’s actually a smart move by the MOE, IMO, if all of us weren’t in on it.

So, what happened?

I would say that once again this reflects the institution of fear which plays such a big role in the Singaporean political scene. What fear? The PAP may have once feared that liberal political values would cause them to lose their grip on power (and thus their million-dollar $alarie$). However, even if they do not fear this anymore, this fear has filtered down to the lower levels, at the level of the public service employer. I don’t think, for example, that the Minister is in on this. And when you fear something, the concept of prophylaxia becomes a very, very useful tool.

You see, dear reader, prophylaxia does not require an actual problem to solve – it is more like prevention via intervention. Alfian was probably perceived by some lower-level person in MOE to be a political threat or that he may (gasp!) spread liberal anti-governmental information amongst the student population, which, of course, will not do in Singapore, so this person decides to axe him. And because of the hierarchy, orders from the top are orders. Let Alfian Sa’at teach on and pollute the minds of countless Singaporeans? No way, José!

And all this, even if he may not be actually doing it.

I sympathise with his predicament and this further shows where education is going in Singapore. Education in Singapore is, above all, learning to worship our ministers and our very, very efficient government. Please pay your taxes and the Gahmen’s next pay raise. Also, please work until you die. This is education. People who are even perceived to be alternative are axed.

I wonder if i am going to get axed soon. Must pay bond some more. Tmd…like that i won’t come back liao loh!

And further down, this just made the Lees eat their own words when they preach about a vibrant society based on meritocracy. What meritocracy can you talk about when the good are axed just because they are alternative? What vibrance can you talk about when the key to everything is toeing the party line? Is it that the vibrance is only within a party-allowed room, and the elite are those who believe whole-heartedly in the system?

Then, Singapore is NOT meritocratic. Singapore is NOT vibrant. Nannying us and showing us the One True Way is not going to bring us further. How can anyone dare to speak up in an environment of fear, when your past can cause you to lose your job? How?

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