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Hört sich wie Eitelkeit an! May 22, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Im Spiegel 21/2008 wird mit Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, Leiter der Lee Kuan Yew School of Policy an der NUS, ein Gespräch geführt. Es geht darum, dass die Okzident schlicht aufhören solle, die Orient in jeder Sache zu belehren. Mag wohl stimmen, Herr Mahbubani, und Ihre Meinung, dass die Okzident eine Menge von der Orient zu lernen habe, mag auch wohl stimmen, aber dies dürfen wir nicht behaupten für Singapur.

Sie haben’s selbst gesagt: es gibt kein Schwarz und Weiß, sondern ein Kontinuum demokratisch-autoritär, in das jede Regierungsform je nach “Gesellschaft und ihrem Entwicklungsstand” passen würde. Ferner haben Sie über verantwortungsbewusste Führung gesprochen – das selbst finde ich schon ironisch. Viel zu oft hat unsere Regierung uns deutlich gemacht, was sie für Verantwortungsbewusstsein halten. Es werden Statistiken und Daten der Bevölkerung “aus Sicherheitsgründen” verweigert, und wenn etwas ganz Schlimmes passieren soll (wie etwa der Ausbruch eines gewissen Mas Selamat) schien doch kein Minister dazu bereit, die Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Stattdessen gab es eine Untersuchungskommission, die nicht nur nicht unabhängig war, sondern sie brachten am Ende ihrer Untersuchungen mehr Fragen als Lösungen ans Licht. Ist das also Verantwortungsbewusstsein?

Vielleicht besteht jenes Verantwortungsbewusstsein doch darin, dass die Politikern ihrem Geldbeutel gegenüber doch verantwortungsbewusst sind. Sonst gäbe es keine Gehaltserhöhung, die sie selbst bestimmen. Ferner: Wird die Regierung im strengsten Sinne demokratisch gewählt? Wir sind uns bewusst, was hinter den Bühnen abläuft. Die Grenzen der Wahlgebiete werden vor jeder Wahl verändert, und Geld wird vom PAP vor jeder Wahl ausgeschenkt. Warum gibt es ferner denn auf dem Wahlschein eine Seriennummer, die man gegen eine Wahlbeteiligungsliste vergleichen kann? Warum sind Medienberichte über die Opposition so eingeschränkt? Warum werden Gegnerpolitikern angeklagt? Ist das denn demokratisch?

Haben wir ferner ein effektives Sozialsystem, wie Sie es dadrstellen? Inwiefern ist das effektiv? Meinen Sie, dass wir kaum Geld vom Staat bekommen werden, und dass das Geld, das wir anlegen, unser Geld ist? Das ist von der Perspektive des Staates höchst effektiv – aber ist es für uns effektiv? Während es wirtschaftliche Inflation gibt und alles so allmählich teurer wird, wurde im Parlament darüber gestritten, ob Sozialempfänger 20 Euro mehr im Monat bekommen sollen! Da hat doch ein Minister gefragt, ob diese Empfänger im Restaurant speisen sollten.

Pressefreiheit ist wiederum ein Problem – Pressefreiheit wurde doch weiter eingeschränkt, indem nichts Kritisches über die Regierung oder die Politik geschrieben werden durfte. Jemand, der so etwas schreibt, muss mit seiner Entlassung oder rechtlichen Folgen rechnen. Die Gesellschaft sollte doch in der Lage sein, öffentlich über ihre Probleme zu reden, aber dies dürfen wir nicht. Es wird trotzdem darüber geredet, aber diese finden in der Presse und Medien keinen Ausdruck. Heißt das also, dass dies “Andersregiert” sein soll? Sie, Herr Mahbubani, sagen, dass dies darauf zurückzuführen ist, dass unser Land “ein der fragilsten Staaten der Welt” sei. Das möchte doch einmal gewesen sein, aber lamgsam hat sich die Lage verändert. Unsere Nachbarstaaten werden nicht immer uns gegenüber freundlich sein, aber es hat nicht nur mit purem Neid zu tun. Wie oft sind unsere Politiker ihnen auf die Füße getreten?

Diese Begründung wird heute auch als eine gute Ausrede verwendet, die PAP in Macht zu halten. Materiell sind wir verhältnismäßig sehr gut ausgekommen, aber auf welche Kosten? Wissen Sie, Herr Mahbubani, es hängt nicht nur vom Volke ab, ob sie Demokratie überhaupt wollen oder ob sie schon dafür bereit sind. Es hängt auch von der Politik ab, nämlich ob sie die Kontrolle ans Volk übergeben wollen. Und in Singapur sehe ich das nicht. Ihr Argument vom Anders-Regieren-Müssen zeugt davon, was Sie von Singapur halten. Wir sind die jammernden, idiotischen Kinder, die ständig erzogen und belehrt werden müssen. Na also. Haben wir denn nicht schon von Ihren Belehrungen genug?

Das mit Toleranzlernen ist noch witziger. Die Okzident möge doch dies lernen – aber nicht von uns! Singapur kennt wenig von Toleranz. Die Regierung meint, dass weil die unterschiedlichen ethnischen Gruppen sich aushalten, dass wir also Toleranz halten. Es werden auch Gesetze wie das Sedition Act in Kraft gesetzt, um diese Toleranz zu bewahren. Aber jeglicher Kritik gegenüber ist die Regierung höchst intolerant. Es werden Zeitschriften von der Regierung wegen Defamation angeklagt, weil sie etwas erscheinen ließen, was nicht mit dem Geschmack der Lee-Familie so ganz übereinstimmt. Man muss manchmal Acht geben, was man auf seinem Blog schreibt, denn jemanden persönlich anzugreifen (oder mindestens irgendeine Interpretation, aus der man diese Tatsache schließt) wäre echt unklug.

Es ist auch eine Doppelmoral bei Ihnen, Herr Mahbubani. Sie können Sie sich in ihrer Eitelkeit weiter sonnen, und wie der weiße Ritter auf Ihrem höhen Ross reiten, aber viele von uns Singalesen haben Sie auch durchschaut.

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Democracy and Disasters? May 19, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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So in the Forum, there’s a piece against the democracy of the United States.

I’m not really supportive of the democracy of the United States, because freedom is made so important (or so it appears to be) that bureaucracy is everywhere, preventing efficiency during disasters. But, did this not show one of the strengths of democracy which are not present in authoritarian countries, even a benevolent dictatorship like Singapore? I believe that it is the fact that the weaknesses of the Bush administration were exposed which led to the current American electoral situation.

The failure of the Bush administration was broadcast for all to see and it became clear that as much as the US professes to be a democratic society, differing sets of rules apply to its citizens.

Despite claiming to have the world’s greatest army, it could not see to the needs of its own people. So one must ask the question: Are the Americans better in their vision of democracy and a system of government they seek to stamp on the rest of the globe?

In so far as the response of their ‘freely elected government’ to the plight of the residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is concerned, I would say no.

The Americans may not be better in that particular event. But this exposure of governmental failures and shortcomings is something in a democracy which many countries sorely lack. Katrina has showed something, namely that the current government is not up to the task and that it is time for a change. Do we see this happening in Singapore? It’s just Xiao Lee announcing More Good Years Ahead, but not everyone is receiving the goodies. The reality you see on the streets, and probably your own financial situation, would suggest otherwise. But the lack of a democracy, the lack of the representation of the people, shows through. Everything is controlled, and the lack of exposure shows only one thing: What we think shouldn’t matter in the running of the country.

To sit back and simply say we cannot interfere in the internal affairs of another nation is unacceptable. Asean should step in to offer aid and assistance for the common good.

Yes, it is unacceptable. But it may not be just pure democracy which may be standing in the way. Every country has an agenda, motivated not just by politics or the respect of freedom or one’s rights. The European nations are all for airdrops, but what about international relations? Will Myanmar see this as an infringement of their national boundaries, and launch an attack? Singapore trades with Myanmar. Will interfering as the chair of ASEAN lead to the withdrawal or hindrance of these trade relationships? For a writer who professes to proclaim that the “proof is in the pudding”, he shows a surprisingly shallow analysis of the situation.  I am of the personal opinion that Myanmar should be punished.  But it is this deplorable lack of democracy, or the lack of the perceived worth of what the people feel, that no such action will be taken.

What the devastating earthquake in China has shown is that despite being branded as a government that does not offer its citizens the freedoms so dearly espoused in the US, the Chinese government has shown the world through its actions that it is connected with its citizens and that they can count on it. […] Beijing has shown itself to be a worthy government of the people.

Beijing may be, now, a worthy government of the people, but China has been opening up. Beijing may be especially focussing on aid now, because the Olympics are coming. Big money! What’s more, it is a disaster. Any government would be pledged to be reliable in this situation. But is this because an authoritarian society cares for its charges more than a democratic one? Are there not other motivations in the background? The world’s eye is on China now. Beijing has to be smart, so that the West does not do anything drastic to curtail the rise of the Dragon. It does not mean that Beijing is the ideal government for the Chinese.

I am for democracy, whereas Mr. Mohajer seems to be against democracy, especially democracy with the US brand. But it is this system of checks and balances which are vital to ensuring that power is not monopolised. He may be right in that the proof is in the pudding, but a good pudding doesn’t mean that the pudding is ideal or incapable of improvement. You need bad puddings, and the complaints of the diners, to force you to improve. The good pudding argument, as in Singapore, with 40 Good Years and more, is a formula for stagnation and for the good getting better, the bad worse. What’s more, a good pudding breeds arrogance amongst the cooks. You don’t need a disaster to know that.

Mr. Mohajer is right in one last vital point…

As much as we feel for the plight of the victims, we are not the ones burdened with the loss of a loved one or the destruction of our homes.

Well said! So do we have to wait for the loss of a loved one or our eviction out of our homes, because we can’t afford to pay for them anymore, before we sit up and listen?

Little Boy Beggar “Talks…” May 17, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Okay, take a look at this.

While our author may not be able to get any answers to her questions, and yes, a smoking kid beggar IS a sad thing to see in what we pride ourselves as First-World-Singapore, what i have a bone to pick with is the video itself.  That boy, beggar and smoker as he is, is still a person, not some scientific curiosity which just stepped out of a spaceship and demanded to be taken to our leaders! But she was ostensibly amazed that there was a child beggar who (gasp!) SMOKES! What’s there to be amazed about? I would find it very sad indeed.

And even worse, interviewing the boy, asking questions about where he comes from, where his parents are, and stuff like that.  It’s pretty obvious he’s not going to talk, and he didn’t talk that much, did he?  And was any action taken after taking that video? Or did the taker happily go home and show it to her sister who blogged in horror? Truly, what’s amazing here is that nothing was done.

And here come the standard questions. Why? Why do the parents do that? How could they? But isn’t that the reality of meritocratic Singapore? Perhaps we should be asking why wasn’t anything done? How did our author manage to infer that his father was working? And she ends off with a rhetorical question: are his parents really that poor that they need the boy to go out and beg?

Then, our author draws parallels with the older generation, which have neither the education, nor the strength to endure hard labour.  But this is a young boy. I’ll bet that he doesn’t have much education, and he can’t endure hard labour as well. In fact, in Singapore, even education is not going to get you that far. Just look at the number of people with a tertiary-level education which are forced to drive taxis,  And what’s more, does that mean that we should pity the boy more than we should pity the old, when the boy still has A future and the old maybe not?

As for the future of Singapore…

Well, dear readers, can you see this happening to Singapore soon? With our policies regarding overseas employment and foreign talent, won’t the already-worsening employment situation be exacerbated?  It’s sad, but it’s a problem which affects each and every one of us. And some Singaporeans do feel that such cases are scientific curiosities!  I think i’m sorry, MM, but complacency is an aspect of Singaporean culture which has been indoctrinated into us since we begin school, and which permeates every level of society, from the top to the bottom.  Is this shocking?  It’s happening!

Respect and Respectability May 16, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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So there’s been talk about abstinence education in Singapore lately. Can we link STDs with more teens having sex? Absolutely. But is preaching abstinence really the way?

Sex happens. Sex is, also, a way of expressing love and closeness. But, isn’t sex a private, personal choice? If it is, then how can these writers say that abstinence is the way to respect yourself and to express human dignity? Perhaps in the case of the sex addict, yes, but for teens who made a choice and are sexually active?

I know people who have sex regularly. I also know people who abstain from sex, because they believe it’s something for marraige. Both of them have made a choice. And the people who have sex regularly aren’t really people who’d sleep with others for money, or people who sleep with just about anyone. Respecting yourself is about saying no when you don’t want to, but why do Singaporeans just believe that much teen sex is something born out of peer pressure? Teenage sex with peer pressure or coercion amounts to rape. Similarly, respecting yourself is saying yes when it’s time.

Abstinence is, thus, only self-respect when you are not doing it because you don’t want to. If you wanted to have sex all along, or if you are in a committed happy relationship, or are married, then why not? If we wanted to preach abstinence, we should make chastity belts available in Toys R’ Us! Abstaining because you have a chastity belt doesn’t amount to self-respect, as well.

And, finally, whose concept of self-respect are we talking about here? Is it personal self-respect, or that of society? Let’s see. First, you have A, who’s surrounded by friends having lots of sex, and with legs which open wider than the soccer goalpost on the school field. A’s in a committed relationship, and had sex for the first time, because she loved him. A and her boyfriend use condoms regularly. And then we have B, who’s been taught abstinence. Shes always been curious about sex, and she has a boyfriend too, but she’s always been told that sex is something for whores and people who don’t respect themselves. So, B bends to social pressure and abstains, because she doesn’t want to be a whore in the eyes of her peers.

Who respects herself? Is self-respect only making sure that you remain respectable in the eyes of society? We assume that teens don’t know what sex is about, and parents are amazed at how much about sex teens know. I believe it’s not so much about teaching teens how to worm their way out of a sticky situation, but learning what true self-respect is. The safer sex paradigma comes in here. It gives teens the facts they need to make an educated decision. But it’s not like we’re teaching safer sex to 10-year-olds; we’re teaching them at 14 to 16.

The less you know, the better? That would fit in with a generally human, but especially Asian mentality of doing things the familiar way. If something is not known, then stay away from it. It could give you a nasty venereal disease.  Is this the hallmark of a mature society, the mature society that Singapore prides itself on being? Being mature is about making your own choices, not having them told to you in a school textbook!