jump to navigation

Who’s On the Higher Horse? July 29, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
add a comment

Something for you all to read

Not all in West call for liberal ideals out of jealousy

AS A politics and international relations undergraduate attending university in Britain, I have followed the recent furore over perceived ‘Singapore-bashing’ comments in the local press with great interest. I would like to think my views do not stem from just one side of the divide. I grew up in Singapore, and attended local schools. These days, I attend lectures by ‘Western liberals’, and discuss politics with young people of similar leaning. This, thus far, has been my exposure to the ideals of human rights and free speech, among other principles which have received fairly short shrift by sections of the Singapore public and academia.

At my university, there is a campaign or protest on the steps of the Student Union at any one time – against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, against xenophobia in Britain, against the atrocities in Darfur… These campaigns are not public nuisances, and they are never regarded as such. To my mind, they are the product of passion and intellectual discussion, and their utility lies in the debate they spark, on issues which are often controversial.

Note that these campaigns – often centred on, and calling for human rights, or at least the broader concept of human security – are not propagated by the government. More often than not, these students target government policies, calling for change, and encouraging civil society, in turn, to urge action in Parliament. This is the value of constructive dissent, in itself possible because of freedom of speech – within limits – and the right to protest.

My point is this: Not all in the West call for liberal ideals because they are ‘jealous’. Singaporeans writing in and to the local press have asserted that the West must understand that Singapore’s principles are fundamentally different, that here the focus is on pragmatism, on meeting material needs, and on stability. I feel it is also important to recognise that the Western intellectual tradition is perhaps more philosophically oriented, and certainly more vocal.

I find most disturbing the accusations that all criticism aimed at the Government must be from ignorant, jealous outsiders. Perhaps this stems from the perception that all radical dissenters in the local political landscape are lunatics. To begin, I am currently working with local women’s non-governmental organisation Aware, and it offers constructive criticism of government policies relating to sex and gender in its 2007 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) Shadow Report. Former and current Aware presidents have risen to the fore to argue for local and migrant women’s rights, if not for the recognition of universal human rights. Surely they are not ignorant or jealous – but attempting to spark debate, and eventually reform?

The worst possible approach Singapore could take at the moment is to go on the defensive and adopt the same moral high-handedness it believes the West is levelling at it. Of course the West is no vanguard of human civilisation; it is ridiculous to assume academics in the West are oblivious to that fact. None of my professors will hold, I am sure, that the United States or Britain presents a ‘perfect’ democracy. But nor does Singapore. It is time to stop pointing fingers back across the water, and start exchanging ideas on what we can learn from each other.

Dell Marie Butler (Ms)

Indeed, who’s on the higher horse? Personally, I believe that both sides are guilty of moral high-horsing. Being based currently in Germany, I can see that Singapore is a dream when it comes to efficiency, and so on. Why are there student movements in Europe? It is a tradition born out of Continental idealism (especially Kant and the Deutscher Idealismus), and the Aufklärung (Enlightenment) which sees reason as the instance of human activity and judgement. It is this view which the West feels that all humans should have, and thus the West attempts to influence the East.

There has been, probably since Classical Athens, no perfect democracy. However, i think the West has, based on these principles, spoken out more for democracy, because Man is a rational being, and in bending to any government (as can be seen in the Orient), Man is chained. And it is his fault. Perhaps the ratio (lat.: reason) of the people should be allowed to shine through more, according to the West. And since there are no more pure democracies (for a pure democracy, again, read up on Athens) people elect their representatives, who are ultimately responsible to those who put them in power.

Perhaps this doesn’t sit well with the Orient, because an ideal state here would be a benevolent despotism. Which the Singaporean government, IMHO, appears to be. Thus, we have reached our ideals. However, despots don’t like to listen to criticism, and thus the furore about the whole hoo-ha. I guess this is especially relevant in Singapore because Singapore is two-faced – we feel somehow responsible for (i mean, sure, we ARE responsible for our Government) to the Government, despite Singapore being a ‘democratic’ country. Keep the Opposition weak, and the press cowed, and the masses lost in their materialistic insanity, and you have absolute power.

I, too have wondered why people who are jacked up about the whole thing assume that the West is ‘jealous.’ I mean please, get off your high horse already. People in the West, although having to deal with higher criminality, high taxes and low efficiency, are happier. We may be efficient and very safe, but are we happy? Both have their strengths, one born out of respect for the ordinary human being, the other out of respect for numbers. Would Westerners, then, be jealous of us? I don’t think so. Perhaps for certain MNCs which like the very liberal market here, perhaps. But the big question is: is the ordinary Westerner jealous?

MM Lee has a big, but fragile ego, but he has earned it with his work. I don’t think Singapore or Singaporeans deserve to have this kind of ego at all. Jealous? Sounds like sour grapes to me! It is interesting how people compare apples with oranges…you can’t compare efficiency against human freedom, because these are two separate standards. Maybe a restriction in freedom is worth it for efficiency. But how far does it go? Politicians in a so-called ‘democracy’ would pay attention to such details. But is this so in Singapore? When you have an octagenarian wave threats in our collective faces? It saddens me that in Singapore, the average human is assumed to know nuts.


Amor patriae, or Do You Love Your Country? July 23, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
add a comment

Do you love your country?

After being away for awhile, i realise that i actually DO love my country. Not the politicians who run it, not the traffic jams, and certainly not the mentality, but the country – the food, the people, family, Singlish and all. But do i fit into the definition of ‘loving my country?’ I believe that loving my country also includes being responsible for the country, and criticising the people we have elected to represent our country when things are not right or presenting suggestions when we can. As National Day closes, and loosely-packaged propaganda starts passing through the mainstream media, and even more so when this National Day’s theme is ‘Celebrating the Singapore Spirit,’ i felt that it was time to ask the question: do you love your country? What is the Singapore Spirit?

Is the Singapore Spirit one of materialism, working hard in the hope that one day, you will make it rich, and attain the 5Cs, with the accompanying social status, sending your kids overseas for education? I would like to say no, but it’s the Singapore Spirit that the Gahmen believes in. As MM Lee, a staunch apologist for the system he has toiled to build up, said ‘As long as we have a dynamic economy, we can solve problems.‘ But in doing so, people become objects – statistics and numbers. The Government believes that the key to solving problems is a stable economy, and that is an important factor. But in the pursuit of this economical system, every aspect of the country has been geared towards it – the school system, procreation programmes, and the very unpopular theme of importing foreigners at the cost of the people.

Is there more to being human than just being a number? If Singaporeans felt that there was, there wouldn’t be procreation problems, and the Government would have fully stabilised its power. I believe there is more. But in a place where this belief cannot be realised, it becomes hope. The Government also wants us to believe in that. Teacher hopefuls applying to teach are promised a chance at ‘moulding young lives.’ But moulding young lives and maximising their potential – in what aspect? Children are exposed to the cruel reality from the very beginning – do or die, dog-eat-dog. And it’s not because teachers don’t want to do more – appraisals are made every year, and teachers have to do more to earn their bonus. Students have to do well, too.

It makes me wonder how much is actually learnt at school then. But in doing this, schools are a mirror of society – you don’t have to know more than what is necessary for your grades. Grades. Salaries. Numbers. ‘Objective statistics.’ That’s what Singapore measures everything with. Ministers always give particular public bodies ‘grades’ because of something they have managed to achieve, etc. That’s why most of us are relegated to giving our suggestions on the Internet, where more serious political discourse takes place than what you see on the MSM. Perhaps the MSM, being a Government body, emphasises this aspect of concrete grades, statistics etc., like having an abstract replacement birth rate and all, and the forums are made up of complaints of people who have not been treated as they have expected.

But in being fully grounded in the material, the Government’s Singapore has lost one very important aspect – spirit. Spirit is something you can’t measure specifically. And spirit has to be built up. And one wonders why Singapore is so soulless. It is the fascination with the material, with objective numbers, that Singapore is soulless. We don’t have a rich and illustrious history, or a defining moment – even if we did, these defining moments have been lost in the mad rush to develop the country, or even worse, moulded to fit those in power, for history is always written by the winners. Singaporeans are not stupid – we know this as well.

A country is like a human being, and to use an example from Aristotle, any living thing is a combination of material and soul. Since the material is already there, shouldn’t the soul be developed as well, so that the entire living creature can be dynamic and can bring forth its fullest potential? But when the mind (analogy: the politicians) remain too fixed on the body, the soul gets neglected, and this is a reason why so many Singaporeans pack their bags and leave. Because the living thing is not getting any better. They don’t hate the country. But they want to be taken care of, they want to be seen as humans. And although the Government prides itself on making difficult moves, this is one move it cannot afford to neglect. Not in the long run.

If i return and feel that i am just treated as a tool, as a number, i would pack my bags and leave too. There is more to life than being a money-making statistic. Singaporeans see this and want to believe in it. But for most, it remains an unfulfilled dream.  If we want to love but the lover is shunned as one who hates, then you can’t blame the lover for giving up and leaving.  It takes two, and if we are expected to love the country, we should be loved as well, shouldn’t we?  How can, then, one love a statistic, a number?

Deadbeat Kids… July 19, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.

I thought one post a day would be enough…but no, the States Times loves posting things which make me go ‘What The Fuck Was That?!’ again and again.

And this post is on Deadbeat Children. First of all, what on Earth is ‘deadbeat’?  From what i’ve managed to glean, ‘deadbeat’ according to his definition is someone who has kids and then expects the whole world to pay them grandly because they’ve gone ahead and done a great service to their country.  Just like the higher-class Singaporeans, and the foreign talents who refuse to take up citizenship.

Man, this guy is full of angst.  Or he must be an old-schooler totally frustrated at today’s problems.  He’s so full of angst that his diatribe argument is full of logical lacunae.  Firstly, who’s this ‘they?’ Deadbeat people or deadbeat kids?  And then he talks about parents indulging ‘them’ – i can only assume it’s the kids.  ‘Getting (literally) better-off children (married and unmarried) to make sacrifices’ – what do you mean here?  What is this emotional blackmail you talk about?

Maybe some structuring will bring some sense to his argument.  My interpretation is like this:

“The Swedish system will cause more deadbeats to have children.  They (these people) think the country owes them a living because they have done a great service to the country in their procreation.  Already parents indulge these (KIDS! nice attempt at switching the subject) with blah, blah, and this emotional blackmail.”

Life is a commercial transaction.  Welcome to Singapore!  And would you give more than you get?  Maybe he has…he could be a minister, you know.  Moralising or grandstanding or being heartless?  No, actually – i find it amusing.  Probably you are someone disappointed at today’s society, like many are.  But seriously, would you give more than you get?  Isn’t it the same everywhere in the world? Get as much as you can whilst giving as little, especially for commercial transactions.  Aren’t you the one using words like ’emotional blackmail‘ (which already implies a transaction of sorts)?

After all, specifically, how will the Swedish system give rise to deadbeats?  I’m so disappointed that you have so little faith in human nature, that people equate kids to money.  If people did do that, we would have ersatz pregnancies already.  Would a person be so stupid as to have more kids just for the money and the days off, when children are actually long-term investments?  You have so little faith in the human intelligence.  That’s sad.

The better-off Singaporeans seem pretty deadbeat…but isn’t that exactly what the Gahmen wants?  (Come to think of it…i wouldn’t be surprised if many thought the Gahmen was quite deadbeat…) Look, the Gahmen wants to boost the birth rate of the intelligent elite so hopefully we can become Brain Island or something like that.  And what of foreign talent?  Are they deadbeat?  I don’t think they are – they do contribute to society, but when something better comes along, off they go.  They contribute their due.  Perhaps you suffer from sour grapes because they are paid too much.

Also, family-friendliness doesn’t mean deadbeat kids.  Family-friendliness would instead make society a lot more cohesive, because the very basic unit of society, the family, is secure.  If you still insist on being Miss Anthrope and mistrusting human nature (whereas yours must be sparkly clean), then impose a cap on babies.  Three sound good enough for you?

And i wonder what Singapore is for you.  A society of non-deadbeats, then, would consist of ministers, taxi- and bus-drivers, waitresses and factory workers who do not complain and raise kids, since you choose to blend out the better-off, who are pretty much deadbeat for you.  Okay…welcome to the 60s?  Oh, i’m sorry.  Time travel isn’t possible yet.  Have a nice day.

何谓《美满人生》? July 18, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
add a comment




有了钱,就有面子。面子未免太重要了吧?我知道对某些人来说,面子可是一切。但是为了面子,而牺牲幸福,值得吗?美满人生成为了一个生活目标:望子成龙的父母也没办法,若自己达不成美满人生的目标,就只好把所有的期望都寄托在孩子身上。人人都憧憬着一个美满人生,而大家都用一样的办法来尝试实现这个梦想, 之所以才会成为钱币的奴隶。


Κάθαρσις, or the Failings of the So-Called Successful July 17, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.

I belong to the so-called class of people whom aunties wish their children would become.  Scholarship in a non-English country, doing a double-major which is half-useless but very intriguing, and half-useful in that it gives you an economic edge, a loving girlfriend, and so on, and so forth.  But something is lacking, and i probably wouldn’t have seen it if I wasn’t surrounded by friends from another cultural background, which has forced me to take a step back and reflect on my very own.

Singapore is a rich country, with a high material standard of living.  But are you happy?  It’s worth asking yourself this question every once in a while.

Are you happy?  Asking this question and reflecting on it has made me think twice about the country i was brought up in.  Do i want to settle there after my bond is over?  If i was once doubtful, it is now again in doubt.

I am not happy.  I am defined by my work, and i am always working.  I am very demanding of myself, because i have an intrinsic fear of failure (probably instilled when i was in Primary school by canings for every mark below 85), partly because of my commitments, and because i have this typical Singaporean idiosyncracy of working now in the hope of a better future where things are more relaxed.

I have an exam coming up next week and have been cramming for it.  Girlfriend suggests that we take tomorrow off and go somewhere to sightsee, since i’ve been working all day for the past two days or such, and also because it’s the holidays.  I’ve done well consistently, and she believes that i’ll do well this time.  I am much more cautious about such things because i have a deep-seated fear that things can go wrong, deus ex machina, and you only have yourself to blame for not preparing enough.

Sounds Singaporean enough for you?  When you’ve been fed with the truism or the so-called ‘wisdom’ that success can go down in just one day, you tend to start to believe it, especially if it’s been pressed into your psyche from the very first day of school.  I am now under stress, not just because of the exams, but i’m also concerned that i’m being a lousy boyfriend, and also because This Is The Life I Don’t Want to Lead.

Am i happy?  No, admittedly not.  If this goes on, i’ll be a person who is defined by their work – always working now and hoping for the day when you can enjoy the fruits of your labour, but you end up getting caught up in the rat-race and you don’t see the end anymore, because there is always More.  The successful seem happy because they are materially rich?  I would beg to differ (although i am by no means successful, just that i happen to fulfill the social criteria for being so.)  Mens sana in corpore sano? The healthy body part probably would be okay.  But a healthy mind?  Few and far between in Singapore.

But wait, this is elitist shit.  But no, it’s not.  Who isn’t defined by their job in Singapore?  Who doesn’t just go to work from 8am to God-knows-when, come home to the wife (or to an empty house, or to children who are busily studying)?  Politicians aside, this is something which affects everyone.  University students spend all their time cramming, and the fact that i can throw Tuesday nights out to go drinking with the philosophers (that is the useless, but oh-so-tantalising subject) already means something.  Singapore’s ideal workers have been caught up in the material rat-race, and it doesn’t help that the costs of living are going nowhere but up.  There is always more.

And this is perhaps time for you to stop, and breathe.  Are you happy?  I have a sickening feeling that this ‘more’ is something no one can ever reach.  I’ve set a goal for myself: PhD in Philosophy, and then i’ll take what life throws my way.  Teach, or do research.  But i wonder if i can reach this goal.  Prudentia, mihi vim dat, ut temptationem vincat!

Quo usque tandem abutere? July 15, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.

I am horrified at my life.  It seems like Singapore is too deeply ingrained into my very being – Katrin pointed it out today when she noted that i would never stop working, and i always put work before everything else.  And it horrifies me.  I profess to study overseas so that i have time for myself and not be caught up in the work race all the time, but i seem to have made myself the competitor.  How hypocritical i am.  The sad thing is that i know i’m not the only one.  I asked astee what i should do, and she has no idea too.  And the thing is that it’s not going to be easy to change, because i’ve been socialised like that.  To work hard.  But work until when?  Isn’t that a question the Gahmen doesn’t want to answer because it will ‘erode the work ethic?’

Perhaps i am over-generalising, but look around you.  How many people are truly happy?  How many people have their private lives invaded by work?  It seems that the separation of work and private life has spectacularly failed.  Your private life shouldn’t be a part of work life, but it seems that work life can be a huge part of your private life.  And it starts from primary school.  Homework, tuition, and all.  And it goes on, and on.  The Gahmen always says that Singapore only has human resources…but then again the Gahmen doesn’t treat us with the worth that it says we have.  All in the name of improvement and increasing compatibility.  It boils down to how you control your own life, and not getting caught up in the rat race, but how does one do that when the rat race has been so carefully created?

I am reminded of one of Cicero’s orations, and i will post it here in Latin with my translation:

QUO usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia? Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium Palati, nihil urbis vigiliae, nihil timor populi, nihil concursus bonorum omnium, nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus, nihil horum ora voltusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris?

And the translation:

HOW LONG, o Catiline, will you abuse our patience? For how long will that madness of yours elude even us? To what end does your unbridled madness toss itself about?  Does not the guards of the Palace at night, nor the night sentry of the city, nor the alarm of the people, nor this attack on the common good, nor this most secure location for the Senate to convene, nor the looks of those gathered here have any effect on you?  Do you not know that your plans have been uncovered?  Do you not see that your plans have been rendered powerless by the knowledge of all?  What did you do last night, where were you, which people did you summon, what plan did you hatch, which you assumed we did not know?

-Cicero, in Catilinam Prima in Senatu Habita

Stop this madness.  Or, at the very least, stop the hypocrisy.

Are You Confused? July 10, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
add a comment

Our ‘most popular’ daily, The States’ Times, has once again proved why Singapore is judged to have no press freedom.  Let’s take a look at this letter, written by a certain Syu Ying Kwok:

Five Years? MM Lee’s Estimate Was Too Optimistic

WITH reference to last Friday’s column, ‘Welcome to scary Singapore, land of four million smiles’, I could not help but disagree with Ms Lynn Lee.

It is naïve to assume that all human beings can be trusted to do the right thing, and that we should appeal to the public by their conscience and sense of fairness. While it is ideal to strive towards a kinder and gentler society, Singaporeans must be made to realise the world is actually very brutal.

Why is Singapore schizophrenic? To me, it is both a modern-day wonder and an insane attempt to push the boundary of human sociology, political science and human ingenuity.

With a population of 4.6 million and no natural resources, Singapore is like a 3,000m-tall giant inverted pyramid balancing precariously on a ridiculously small footprint of less than 700 sq km. To further create instability and complexity, the population is a mixture of races, religions and cultures due to its historical immigrant origins.

In some ways, Singapore’s few short decades of peace may bring hope to a millennium of violence in Jerusalem.

On the contrary, I feel Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is very optimistic when he said recently that Singapore can be unscrambled in just five years.

With modern telecommunications and banking infrastructure, trillions of dollars can be transferred out of Singapore in an instant if the current leaders and their policies change overnight.

Singapore’s economy can become an empty shell within weeks. The grim reality is that global financial investors would have no qualms in rendering us incapacitated in this fiercely competitive world.

In many ways, Singapore is a failure due to its own success. Thanks to its ability to provide housing, work opportunities and good economic growth year after year in a First World environment, it is no wonder that most Singaporeans, especially those born after 1965, have bred a false sense of security, thinking modern Singapore is a creation by mother nature.

Recently, opposition politician Tan Lead Shake made headlines after a tragic event in his family. But what chills the bones is the fact that in the past three elections, an average of more than 20 per cent of the electorate voted for him or anyone else who stood for election with little consideration of his credentials or abilities.

Will Singapore last as long as the 3,000-year-old Great Pyramids of Giza? Very unlikely, when civilisations in history last an average of less than 500 years.

But the real answer lies not just in our children but in the choice we make now to ensure a better future for them now.

Syu Ying Kwok

Whoa.  It seems like our friend has a huge penchant for the dramatic.  In fact, in his first paragraph, he has already literally shot himself in the foot, dug his own grave, and threw himself in. “It is naïve to assume that all human beings can be trusted to do the right thing, and that we should appeal to the public by their conscience and sense of fairness,” he proclaims.  Which is how so very true, but it is questionable how come he thinks that a select group of politicians should be the only people we can trust to do the right thing.  How is it that a small group of people can decide for 4 million people what the right thing is?

While politicians are there to represent the people and even to make difficult and unpopular choices, the very fact that this select group of people under one party has dominated for so long implies that they may be misguided, but in every sense of the word doing what politicians do – representing the people, only perhaps without realising what the people want.  So it boils down, effectively, to who is being represented, indeed.  I think this is what is meant in the original article which he attacked.

“While it is ideal to strive towards a kinder and gentler society, Singaporeans must be made to realise the world is actually very brutal.” No wonder Singapore is where it is today.  An over-competitive educational system, which mass-produces drones which repeat the same process used to achieve success, albeit only in one meaning of the word.  Which, in effect, makes the system brutal, and primes the kids for being brutal through exposing them to the dog-eat-dog world of Singaporean academia.  The fact that people in school still help each other should be seen as a blessing already.

In fact, this sounds like something someone belonging to the political élite (or an aspiring wannabe) would write…after all, Singapore is pragmatic mah!  How many times do we have to be reminded that life is brutal, when we see it all around in everyday life?  Perhaps the Gahmen has failed to see that apart from material well-being, which is an important prerequisite for a healthy mind and mental life, that this in itself is vital too.  I think the Gahmen is slowly waking up its idea, but this author actually doesn’t.  He thinks that because Singapore is rich in terms of moolah (although wealth distribution is in the woods), we should be happy and mentally healthy, so we need a reminder that life isn’t all that dandy.  Hehheh.

Here’s more…”With a population of 4.6 million and no natural resources, Singapore is like a 3,000m-tall giant inverted pyramid balancing precariously on a ridiculously small footprint of less than 700 sq km.” Same old argument.  An inverted pyramid is naturally unstable, but only that it makes a big bang when it happens to be 3 kilometres tall.  So you mean, Mr. Syu, that if Singapore collapsed in the 1960s, it would be totally fine with you?  I mean, it would be fine with me, because i wasn’t born then yet.  Then he says ” In some ways, Singapore’s few short decades of peace may bring hope to a millennium of violence in Jerusalem.”

Don’t I hope so too.  You must understand, Mr. Syu, that the world is actually very brutal.  You said it yourself.  On top of that, who are you to talk about Jerusalem?  What do you know about the history of Isreal?  Isreal was a plot of land allocated to the Jewish peoples after the Second World War.  Was Singapore allocated an island which once belonged to Malaysia?  You decide.  The land which is Isreal used to belong rightfully to the Arab nations.  One millenia of stryfe has been intensified by this.  I don’t remember reading in my history textbook that Singapore was allocated land by the Commonwealth or whoever, thus making the Malay-speaking neighbours extremely unhappy.

And again, “trillions of dollars can be transferred out of Singapore in an instant if the current leaders and their policies change overnight.”  Indeed, which is why Singapore needs this ‘public conscience.’  The lack of transparency means that PURELY THEORETICALLY (emphasis means that this is theoretical and is NOT a statement that it is happening), trillions of dollars could be transferred out of Singapore without us knowing.  Good faith in the Gahmen is important, but how far does this good faith go?

Singapore is a victim of its own success.  Very true.  Wouldn’t it be easier to control Singapore if we were small, 3rd world, with most of us struggling to survive on the most basic of necessities?  I mean, in that environment, Singapore would be really easy to control.  The PAP would receive more support than ever.  A false sense of security, thinking modern Singapore was created out of Nature?  The last time i did history, it was listing down all the illustrious acts of one Lee Kuan Yew and his less-important and not-so-often-mentioned friends.  If all, we know that Singapore is a product of human effort.  And not so many of us have a false sense of security anymore, except when it comes to terrorists and their Great Escapades.

Recently, opposition politician Tan Lead Shake made headlines after a tragic event in his family. But what chills the bones is the fact that in the past three elections, an average of more than 20 per cent of the electorate voted for him or anyone else who stood for election with little consideration of his credentials or abilities.

This is just a cheap shot, made in low taste.  I wonder why the editors even let this get published, when other, more readworthy letters, are cut out due to a ‘lack of space.’  Truly laughable.  The Mandarin saying 近朱者赤,近墨者黑 may be relevant here.  But seriously.  This is chilling.  So we know little about his credentials.  But that he married someone who may turn out to be guilty of murder?  Please.  That’s just a cheap shot.  It is also questionable how come this even got published.  Is this, perhaps, ‘nation-building?’

Furthermore, we don’t know if the PAP politicians have credentials or abilities.  We assume they do, because they are scholars, etc.  But then again, terrorists have escaped, and people have gone overseas using the wrong passport, and there is no responsibility being assumed.  So what are we to believe?  Did we assume wrongly, and heads cannot roll because they don’t have the credentials or abilities?

politicos erga: quis maximam veritatem habeat? July 3, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
add a comment

On today’s news, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan addressed students on the Internet future. And he put his words wisely: read with your brains, not with your eyes. Determining true and false is becoming increasingly difficult with today’s new media, and we have to be more careful with what we read, so we have to be sceptical and be careful.

Bene dicebat! I agree wholeheartedly with him. It remains to see, though, what is right and what is wrong. Indeed, what do our politicians think to be right? Without a second body of power to check them, the PAP has enjoyed a monopoly of the Singaporean parliament, and, indeed, Singapore. In the process of that, we have seen the ideals which propelled this party into power become slowly eroded.

A diversity of views did not always end up in a ‘fundamental truth’. New media allows wrong ideas to be reinforced, he said.

Did the old media allow the right ideas to be reinforced? What is, here, right? Economical prosperity would be right in the eyes of the politicians. But is working until ‘as long as you wish’ (read: an euphemism for ‘as long as you must’), today’s materialistic culture, political apathy, the reality not agreeing with what is being told to us – is this the right idea which the old media has manage to produce so far? Apart from work ethic and the cruel truth that Singapore is dog-eat-dog, as it is becoming in most places, have all the right ideas come about? Are ‘fundamental truths’ only the truths told to us by those who have power?

No wonder Socrates was executed. Is it possible that through the diversity of views, a better truth can be reached than what has been sold to us as ‘fundamental?’ I don’t think the Government has the best truth, or the fundamental truth. Or perhaps it does have the fundamental truth, but this fundamental truth is one which undermines the very truth of our existence – our humanity. This ‘fundamental’ truth can be summarised as such:

As little pain and as much pleasure as possible. Small pains are worth tolerating for the greater pleasure.

But how many have achieved this greater pleasure? Is it not right for us to use discourse to attempt to find a better truth? The truth cannot be fundamental if what it says is measured in relative terms – with greater pleasure, i want still greater pleasure. And i want even lesser pain. How can this profess to be ‘fundamental,’ when there isn’t an end? Of course, we set the ‘end.’ But with the rising costs of living, when will there be an end?

Dr. Balakrishnan also turned against the net, especially those who do ‘outrageous things’:

It also raises the pitch of political discourse owing to perceived anonymity online. ‘Because you think you are not revealing yourself, a lot of people on the Internet engage in what I call virtual shouting.

‘They want to gain attention and the best way…is to say something crazy, outrageous, scandalous, maybe even defamatory,’ he said. ‘It is a world in which more heat than light is generated.’

Of course, there are people who say defamatory things. But i wonder what he means by ‘crazy, outrageous, scandalous.’ Words like that are so broadly defined that almost anything could belong to these categories. In effect, we could be those generating more heat than light. ‘Light’ is also an interesting metapher…i find it interesting that he would say that whatever we say could bring no information, or his so-called ‘light.’ Are we that stupid? Perhaps this is a well-disguised way of saying that Internet discourse is just so much hot air. There are people who do that, but they are in the minority. But with light must come heat, and we have to tolerate them, in that we know what doesn’t matter and what does. We were given the education, and we’re putting it to good use. Warning top students that ‘the Net has more heat than light’ would mean that the Net is populated by barbarians waiting to eat you. How true is that?

‘How many of us bothered to say: ‘Wait, who said it, where was it published, are you sure it’s accurate?’ That whole layer of homework which is needed is not done.’

Indeed, like the misidentification of a certain politician with the wrong political party.

He said the Government had no problems with it: ‘There is no dirty little secret which the PAP is trying to hide from its people and that’s why the Government is actually very comfortable with new media.

Being comfortable with new media doesn’t mean that selection doesn’t take place. It’s just that you won’t get to know what the dirty little secret is about. What they are confident with is marketing themselves, presenting us their truth, which they take to be fundamental and unsurpassable. But is it? Can we shed light? Or is our light taken to be heat?