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I am Singaporean XIX – Legality and Morality July 23, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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A more serious take on MRT’s new, Nazi-esque ruling on eating and drinking in MRT trains, where this woman was fined $30 for chewing on candy, despite the reasons she gave for doing so:

Legality and morality are two areas which are easily confused, and people tend to set the equation legal = moral as valid and true.  But is it true?  Is that which is legal also moral?  Also, are lawbreakers per definitionem immoral?  What is, firstly, morality?  Here are two possible definitions:

  1. One can say that morals evolved as a means of dealing with each other, by agreeing on a certain set of rules of conduct which each must obey.  With this definition, laws can be seen as a codification of these rules of conduct, and laws can be equated to morals.
  2. Morals are defined as that through which the individual can attain happiness.  In behaving morally, one remains psychically in balance (Aristotle, Nic. Eth.) and does not have to deal with his worst enemy, his conscience.  Here, laws are a guideline as to how one can attain the most happiness possible, and have to be interpreted with regard to every situation.  The individual is aware that morals and laws are not the same.

However, definition (1) is problematic – even if morals were originally a means of communal life, this view of laws and morals leaves out one important aspect of ethics – the reflection on morals and if need be, laws.  A case in point is this: in Nazi Germany, harbouring a Jew was illegal.  But given the knowledge that this Jew would probably end up in the gas chambers, would it be moral to lie to the authorities about harbouring a Jew?  A similiar case is this case about candy in MRT trains.  Obviously, Roger Foo didn’t reflect about the law he was about to enforce.

Laws mean exceptions to the law, and laws are, despite their attempt to attain generality, are not universal.  Some laws are universal, like those against murder or rape, but this is a grey area.  Laws need interpretation, but most Singaporeans, indeed most humans, like to see an equivalence between what the law says and what morality says.  It simplifies the world.  But we pride ourselves on being an educated society.  Being educated also means being able to apply laws and rules in a way suitable to the particular situation.  The image of the unthinking civil servant who follows a particular law blindly, without reflection, shows how desensitised, or maybe even stupid, or maybe fearful of authority, we have become.  We follow rules, even when our common sense says we should reflect, NOW.

The unreflected application of definition (1) leads to the view that morals are slippery things which are always threatened by decay, thus the laws are required as codified morality.  There is always the slippery slope argument, which says that: if i let this pass, others will follow suit and soon everyone will be eating on the trains again.  But without reflection, how can there be progress?  How can a society progress in terms of its maturity?  The equivalence of laws and morals mean that any and every law can be introduced arbitratily and will be followed to the word, which leads to the possibility of abuse.

The Films Act may be moral in denying minors access to pornographic movies – but what about the Films Act with regard to political films?  Is that moral?  How will the human, the political animal, know his place in society if he is just depoliticised?  How will he unlock his highest potential if he doesn’t know where his highest potential belongs?

According to definition (2), morality is a means to an end, namely happiness.  You can be happy through moral behaviour, because through moral behaviour, you are realising your personal goodness, and if Plato is right in saying that every soul wants the good (Republic, Book VI), then moral behaviour is the way for achieving happiness and being at peace with oneself, because the soul has taken one step closer to the good.

The problem here is the definition of “good.”  Moral goods are immaterial – they can neither be seen nor felt, and that is why this definition is often ignored or snorted at, especially in increasingly materialistic societies like Singapore.  If we do not know our position in society (following the unreflected application of definition (1)), then the only good we know will most probably be a material one, since we can compare with others and see ourselves as good or bad.  But this view, that the goodness of humans are defined by how much they have, must be certainly one met with revulsion.

What about Jesus?  Buddha?  Gandhi?  Mother Teresa?  What about religions?  Do our laws really reflect on our agreed code of conduct on how to live with one another, and if so, what does this say about our society?

We can bring both views together:

  1. Morals are agreed rules of conduct for communal life.
  2. Morals are the means through which one can be good.
  3. (1) + (2) Assuming that humans want to, by their nature, attain the good, then morals are agreed rules of conduct for communal life, through which the community can be good.  The laws are then guidelines on how to attain the good, and require interpretation on how to attain the good in any particular situation.

This view may be overly optimistic, foolish and idealistic, and it leads to the ultimate conclusion that the moral person does not need laws, because he already knows what is good.  But without the conviction that humanity desires the good and abhors evil, what is there left for our existence on this Earth?

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I am Singaporean XVIII – 2nd Class Citizenship June 30, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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So lately there’s been quite some talk about Singaporeans being 2nd class citizens, like getting preferential H1N1 scans whereas locals have to pay $214 or something like that for a H1N1 checkup, cursing the day you were born a Singaporean, and so on.  Actually it’s no secret that Singaporean citizens are 2nd class citizens.  My dad has something against me wanting to live overseas, since he says that you are effectively a second-class citizen in other countries.

Well, yes.  But it’s worse to be a second-class citizen in your own country.

So who are the 1st class citizens?  Ang mohs lor.  Politicians too.  I mean, they can give themselves every privilege and determine the lives of the ordinary person per decree.  As for ang mohs, Gahmen treats them like kings what.  They don’t have to do NS, and are much-vaunted for their “creativity.” Gahmen always likes to go tour Asia too and invite students from overseas to come and study at our own universities at the expense of our own students too what.  And then they can’t do much when they can’t keep these “talents,” so they must fill in the gaps with more “talent.”

When a local could have done it just as well, if not better.

Of course, foreigners are important.  The world is no longer a multitude of closed societies.  We have no more Greeks against Persians.  Globalisation naturally means that something will have to be lost, but how the Gahmen does it is probably not the right way, although a lightning-wielding octogenarian would tell you otherwise.  PROGRESS OR ELSE, he says, and to remain viable, MNCs have constantly been invited to come over and set up shop in Singapore.  Academics are invited to teach at our universities, and foreigners are hired to do the work none of us will do.  Think construction workers and maids.

But one wonders if we brought this 2nd class citizenship upon ourselves.  We live in comparative safety where we don’t have to deal with gangstas and fights on the streets.  Singaporean tourists who go overseas compare everything with Singapore, and some want to go back because Singapore is so much safer, etc.  They WANT their second-class citizenship, and for that, they get efficiency and safety.  Because Big Brother thinks for you, you don’t have to think for yourself.  Isn’t that a much easier way of doing things?

In other words, we are actually very satisfied with being second-class citizens!  It’s just that we see others getting better treatment, which makes us very jealous.  Why must i go for reservist?  Why am i replaceable with an Ah Tiong?  Why can’t i draw out my CPF? yadda, yadda.  But no matter how much the average Singaporean bitches and complains, it’s not like they are going to leave to a place which may treat them better.  Why not go to Malaysia?  Or go to China?

“But my friends and family are here.  And its so unsafe/too much bureaucracy/racist/(insert reason here) in China/Europe/USA/Australia/(insert place here.)”

So they would rather remain 2nd class citizens rather than go to a place which may not be far, and is very affordable if they are willing to work.  But people like safety and they don’t like overstepping their borders – it is a fact of human life that who dares, wins.  But the Gahmen has made us quit daring.  They show us that this and that can go wrong, and Singapore is just about the safest place you’ll be, as long as you allow yourself to be ruled.  The enlightened dictator knows what’s good for you, so shut up and listen.  Stop bitching and work.  Stop bitching and go for reservist.  Stop bitching and have more kids.  Stop bitching and welcome those foreigners with open arms.  We accept, although we bitch and bitch, forgetting that the enlightened dictator is still a dictator.

Angry at being a second-class citizen?  No, you want it.

I am Singaporean XVII – Rhetorics May 27, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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There’s actually been a lot of rhetoric flying around in Parliament lately.  Low Thia Khiang (i shall call him Teochew Guy, which is the old man’s nickname for him in Cantonese) argued for a stronger opposition presence in Parliament so that there can be a system of checks and balances in Parliament.  Immediately, a certain MP Indranee Rajah, whom i don’t even know (geez. how do these guys get into Parliament?) and tried to disarm Teochew Guy’s argument with illogical statements.  I refer you to Kent Ridge Common for a logical analysis…so i don’t have to do it here.

But it seems that much rhetoric is used in Parliament too.  And i thought our Gahmen was no talk and all do!  Indeed, she began by saying that Teochew Guy’s arguments were unsound, and then tried to use logically unsound, but rhetorically powerful arguments to try to show the party’s dominance.  Well rhetorically powerful is subjective – i guess she did what she could…because people aren’t really convinced.  Anyway, what she says is a simple case of rhetorics – firstly, her assertion that Teochew Guy could be insinuating that Singapore is the most corrupt country in the world could be an attempt to browbeat Teochew Guy into submission, i.e. a veiled threat – Zeus Lee is still out there, and he will ram a lightning bolt up your ass.

Of course, you can only use such tactics if you are in a position of power – reliance of power is always a good sign that some people are using authority too much and not their own brains, or their senses in judging the real situation on the ground.  Also, comparing with the World outside and trying to show how spectacular a success story you happen to be also smacks of people being caught up in their little world.  It also shows how narrow their perspective is and their unwillingness to look beyond themselves and the Party.  True, Singapore has an efficient, non-corruptible government.  But aren’t such high salaries which increases substantially once in a while, and the near-invulnerability from criticism due to 1) Zeus Lee’s protection, 2) a subservient state media which sings your praises, 3) an apathetic population and the corresponding low need to take responsibility for errors, potentially corrupting?

That such forms of rhetoric are used already shows that maybe, ideologically, corruption is in the works.  To put it in a less flowery way: maybe the Gahmen is clean because politicians are stuffed so full of money that it makes it impractical, even foolish, to accept bribes.  But, comparing to the average person who starves and the Gahmen’s regular refutation of welfare, is it any wonder why people see this as a form of corruption itself?

A further form of rhetoric is the appeal to an ideal situation, but disguising it as real.  Refuting Teochew Guy, Indrahee Rajah said that the Opposition has to “take responsibility for its own growth…like the PAP they must work for it and they must earn it.” The statement is true if we were in the late 1950s and the years pre- and just post-Independence.  But once again, as The Rock used to say, Who In The Blue Hell Is Indrahee Rajah?  Did she work for it?  (NB: this opens the discussion of the GRC system as a means of ushering in party members without placing them through the mettle of elections, and i don’t want to deal with it here.) Ideally, the PAP should work for their growth, and they should earn it.  But how much of it today is really earned?  How much of today is just yesterday’s legacy carried over?

There’s also the analogy to a more developed place, in the hope that people will catch on, since they are more advanced and must be better, as reflected by Hri Kumar (again, who is this guy?) – Rhetoric appeals to feelings and not necessarily facts, and appealing to a world where things are seen or perceived to be better really sweetens the deal, masking the dangers (since if they can do it, why can’t we?) The refutation is simple: Non-politicians probably will increase the talent pool.  But they also, very dangerously, are very easily swayed – just give them a few fat paychecks and immunity from screw-ups and they’ll jump into bed, or may have an ethical awakening and leave.  That means that the current dynasty will be further strengthened, and we’ll have to deal with yet more people who know a lot in a particular area but are otherwise stupid…

You can also refer to TOC’s plea to not turn Singapore into an administrative state regarding Hri Kumar.

I am Singaporean XVI – Public Concern Template April 19, 2009

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So DPM Can’t Sing has mentioned that we bloggers also have a responsibility to “help ease public concerns should a terrorist attack occur,” acknowledging that the Internet also has the power to rapidly spread fear in a crisis.  Well, at least he acknowledged that we are viable, but why does he still assume that the blogosphere is all about distrust and panicmongering?  Fear of what?  Fear of the ineffectiveness of gahmen measures?  Fear that it’s so bad that we’re all going down?

Honestly, if things are that bad, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong in a factual account of what’s gone wrong.  But what Can’t Sing is trying to say is that we should ease public concerns.  How?  By trying to cultivate public trust in an organisation which is widely distrusted, especially amongst the younger generation and amongst people who have felt themselves being neglected by the Gahmen?  Allaying public fears also means that the public has to be convinced that someone is shouldering the responsibility for allowing the crisis to happen, and also for the aftermath.

The important question here to ask is: do we see this happening? Our leaders seem quite blame-averse.  They probably are responsible but in the public eye, we see blame being shifted onto the people (hygiene habits, complacency and the like), semantics (lesser mortals), other organisations, and outside forces (financial crisis.)  So will someone shoulder the responsibility during any crisis, if only just to assure the citizens that someone is willing to take up the mantle and deal with the issue at hand?

I mean, sure, the relevant organisations sprung into action.  But seeing ministers push the blame to everyone else except themselves is not particularly assuring.  Anyway, here’s a public concern template for the blogosphere to calm the people:

Fellow Citizens of Singapore!

As you are aware, Singapore has been struck by a (insert name of crisis here).  Answering the DPM’s call, I would like to tell you that someone is working on it.  Please, trust our leaders to lead us out of it, and don’t forget to express your thanks when we emerge from the mess, no matter how much hardship we have endured.  Please don’t blame our leaders for what’s happened – in the meantime, stay alert and DO NOT BE COMPLACENT!

Everyday life continues.  I suggest you move on as I have.

Sincerely

I am Singaporean XV – Open/Close April 15, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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So now the new Public Order Act has been passed, which, according to the States Times, “gives police more effective powers to maintain public order.”  In response to NMP Siew Kum Hong, who said that the need for a permit in order to assemble was an emasculation of the right of assembly (i don’t know why the States Times decided to put it in quotation marks), our Law Minister gave us a list of things which somehow showed how progressive the Gahmen has been in liberalising the political space, focusing on Speakers’ Corner.

While the demonstrations organised by Tan Kin Lian in the wake of the investors’ crisis may show that these efforts have borne fruit, but it was not until 2008, 8 years after Speakers’ Corner was opened, that this actually took place.  And it was only possible after 1st September, 2008, when the need for a police permit was lifted for the Speakers’ Corner ONLY.  Yet, this only shows that the liberalisation can work, and not that it does work.  The most basic, underlying concern regarding political expression, namely that someone is watching and you will be ridiculed or even be charged for defamation if you touch a too-raw nerve, still exists.  Also, the fact that your concerns will go more or less unanswered is also a basic assumption

Note that with ‘assumption’ i doesn’t mean that it is always the case which is like that.

So the measures taken have not led to corresponding results.  The point here is that listing a list of measures taken to reach a particular goal does not mean that the goal has been achieved.  Mr. Shanmugam’s argument is based on simple causality – the Gahmen has done such-and-such – and so we should be politically more liberal than before.  He neglects effectively the other probable causes which may have checked liberalisation in place – like the ISA, a dominating mainstream media, a government which lashes out hard against criticism, and a culture of fear and anonymity and more.

And yet, more measures have been introduced, most pertinent of which are the ‘move-on’ powers which the police now have.  So empowered, the police can now order any individual to ‘move on’, if they suspect him or her to be potentially dangerous to public order.  Now, according to TOC, “the Act will allow the police to act “without people being able to argue about it”. Worse, there will be no judicial review of a move-on order: the home minister alone can decide on an appeal.

The Gahmen seems to have opened up, but the new Act appears to close things up further.  Attempts at liberalisation have not taken (perhaps the Gahmen never wanted them to take), and the introduction of the new Act means that liberties will be further restricted, in that you can be ordered to leave an area on suspicion that you are up to no good.  Black-and-white for the police and the Gahmen, which loves black and white, but what about us?  Black or white or any shade of grey?  The Gahmen seems to work with an assumed personal political space (which sadly is curtailed by the Gahmen and the individual) and an assumed public need for safety (assumed in terms of quantity of safety.)  Assuming means that the Gahmen may be wide off the mark, and that the Gahmen’s standpoint is naturally biased – naturally some people want more public safety and some are willing to have slightly less public safety for more individual rights.

And while the Gahmen must necessarily assume that they exist and that there is a balance, how do they know where the balance exists?  They are supposed to represent the people, but how are they represented?  Is this another case of formally open, actually close?

I am Singaporean XIV – It’s Not Our Fault! April 13, 2009

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Generally, in Asia, “face” is very important.  That’s why disgrace carries such a high price – some Japanese managers kill themselves out of shame and regret, and our Gahmen always tries desparately to silence shame or at least divert it away from itself, as we have seen during Mas Selamat’s Great Escape, GIC losses and CDC bonuses, the suicide of CPT Allan Ooi, and now food poisoning.  And the same strategy has been used from time to time again:

  1. Politicians claim their words were twisted in meaning
  2. “That information is classified.”
  3. Shutting up and hoping it blows over
  4. Reminders to “move on”
  5. Pushing the blame, or formulating a National Education class
  6. Reassuring everyone that “everything is in order”

For example, for Mas Selamat’s escape, there was first a big blackout from the Gahmen, followed by calls to “move on”, because it’s happened and they can’t do anything about it, and then having a certain octagenarian come up and make a National Education lesson out of it.  “Don’t be complacent.” Information about CDC bonuses were classified but in order.  For the suicide of CPT Ooi, MINDEF’s response threw up more questions than answers, and the blame was initially shifted to CPT Ooi’s person.  Only the full letter forced MINDEF to change its stand, although there is still that lingering taste of ad hominem. As for food poisoning…i refer you to the Wayang Party.  National Education in the works!

Ultimately, Wayang Party has taken its share of flak, just as anyone who writes anything does.  They were accused of shifting the blame to the Government, although they said that the Government shifted the blame to the people.  The State media sprung into action, publishing letters which tell us the dangers and risks of eating out, without asking for the role of the Government, or the question: could this have been prevented by Government policy or engagement?  Nothing has been heard on that topic.

Why, then, does the Gahmen try to deflect blame, rather than accept that something has gone wrong?  Why can everyone else be wrong except them?  Do they really have a mandate from God, or is the Gahmen too far deep in its own Singapore where they walk as gods amongst lesser mortals?  A government which sees the need to deflect all blame from itself in order to appear squeaky clean is, in my humble opinion, a government which freaks out when something goes wrong in Paradise.  How many of our MPs have withstood an election?  How many of our MPs were ex-scholars, successful according to a narrow definition – another symbol of an attempt to create an artificial Paradise?  Why do policies which are discussed in Parliament seem to be already prepared for implementation, without going down to the people?  Doesn’t it sound like we, the citizens, are animals in a zoo, which are overseen by the Gahmen, which accepts no responsibility to the animals and is only interested in keeping the zoo thriving?  So, the animals should take care of themselves and always obey the rules of the zoo.  Otherwise, they’ll have to be put down.

A tiger which escapes will scare tourists away, no?

What the Gahmen must realise is that Singapore is not a zoo where things are formally laid down and the people are expected, like animals without any reason, to obey these formal rules blindly and accept their lot.  They have to take some responsibility for their charges and not just for the zoo, although it probably is easier to do the latter than the former.  And that includes admitting that sometimes they are wrong, or that more could have been done.

That they are drawing such a high salary makes that aspect of responsibility even more imperative.  The Gahmen should see that although prevention is better than the cure, they cannot always fix their minds on prevention.  Sometimes, when the cure is necessary, they have to take it.  And not try to make everyone forget the cure by extensive prevention efforts, because the sickness remains, which can and will rear its ugly head one day.

I am Singaporean XIII – Siege Mentality February 23, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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Singapore is under siege.

At least, that’s what the Gahmen would have you think.  At first, it was the Japanese, then the Communists, then there was terrorism, global economic forces, and now the Net community.  Sometimes, the Gahmen feels besieged by the people too.  Singapore’s small size and multiraciality have always been used as reasons for our fragility and for our siege mentality, because we are easily overrun.  This explains the huge defense budget each year, and the same old threats (and ironically, some self-fulfilling prophecies like the bad governance prophecy) made by our Dear Leaders.

The latest one was that anonymity on the Internet is a farce.  They will hunt us down and we should know it.  It is a veiled threat for the Internet community for regulation, after a certain RADM Lui showed how disappointed he was.  But why is there a need for such a siege mentality?  Why is there a need to demonise everything which may not toe the Gahmen line?  Some examples for you…

  1. The blogosphere is always demonised by the mainstream media for its perceived lack of objectivity and lawlessness (ironically, for a prime example, see STOMP)
  2. When the people become unhappy, an octagenarian will raise his lightning bolt and threaten you to silence (siege mentality against the people)
  3. Uncomfortable questions in Parliament deserve an uncomfortable answer, like if people want to have three meals in a hawker centre or a restaurant, or if Can’t Sing should resign now for Mas’ Great Escape
  4. Blaming global economical forces out of the Gahmen’s hands when a recession hits, instead of looking at their own household first (perhaps shutting up would have been better in this case)

And much more!  But still why? Maybe the siege mentality is supposed to work because like in the military, you are supposed to obey whatever your superior tells you, because technically he is supposed to know what he’s doing.  So transferred onto Singapore, the siege mentality ensures that the people do what the Government says.  And since the siege will pass on, the Gahmen has the opportunity to pride themselves (much like senior commanding officers get promoted after a large battle and not Privates Tom, Dick, or Harry.)

The latest example of the siege mentality against the blogosphere is just one example.  For example, the ST saying ‘Moderate so the Government can de-regulate.’  If moderation takes place, it will be a Pyhrric victory for the blogosphere, because aren’t we moderating according to the Gahmen’s guidelines, if moderation is to keep bloggers out of trouble?  Then we just have an(other) online MSM.  For what?  As long as the Gahmen continues to feel besieged and tries to fight a siege which isn’t there, we don’t have to hope for a calming of relations between the MSM and the blogosphere, for no sensible dialogue can exist as long as the siege mentality remains.

What Andrew Loh says at TOC is that instead of trying to regulate the blogosphere, we should focus on education to teach children the pitfalls of the Internet.  Even if it is a step in the right direction, it does not remove the general distrust and/or disdain of what is published on the Net.  The siege mentality remains, and you can be damn sure that the Gahmen will do its best to demonise all blogs as subjective and partisan except a few chosen ‘credible’ blogs.  As long as this mentality remains fixed, we can all go fly kite, understand??

I am Singaporean XII – Singapore vs. Singapore, Inc. February 11, 2009

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Do we live in Singapore, or do we live in Singapore, Inc.?  That’s a question we should slowly begin to ask ourselves.  Are we citizens or are we economic units, to be replaced should we become not so productive due to aging or economic crises?  Is Singapore a company or a country?  These are questions which the political leadership, and more importantly the people, should be asking themselves.

Personally, i feel that the only reason Singapore can be considered a country is because so many people call it home.  A place where family is, and damned be the Government.  That is the only reason Singapore still qualifies as a country.  But look around you – apart from your family and friends, is Singapore home?  Why are we always pointing our our own deficiencies, especially in the non-elite class?  The commoners are not reproducing enough, the commoners are rude, the commoners are not creative enough, etc.

Also, why is there the perception amongst the ruling elite that punishments are the most effective way of doing things?  Why is fear such an important tool in Singapore, a country first-world in some aspects and third-world in others?  More importantly, why are we, human beings, people who is someone’s son and someone’s friend, why are we dehumanised into economic units?  A company definitely looks at people as economical machines, replaceable at any time should something go wrong.  It’s cold, mechanical, but oh-so-efficient.  But isn’t that what the Government has been aiming for?  Efficiency.  Human potential is to be developed, as long as they reach a certain productivity level.

Singapore, Inc. being the physical realisation of Singapore shows itself too when one particular NMP said that we should go back to the 6-day week, since we aren’t reproducing anyway.  Is it an informed decision to revert?  I doubt so.  This guy seems to be talking through his ass without much regard for the consequences.  What will happen to the reproduction rate when the 6-day week begins again (because the workload, which has been compressed into 5 days, is definitely not going to be reduced)?  More importantly, is this punishment for the failure of the policy?  If it is, why are WE being punished and not the policymakers?

When leaders begin to think almost entirely for the whole in terms of economical survival, abstracting from the many individuals which make up this body…is this not an obvious sign that we are living in more Singapore, Inc. than Singapore?  Even more so, when these leaders are supposed to represent the people who put them there!  Then there’s this thing with Khaw Boon Wan saying that the old could go off to Malaysia to retire.  Again, it’s like a company – if you’re of no more economical use to the country, off you go.  We don’t really want you anymore.  Economical progress at all costs – isn’t this also how a company is run?

Is this the way we run a country, when we tell the old, who have spent years working for the country, to simply Shut Up and Fuck Off?  So that space is made for fresh young blood?  I understand that the old must be replaced by the young.  But removing citizens who have contributed to society for other more economically viable individuals just sounds like the way a company would do things.  Where is the appreciation of the old?  We are told to appreciate the old and all that they have done for us.  In that case, why doesn’t the Government acknowledge all that has been done for us by the generation which is now too old to find work, preferring instead to ship them off to Malaysia?

You can’t just rely on filial piety when the country company doesn’t show piety to its older citizens.  Who do they worship then, a certain superoctagenarian who still looms over high with lightning bolts?  I would rather go live in a foreign country where i am appreciated when i am old, and not simply shipped off somewhere else when i can’t afford to live in my home country anymore.  The very reason why the Government will not build accomodation for the old is an economical one – it will slow Singapore’s economical development!  What a scandal!

Singapore or Singapore, Inc.?  The reader should decide.  And the next time some politician complains about how Singapore has no culture, no identity…how the values today are so eroded that we don’t take care of our old anymore – Hypocrisy, thy name is you.

I am Singaporean X – Lesser Mortal Organisations January 22, 2009

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II.
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So lately some people have accused a particular Perm Sec of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources of being insensitive when writing a travelogue of how he and his family spent a mountain of money on a cooking course in Paris.  Many were angry and felt that his display of extravagance was really unsuitable for the current situation in Singapore.   For it, he was reprimanded for ‘being insensitive.’ (but personally, aren’t they all quite insensitive?  I mean, a certain Old Grand Master is quite insensitive when he tells us the Mystery of Life)  And just when it started to quiet down and people started to move on, this issue was brought up in Parliament and another guy an MP for Pasir-Ris/Punggol Town Council, Charles Chong, made this following epic statement:

Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful.

Firstly, it made me ask the question the Rock used to ask when he was still wrestling: WHO IN THE BLUE HELL ARE THESE GUYS?

Anyway, i agree with what’s been said on The Void Deck, in that i don’t really give a damn about how he spends his money.  Publicising it, though, was wrong, example of family time it may be.  It’s also amusing seeing how the PAP shoots itself in the foot time and time again, and this time, it’s even a combination.  I swear, if they ever invented an arcade machine for shooting yourself in the foot, i would play it all the time.

Actually, Tan Yong Soon could have evaded this whole thing by not signing off as some Perm Sec or something.  After all, who the hell knows who’s the Perm Sec for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (the Newater Minister?) And who the hell knows who is Charles Chong?  I sure as hell don’t.  Seems our world-class press is as world-class as it seems, because it tells us all these juicy details which ought to have been left out and relegated to the silenced world of office and political gossip.

As for ‘lesser mortals’ – now we know what we are really in the eyes of the elites, no matter what form of damage control they may attempt.  Of course, a semantic switch is an attempt at defusing the situation, but i guess i can say ‘nice try.’  Changing ‘they’ to ‘us’ must have been one well thought-out strategy, but as you can see, he still cuts no glass with the Net.  But hey, at least the guy replied to Wayang Party and didn’t relegate us to the crazy ward, did he?  Also, it’s nice to know how Singapore, Inc. sees us – indeed, as economical units.  Did you see his definition of ‘lesser mortals?’

After hearing Minister Teo Chee Hean read out the salary scales of senior civil servants in response to a question by NMP Siew KH, I can safely say that I am not in the same league as any Permanent Secretary or any Office Holder.

It seems that he could only safely say he wasn’t in the same league as any Perm Sec after hearing Teo Chee Hean read out the salary scales of senior civil servants.  Very good…i guess we, then, the non-MPs who don’t earn at least 10 grand a month, are less than vermin.  Since he called himself a lesser mortal, i think we are relegated to being less than a lesser mortal…perhaps we’re like ants.  We’re fine if we don’t bite the lesser mortals, or if we don’t set them on fire, but once we do…dangerous, these lower life-forms.

Also, there was no apologies.  But then again, when do we get apologies from the Gahmen?  Extracting a ‘sorry’ from the Government is tougher than pulling teeth.  Also, isn’t it interesting how it’s all the non-Godlike mortals which are drawing all the fire? I think to reach Godlikeness and the realm of money enough to swim in, you have to pass an important PR exam on how to give yourselves more money without actually infuriating the peasantry too much.  Those down there, although they’re not Godlike yet, are already trying to act as if they are.  Arrogance?  These humans are walking around thinking they are God (which they are compared to us ants,) but they forget Zeus, ready to electrify them with a lightning bolt up the ass.  Who could too, incidentally, be affected by a lot of angry ants who sting hard enough to push them into action.

It means that elitism and arrogance is something which has pervaded the social elite so much that the top level elites are smart enough not to explicitly show their elitism, and the lower level elites are there to bear all the flak which comes their way.  And that there is a clear Us/Them dichotomy, with Us having nothing of Them and vice versa.  Uncontrolled meritocracy, hear, hear!  In the end, uncontrolled meritocracy leads to the birth of the royal family, anyway, and his bunch of consorts.  Keep the peasants blind with materialism and the insane scrabble for money, and we shall prosper as long as they are too busy to try and root us from power.  Oh, and make sure they’re not too unhappy too.

An ideal political system, no?  Machiavelli would have been proud.

Next up is this on the Association of Bloggers.  What’s up with this Association thing after all?  Everything must form an Association.  But well, even ants must form a nest, right?  But the main question is: is there a need for an association? Will i have to follow a particular association manifesto?  Do i have a writing quota?  What concrete benefits does the association do for the member, who pays 60 bucks a year?  Kampung spirit needs 60 bucks a year meh?  Also, is the state of the blogosphere THAT appalling?  What is ‘appalling?’  Is it simply ‘not nice?’  If ABS is about a place of rational discourse, rational discourse can be found everywhere, even if the language is coarse.

Lastly, kampung spirit is one thing, but it also means representing the kampung.  I think if bloggers have to speak up about something which affects Singapore, they speak up as Singaporeans.  Is that not kampung enough?  Talk of an association reminds me of having to discuss various methods and views before deciding on the course of action and then publishing it as a blog article.  If that is so, how is the individual going to be heard?  Will there be no moderation, and members may write as they wish?  Belonging to an association means agreeing tacitly to rules and regulations.

I am all for a stronger blogosphere.  But i am not all for factions.  That is why i am more for article collectors like The Singapore Daily (with chiobus included) over the politisation of the Blogosphere (TOC, Wayangparty, etc.) which receive undoubtedly higher popularity, and higher publicity.  Do we have to join an organisation in order for us to be heard?  If so, then what’s the use of the Internet as a ‘free space’, when if my views are radically different, i am going to be attacked on all sides and sent to a virtual crazy ward?  In doing so, where’s the difference between the Net and Singapore in principle?

Allow me to refer you to TOC’s take on this whole hullabaloo…there are contradictions here and there between what they want and what’s going on, so to speak.

ECCE HOMO POLITICVS.

I am Singaporean IX – I Love Singlish! December 12, 2008

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. II, Im Allgemeinen.
3 comments

Okay so apparently in the Straits Times MOE and MICA have written about learning English again.  Read liao can tor hwee okay.  Singlish is bad, they say, and Good English is the Way to Go.  So this reply will be written in Singlish…Gasp! Arrest him! Take him off the Net!

What i really cannot understand, ar, is why we are still treated like children.  Machiam like if we are exposed to Singlish when we are young, then the rest of the future hong kan liao.  Singlish very jialat meh?  Then should learn whose English?  Must speak RP (Received Pronunciation, The Queen’s English) ah?  Always saying that if the ginnaz (=children) kena exposed to Singlish, then mati already.

We have attained a level of proficiency in English among our young and the general public. However, it would be wrong to assume that this competency is a given, if standards are not adhered to […] The Ministry of Education’s experience in schools is that the use of Singlish will confuse students and hinder their progress in developing competency in the English language. If children hear Singlish, they will learn Singlish.

I think hor, that MOE should not be so irresponsible.  Just say that the children will learn Singlish if they are exposed to it is really kong jiao wei.  At home no speak Singlish meh?  MOE is really quite space wor, assuming that Singaporeans don’t speak Singlish at home.  Then speak like British Royal Family meh.  Perhaps the solution is for MOE to teach that English and Singlish is not same-same one.   English must use when talking to ang mor, or when the situation is different, like interview or O Level Orals like that.  Singlish is use with peng you one.  Like that easier mah.  Why must purify Singapore from Singlish?

Really like 崇洋媚外, how come our Singlish so chor lor, must learn ang mor English.  I never said that learning ang mor English is bad, my question is: why cannot teach English and say that Singlish is okay, but u must know when to use it?  This Gahmen really don’t trust us.  Everyday counting on us to make money for Singapore still don’t trust us.  Everything also must control.  At the very best should take newborn babies away from their parents, so they cannot speak Singlish.  Bo exposure mah.  How come Singlish is like a sickness, must be removed from Singapore?  How come Gahmen cannot trust us to know when to use English and when to use Singlish?

Probably cos MOE and MICA only listen to what linguists tell them which sounds good for their Speak Good English policy.  You see ah…they accept what linguists say wor.  But they also don’t want Singapore to become a language zoo for people to investigate.

As linguists have pointed out, the language environment in Singapore is complex, due to the use of multiple and very different languages. […] While Singlish may be a fascinating academic topic for linguists to write papers about, Singapore has no interest in becoming a curious zoo specimen to be dissected and described by scholars.

See…in one article both accept and deny.  Contradiction.  So obvious that they use what they want to hear and throw away what they don’t want.  I think some people call it selective hearing wor.  Haiyoh.  Actually, Singlish very important one.  Singlish help to build identity mah.  See, if you go overseas to study, you can automatically see who is Singaporean or Malaysian mah.  Cos got Singlish.  Singaporeans overseas, even if they migrated liao, also can build identity because they speak Singlish mah.  Don’t know why Gahmen always wants to throw away our own identity, then at the same time complain Singapore bo identity.  Please lah.  This kind of thing even Primary One schoolchildren can tell you.

Gahmen always looking outwards, but never look inwards one.  Also, looks like Singaporean identity not important one.  Maybe Gahmen thinks can make Singaporean identity the way they want it…like can eat mee siam mai hum…probably part of their Singaporean culture mah!  Singapore so artificial, no wonder people don’t want to stay also.  Everything is kong lui one.  All about money.  MICA and MOE make it very clear at the end of their letter wor.

Singaporeans’ overriding interest is to master a useful language which will maximise our competitive advantage, and that means concentrating on standard English rather than Singlish.