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7: Logical Thinking? January 20, 2010

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen, What Were They Thinking?!.

According to PAP logic, we’re casting foreigners as villians. And we shouldn’t do that, says our Law Minister.

But isn’t law something which goes by logic? Then why is it that he is giving us such illogical statements? Many netizens (like Lucky Tan etc.) don’t see the logic…so let’s see what is not logical in what the States Times and what our Minister said…

So, first, the report:

MIDWAY through a 11/2-hour dialogue with Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Sunday, 58-year-old Wee Kai Fatt stood up and gave voice to the claims of many coffee shop pundits here.

The senior engineer complained about the foreigner-fuelled population boom, saying he was shocked when he heard there were five million people living in Singapore.

This influx of foreigners, he added, had caused HDB home prices to rocket.

Taking it all in, Mr Shanmugam took pains to clarify what he said were several misconceptions in Mr Wee’s statement.

The Law Minister’s key message: Do not cast foreigners as the villains driving up the prices of HDB flats.

Speaking at the end of his three-hour visit to Yew Tee constituency in Hong Kah GRC, he said: ‘The first misconception is that somehow there are five million people and that is putting pressure on all of us. It doesn’t.’

Firstly, i would like to ask what pains Mr Shanmugam took to clarify these “misconceptions.” Is it trying to use his Man in White logic to convince someone with ordinary logic? For example, Man in White logic often tells us that we SHOULD accept what is happening, i.e. welcome foreigners with open arms, be cheaper, better, faster, etc. Or maybe that the influx of foreigners has absolutely no role in pushing home prices up, when this obviously flies in the face of basic supply-and-demand. More demand, less supply, means that prices increase. (Of course, I’m not an economist, but that’s not what this is about now. This is about what the layperson thinks, not about what the economist says.)

Logic doesn’t operate on “should”, it operates on “is”.

Then why are HDB prices rising? MIW logic would probably say that it is a sign that our economy is picking up again and use it to tell us that we have MORE GOOD YEARS ahead of us. But that is not the case, well, not in reality at least (see, for example, this). Which is why i sometimes suspect that the Men in White live in another dimension, since sometimes their interpretation of happenings is so different from ours. Again, interpretation is also something which is not strictly logical. If it was strictly logical, the interpretation of how things are would convince anyone. But no one is convinced.

There’s also the argument from an unfounded premiss, e.g.: “The first misconception is that somehow there are five million people and that is putting pressure on all of us. It doesn’t.” How does Mr. Shanmugam know that it is a misconception? Does have have contrary proof? Can he explain his position? Or is he just relying on his status as Law Minister (“as a minister, i know what’s going on and you don’t?”) Relying on superior status to make what you say more valid is another sign of bad logic, or of an illogical argument trying to be logical. Authority tends to make people argue illogically.

The second unfounded argument is based on using statistics to make a statement appear empricially sound:

Of the five million, 3.2 million are citizens and roughly 500,000 are permanent residents (PRs). The remaining 1.3 million are here on temporary work permits and they ‘impose no burden’ on the public housing system.

What does it mean that “the remaining 1.3 million are here on temporary work permits and they ‘impose no burden’ on the public housing system”? It is probably a weak attempt at explaining away the problem. Just feed them some numbers and they’ll bite, hook, line and sinker. Are you sure, for example, that all of these 1.3 million people are staying in workers’ accomodations? Or maybe they are all Malaysians? Statistics which don’t exactly explain why they are solutions to the problem shouldn’t exactly be used.

Lastly, there is argument based on an assumption:

‘Let me pose a question back to you – ‘What do you think is the solution if we can’t get Singaporeans who all speak English? Then we have to get foreigners. Where do you think we can get them from, and can we educate all of them in English?’ Therefore, if you are given a choice, either there is someone there to serve you, which is Singapore’s style, or like in many Western countries, you do self-service. I suspect…most Singaporeans will say ‘OK, never mind, even if he can’t speak English, I will prefer that to a self-service situation’.

Is the assumption true? I would prefer self-service, actually. I don’t see the point in ballooning our population by 1.3 million people, so that they will have to come and serve us.  Actually, it’s also a veiled threat – “want less people? Then get ready to serve yourselves.” Another false assumption – are we so scared of serving ourselves? Don’t we do that at McDonald’s?

What was he thinking?


I am Singaporean II: Bilingualism is Bad(?) November 18, 2009

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

So our favourite octagenarian has decided to come and tell us his insistence on bilingualism in the education system was wrong.

What was he thinking, saying such a thing?!

In fact, his insistence on bilingualism was one of the things he actually got right, in my humble opinion.  Just that it was poorly put into practice.  VERY POORLY.  I mean, you can’t have a cultural cleansing first (i.e. shutting down Chinese schools and Nantah, enforcing a common curriculum where language of instruction is fixed) and THEN try to encourage bilingualism!  It’s a good example of what happens when politicians, who aren’t teachers, try to set an education programme to follow certain pragmatic political goals.

In doing so, Chinese was effectively removed as the language of instruction in schools, excepting a select few subjects.  Everything else is in English, save the compulsory 2nd mother tongue, and Higher mother tongue (what is higher anyway?) if one can make it.  If not, everything else is in English.  That managed to ensure conformity in curricular planning, but it effectively destroyed the possibility of true bilingualism for those growing up in a monolingual environment.  I mean, mother tongue lessons are just one out of seven, maybe up to ten subjects which are taught in English.  There is hardly any exposure to the second mother tongue, neither at home nor at school.  So how on Earth do you expect bilingualism to be possible, given the circumstances?

MM speaks like someone who has learn Chinese as a foreign language.  Well, let’s remember that MM is monolingual first, okay?  And he tells us that it’s impossible for one to master two languages at the same level of proficiency, so we should not coddle ourselves?  My Chinese is definitely not reduced to saying 你好! 华语酷! 我要去厕所!, okay?  My friends from China and Taiwan understand me perfectly well, and I certainly don’t have a problem with calling myself multilingual.  His problem is that he started learning Chinese LATE – for him, it is inevitable that he should not be proficient in Chinese.  Bilingualism is something which children can be taught, especially if they are exposed to the languages in question.  But politically and economically at the time, English was seen as much more important.  So many parents decided to teach their children English as their first language, avoiding Chinese and making it a foreign language to them.

And by the way, who made him a neurologist now?  If he would bother to do some research before distributing his brand of wisdom, he would have insisted that parents be bilingual and for both languages to be used parallel to each other at home.  You don’t even have to send your kids to school for them to be effectively bilingual.  Starting late means that the brain’s language center has already developed such that it will be able to process information in the dominant language much better, at the cost of easily acquiring other languages.  MM’s trials and tribulations are the views of one who has been taught Chinese, who didn’t acquire Chinese from exposure to the language.  English and Chinese are two very different languages – so how to do you expect students to be able to learn them effectively, even if Chinese was taught in English?

Speaking of which, English is very dissimilar to Malay as well, and is only slightly hardly related to Indian (Proto-German, the ancestor of English would be more related to Sanskrit, the ancestor of modern Tamil) *I stand corrected – Comment 5*.  So the subtle encouragement of a monolingual environment for kids which was partly caused by the balance of powers then and the perception of Chinese as evilly Communist (now, MM had a hand in this in shutting down the institutions where children could get a lot of exposure to Chinese) has resulted in the situation today, where most people would like to believe they were bilingual, but are not.  And educational policy has not helped in restricting Chinese to Chinese lessons, effectively producing a generation of parents who were mostly English-monolingual, who ridiculed “cheenapoks” because they couldn’t understand them.

But no, the perception is that more learning is the right way ahead.  Parents have to understand that language acquisition is partly their job as well.  You can’t send your kids to school and hope they can come home and speak Chinese fluently, unless you have taken the effort to speak to your toddler in Chinese.  Instead, we have Chinese for pre-schoolers now!  Children from 3 to 6 should learn Chinese!  I wonder how that will work.  Imagine that you only speak English at home.  Then your toddler goes to kindergarten and learns Chinese, but who is he going to speak it with at home?  What’s the point in that?  Already the principle is wrong.  I only managed to become fluent in German (not perfect) when I had German lessons every single day in JC and when German was actually spoken.  Rote learning can’t give you what exposure does.  But in Singapore, everything is kept separate from each other.  NO CHINESE EXCEPT DURING CHINESE LESSONS, right?

The biggest mistake is not putting an educator as the head of MOE, but a politician, or a surgeon, or a Rear-Admiral.

So that there is “positive criticism” (heh i like that term since it sounds so contradictory), I would suggest looking at the system of Luxembourg.  Children who go to school are schooled first in German, then after they are 12, the language of instruction for the entire syllabus changes gradually from German to French.  How’s that sound?  Of course, the second language is taught in school as well.  But what is needed is exposure, and a complete language change should probably do the trick.

By the way, did I miss the word “sorry” in the story?

I am Singaporean Vol. 3, I – On Apathy October 23, 2009

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

There’s an article on TOC about Singaporean youths being apathetic with regards to politics.  I’m not going to argue against the fact that they ARE apathetic (I consider myself apathetic when I happen to be in Singapore, but hey, I don’t really think about staying in Singapore for the long haul), instead, I am going to talk about why apathy is such a big thing in Singapore.

Why am I apathetic?  In fact, why are people apathetic?  The article discusses self-centredness amongst the youth, but I believe that this polemic against self-centredness is just shifting the focus of things.  You find the most self-centredness in countries with lesser political apathy – why are, for example, divorces commonplace in the West?  The self-centredness of the youth in Singapore, in spite of their political apathy, cannot be placed on their “myopic self-centred interests” alone.  You can put it this way too – people who are engaged in politics do so either because they are really altruistic and want to do something for society, OR because they want to make a point, they want to go down in history.  But these are two extremes, and people normally do so because they want to improve the lives of others and at the same time be remembered when they are gone.

It all has to do with finding meaning in life.  So why are Singaporeans self-centred, and at the same time, apathetic?

Perhaps it is because life in Singapore is meaningless?  For example, the meaning of life in Singapore revolves around family, seeing your kids grow up, etc., and for those who don’t have a family, or are unwilling to start one, it revolves around career, being the best in what you do, trumping the competition.  For both these people, materialistic goods are an integral part of their aims and needs – the former to provide for others and for oneself, the latter for ego.  As a by-product, work is done and there is a general development, a general improvement in the state of things.

But is there meaning above that?  Some find it in religion, serving God (or trying to calm their consciences)? But for those who pursue materialism, meaning is just a thing of possessing a quantitative more, by which I mean more money, a better car, a bigger house, etc.  Who reads anymore, who thinks about life?  Why are students of the Arts looked down on?

Because MORE is an aspect of meritocracy, or an aspect of a particular interpretation of meritocracy.  “The best deserve to succeed” – in a meaningless life, ‘good’ is equated with ‘more’, for is not ‘better’ ‘more good’? (*NB: when i give such terms in quotation marks, they are based on the particular interpretation of ‘good’ as given above.) But here comes the sucker-punch way below the belt in the nuts:

In Singapore, many are good.  So the ‘best’ are chosen to succeed, and the rest are doomed to fit their ideals of ‘good’ into this particular view of meritocracy.  Self-centredness is an outlet for the frustrated will to succeed – it is probably how the soul deals with the fact that life is doomed to meaninglessness (i.e., “nothing will ever change.”) So, this explains the apathy somehow – just as you will trust whatever a doctor tells you with regard to your health, you will trust whatever the politician tells you regarding the country.  So, apathy, in the form of blind trust, is good for you, the doctor, and the politician.

But is it?  Another factor (I am coming to the end of this complicated theoretical discussion so bear with me,) is that this materialistic interpretation of meritocracy (remember: ‘good’ = more) means that things are black and white.  Something is either right or wrong, either good or bad.  There is no grey area.  Maybe that explains why the arts have no place in Singapore, and you will find it in political discourse as well.  Defamation is punished harshly, because it is wrong.  What’s more, you have defamed the ‘best’, and the rich and powerful can always hit back, and hit hard.

But politics is hardly a science.  Politics deal with sentiment.  The reason why self-centredness finds its expression in political engagement is that people believe that they can make a difference.  As long as we never have this impression that we can make a difference, then apathy is here to stay.  For a long, long time.  Calling people to stand up and fight for your future is impressive.  BUT as long as reality and education says that you will never make a rat’s ass in terms of difference, it just remains flowery rhetoric.

Or “highfalutin”, as some octogenarian would tell you.

6: To The Devotees of “Asian Values” October 15, 2009

Posted by The Truth in What Were They Thinking?!.

Many of my readers (if there are any left) will want to have a reason for my disappearance.  Well, I have been observing.  Ris Low boomz’ed, lifts should be upgraded, the EZ-Link cards had to be changed.  But then i came across something on Young PAP, an article called “To The Devotees of Western Democracy and Human Rights.” Since I believe that idiocy has to be dealt with using a large hammer, so here goes…

The author has tried to justify the “superiority” of Asian values vis-à-vis Western values.  Well, in every culture, the dominant values are always seen as superior over other values – it is one of the things which contribute to identity.  But one has to ask the question if it is right, or even if it does make sense to use such a blanket-term like “Asian Values”. What are “Asian Values,” anyway?  The author seems to be deliberately trying to remain vague on what they are.  Does he assume that we all know what they are?  One quarter of our population are now expats and PRs leh.

In fact, the term “Asian values” as they are in Singapore remains so vague, because it is implicitly expected that we know what they entail.  But do we?  The ruling class can have another set of “Asian Values” – e.g., maybe the Men in White ARE the Sons of God, or maybe a particular Man in White, the scholar system (i.e., elitist thinking), the larger focus on belief in authority, society before self, etc.  But for the ruled, “Asian Values” may mean virtue, being ruled fairly, and that a ruler should care for his subjects, family, etc.  BUT these are never said clearly.  “Asian Values” must remain vague, because as a blanket-term, you can apply it anywhere and everywhere, and you can separate yourself from the horrible West.  So yah, first, what are “Asian Values?”

And these were also the nations [European powers] that, at the height of their imperialism, imposed, by sheer brute force, the ‘right’ of extra-territoriality upon the countries they had subjected. And now, they are crusading for Freedom and Human Rights in their former colonies as well as the other countries of Asia.

Now the author accuses the West of cultural imperialism.  Of course the West can afford to be cultural imperialists (especially Uncle Sam, well under Bush anyway), since they have the might and the money.  But in ‘crusading’ (jeez! what a word! this isn’t the Middle Ages, you prick, and if you had any sense of political language, you would have avoided it.  The very concept of Jihad by Muslim fundamentalists go back to the Crusades, you fool!) for “Asian Values” overseas – what, Singapore is trying to strike back?  With what force?

In fact, Western values are so important for Singapore that you can’t do without them.  If we don’t want Western values, then we should chase foreigners out, especially the educated Westerners in our universities, and we should, of course, send our scholars not to Europe anymore!  I mean, they ARE going to rule, you know??  So what is being said is that for our author, he is grossly short-sighted: this smacks of a way to stay in power, by using a vague term to make one system sound better than the other.  Without any agreed definitions, this is just RHETORICS.

The Anglophile may be despised, but maybe our author should be too, since he is doing nothing much more than building castles in the air, i.e. calling others to take up arms against the Western cultural crusade (seriously, were you with the Taliban?) based on a term which is so general that it is empty, and using the rhetoric of certain senior citizens who deem fit to travel the world and impose their own brand of imperialism under the motto of “leave us alone, you have no idea what it is like to rule an Asian country,” yadda, yadda.  Yes, what were you thinking?

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

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

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?

5: Wake Up Your Idea lah… July 19, 2009

Posted by The Truth in What Were They Thinking?!.

Wah last week ah Singapore damn happening.  First got two siao char bohs (actually ah i think both already obasan liao) kpkb those pengkiaz.  First one say on States Times Forum why SAF must scold vulgaration.

Na bei lah.  This also cannot, that also cannot.  Go jungle pang sai after that also use cheebye leaf to wipe ur ka chng clean clean, can?  No vulgaration how to express that you dulan?  Although must say that if this obasan 1 say that everything also cheebye, then the play must be quite cheebye standard.  Also got lan cheow ok?!  Then also can say fuck what.  Fuck so useful.  I read somewhere that fuck can be simi noun la, simi adjective la, all the lan cheow sai also can.  Universal, like sometimes our occifer say load universal round and bang bang bang.

Speak so good England for fuck?  Your ginnaz ah, obasan, confirm go army hor kao kan (means kena fuck by dogs, ok?) already.  Liddat also culture shock.  Don’t shout at trainees then how?  Everything nice nice, want to sit down and drink tea and eat cake anot?  Eat my chocolate cake lah.  Every morning fresh produce one.  My tea also very zeng one.  Fresh, warm, also got ammonia flavour.  Song right?  Want your ginnaz to be gentlemen, send them go OCS lor. Although also will cheebye and lan cheow a lot, but after that your ginna confirm will be gentleman.  First class one.  If want to ban lan cheow and cheebye, then a lot of encik jobless liao.  I think better you don’t send your kids to NS…excuse vulgaration for 2 years.  Everything must gentlemen then army can work ah.  Balls to you lah.

Then sgforums also got this other obasan kaopeh say tekong kiaz very smelly, can transmit disease.  I think only disease must be psychosis lah…when all the lan cheow shit flow to your brain cos you stand too long liao.  Simi disease?!  Ok lah, i admit tekong kiaz are smelly.  RECRUIT mah.  Lowest life form must wear until nice nice book out so your ginnaz won’t get nightmare ah.  So jialat then move your hubby and your ginnaz to west side lor.  There no tekong one.  Or can also tell them next time don’t read Incredible Hulk lor.  If not got aircon school bus send pengkiaz home…wah i also want man if last time go Tekong got…

Book out also must shower and smell nice nice…also, balls to you lah.

Then lastly SMRT start to fine people for any lan cheow thing…eat candy also qia you $30.  Drink water also can tio.  Cheebye lah.  SMRT machiam cleanliness Taliban like that.  Everything must clean clean.  Drink water also tio.  WATER leh friend.  I tell you ah if i go SMRT drink my pokka 绿茶 or my water and tio…i also won’t go and pay the fine.  In fact i will raise so much hell and say loudly what kind of cheebye rule is this SMRT, drink water also buay sai.  Lim peh is responsible one.  Drink liao will clean up all the sai i leave behind one.

This SMRT, want to use law instead of educating the people.  Educate properly liao they also won’t eat and leave their shit behind mah.  Like got one guy got sore throat so must drink water, then tio.  For what fuck?  Then you know most Singaporeans when they got authority are all fuckers.  Like some Men in White la, SMRT train officers la, etc etc, like last time my encik used to say, “i is a fuckers.” All fuckers, they just want to catch someone breaking a rule so they can fuck them inside out.  So even if you going to ki chia already right, you will also get fucked.

Clean trains but people kia because always got fuckers walking around trying to catch you…like that train clean, but i also dont feel clean, i feel like criminal-to-be you know?  I think must get some of those tang ki go and cleanse the train,  every night hahahaha.  Then TODAY got one or two of those ah siao say want to drink and eat go and get a car.  Fuck your lan cheow thinking lah.  If my money plant really every 3 months give me $10000 in cash i will also go and buy a car lor.  Cocksters produce cock solutions.  Balls to them too.

Really, what were you thinking?!

4: Rooting Singaporeans July 2, 2009

Posted by The Truth in What Were They Thinking?!.

Not long ago, SM Goh talked about keeping bright young Singaporeans in Singapore by sinking their roots:

MORE than one in five of the top students from the 1996-1999 A level graduating cohorts are not working in Singapore today. And of those from the same batches who went on to universities overseas without a scholarship bond, more than one in three are today carving out careers outside the country.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong gave these statistics on Saturday to illustrate the urgency of getting young Singaporeans to sink roots here even as they become more entrepreneurial and break out into the global economy.

‘If more and more of our bright students do not return, this begs the question whether our success in giving them wings to fly far and high will result in our eventual decline as a nation, especially as we are not even reproducing ourselves.

‘No nation will be able to sustain its growth and prosperity without sufficient talent, much less a small country like Singapore without natural resources,’ said Mr Goh.

He was speaking to more than 1,000 guests at the 70th anniversary dinner of Chung Cheng High School last night. He urged schools to help students retain their emotional bonds to Singapore, ‘so that they think of Singapore as the home which nurtured them, and want to contribute in some ways to the country of their birth’.

To do this, he suggested that schools inculcate in the young certain values, such as being appreciative of those who help them advance in life; and not taking for granted the academic, sports and arts programmes they can enjoy here and abroad, when many children elsewhere cannot.

Mr Goh hoped that the end result of such teaching would be students who have strong links with their schools, close ties with their friends and a strong sense of responsibility to their families – even if they choose to live, work and even settle down overseas.

Switching to Mandarin, Mr Goh said: ‘I hope Chung Cheng and our schools will give two lasting bequests to our children. One is strong wings; the other, deep roots.

‘Like wild geese that migrate each fall, young Singaporeans should be equipped with the courage, strength and adaptability to venture to distant lands in search of opportunities. But when spring returns, they will come back, as this is their home.’

Indeed, Mr Goh further argued in English, helping young Singaporeans stay rooted here was the most important challenge facing the Education Ministry. This is because the number of young Singaporeans working overseas will grow, given that the education system is producing more and more students equipped with the right skills to go global. – Goh Chin Lian, Straits Times, 28 June 2009 (Thanks to takchek)

What were you thinking, SM Goh?  Already there are contradictions in your speech.  You said this:

If more and more of our bright students do not return, this begs the question whether our success in giving them wings to fly far and high will result in our eventual decline as a nation, especially as we are not even reproducing ourselves.

Then, you “urged schools to help students retain their emotional bonds to Singapore, ‘so that they think of Singapore as the home which nurtured them, and want to contribute in some ways to the country of their birth’.” Do you not see that it is precisely this nurturing which Singapore has given them which has sent them packing?  Meritocracy – those who have the talent are those who will rise up, and it is this very dog-eat-dog world which your Gahmen has created which is causing this very problem.  And what you said above smacks of wanting to make sure the money you invested in your people actually pays out.

Singaporeans are PEOPLE, not MONEY MACHINES.  If you want a money machine, you could buy a colour laser printer.  All the foreign talent you have imported to stem the brain drain has had the unfortunate consequence of more people leaving, since locals are losing jobs due to their lowered hiring potential (think NS commitments, etc.) And what’s more, since you refuse to give citizens certain (okay, all benefits is bollocks) benefits which set them apart from the foreigners, is it any wonder why citizens don’t see Singapore as home, and try to fly away (especially those who are able to?)

But don’t worry, SM.  There are a lot more people who are deeply rooted to Singapore precisely because of the ties you mentioned – family, friends etc.  But ironically, they don’t seem really important to you or to Singapore’s progress.  Perhaps they are the drones who are expected to work hard, and that’s it.  Singapore can never attract brains as long as independent, creative thinking is not encouraged generally, as long as there is ONE Big Truth one has to shovel down one’s own throat and alternatives are either tolerated but ignored, or simply eradicated.

To think you can keep alternate thinking in the confines of monoperspectival view of the world – really, what were you thinking?

3: Intellectual Snobbery July 1, 2009

Posted by The Truth in What Were They Thinking?!.

Today, i was wandering through the Internet when i came across this thing on the Intellectual Snob and guides on how to deal with elitism.  Wah…Singaporeans are really intolerant of snobbery huh?  Especially when it comes from a self-perceived ‘elitist.’ These ‘frogs,’ to use the Intellectual Snob’s vocabulary, think they are the very best in the world (whereby ‘world’ here is a very narrow term, i agree) and they react to anything which attempts to burst their bubble by trying to burst the attacker’s bubble.  Reaction, counter-reaction.

But if they actually thought about it…such thoughts of them being the best in Singaporean society, like studying Science/Law/Medicine/Business in one of the Big Three unis in Singapore (come to think of it, there ARE practically only these three if you don’t count SIM and other private unis)…granted, having a B.A. or a B.Sc. is an achievement.  But don’t these people practice the same intellectual snobbery on others?

Let’s see. “Arts is a dumping ground.” “You study philosophy?  Erm…” “In this book it says that (insert complex-sounding theory here)…” and so on, and so forth.  Alternatives are looked down on because they don’t fit into the small Weltanschauung of many Singaporeans.  Being alternative is wrong too – you should just fit in, fit in, fit in.  So yes, the Snob is right when she says that most are incapable, if not unwilling, to think differently or to see things from another angle.  Everything must be black and white, and books are like Bibles.

We let ourselves get dumbed down, only to believe we are on top of the world, a world which is roughly 646 square kilometers large.  That the Intellectual Snob has drawn so much criticism is evidence enough – why do most people refuse to see beyond words and try to find a deeper meaning?  Why is everything she says WRONG, whereas we are ALWAYS RIGHT??  Is it because it is unknown territory where they don’t dare to step, or which they don’t know how to navigate?  Even if, as Sam from Thinking Better, Thinking Meta says, we are not stupid because we are just pragmatic, this pragmatism will probably work very well in Singapore (although we see ourselves getting screwed by it) and overseas, where Your Ideas Are Not Important, have most people Thought Meta?

They think their brand of pragmatism is THE solution for all your problems.  After all life is temporary so it is more about living a material life with its satisfactions.  Thus, intellectualism is looked down on, because if you are an intellectual, you must either be 1) very rich or 2) very foolish.  Most people think like that, and well…what were they thinking?!

And oh yeah.  Even if the Snob has been exposed to be some NTU student who is disillusioned, the points raised still remain to be considered.  Being a Snob or just a fraud may lower your rep, but it doesn’t mean that what you say shouldn’t be taken seriously.  That’s reserved for the clinically insane.  But well, in the language of the Snob, you could very well remain ‘frogs’ and ignore the words of those who don’t have a reputation or a bad reputation.  Some Men in White do so anyway.

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

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

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.

2: Lionel de Souza June 16, 2009

Posted by The Truth in What Were They Thinking?!.

Ahh, Lionel de Souza.  A celebrity online (albeit for the wrong reasons,) ST Forum star (since his hate mail gets posted all the time,) full-time vigilante.  He has been demonising the Blogosphere, believing that most which is said there is unfounded and thus untrue, representing the Men in White against the dark, dark realm of the Blogosphere, gloating when the Kingdom of Lee achieves something (or publishes something in the State’s Times, no less! to that effect,) and regularly raiding Internet.

Yet, in his attempts to portray the Blogosphere as Hell, he has only written to the MSM.  De Souza is a consistent character – he is staunchly pro-government, believing all that the Gahmen says, which makes him a scathing dimwit, or at the very least, a very naive character in the eyes of those online.  You could also call him a Gahmen Taliban (Ed: too harsh!) fundamentalist, one who believes wholeheartedly in the nation.  It kind of shows when he writes glowing letters in praise of our Gahmen which goes way beyond heartfelt appreciation and borders on the edge of zeal.  You can also see his gloating at those who criticised the Gahmen in the aftermath of Mas’ Great Escape after Mas got somehow arrested.

Even though our ISD only played a major role in the State’s Times version.  And what’s more…didn’t the ISD make Mas Selamat’s Great Escape possible?  I have one thing to tell de Souza here: si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses. (“if you had shut up, you would have remained a philosopher.”)

But anyhow.  Lately, after our Christian fundamentalist friends were sent off to jail for distributing Chick tracts and TOC ran a commentary on it (see here,) de Souza saw fit to write to TODAY to accuse TOC of failing to exercise moderation.  His first allegation is most of the posts made are “nonsensical, crude and not worth reading.” Well, there ARE nonsense posts on TOC.  But i find the quality of comments there on average higher than those on the ST Forum, since most comments there end up degenerating into argumenta ad hominem. And instead of talking to the relevant authority, by which i mean TOC, he goes on to ask that the MDA investigate TOC due to comments which may sow “seeds which may inevitably promote religious disharmony..,” yadda, yadda.  By the way, which 8 comments ah?

Well.  If it affects you so badly, Mr. de Souza, you are welcome to air your views on TOC itself.  And since you deem most of the comments nonsensical, crude and not worth reading, why do you read them anyway?  Are you selectively trying to find something which can undermine the Blogosphere?  Indeed, who are you to reduce the Blogosphere and its inhabitants to a bunch of idiots? Why do you call upon a higher authority to investigate the TOC, instead of airing your views there?  Is it because there must be a chain of command?  Is it because online blogs are like a cancer, polluting the minds and thoughts of our beautiful, ideal, fantastic (in both senses of the word) world?  Also, he polarises the world of media and opinion into two worlds, the crude Blogosphere and the serious MSM (since that’s where he gets heard anyway.)

It all boils down to this question: is it that important that everything is separated into a clear-cut “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “evil,” “serious” and “nonsensical?” Lionel de Souza, without specific evidence, you claim that the Internet is a dangerous place.  And you also imply that most people are too stupid to differentiate wrong from right, are too stupid to understand grey zones.  Doing so, you are the one who has remained on a more simplistic, primitive world-view, and you are so audacious to want to bring others to your level?  If you did it with the best of intentions, in the zealous belief that this is good for Singapore and good for the people, then, indeed, Lionel, what were YOU thinking?

What was his thinking?!

What was he thinking?!