LAMENTATIONS OF THE BEASTUnlike my previous posts, this one will be a personal lamentation, or should I say, a contemplation of what I have written thus far on this blog.
From the slew of comments I have read with regards to my writings, I sense that it may seem like a brutal awakening to some: After all, besides the standard, bland fare we Singaporeans tend to read from our local press, there is not a whole lot of controversial stuff we can lay our hands on, unless, of course, you happen to be an ardent fan of Dr Chee and his renegade party, and paid two dollars for his party's newspapers.
Suffice to say, I have received quite a number of negative comments. Some claim I exploit issues and sensationalize them; others claim I am too liberal to even understand the pains of our overtly patriachial government.
To that end, I concede, I am perhaps not the most viable choice when it comes to writing about Singapore politics. Like many Singaporeans out there, I probably have this mental image of a person trying to whip a dead horse back to life, because Singapore politics is just that: insipid, apathetic and lifeless.
SINGAPORE: A CAMPAIGN-DRIVEN SOCIETY?
Government propaganda in Singapore has always been predominant since Singapore's independence. In the early 1960s, our government, fearing a population explosion they thought they wouldn't be able to control, instituted a "stop at three" policy, encouraging couples to have fewer children. The consequences of which, by the 1980s, birth rates has been consistently on the decline till today.
Other campaigns, though, did have mixed results: The courtesy campaign of the 1980s (Those who still remember the Singa lion will know) did not seem to inculcate courtesy in Singaporeans all that much. Other campaigns, such as the "Speak Mandarin" campaign, was successful, only to the extent of demoting the usage of other Mandarin-related dialects, while the general standard of spoken Mandarin was somewhat eschewed by the existence of another colloquial language, Singlish.
In short, our government micro manages us. It justifies its actions too: Phenomenal economic growths, high employment rates, and a decent standard of education.
THE SINGAPOREAN MINDSET: PETER PAN'S FANTASY WORLD
In my opinion, the legacy of the Singaporean mindset is that of the Peter Pan's fantasy world: A child stuck in the passage of time, unable to grow mentally or physically into adulthood.
Sure, 40 years of independence is a short period of time. We are a young nation, one bestowed with all the economic successes that our forefathers have painstakingly built.
But, as a nation, we haven't really progressed all that much. Our government does not give its citizens a free rein in many facets of our life. Our education system, for example, is such a elitist one based mostly on academic results, that we produce little talent outside the academic realms.
We have laws, such as the Internal Security Act, which empowers the government to jail and incarcerate citizens without trial (even death sentence inmates get their right to legal consultation). We have criminals executed for smuggling a few more milligrams of heroine.
We are also reminded, time and again, that the restrictions placed upon us are necessary, due to some long-ago racial riots. Anyone who wishes to hold a public rally has to apply via the police, and any congregations exceeding ten or more persons is automatically categorized as "illegal assembly".
In short, we can't shake off the stigmas of our past; our current generation is shouldering the burdens of an archaic system of government that seems to have little bearing in an increasingly globalized world, and our future generations will no doubt be judging us for not making a stand on their behalf.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that writing about Singapore politics is a very painful affair. We call ourselves a democratic nation, yet most of the youngsters in my generation have never seen the polls, much less exercise our citizenship rights.
Sure, we have become a successful nation in our own right. But what prices success? Bidding our rights goodbye? Or paying obeisance to our government blindly, and with unflinching loyalty?
To my critics: Call me a moaner, a spoiler, or a self-confessed pessimist, but I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I appreciate these criticisms, although sometimes I tend to bitch about them more than I would have liked, but at the very least, people are thinking, and exercising their long-lost faculties of free speech.