A TALE OF FISHBALLSLadies and Gentlemen:
Today, I shall commence with a little parable:
Long ago (Ok, stupid intro, but do bear with me), in a land far away, there lived a boy named Dicky. He was about 8 yrs of age, bright, sprightly and good natured. His favorite dish was his mom's home-cooked fishballs. It was made with the freshest ingredients purchased over-the-counter from a nearby market.
Everyday, without fail, Dicky's mum would never fail to cook his favorite dishes, and Dicky will savour each and every one of them with relish. Life was simple, but contented.
MUM'S FISHBALLS: CIRCULAR OBJECTS OF DEATH?
All was fine and dainty, until one fine day, Dicky decided to eat 2 fishballs in one mouthful. As a result, Dicky accidentally swallowed both fishballs, and began to choke. Within seconds, he turned blue in his face.
Fortunately for Dicky, Mom was around. Immediately she smacked her son hard on his back, in an attempt to dislodge the offending fishballs (no Heimlich procedure, as mum was uneducated), and finally succeeded in her third attempt. Dicky was bluish and all, but nonetheless he survived.
From that day onwards, Mum never cooked fishballs again, and forbade Dicky from ever eating anything round and more than an inch in diameter.
The rules of Mum was enforced strictly; as Dicky grew older, he began to resent his mother's incessant need to enforce the ban. When the question of more flexibility was raised, Mum would invariably repeat the same episode when Dicky nearly choked to death on the fishballs.
As a result, Dick, who was a cheerful, sunshine-type of boy before the incident, grew up to be a resentful, moody character. He missed his favorite fishballs.......but he couldn't have them. When he secretly tried to laid his hands on one, he got caught by mum and was caned with a two-inch thick rottan.
Despite his misgivings, Dicky grew up, studied in University, and eventually got a phD in Science. Yet, despite all his achievements, Dicky is still not allowed to savour his favorite fishballs. Any mention of the mere words will invoke hell from Dicky's mum, who still canes him, despite him being a thirty-two year old father of two.
FISHBALLS: THEY AREN'T ALL BAD
Alright, folks, I admit, this is a bloody cheesy story. But what I wish to emphasize is this: Just because the fishball can be a potential choking hazard, does not equate the fishball as one.
Dicky's story is reminiscent of the attitude of our government today: Too much emphasis of the past to over exemplify the need for oppressive, unnecessary laws.
THE BROKEN RECORDER SINGS AGAIN, AGAIN, AND AGAIN:
Like a broken recorder, our government keeps droning incessantly about the dangers of racial riots, how it will cause our fragile nation to disintegrate, etc.
Its the same mantra being yakked about by our government, that if someone were to tell me that Singapore has been stuck in a faulty time machine which can move neither backward nor forward, I'd actually be convinced.
Because, 40 yrs after the last racial riots, we are still listening to this diatribe as if it was yesterdays' news!!!
STUCK IN A TIME MACHINE?
Indeed, it seems that we are really stuck in a mal-functioned time machine that never seems to fail to remind us that we are stuck in limbo, unable to move either forward or backwards in time.
The question at this point of time is: Will granting Singaporeans the right to freedom of speech and political freedom, be a prelude to an all-out, armaggedon-style warfare between the various ethnic races?
RACIAL RIOTS: MORE THAN MERE SPEECH
The racial riots that took place in the 1960s was the product of a intricate network of complex factors that were interwoven together, chief of all the political conditions of that era.
Singapore, then a part of Malaya, had several disagreements with Malaya, chief amongst those was the question of the "bumiputras", or special rights accorded to the Malays. A lot of emotions were played up, which subsequently erupted into warfare between the Chinese and the Malays.
What the government failed to emphasize was the number of factors leading up to the riots:
1. Lack of general education amongst youths in that era.
A large section of the populace consist of largely uneducated youths. At that point of time, the jobless rate was high, and many youths, uneducated and unemployed, were easy pickings for anyone who had the politicial clout and the savvy to cook up a storm in a teacup.
2. Lack of interaction between races.
This was probably due to the Chinese and Malays living separately in villages, or kumpungs. Racial segregation amongst communities were largely voluntary; the richer Europeans and Eurasians lived in upstate locations in bungalows, thus were relatively untouched by the racial riots that ensued.
3. Playing The Race Card
While the UMNO Party (ruling party in Malaya) was playing the bumiputra card, the Singapore government was equally involved by playing the "equal rights to equal races" card. The end result of this political wrangle sparkled off discontent and mistrust between the Malays and the Chinese, and was one of the key factors of the racial riots.
SINGAPORE TODAY: FIRST WORLD NATION, THIRD WORLD MENTALITY
Mention Singapore, most will conjure up an image of a clean, fastidious island city: Developed, trendy and well paced with the global community.
Behind these facades, another story remains hidden: That of the old, prehistoric set of old rules and conservative values:
1. Anti-Sedition laws still hang over the heads of citizens who dare even mumble a single word of discontent.
2. The Internal Security Act allows the state to jail anyone indefinitely without trial by the State. Hell, even death inmates get their own legal counsels. Go figure out.
3. Political films of any sort, other than those by State media or state-approved media, are banned.
Perhaps our Esplanade exemplifies what Singapore really reflects in reality: A good-looking durian; looks good and smells great on the outside, only to expose rotten innards with worm-infested flesh when opened.
Singapore can grab awards as efficiently as a parrot can spell your name backwards: Best airport, best port, most sex partners featured having sex with a female porn star on tape (ok, this Annabel Chong joke is a little lame) and so on, but believe you me:
Unless we clean up our own little acts and stop living in the 1960s, all we are going to achieve are hollow achievements that are really not worth shouting about.