One Rong View

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dialogue with Lee Kuan Yew

This is relevant to me. Thoughts about it...
Link to video

Lets cut to the chase. The dialogue with Mr Lee Kuan Yew was at best, a lame excuse of a reinforcement of how the PAP has an overwhelmingly strong mandate and doesn't seem to show any signs of, well, "letting go." Now, before you quote me out of context, I need you to NOT do that and please read the entire entry.

The picture that I had in my head after I sat through the aprox 50 min programme was a letter to the authorities by the bunch of 20-somethings mostly journalists that goes something like this:

Dear PAP,

We are the panel of youths who had the fine opportunity to have a face to face dialogue with the honourable, most respectable Minister Mentor Lee. Although it was an immensely cool chance for us to ask some hard hitting questions about issues that our demographic might care about, MM Lee totally shut us down with his exceedingly cogent answers. It was very ungracious and inconsiderate of him to be so overly well-spoken. He made us look very bad on national television. We are a well educated bunch, may we add, and being showed up is generally frowned upon in our circles.

We are currently unable to match MM Lee's level of thought and oratory prowess. It was uncool of MM Lee to highlight our inadequacies, therefore, we would appriciate it if MM Lee could maybe be less articulate and more congenial and obliging instead in future.

In other words, we want our political leaders to be easy to confront, who won't stand up to the challenges of open debate, and most importantly, to tolarate attacks on them no matter how unfounded the attacks may be. After all, it is the government's job to make the lives of its citizens as easy and as comfortable as possible. That includes political opponents. Actually, make that especially political opponents. They are very delicate and the PAP should know better than to be so tough on them. They are citizens too, you know.

Also, the very fact that we are writing this letter proves that we are working too hard to achive the good life that is rightly ours. A truly great government should have already anticipated this in advance.

the future of Spore.

Does something look wrong here, or is it just me? I am pretty sure it's not that hard to see the irony and absurdity in this.

I am Singaporean, born and raised. Went to public school for over a decade like most of the island dwellers I know. My family lives in an HDB flat. I am 24, a media professional.

Guess I fall into the demographic that the panel supposedly represents. Although there is one
important issue on which I seriously agree with them, they hardly count as an accurate representation of my views on politics in Singapore. So, world, please do not for even a split sec think that those guys echo my sentiments.

A little on where I stand. I can't say I'm a PAP supporter. Never voted for them, never campaigned for them. Certainly don't agree with them on everything. I'm not pro-"opposition" either, cos as of today, their agendas do not resonate with me. You can call me an independent I guess, an intellectual. Not in the academic, I'm-so-smart-you-can't-even-fathom sense, but rather in a more acessible/practical/down to earth, I-think-about-stuff-just-like-you kind of way. Which isn't unlike a lot of my peers.

So, what gets to me most is how the panel squandered a perfectly good opportunity to ask the tough questions. Not one of them brought up anything that resulted in a fresh perspective on important issues. Not one brought up any new and relevent issues that the current govt may have overlooked. No light was shed on issues close to the 20-something Sporean's heart.

Thanks guys, thanks a whole lot for nothing.

Lets talk about the one issue that I felt was addressed somewhat meaningfully. The gerrymandering of GRCs. This is the only issue on which I agree with the panel.

Maybe gerrymandering is not the prefered term of the PAP for this matter, but it sure does look like what that is to me. Just being honest. MM Lee's elucidation was alright, I guess. Yes, I think I see why the PAP would want to do that to facilitate the continued top notchness of their governance. No, it's still not right because it's, dare I say, it's kind of unprincipled. There's got to be a better way.

To me, it's not so much a "level playing field" issue, rather, it's an inconsistancy of what the PAP has come to represent. What does white represent? I'm guessing gerrymandering is probably not what.

Point is, I'm sure it's extremely obvious that if the PAP continues with this bussiness, it's just going to breed distrust, no matter how good the intentions are. Why leave an eyesore of a hang nail for others to happily pick on? While I would love to offer a miracle solution, or lead an "opposition," championing the cause of non-crazy-boundary-shiftiness, I can only say politics is not my calling. Attention all aspiring political superstars, jump on this one and make my day. Go ahead, fix it and impress us 20-somethings. And when I say fix, I mean fix, not just yell at the problem.

Other things discussed during the dialogue are mainly:

-lack of presence of opposition party in parliment
-unlevel playing field
-PAP insecure
-high handedness when dealing with dissent

Start with the easy one. What's the first part of the word self-censoreship? Yup, it's self. Meaning it's this self's thingy's problem, not mine. If the govt plants chips in people to affect this self to create this censorship... that I have a problem with. In the mean time, impulsive compulsive self-censors, starting a self-censors anonymous might work. I think it might prove to be wildly lucrative too, judging by the statements of the panel.

About "oppositions." Any respectable political party needs a raison d'etre. And it better be a good one if they're planning on actually succeeding. Personally, I'd demand that the political party I support be relevent to me. Very simply put, it has to exist primarily for the benefit of me and the people I care about. It needs to help fulfill the expectations that I have in life to a certain extend.

Correct me if I'm wrong. The impression that I get is that the 20-somethings on TV would rather have a govt that makes compromises in order to allow a lesser bunch of people into parliment. Just cos.

Ok, to act as a check, you say.

Think about it, putting in place a lesser "opposition" by having a less rigorous selection process goes against the arguement of having an "opposition" to keep the PAP on their toes. If the "opposition" isn't even capable of claiming a majority vote over the PAP through it's own merit, what good will this "opposition" do? (god, I hate how loaded the word opposition is)

I'll let you in on a big secret. We as a people are the ones who have the civil responsibility to act as the govt police! By going on and on about this "opposition" thingy are we saying that as citizens, we aren't prepared to act on our right to make sure that our govt is working for us? Are we saying that we'll have this "opposition" exercise our rights for us, the way we'll have foreign maids do the work that we don't care about enough to do ourselves?

Having an alternative voice is another popular pitch for "opposition."

Rightly so! Thing is, I want not just any alternative. I want what any discriminating human being would want-- a good alternative. A girl has got to set her standards, yes?

I say, if the WP, SPP, SDP, etc. cannot face up to the PAP and win by means of the exceptional alternative policies they have to offer, they aren't going to be able to run a tight ship in the roaring ocean we call the REAL WORLD.

The day one of those acronyms impresses me with propositions that I cannot resist -- a solid alternative -- is the day it gets my vote.

Which brings me to my next Question: Is this "level playing field" wanting "opposition" going to ask the international community for a "level playing field" if Spore has a deficit at the end of the fiscal year? Or when, god forbid, some clown comes along and picks a big fight? You get the idea.

I don't claim to be a political expert. What I am is a citizen, more specifically, a member of an electorate trying to educate myself on the options I have so that I will be in a good position to make an informed decision on who's gonna run MY country.

Public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.
The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties should strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.

A significant number of the 20-somethings panel are practicing journalists, people who bring the news to the masses, people who are trained to ask the tough questions. I don't think they delivered the goods... but that's just me.

Ordinary people like you and me all over the world depend on professionals like that for information. Sure, spin is sexy. Occassionally, it's fun. But we're talking about important things here. Don't trade my future for sensational headlines. I'm telling you, it's not worth it.

Instead of hammering away on the same 5 questions that people have been using to light the election buzz fire since before we were born, we as 20-somethings should take full advantage of our opportunity to raise questions on issues that we truely care about, that matter, that address our vision and aspirations for ourselves and our contemporaries.

Make the politicains give information that will contribute to the electorate's decision making process. Here's a hint on what I might want the local politicians' views on, regardless of their political affiliation... long term sustainability of our environment both local and global, long term sustainability of our economic model, foreign investments. And those are just three very broad subjects full of meat to devour. I'm sure there's plenty plenty plenty more to explore for every journalist to have a good 6 page feature story that would actually serve to clarify instead of cloud things for the public.

Empower the people with insights and intelligent debate, not petty bickering and fluff.


  • Gonna go with the statement made about this post on, you got no fear of the PAP coming down your door. By your words you seem to be bowing so far down in front of them that your words are getting lost in the dirt.

    I would say that when it comes to the panelists not asking the big questions, I am thinking it might be cause the panelists were told what to say. But, then again, I have always been wary of Singaporean TV and media since I learned that censorship is a main thing over there. Call me a skeptic or just a conspriacy minded nut, but that is just me. I mean, you censor certain articles in papers and on the TV or in movies, and before you know it any self thinking individual might sit back and say "if they censor THIS and give me what they want me to watch..what is to say that they arent censoring THAT and giving me what they want me to know?"

    Figure if you are so keen on getting these answers, and you are in the media, how about you write your head honcho, pose all these questions, put it into an article and then publish it for all those to see..I mean, you do have an 'opinions' column in your local newspaper, right? or maybe even post the answers on the blog and let everyone know it exists..That is, if you can get it by the gov't censors and all...

    But, then again, that is just a free thinking Canadian nut who has no clue about your culture...

    By Blogger Capt_Canuck, At 7:54 PM  

  • As an American, which is to say a citizen of the more legitimate North American country, it seems to me that accusatons of censorship coming from Canada are like accusations of blackness directed at kettles by pots.

    Don't believe me? Check out this page by Canadians for Canadians (to avoid accusations of US arrogance)

    By Anonymous fred, At 11:03 PM  

  • Well said, my Canadian friend! And very honest of you to make that last statement.grins.

    It's awesome that you are willing to express your thoughts freely on my blog. It's the way things should be! More people should be like you, more should realize that they are free to express diverse points of view and be prepared to bear the responsibilities of what they say.

    Unfortunately, I think lots of Sporeans hide behind the reasons of "we are afraid," "we self-censor," "we are being supressed." Because it is easier to say nothing and create this atmosphere of "supression" as a justification of the unwillingness to put one's self on the spot. Rather than make a genuine effort to think about issues and engage in intelligent discussion, being an uninformed critic requires much less effort and is often times more appealing. Why do I say this? Because I am sometimes guilty of it too.

    For those like me who value freedom of expression...
    that also means that you should respect that I will NOT resrtict myself for people who might not agree with me. Whatever I put in words, I do with independent and critical thought.

    Frankly, girl to person, I am rather insulted by your comment of me "bowing so far down in front of them that your words are getting lost in the dirt."

    I am sorry you're not able to see my words for what thay are: A girl trying to weigh for herself the best option for her.

    It is my civil duty as a citizen to educate myself on the various politicians' track record, their stand on stuff, and their capabilities. I am on the position that they work for me. Before you "hire" someone, you look at their resume, you ask for refrences. You want to make sure you have the right guy for the job.

    Don't know how it is in Canada, but as a Singaporean, I feel that I am the boss, not the government.

    Sure, there may be others who won't agree with me. They are free to do so, but realize that I am free to have independent views too.

    Yes, I work in the media.I am a motion graphics artist.

    I too like billions of people all over the world, depend on bona fied, trained journalists for information.

    I'm not sure I trust myself to bring myself quality reporting, much less you and the world. After all, I spend my days doing graphics work.

    I do what I can for myself. Until I'm offered a paid job as a news reporter, I'll probably be contributing to society by doing what I do best.

    What I will do is to continue to post freely on my blog in my leisure time.

    By Blogger Rong, At 11:11 PM  

  • nice work ronggie! haha call me assenting, but as the only fellow singaporean voice on this mini-forum so far, let me give her my total agreement on what she has said. censorship is indeed rife here, and i've witnessed cases where the press is told exactly what to say by the government, but here's something scary:

    it borders on apathy, but i'm willing to go along because i believe that politics, after all, is aimed ultimately towards furthering the good of the people. as long as the government is delivering the goods, the people are having food on their table, we have shelters of our own, we don't see beggars everywhere and sob stories everywhere (the unavoidable few will of course be there -- which country hasn't?), there is peace and stability,

    then well, i'm giving up what's called 'free speech' for that. what's free speech and total democracy? so far i've seen that 'free speech' equals 'chaos'. yes and that includes democratic gun-toting chaos where schoolkids go around shooting one another *wink*.

    so far as i see it, no country has really achieved that free speech + delivering everything else model. perhaps switzerland is close, as are luxembourg, sweden, and perhaps some other scandinavian countries. but heck, even on my travels to first world countries like france, the uk, germany, i see singapore having a better standard of living at lower costs.

    given the choice, i'd give up that 'free speech' for material comfort. because i can survive on that. but give me free speech, and no food and shelter? i die. marlow's hierarchy of needs is something i obviously subscribe to heh.

    and what rong and i are doing now, airing our views online etc. i call that free speech. or what i deem 'free' enough. at least i know i'm not going to have the CCCP breathing down my neck the very next moment. heck, even the ISD isn't going to call me up for questioning. i feel free to say what i want. responsibly (:

    By Blogger lenoil, At 5:38 AM  

  • As a fine American Statesman once said, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    By Anonymous fred, At 5:32 PM  

  • Well, Fred, tell that to dearest George W. Bush.

    By Blogger Rong, At 6:13 PM  

  • I'm just saying, the last King George didn't fare too well oppressing us. Oh great, now I'll be labelled a terrorist. Just like George Washington.

    By Anonymous fred, At 8:26 PM  

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