Regarding Singapore’s self-validating triad of bloggers

a2ed’s comment on 'Solo Bear's' site, with regards to the aforetitled, goes,

By the way, whilst i personally feel you deserve a thumbs up for your avant garde take on things, it would be good to have your presence heard across other blogs as well via the comments section. If we don't begin to validate each other's significance as potential sources of ideas, through further development of ideas or critique, we would be guilty of reinforcing the thus continuing hegemony of the 'Powers That Be for their Prominence', i.e. TOC, TR, Sgdaily.

It is quite the tendency amongst singaporeans, both on and offline, that sees everyone speaking their minds without considering what's on the mind of others unless it fits with their own interests. That's a highly confucian thing btw. Anyway, this last bit is not in particular reference to yourself.

A few years ago, on another site, I conducted a little experiment. I posted comments on 10 Singaporean blogs, and 10 Malaysian blogs. Then I waited.


No comments were returned on my site from Singaporean blogs, as opposed to 5 from Malaysian blogs.

I also conducted a similar experiment with Australian and American blogs over the years. The Australians and Americans faired better than both the Malaysian and Singaporean blogs with, on average, 7 out of 10 reciprocal comments.

Now, when i did this experiment, I ensured that all the blogs i picked were focused on issues other than that which I focused on. For instance, they might be focused on tech, or photography, or just speaking about daily phenomena or local interests whilst I focused on socio-political issues. I wanted to know to what degree people from these different nationally-disparate samples would consider that which was out of their published sphere of interest. I later did an additional experiment where I would place comments on sites which had similar interests.i.e. politics. The results, again, were the same, with Singaporeans, again, averaging between 0 to 1 reciprocal consideration and comment whilst the Australian and American blogs maintained their earlier scores.

The singaporean result did not conflict with my own findings when it comes to social and offline interaction with singaporeans - particularly the Chinese. Basically, it appears that if you’re 'out of the box', you’re 'out of frequency' and the only response one might get is either a change of the subject, silence, no questions asked, amongst others. I encounter this 10 out of 10 times, and this is over a 11 year period.

My experience with the British in direct social interaction over 5 years in the UK was the complete opposite. In other words, I could speak about any issue with everyone that i encountered, and they would respond with questions, critique, cross apply my proposed perspectives and so on. However, with regards to the British, I did not conduct the above experiment.

Additionally, the difference between the races in singapore seems to be evening out in this respect, with the Indians I have spoken to in recent times responding in a manner not dissimilar to that experience with the Chinese, and returning silence in the face of the novel. However, I have not had enough interactions with the Malays to see if this tendency afflicts them as well. I also have to state that there was greater similarity between the Indians and Chinese in the 70s, but with both considering novel ideas and engaging in such conversations with greater depth. This, I mainly experienced in the English-speaking sector which was marked by multiculturalism, and hence, vibrancy of thought, wit, and intellectual engagement.

Amongst other reasons, I would put it down to the monocultural ethos of singapore. After all, when one is taught to appreciate phenomena from a singular perspective, one would be averse to the tedium which comes with considering other angles on things. My experience with the 'opposition', be it online or off, returns identical results whatever the educational level of the individual.

V (chinese girl from singapore), my confidante, who’s currently working in the UK, over a web-call today stated, ‘You know, the PAP really did a good job. They’ve even made the opposition like the people. They won’t consider anything that is out of the box. And that is why they’ll always see you as radical.” "Yup", i responded. "They all act like Triads. Gangs all over the place at all levels of society. Where there is no mutual empathy, the only thing people can do is to stick to their own and rely on control and loyalty, not reason." I suppose that's one of the differences between, say, India and China. In the former, people would be inclined to say, 'hey! Use your head, man!', whilst in the latter, it would be, 'just shut up and follow your headman."

A wise Chinese philosopher once said, 'what the state is to the people, the people will be to each other.' (i can't remember the bloke's name unfortunately, as I went through 2000 years of Chinese philosophy more than a decade ago.) I've never forgotten that pearl of wisdom, and the singaporean experience seems to validate the astuteness of that observation, and it never ceases to amaze the parallels one finds through all levels of society that appears to mirror the archetypal parallel between the government and the people.