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on Singapore's Censorship Battle, Shadrake, Seelan, et cetera

A2ed abhors the government’s decision to imprison Seelan Palay for ‘unlawful assembly’.


Under more democratic circumstances, such proscriptions on assembly would of course be deemed unlawful in themselves. But, in an authoritarian Confucian state, the democratic standards of the west are deemed to be exactly that, a matter of western opinion and culture. After all, Singapore is and will be used as an example and model by quite a few s.e.Asian states, and, of course, China, of why ‘western’ style democracy is irrelevant within a global socio-economic status quo where the value of a society’s standards is closely associated with the degree to which such a society is able to deliver ‘first world status’. Where the profit motive is paramount, and can be relatively and successfully delivered, all cultural standards, unless they are blatantly inhumane, are validated.


With regards to what Abner Koh, a member of the PAP Youth ( or, more aptly, PAP Jugend), had to say about ‘harmony’ in singapore,


“"We have to bear in mind that Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-religious society," he said. "Certain forms of restriction are definitely necessary to ensure harmonious living amongst the different communities in Singapore.” bbc

Singapore’s brand of ‘multi-racial and multi-religious harmony’ is based not on equality but the preferred and less preferred ethnic groups getting used to their ‘rightful’ place in a society where the tyranny and self-absorption of a racially-defined ‘majority’ is enforced, via a host of means, as the norm.
It has to be clarified that Singapore’s brand of ‘multi-racial and multi-religious harmony’ is based not on equality but the preferred and less preferred ethnic groups getting used to their ‘rightful’ place in a society where the tyranny and self-absorption of a racially-defined ‘majority’ is enforced, via a host of means, as the norm. That is the reality of Singapore’s ‘harmony’. If one was to look at Confucian ideology, especial emphasis is placed not on justice, but on harmony and order whatever the status quo. One example of this can be seen in Muslims being forbidden to adorn the Hijab in schools for the sake of engendering harmony via similarity, whilst Chinese culture and language is promoted with great fervour without. Harmony is based on everyone reaching a point where everyone deems nothing amiss when one sector is relegated to the periphery of socio-cultural-economic arena for not being part of the ‘majority’.

For the information of those whom are unawares of the situation in Singapore, the government has clearly stated in the past that singapore must always have a Chinese majority; formulated a ‘mother tongue’ policy where the non-Chinese are forbidden to learn Mandarin which complemented the ‘mandarin speakers preferred’ criteria for many jobs; zealously promote a ‘ Speak Mandarin and Appreciate Chinese Culture’ campaigns; provided special education for the Chinese through Special Assistance Plan schools which consequentially led to the Chinese taking over the economy; and the current PM stating in no unequivocal terms that ‘Singapore is not ready for a non-Chinese PM’, whilst doing its utmost via the above means to ensure that it never is; and the father of the current PM stating not too long ago that in a generation or two, the mother tongue of singapore will be Mandarin.

So, in this context, when we look at what Abner Koh of the PAP Youth has to say with regards to ‘certain forms of restrictions’ being ‘necessary to ensure harmonious living amongst the different communities in Singapore’, we can understand that such restriction are in place to protect the right of a racially-defined ‘majority’ to discriminate and be self-absorbed with impunity. Hence, the reader can understand why the term PAP Jugend would be more apt.

A2ed’s stance is that harmony that isn’t based on equality perpetuates inequality and the gradual assimilation of all to a particular preferred culture. In such a case, all will share the selfsame vision, but not the fruits.


As for Seelan’s Imprisonment


What is more urgently required at this point in Singapore’s history is not only the ‘freedom of speech’ but the obligation to consider all viewpoints rationally despite its not being in agreement with one’s own. To have ‘freedom of speech’ without this is to perpetuate the perspectives borne of racism and self-absorption in a more publicised arena.
Whilst a2ed certainly sympathises, one has to be aware that the prominence that comes with being incarcerated has frequently been used to validate activists as ‘democrats’. Their other and consistent oversights that might find them deserving of additional labels such as ‘neo-nazi’ or ‘fascist scum’ is shrugged off whilst one looks at how prominent their struggle is in the face of certain evils.

"I think life in Singapore would be much better if people started speaking up and standing up for what they believe in," he said. bbc

In the case of Seelan and other prominent ‘oppositional’ figures, I cannot but recall how they remained and remain silent in the face of the gross xenophobia amongst the oppositional sector in Singapore; how little is said of the gross racism in singapore exhibited daily in the economic, political, social and media arena; and how Seelan himself posted an article about foreigners ‘swarming’ the country. Hence, his statement published by the BBC, rings hollow. The good that we do must not be allowed to beat the path for the evils that come in the wake of our consistent oversights.

The good that we do must not be allowed to beat the path for the evils that come in the wake of our consistent oversights.Unfortunately, Seelan’s exposure in the BBC site will give him, as it has other oppositional figures, the validation as a ‘democrat’ and hence enable them to shrug off any allegations to the contrary. Whilst Seelan, amongst a host of others, speak up for free speech, they remain silent on how dissent is constantly silenced by them amongst the rank and file of the ‘opposition’ by marginalisation and ignorance. Basically, they abide by the Confucian ethos of playing ‘follow the leader’, be it on the governmental or ‘oppositional’ side of things. In that, they serve to validate the foundational perspectival status quo that founds the strength of the party in power.

Hence, a2ed, whilst finding governmental proscriptions on free speech abhorrent, cannot truly feel sorry for Seelan as he will most likely welcome and utilise this global exposure as a vindication of his democratic status despite the xenophobic tendencies of his and others amongst the ‘oppositional’ sector in Singapore.

What is more urgently required at this point in Singapore’s history is not only the ‘freedom of speech’ but the obligation to consider all viewpoints rationally despite its not being in agreement with one’s own. To have ‘freedom of speech’ without this is to perpetuate the perspectives borne of racism and self-absorption in a more publicised arena.


ed

Comments

  1. I am a chinese working in a multinational company and very often when I speak to my chinese colleagues (in hong kong, singapore, china) about system processes in our offices in North America and Europe, I almost always get the same responses from them ‘They are they, we are we. Our processes are different.’ If we are using the same ERP system and the standard processes are 80% the same, why won't we consider what's working well for them when trying to improve the work processes as the only variance would be legal requirements and/or customer specific requirements that could deviate from the standard processes? This self-centred chinese behaviour is very prominent in singapore. As I have mentioned in my comment in your earlier post, only with the influx of the foreign (Chinese) workers, do we see groups/parties calling singaporeans to unite. if the chinese interest is not affected, would they think of the minority races.

    Seelan thinks life in Singapore would be much better if people started speaking up and standing up for what they believe in. How little of what he has said about the inequality treatment of the minority races that perpetuated and still perpetuates in singapore tells a lot. Has he also been assimilated to a particular preferred culture? :) The result of the building of a fascist state doesn’t make it all right for the people now. The consequences are there. People have been trained to conform and there is an unspoken rule between the people and the state – do not question its authority. That’s the price of ‘harmony’ in singapore.

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