Reply to Rosmati Jumardi IV

March 7, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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7 March 2005

Dear Jumardi,

Your opinion warrants serious thought on the level of civility of students in Singapore. Your letter is laced with hubris and contempt, the same tone if used against the PAP would have warranted a libel suit. Your letter is vague. If indeed you do see something you disagree with strongly please present some supporting facts.

The government has not allowed the people to express themselves. The Speakers’ Corner is set up to mislead the average man like you to think that freedom of speech is available here. If one can just go down to Hong Lim park he can see the rules and the curbs, such as registering with the police before a speech (for what purpose other than to track you down and maybe even impose the ISA on you?), the banning of using loudhailers, and the banning of topics on religion and race.

Indeed, one might think that the average man is stupid and is highly susceptible to violence and control by the speaker, thus leading to a great possibility of disorder, thanks to the highly ‘manipulative’ speaker perhaps? Such rules tend not to insult the speaker but more to the average man like you, because it assumes that the average man has no brains and is vulnerable to commit violence and create disorder through ‘manipulation from a speaker’. The actions taken by the government are fanciful and abusive when it sues someone for libel. Only uncivilised people use curse words. You really should not assume that people are getting sued for saying curse words, because that is a great untruth and injustice.

I do believe that you have paid far too much attention to the media, meaning the media under the SPH, and you have not done any homework yourself. You really should understand firsthand what happened and what they are being sued for, because you are being affected by the demonisation done by the government-controlled SPH. Maybe you do not even know that the senior political correspondent Chua Mui Hoong of ST is an ex-ISD agent? I think one should do homework not based on SPH unless one loves living in the ‘Matrix’.

Of course most of us are quite comfortable here, because this is the culture that the government has succeeded in perpetuating. Most of our achievements and comforts and freedoms have been entirely attributed to them, and we have now come to think and truly believe that our lives are not an entitlement, but more of a privilege given by the government, thanks to their good work and vision. Our rights and lives are God-given. Not PAP. If you think you are living a happy and comfortable life, that is because we are moderately correct in that sense.

But let us think of it this way: Without the PAP we will be even more established and developed, because that is how a democracy always beats an autocracy in terms of performance. If the US never was a democracy, they would still be living in the middle ages. If China had democracy and rights, they would be the beacon of light and hope in the world, shadowing even the greatest and most powerful western nations.

We are lucky in the sense that our neighbouring countries are a lot worse than us. But that is no excuse for us to be complacent and sit back and enjoy the ride. If all our neighbouring countries are true democracies with respect for human rights, we would already be protesting en masse, because even media controls have no power then. Singapore currently still belongs to the ignorant and apathetic. Once the people like you realise the reality, en masse protests will be inevitable.

For your fifth paragraph, if only you had elaborated yourself it would have clarified matters a lot. Unfortunately I do not quite understand what you mean by the opposition not making sense, because I think if something does not make sense, one should seek to clarify matters. But I am not sure if that will happen, because sense is something severely lacking in Singaporeans. Also, just to enter the opposition for the primary purpose of going against the PAP seems somewhat hare-brained, because setting up a party and contesting for elections is neither cheap nor easy. Maybe you do not even realise that there is a money bond involved when contesting for elections?

I feel Singapore has to change if it is to progress or even survive. I am relatively comfortable living in Singapore, but if I know that there is a better route to take, a route that will benefit everyone, I feel a responsibility to inform others of such a route, a responsibility for myself and for the people. On the rather unrelated topic of stress, stress is indeed a major issue that affects not just the individual, but productivity and ultimately the economy, the society, the culture and the attitudes. Stress is a very important aspect of life and something has to be done about it. To treat it at face value as something that can be easily controlled and handled by the individual is indeed fantasy talk. Perhaps the average man has been inundated by stress so much that he has lost his understanding of life.

The security for Singapore should never be taken for granted. Who takes such things for granted? I am not sure whether the security of Singapore is way on top, but I think that if one studies journalism it is inherent to sensationalise. We all have heard of terrible crimes happening on foreign soil, but one never considers the circumstances involved with each case. Like in a country of such immense area and population like the US, Britain, France, Canada, Spain and etc, if there is a news sensational enough to be worth headlining, one would imagine that these places are dangerous, though in reality it is unfair to assume that stereotyping is correct and the news are always trustable, especially if all the news come from one central channel like the SPH. Of course there are murder cases in Singapore, even shooting cases, and many too. If only one can just open up his eyes and look at news impartially and objectively, it would be great to note that perhaps Singapore is not too safe after all.

For your eighth paragraph, I am just too flabbergasted and shellshocked to counter you. This topic itself deserves a full essay to comment on and furthermore, your reasons for supporting the death penalty are so paper-thin shallow that I really do not know how to react. It really serves to insult the intelligence. Maybe if someone is kind enough to explain why the death penalty is wrong that would be great, because I just cannot write an essay now on this, and I am not an expert on the facts. Maybe someone who has had experience on death penalty cases can help a bit. Also I know a place that has great information on the death penalty situation in Singapore, that is www.amnesty.org

Also, the topic on NS is just mind-shudderingly huge. I will just honestly say it is impossible to explain it here even though it is my pet topic, as there are so many arguments and subtopics on this topic. I will though counter the arguments presented if necessary, but with just blanket statements unless I feel a need for clear elaboration. Please excuse me for this irresponsibility, I will definitely fill more in when I have time.

1. “If NS is abolished, can it be guaranteed that Singapore will not go to war?” No. But also if there is NS it also CANNOT be guaranteed that Singapore will not go to war.
2. “There are still many wars taking place in the world.” This statement is totally irrelevant.
3. “Singapore is a small country.” No doubt, but still irrelevant.
4. “We are vulnerable.” That is possibly true, but diplomacy is a gray area that has no certainties. It is wrong to use conscription to defend against this vulnerability.
5. “Propose abolishment of all militaries in the world.” Why not? But viewing the current light, it is impossible for that to happen. But we can always reduce the militaries as an initiative.
6. “What for should we have them (militaries) in place since NS is not compulsory and no male citizens can be trained?” I do not understand this sentence.
7. “Military and self-defence is not important.” The military is practical to a certain extent, but it is ultimately negative, retarding and senseless in the actual fulfilment of its purpose, which is violence and coercion. Self-defence is important, but so is peace. It is our great responsibility in the name of humanity and rights to find means of finding self-defence and peace without the use of conscription and aggressive militaries.
8. “Am I right to say this?” Sorry, but no.

It does not matter whether Singapore is a red dot or a blue whale, that is not an excuse for not allowing democracy. Democracy is common sense and practical, as well as being respectful of the people. It would be a great misjudgement to say that the ‘super powers’ being big countries, are thus entitled to have democracy.

It appears to you that democracy is more of a privilege than an entitlement, something which is spurious and imperatively wrong. But due to the manner of the media and government PR skills, most Singaporeans have the mentality that our lives are picked up from the floor and that we never deserved to live anyway, thus there is a necessity for a ‘siege mentality’ and ‘being grateful’ and a understanding of every action the government takes or encourages. It gives the average man a false sense of honour in carrying such convictions and is also the reason for his tenacity in holding on to such convictions, as any ideology towards the contrary gives him a ‘victim complex’, thus fuelling his beliefs even more.

I do not know about the problems they have, but every country has problems naturally. It would be great if more specific information can be given with regard to these problems. For your example on welfare states, I cannot comment on whether they are efficient. Firstly it is because that is irrelevant, secondly I do not know the specifics about their systems because Ms Jumarti did not provide any, and thirdly such a debate can go on forever without a clear conclusion as such things are not as shallow and simple as Ms Jumarti presumed. Anyway even if there are great flaws in the system, I take comfort to know that at least I can dissent openly and even take an action without fear of being locked up without a fair trial indefinitely and in appallingly inhumane conditions.

Your argument on why Singapore should not follow the practices of other countries (presumably democratic) is greatly anaemic and shallow. Yes, indeed Singapore has achieved successes through such governing, and we are definitely economically better than a lot of countries. But has it ever occurred to you that with a truly democratic way of governing, we would be WAY better performing than we are now due to the open, sensible and respectful concept of a democracy. Singapore already had a great base to build on, thanks to the British who established Singapore as a centre of trade in SEA. It is of course no wonder that we are economically strongest in this region, but the fact is that we can and will be much better off as a democracy performance-wise. Just like it is unfair to compare Hong Kong with her neighbouring city Shen Zhen, it is unfair to compare Singapore with her neighbours as we have different economy bases. I wonder if the PAP would do as well if they were given Mongolia or Liechtenstein to govern. It is always better for a country when there is democracy.

I do agree that it is incredible how crappy some people are. That they have no intellect and understanding of the local state of affairs, not to mention the global state of affairs, and then to believe that they know what is right and even to be so tenacious in their beliefs that it borders on intolerance. Is this a new trend of political extremism that we are witnessing here in Singapore?

And if anyone should think that the opposition are unhelpful for Singapore’s interests, may I please state that these people are great people worthy of respect and admiration, as they fight for the future of all Singaporeans due to their great love for them, even in the face of great and tremendous adversity. These learned and gracious people risk their wealth, freedom and friends to fight for what they believe in. They can all just migrate and forget about Singapore, but for the love and understanding of what is right, they stay and continue their fight.

Oppositionists in Singapore, I salute thee.

REY