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26 November 2004
Mr Pranay Guptes article is an extremely informative piece. I truly believe in this article, as living in Singapore for a considerable amount of time with a much involved and daily interaction with the authorities has given me an impression that is similar to the one suggested in the article.
Singapore may be accommodating and well-facilitated for residents, but it is an extremely unfortunate place for people to grow up in. The growing-up environment here is extremely oppressive and mentally influential as the various areas one has to go through has adopted the government’s general stance of pertinacity, hubris and repudiation of any views that do not follow the usual conservative style. People’s free rights here are very limited and this is contributing to the apparent lack of creativity and originality among the people.
The worst part is undergoing National Service. In NS, one’s beliefs are thrown to the floor, partly due to the nature of the environment that will inevitably conflict individuality with training, and mostly due to the holistic treatment one receives from his peers and superiors. In NS, one does not receive training but mental conditioning. Conditioning that does not teach battlefield and survival skills, but instead obeisance, subjugation and servility regardless of the duty being carried out, be it pointless, insensitive and degrading. Heavy national education is also carried out, nearing the brink of brainwashing.
It is no wonder many perfectly normal people go in and come out with mental problems. But it is a price that is very much worthwhile for the government to pay in return for an approximately galvanised and obedient mindset among the populace that will allow the government much easier control. Using the excuse of national security, NS can be easily exploited to serve other less appropriate purposes. It is highly prone to abuse. The instructors are usually also NSF and still young and inexperienced, but they are authorised with great power which is often used to such a mentally-abusive degree to their victims.
In NS, it is either conformation or a path of self-inflicted mental destruction. There is absolutely no compromise. Furthermore, in any military its affairs are usually classified and thus is difficult for the public to know anything about it. But it may be pointless even if they do know, because most of the adult generation have experienced NS themselves and are supportive of it. Those who do not have most likely flocked elsewhere. But during their generation, NS may have been subtly legitimate as Singapore was still developing and the nation is positioned in a potentially volatile region. But the validity of NS has long gone now. It certainly seems that it is ok to exchange inherently ethical and logical rights for the convenience of the government.
There is also open racial discrimination in the SAF. It is common knowledge that there are no Malays in the RSAF, and the one or two odd ones that are present in a camp of hundreds are mainly there for publicity, as the assumption goes. They are mostly shunted to the police, civil defence and military schools for their NS stint. It is possible the SAF are afraid that
Malays may somehow steal a plane and use it for terrorism if they are given access to an airbase as most Malays are Muslims and some might be radical.
However it is an extremely poor excuse for the carpet banning of Malays from the RSAF. Such a policy is obviously stereotyping and discriminating however one may justify it.
The government is short-sightedly steering the society in the wrong direction. What happens when growth cannot be sustained anymore? It is just a matter of time before big corporations that Singapore depend so dearly on move their headquarters to other places that have lesser operating costs, cheaper labour and greater access to markets. Of course it is not suitable in Singapore’s interests to compete directly in the similar factors as that would greatly disadvantage the economy and the society.
However, some comprehensive plan must be thought up to address the problems of the administration as well as the inadequacies of the economy.My ending note would be that Singapore is not a recommended place to live, now and for a long time to come.