24 April 2006

Why My Vote Matters - A Dialogue With Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

My apologies if I am writing this so late after the program was aired but given the fact that I am not in Singapore and as such have no access to home television, this is as good as it gets already.

Anyway, here are my views on this.

First stop, how come all 10 of these youngster's Engerand all so powderful one har? Where are the Ah Bengs, Ah Sengs, Ah Lians and Ah Huays? I believe they form a significant percentage of our young demographics. In a way, it seemed like they are not being represented leh. I would certainly like to see how they interact with MM Lee and vice versa. Anyway, I supposed that Pearl Maria Forss is a representative of the Eurasian race but did anyone see a Malay or Indian in that panel? Why were they not represented? This surely must be a gaff on the part of the program producers. No?

Ok, without further ado, it's on with the show!

The topic of GRCs was being brought up in the dialogue. In my earlier post, I indicated that I favoured a 1-to-1 fight format but I have to concede that under the circumstances, we run the risk of having a full house of Chinese male MPs at the expense of the minority groups and the female gender. So, I appreciate the fact that the Gahmen openly admitted that they shifted the goal post but I have to admit that it is not exactly a bad idea to do so. I supposed each have their own merits.

Still, I am damn buay song about the fact that the format of GRCs will allow the loophole of getting candidates voted in under radar or as some folks like to say, "come in via the backdoor".

Perhaps a compromise of the 2 formats is in order here. If I may be humbly suggest retaining the GRC format in order to ensure we can get women and candidates of the minority race in. Thereafter, the winning GRC team shall undergo a second round referendum whereby each individual candidate needs to secure at least 50% of the "Yes" votes? Granted, this will create extra burden on the logistics but think about it, isn't the extra hassle here worth the effort as it gives the people more power to scrutinise each and every candidate properly? Then and only then would people be totally convinced that the candidates are who they want to represent them instead of a situation where we get in 4 to 5 idiots for the sake of retaining that 1 gem in that GRC?

Disrespectful to MM Lee
The media and forums has a blast of a time bashing these youngster for not giving MM Lee enough respect by fielding questions bordering on impertinence and interrupting when MM Lee is speaking. Bor Dua Bor Sweh seemed to be the impression that everybody is getting. I robustly disagree with that and I feel that these youngsters need to be defended here.

I have watched MM Lee answering question and at times, it is hard to tell whether MM Lee has finished with his response or not. Don't forget, this was a dialogue between MM Lee and 10 persons. Everybody was jostling to field the next question. You hesitate for a split second and someone will beat you to the next question. Hence, one must understand that it was only natural for the youngsters to be over anxious and jumped the gun, in their attempt to throw the next question.

MM Lee was obviously aware of this fact and hence what you saw was a man who politely said "Wait, let me finish." or something to that effect. Did anyone see any signs of displeasure from MM Lee when he was interrupted? No, right? Then why should the rest of the folks be upset about it?

My view in this matter is that this is the way our youngster speak and I can assure you that none of them were being disrespectful. They all knew who MM Lee was and what he has done for this Country. If MM Lee didn't understand this, then perhaps the Gahmen of which, MM Lee represents, is totally disconnected from our youths. Should that happen, PAP will no longer be in power when the time comes, when these youngsters would replace the older generations and form the majority of the electorate. Mark my words.

Straits Times Journalist - Ken Kwek
Ken made the mistake of shooting off his mouth before engaging his brain. He made the statement that the "hundreds of people" he interviewed indicated that they were afraid to vote against the PAP.

MM Lee was right to take him to task on this statement.

From "we talked to hundreds of voters", it was shot down to "a hundred voters" to "I personally interviewed 40" to "some of the 40 said 'I better not say'" and in the end, Ken finally conceded that he couldn't substantiate that fact that there was at least ONE who said that he/she was afraid of voting against the PAP.

"You are a Straits Times man... purveying unnecessary falsehood..." quoted MM Lee and I couldn't agree more.

How often do we find the bladdy media quoting people out of context for the sake of sensationalising the article in order to garner a few more readership? We kena a number of unhappy episodes earlier with a few of our fellow bloggers and then the more recent Khaw Boon Wan being quoted out of context.

Sadly but I must say that our media is of MickeyMouse-class at best. Oh wait, that would be insulting MickeyMouse. Sorry Mickey!

I sincerely hope that Ken will take MM Lee's dressing down as a valuable lesson. Yes, he made a very embarrassing boo boo on national TV but I hope he takes that in a positive light. Learn from the mistake, apply the lesson taught and hopefully, we will have a reporter of a better calibre in the near future.

Unlevel Playing Field
Aiyoh... this Lee Ching Wern is soooo cute! She is like this dole-eyed Bambi of a granddaughter that would make any Grandpa melt.

I have to agree with MM Lee's straight logic on a few issues here.

1) PAP will never make it easy for the opponents to take a shot at them. This is simple straight forward logic. Who would want to shoot themselves in the foot?

2) PAP has taken all the good people and leaving the opposition with none. Eh, this type of thing takes 2 hands to clap one lah. How can you blame the PAP if a quality potential candidate don't want to join your team? Rather than crying foul that they snatch the potential candidate from you, why not ask yourself why is it that you are not able to persuade this potential candidate to join you?

3) I am happy to hear MM Lee say that ALL constituencies will be upgraded. Just that the opposition ones will be at the end of the queue. I am fine with that and I can understand why this is so. However, what I want to ask is what is taking them so long to even get near to the opposition wards? This upgrading projects has been going on for years. Surely for a country as efficient as Singapore, it would have been Potong Pasir's or Hougang's turn by now? Hmm.... what's that sound I hear? Is it the sound of feet dragging?

Kor Kian Beng
If one were to pick the culprit who was No Big No Small to MM Lee, surely the finger must point to this chap. Suggesting that "power-crazy PAP"'s MM Lee retire? Oh the audacity! Quick we must tie this young punk up and TIAK his lam par!

Seriously, I'd bet he is not the only one with this nagging question in his head. I am sure a lot of people out there has the same question but are afraid and/or no chance to ask. For one, I applaud him for having the balls (no pun intended) to actually ask it out loud. MM Lee should thank this chap for fielding this question for it gives him the opportunity of finally addressing this issue in the open and put these doubts to rest.

I for one is convinced that MM Lee should stick around and contribute for as long as he can.

Finally, last but not least.

My Most Burning Question.
The girl in pink seated in the front row, first left. Er.... did anyone catch her speak? Aiyoh.... potted plant!!
- Voxeros

1. Jaschocolate left...
Sunday, 23 April 2006 1:28 pm
Sorry, i didnt bother watching... i am biased and against PAP.. but don't really mind who is the one in charge since there is no one else that seemed capable of overtaking them..

2. JayWalk left...
Sunday, 23 April 2006 10:42 pm :: 
Jaschocolate: Well not for me. I actually do think that PAP is doing a good job for the country. Just that there are the little things that I thought can be done to have a more convincing victory.

3. aloe left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 9:15 am
I din watch too. Only saw bits and pieces. But I was thinking, where did they find these groups of people from? Was there an open invitation to the public to ask questions of our leaders in public? not that I could see... So that means that they have selected these people based on what? hmm.... Btw, there was another dialogue session before this with LHsienL.

4. Jaschoc left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 4:29 pm
That's why the glass can be either half full or half empty...if u get what i mean..

5. JayWalk left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 5:32 pm :: 
Anna: The impression that I get was that this program was mooted at the very last minute and done with a make-shift selection of panelist. Hence the huge number of journalist.
Doesn't really give a good representation of that generation's Joe Average. Still, it is better than nothing and MM Lee did get the opportunity to clear the air on a couple of issues.

Jaschocolate: No I'm afraid I don't get what you mean. Care to elaborate?

6. Mum2One left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 6:32 pm
I don't keep in touch with Spore politics anymore but I've got my gripes. But all in all, Spore is a safe and developed country so I can see why Sporeans rather have PAP than some other unknown party. At the end of the day, the saying goes, "better a devil you know than a devil you do not know".

I think it's very very unique how spore has got a Minister Mentor - aka LKY. I wonder if this will continue into the future when somewhere along the line, the PAP leadership by the Lee's isn't strong and prominent as it is now.

Anyhow, I think you did a great job summarising the program for me and giving me the commentaries. I thoroughly enjoyed the post. I agree that the Ah Bengs and Lians should have a voice in this too. But, the normal Sporeans aren't exactly voiceful so maybe they may just be a potted plant. The media have to choose the people that are unhappy with the govt and you think the Lians and Bengs would care very much about abt those topics?

7. kim left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 7:05 pm
actually hor, I think it takes alot of guts to speak to the MM like what they were doing. And if given the opportunity, I would seize it 'cause I think he has alot of insights to loads of stuff. A 50min dialogue isnt enough. Can I have him as my ah gong for a day? haha..

8. Jaschoco left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 7:08 pm
Haiz... like there will be different opinions when two different ppl viewed one thing.. I may see it only in the bad way while u see it in the good way.. whatever.. i am super blur today.. *throw face*

9. Sallie left...
Monday, 24 April 2006 10:22 pm
I'm probably going to get lynched for saying this, but I think alot of Singaporeans (the younger generation, especially) don't really know what they are missing until they leave Singapore. Sure, there are always gripes about whichever country, town, city, town council you live in - life is not perfect. It's about how fair it's perceived, and yes some of the points re GRC are fair issues which the government has to consider. Other accusations (like 'many people scared to vote for PAP etcetc') are completely unfounded, and probably for very superficial reasons. Hence, I completely don't get it when young people say things like "I'm against the PAP" - is there a grounded reason for that? If so, what is it? Are people against the PAP only because it's 'cool' to be against it? Or because they have genuine gripe? Or because they have 'nothing else to say'?

Everytime I go home, I feel like I end up defending the government for some of the decisions they make. Obviously, I chose to live in the UK and am making a rather decent living out of it, but there are plenty more burning issues that this country is dealing with, which the Singapore govt has avoided, through good government, and good leadership.
I think those who complain about the PAP and the government ought to try living in another 'democracy' and perhaps gain a better insight into where and how our government is succeeding when other bigger, older nations have failed.

This 'dialogue' was theoretically a good idea, perhaps ought to be better thought through next time, with substantiated, substantial questions, less 'hear-say', and perhaps a moderator. The 'journalists' weren't very experienced, and were coming across as 'grandchildren' asking 'grandad' "eh, why like dat ah?", without rhyme or reason.

10. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 1:59 am :: 
Mum2One: I can assure you that the 10 youngsters are not your typical Singaporean.
Let me tell you what a typical Singaporean would look like on that program.
Each will be avoiding eye contact with MM Lee while looking at eachother, hoping that the other fella will speak instead of himself/herself.
If there was a visual aid like OHP or powerpoint, you can bet your last dollar, they will be furiously scribbling notes. Hah!

Jaschocolate: Ok, I get what you mean liao pertaining to Glass Half Empty vs Glass Half Full vs Oi! Glass Wrong Size Lah!

SALlie: I can't agree more. One of the most effective way to see the good that PAP has done for this country is to go to one of these so-called "democracy" country and trying walking down the quiet street in the middle of the night.
As for being cool to be against the PAP, I think not that jialat lah. I personally have not heard anyone saying that they are against the PAP for whatever reason. Well, 'cept for Jaschocolate.

Jaschocolate: Let me throw you a question.
Why are you biased against the PAP?

11. aloe left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 8:35 am
well... that's why this sentence always comes up.... The grass is greener on the other side. LOL!! People would always think that someone somewhere someplace is better than where they currently are now, until they personally experienced the differences.

12. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 12:34 pm ::
Anna: True. True. Perhaps the Gahmen should encourage its citizens to go out and see more of the world in order to look back and see ourselves better.

13. Mum2One left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 2:00 pm
In my humble opinion, you've got to fit a certain mold to be utterly sold out to the PAP. It's a mold I personally do not fit in, but I know of many who do and are happy with the Sporean lifestyle (ie. the PAP type of govt) and culture that it promotes. It's got it's good and it's bad, like every govt and country. Cultures and values differ from society to society so people are drawn to whichever country they prefer but there's no perfect place just which suits you better. The minority will just have to ship out or keep trying to get a bigger voice (more numbers on their side).

In a true democracy, everyone should have a fair say in things, no matter how stupid or wrong. Everyone counts and has the right to have a voice - it's the bill of right that is owed to all. That has it's downside but at the end of the day, the good outweighs the bad. The majority voice rules but the minority should never be eliminated or be treated poorly for voting against the govt coz that will no longer be true democracy.

14. Sallie left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 6:05 pm
I think true democracy can only happen when the citizens of the country are competent (mature, intelligent, see the bigger picture etc) enough to deal with democracy. It is idealistic to say we want democracy when the people concerned cannot cope with the responsibilities of democracy. With freedom comes responsibility and accountability... and frankly, I'm not sure the majority of Singaporeans are ready for that yet.
As I read somewhere, Singapore is still a very young country and we've only had 3 generations of 'Singaporeans'? We need to formulate our own culture, our own idiosyncracies and our own sense of pride. We have definitely reached far, and much further than say other similar sized nations (or similar-aged nations), and we should be proud of that. We should however, continue to grow intellectually and hopefully grow out of the rather immature levels of politics that we were exposed to in that conversation with the MM.
It would be really interesting to see what people mean when they say that they are against the PAP. I am completely aware that the PAP can be high-handed in dealing with some situations in the past (or even nowadays) but in general I would say that most of their decisions have been made in favour for the majority of the country, or for the benefit of the majority. All my opinion of course.

15. Jaschoc left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 7:27 pm
Dont know.........

16. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 11:42 pm :: 
Mum2One & SALlie: You both are absolutely right. It not like we are living in an autocratic/oppressed society.
More like we as Singaporean are not ready to handle full democracy. In due time, we will but for now, we still need the Gahmen to treat us like little children.
I supposed we are slowly entering the teenage phase where the rebellious streak is starting to emerge.

17. Mum2One left...
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 9:14 am
If I am not wrong, 15-20 years ago, oppositions (like Jeyeratnam and this other chinese doctorade guy) were either attacked for their personal background & characters and put to jail for saying things that the PAP has made it illegal to say publicly. That to me takes away the people's right of freedom of speech and therefore loses the real fundamentals of democracy. Freedom of speech is an integral part of true democracy and it has no bearing on how mature an individual is (look at Australia's Pauline Hanson for instance) or culturally developed a country has to be. The media in Spore is pretty much controlled by the government and much is censored or politically wrong to voice about unless it is in a very controlled environment that the PAP feels it will do them good than bad. That's not fair ground.

However, I do believe that for Spore to enjoy the prosperity and security of the country the way PAP has maintained the last 40 years, then Sporeans might have to sacrifice true democracy and maybe lots more which forms the Sporean culture. That's for the people of Spore to choose. What does PAP have to fear? Majority of Sporeans will vote them because they fear the unknown and the possibility of losing that security and prosperity, partly PAP instilled fear, and partly human nature. I believe for a country to have a rich culture and history, it has to be tested. Will and does the PAP allow that? I don't know.

18. Sallie left...
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 6:11 pm
Freedom of speech is the people's right - yes. What I'm alluding to is the assumption that these people are mature enough to handle this right, and subsequent consequences, ie. take responsibility. A child has the right to say whatever he or she wants - however as parents, we feel that we have to curtail their freedom sometimes (e.g. when they learn inappropriate words through the TV or on the playground). Same goes for the PAP and its citizens.

That was the attitude that was adopted 40 odd years ago when Singapore became independent and unfortunately (or not), it appears that little has changed. hence why the current generation isn't too pleased about this lack of freedom, lack of supposed 'democracy' and so on - some of them have seen 'freedom' and 'democracy' at work in foreign countries that they've studied in, and think that they can import such ideals to Singapore.

Some of these things might work (e.g. the government's opening up to adult-theme drama, theatre; table-top dancing in pubs etcetc) but there will always be people who will complain; either that it's not 'open' enough or, it's 'too open' and not appropriate for our 'eastern culture'. We'll need to find a balance of all this - People from the East tend to view Singaporeans as very westernised (sometimes, too westernised), and people from the West still find it interesting that Singaporeans cling on to being 'eastern'. So we'll need to find out own identity.

Of course the people of Singapore are choosing now, what they want, what they don't want. Some are misguided by 'the short experiences they've had in other countries'; others have better ideas as to what we can tolerate at the moment. The government's role in this is to mediate, consult and introduce them where necessary. It can be tested, it's a case of when, and whether we're ready. the PAP obviously thinks we are ready for some things; probably not ready for most of the onslaught that those grandchildren on the tv assumed we were.

19. Mum2One left...
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 9:04 pm
Sallie, but why are the citizens treated like children when they should be treated as adults when they are!! Why is the PAP given the power to parent over them and to determine for them when they should be ready for true democracy? The government of a democratic soceity is elected by the people, and for the people. Does that mean then the problem lies with the citizens for relinquishing their rights to be treated as children by the PAP and treating PAP like god? That I think is giving the government more power than it should have which is to represent the people, not to be big brother or parents to the citizens. A majority of Singaporean still like that big brother style though. They prefer someone else to think for them - maybe that's what you're referring to.

The way I see it, the younger generations are questioning this perceived and relinquished authority that have been given the PAP. I say, that's what a healthy mature adult should do. A child will never be able to think for themselves if they're not given the chance to learn how to. A country is not going to learn the responsibility of true democracy if they are not allowed or are too afraid to learn from their choices.

Censorship on TV is not only on liberty of the arts and decency, but on what is discussed about the government and the issues pertaining to their policies. Anything that makes a din to their highly controlled environment is shot down through all sorts of ways.

What needs to be tested for the country to have a real sense of identity, is the maturity of the people and the fairplay of democracy in Singapore. With the tight control that PAP has, that is not going to happen in the near future. But that's ok, because that's what the people wants at this point in time and like you said, maybe they are not ready for that kind of testing yet thus the power that PAP has on Spore.

20. Sallie left...
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 9:29 pm
Mum2One, I agree with you that the citizens appear to be treated like children when actually they ought to be seen as adults and treated as such. However, you need to consider the fact that Singapore is really, only 40 years old. Compared to the US, UK, Australia, and most other countries, we are really, still babies.

Don't you think that in many ways, the citizens DO relinquish their rights when they demand that the government provide for alot of the things that we take for granted? and Yes, I do think that a majority of Singaporeans prefer that someone else thinks for them, because that way, when something goes wrong, that someone else is to be blamed, not the citizens.

Of course, I agree with you that the younger generation is now questioning this perceived complete authority that the PAP has - and rightly so. It's what I said in a couple of posts before, that we have come quite far and we ought to be proud of it. It's now high time that we hone in this ability to stand on our own two feet and decide what we want; but we need to make a substantial case about it. It's not at all ok, or mature or clever to stomp our feet and say 'i want it this way' and have no solution or idea as to how to get there. and frankly, that's what the younger generation are saying, alot of the time. As you saw on this blog, a particular person said that she didn't know why she was 'against' the PAP. that unfortunately tars the 'younger' generation and gives the impression that really we are protesting coz we want to be seen to have an opinion, but really, we don't have one, or worse, we don't really know why we hold such an opinion. that's sad.

Unfortunately, in this unfair world that we live in, we can't have things both ways. We can't expect to have a 'true democracy' and then not be accountable when things go wrong. We can't expect to have 'freedom of speech' and little racism/religious fanaticism etcetc. We can't have it both ways. Singapore has chosen rightly or wrongly, to do things this way. A majority of the people are satisfied. And I think that's what good governance means.

With regards to what you say about for the country to have a sense of identity we need to have mature people...I agree with you - and that was what I said. What I then said was, we need to then demonstrate we are mature. not sheep.. and worse, not ignorant sheep.

21. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 27 April 2006 4:36 am ::
Mum2One & SALlie: Man, try digesting your exchanges with a jet-lag!!
Here's what I have to say after traveling 20+ hours on the plane.
Gahmen are treating us like children is because we are behaving like children. Until the day where we can step up and behave like mature adult, then the Gahmen will slowly ease the grip.

In fact, this has been happening even as we speak as the gahmen slowly unbans chewing gum, Cosmopolitian magazine. R-rated movies are allowed into the theatres.
We are certainly moving forward albeit not overnight.
As for Pauline Hanson. If idiots like Hanson is a result of the so called "Freedom Of Speech", I say please take it away from me, please.

22. Sallie left...
Thursday, 27 April 2006 4:35 pm
agreed, Jay - my point exactly. Singaporeans aren't as matured as they like to think they are. minority maybe, deffo not the majority. and yes, Pauline Hanson - hmm...not quite my role model in aiming for freedom of speech and rights!! LOL.

23. Mum2One left...
Thursday, 27 April 2006 7:58 pm
Sallie and Jay, I understand where you're coming from.
The political career of Pauline Hanson is a good example of what I'm trying to get across. She is an example of your uneducated and ignorant citizen (I believe she's matured a bit since her debut in the political arena) with a gripe and daring enough to voice it.

Eventhough what she had to say was silly to a lot of people and racist even, the democratic system is mature enough to let people like her voice their opinion and gather moss even (she had quite a few supporters!).

But the system also knows that if that's not what the majority stands for, all that hoola boola will eventually be a thing of the past, which is what her party is now. Now that's maturity. It's having the confidence in the citizens and the sytem that justice will prevail (not necessarily all the time but majority of the time this will).

She seemed to have learnt from her past and may even make a come back in the political arena. I"m sure her supporters would have learnt something from it all too. The point is, she was allowed speak and the citizens were allowed to make their own conclusions on whether or not she is credible and time will tell.

She knew she was never going to be the Prime Minister and to be able to get into government, because the majority wouldn't be on her side, but she was a voice to a group of people in Australia that wanted to be heard. She represented a small group of Australians. And in a country of 27million or so people, that happens to be quite a few.
What I'm also trying to get across is that having a voice doesn't mean you have to have it altogether. It just means, you want to be heard because somewhere along the line, you've experienced injustice.

From what Sallie is saying, yes, Sporeans need to know what they want and what they stand for before they speak. My question is, how can they if they've been spoon fed all the time? My child is allowed to feed himself eventhough he makes an awful mess at every mealtime. That's how he's going to learn. Treat a child like a child and he'll act like a child. Treat a child like an adult and he'll eventually know how to act like an adult. Sporeans are partly the way they are because they've been too protected and controlled by the government in what they can and cannot do. So it's a vicious cycle-ie. they then relinquish their rights to the government who then promotes powerlessness to the citizens.

Chewing gum, cosmopolitan magazine and r-rated movies are nothing... why aren't the people asking for their right to freedom of speech is what I am thinking! It's like selling their souls for chewing gum, cosmo mags and r-rated movie! I feel stifled for them but they're happy. At the end of the day, that's what matters, that they are happy.

24. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 27 April 2006 8:41 pm :: 
Mum2One: Between Pauline Hanson and Dubya Bush, the latter is the lesser of 2 evils.
So you can let the child eat on his own and him making a mess of it in the process. The problem with this Singapore child is that when things gets messy, the child will blame the parent for getting him into this mess.

Hence the gahmen spoonfeeding and over-mothering. Again, I reiterate my point that until the day the Singapore child grows up to learn to take responsibility for his own action, there is no way the gahmen will let go.

As unpleasant and stifling as that may sound, again, I say, it's the lesser of 2 evils.

25. Sallie left...
Thursday, 27 April 2006 9:31 pm
Mum2One, I understand what you are trying to get, and frankly, I think we'll have to agree that it's a chicken and egg situation - which came first? I am saying that the citizens need to be mature first before the reins can be let go (Jay seems to be saying the same thing) are saying that we need to let go the reins, and then let them mature.

The UK has it's own version of Pauline Hanson. They call it the British National Party...basically people who support the dare-I-Say neo-Nazi attitude of we only want White people in Britain because that's what British people are, white. And they are gaining support in pockets of society. God forbid the day they ever enter the mainstream government. But hey, parts of Europe are getting quite xenophobic and we're not talking Eastern Europe.

You are suggesting that the citizens will be mature enough to decide for themselves... I beg to differ, especially the younger generation, especially when they make groundless statements like "I am against the PAP....but I don't know why". Until the majority of the citizens KNOW WHY they are against the PAP and have reasonable solutions, I don't really see the situation changing. And I don't see why it should.

As for the unbanning of chewing gum, cosmo and R-rated movies, hey, we gotta start somewhere! Frankly, in London, when you have dried up chewing gum on the pavement, on the tubes, buses and so on, you'll be quite thankful that in Singapore they've banned it. Of course, we can go on to the next topic of 'upbringing' and so on, but that's for another day. FYI, the cost of cleaning the streets of chewing gum costs the taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. and we already pay 40% tax, excluding health and pension.

26. JayWalk left...
Friday, 28 April 2006 5:10 pm :: 
SALlie: I say mature first then let go coz we can be for sure that if we let go first, they would have enough time to mature without self destructing first.
Chewing gum is a very good example and I supported it. If the people don't know how to dispose of a chewing properly, then by all means take it away until they figure it out.
You don't just give your car keys to your 12 year kid until he has grown up and pass the driver's test right?
How's that if you were just give them the keys right away and let them figure out to drive at the tender age of 12?
Let me ask you another question:
Given the internet access gets you everywhere? Does it still make sense to ban pronography in Singapore? Pointless already right?
While the ban was originally created to keep children away, now it seemed that it is ony keeping all the ah peks and ah sohs away since they're the only one left who dunno "how to use" the internet.

27. Sallie left...
Friday, 28 April 2006 5:16 pm
Jay - I hope you weren't suggesting that I didn't agree with you. I said, that both you and I think that the citizens should mature first, before letting go.

28. JayWalk left...
Friday, 28 April 2006 6:55 pm ::
SALlie: Nope. We are on the same page here. Just reinforcing our point.

29. Mum2One left...
Friday, 28 April 2006 8:48 pm
Jay, no, Hanson may be dumb and ignorant and may even look evil but she is not evil. She's just an ordinary lady fighting for her right in a country that allows her to speak up eventhough she may not have enough knowledge or capability in running a country on her own.

Sally, there are policies out there that are made solely because that's what the majority of the people wants. And that's democracy. So if they want to waste money on cleaners cleaning up their chewing gums, so be it. It's their right. That's my whole point. One should be allowed to protect their own self-interest or the self-interest of a small minority in a democratic country. Not only if you are smart enough or mature enough, or educated enough or whatever. Do you think the PAP will ever allow free political speech in Spore as long as they are in govt? I doubt it.

Sallie and Jay, what proof is there to say that Sporeans are immature besides the blogger who said she doesn't know why she is against the PAP? Is one blogger the representative of the majority of people? What if she refused to say anything for fear of the govt targeting her for what she has to say? What if the people are really matured enough to know that there will be some compromise and are matured enough to say, that's ok, that's the way the cookie crumbles and prepared for it?

As for putting so much confidence in the PAP to know what and when the citizens are ready for true democracy, it's like the PAP is treated to know all, except that PAP is no god and their values and beliefs are only a set of many other alternatives. Nothing wrong with that, but the power it has over each individual's rights and identity is like playing god.

As for paying 40% tax +++, we can get into another topic here, but for the sake of keeping within this topic, didn't you say you were making a decent living there despite the tax? So hasn't it all balanced and worked itself out eventhough 40% tax sounds large out of the context of the country's economic policies? (I suspect too it's a progressive rate system and not a flat rate?)

My conclusion is, Spore's political system is heavily controlled by the government. This factor makes the system non-democratic. Claims of people being immature enough to have true democracy may be a form of further control and may be unfounded until tested. The country is a hybrid of democracy, but not democratic enough to call itself a democratic society. Socialist democratic society yes, but that's like a vegetarian saying he eats some type of meat. There's nothing wrong with all that, but just don't call itself a democratic society just because it has elections! Whether Spore is able to survive and sustain its current economic status as a closer to true democratic country is an unknown which it has to be prepared to take on if true democracy is what it wants. It may be costly, but it may also be for the betterment of each individual. If it chooses to stick with what they currently have for fear of losing all, then there's nothing with that either.

30. aloe left...
Friday, 28 April 2006 9:26 pm
i'm "lost" reading all these... =S

31. Mum2One left...
Friday, 28 April 2006 11:42 pm
Also Jay, the problem is, the voters are not 12 year olds, they are legal aged adults. Just because 21 year olds still act like 12 year olds doesn't mean they don't have the right to a driving licence, right? I believe child adults (ie.legally adult but mentally childish) will only learn adult behaviour through consequential learning not further mothering and protective behaviours.

32. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 29 April 2006 6:18 pm ::
Mum2One: (1) While I agree that it is impossible the quantify the maturity of the average Singaporean voter but having traveled around the world and met with many people from different nationalities, I can say that by comparing us and them, we are ranked pretty poorly in terms of maturity.
Then again, it is just my own perspective and is subjected to refute from any party as they pleased.
(2) Granted that PAP's ruling has a tinge of "playing God", let me remind you that they were after all still the people's choice. Did we not voted them since as far back as 1959? Time to accept our own consequences? Time to stand up and take responsibilty for our earlier action?
(3) It is dangerous to give free rein blindly, in the name of democracy.
Perhaps I am in line with PAP to say that for the common good, we must exercise some form of control.
A 21-year old is NOT ENTITLED to a driver's license as long as he has not passed the driver's test, regardless if he behaves like an idiotic 12 year-old or not. You missed the point there.
Just anyhow suka suka grant license automatically just because he has reached 21 years-old is pure foolishness as the consquences can go beyond just himself. He can get into car accidents and kill/injure other people. Then, how do we account for these unfortunate "other people"?

33. Mum2One left...
Saturday, 29 April 2006 10:02 pm
Ahhh... so they are given a test right? So also should the citizens be a chance to test their maturity. If fail, always got PAP to vote for again in next election, right? What I mean is they are legally entitled to get a licence (yes, provided they do the test and pass) but it's their right to sit for the test, right? So too are Sporeans.
Anyway, it's been a really great stimulating discussion and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I think we both get each other's point and perhaps time to agree to disagree. **Shake hands**, **take a bow**, *clap hands* for all involved, you and Sallie.
In some sense, I don't mind if Spore remains the way it is because it's a safe and familiar destination for me to go back to. But that's just me being selfish because I don't have to live there. Just a couple of weeks every few years is nice. A wonderful place for taking a holiday and visit good ole friends.

34. JayWalk left...
Sunday, 30 April 2006 6:30 am :: 
Mum2One: It was fun bantering isn't it? Remember our Darwin debate back in the good old days? Ahh... sweet memories.... :)

35. Sallie left...
Monday, 1 May 2006 6:01 am
Yes, it was good bantering, and it was time to agree to disagree, which was what I was trying to imply when I said we had a chicken/egg situation. speak to you all later. have a great bank holiday...

36. Sallie left...
Monday, 1 May 2006 6:07 am
oh, I just wanted to add that I think it is probably very 'easy' and very 'convenient' for those of us who live overseas (me, Jay and Mum2One amongst others) to 'criticise' the PAP for what they've done/not done. We're probably not living the day-to-day life there, not experiencing things as the Singaporeans who live there experience, so perhaps we should not be too critical of things as they stand. surely if those who live there aren't happy/satisfied etc, they will eventually be motivated to do something about it.
as for the 40% tax comment, I was merely pointing out that that's what the higher-category earners pay in this country. the lowest tax is at 22%, not a small amount either, especially when VAT/GST is at 17.5%. Yes, I'm making what I think is a decent living (as compared to the rest of the country), I think the government here would classify me at least as middle income earner. But there are many things that my tax can go towards (health service, transport, crime, education etc) which I feel would be much more useful, than say cleaning gum off the tubes and the streets. but that of course, is just my opinion - given that i live in this country.

37. JayWalk left...
Monday, 1 May 2006 1:30 pm :: 
SALlie: On the same token, being overseas allows me to see and "praise" what PAP has done/not done for this country.
And I TOTALLY agree with you that there are better things to spend money on (e.g. handicap, crime, education etc.) than scrapping gum off the floors of void decks and mrts.

38. Mum2One left...
Monday, 1 May 2006 10:38 pm
Jay, yes, those were good times... I must have some argumentative streak in me, huh? Hmmm...something for me to ponder on...

Well, can I add that I on the other hand, chose not to go back to live in Spore. It's not like I don't live there so I don't know what it's like. I've lived there and I know what it's like and I like going there for holidays, do shopping, eat full-full, but when it comes to living there for good, it's a different story.

Sure I don't enjoy stepping on chewing gums and feeling gums stuck under seats and there's always better use of money. I don't disagree that there's a lot of wastage and futility in the more democratic societies. There seems to be more pressing and bigger needs in the other areas of law enforcement than catching people who smuggle in chewing gums. But I find it's a more equitable system overall.

It's a choice I personally prefer even with the awareness of all that. I value individual rights and freedom and in return I respect others for their differences. I believe that everyone is at a different level of maturity, thought process, and have different values and beliefs so I've just got to give and take the good and the bad with the good (obviously I find more good than bad that's why I prefer it).

I want to emphasise that there's nothing wrong with Spore choosing that style of governance if they've thought through things and finally agreeing that giving up their individual rights for the better good of everyone is what they really want and not more democracy. Whether they really have had that choice or not is what I'm not too sure about. Well, time will tell.

39. Sallie left...
Monday, 1 May 2006 11:18 pm
Jay, yes living overseas for the last 10 years in 3 different countries has given me the opportunity to 'praise' the PAP for what they have/not done for the country I was born in, and I'm happy to do that. Exactly why I think most Singaporeans (especially those who complain for 'no reason', or at least 'no reasonable reason) ought to spend some time away from the country, just to appreciate what they have.

Mum2One, we've all lived in Singapore. We all know what it's like in that country. But we aren't living there anymore (the operative word here being 'lived there'), and what we see when we are back there is the 'holiday' version; we're there for a couple of weeks a year, we hear stories from our friends/relatives, we read the newspaper (if at all). that does not make us 'experts' as to what the country ought to be like (just because we live in 'democratic' countries?!).

So, you chose to move to Australia because you 'value individual rights and freedom'? Do you think Singapore does not value individual rights? Why then can at least 3 major racial groups coexist together, mostly peacefully? Why then can at least most of the major religions of the world coexist peacefully in Singapore? I think that's valuing and respecting individual rights.

With regards to your issue of 'whether they have that choice', they are given the choice at election (just as you, I and everyone else who live in countries that hold elections are given). Sometimes the choice is a difficult one (e.g. choosing a PAP candidate over the opposition like Chiam See Tong - I think he's been an MP for at least 10 years if not more?), sometimes the choice is an easy one (why not vote for a credible PAP candidate versus someone whom we don't know much about). I don't think Singaporeans don't have a choice. It's about making a credible decision...Singaporeans aren't stupid, you know.

And yes, time will tell. Which is what Jay and I have been saying all this while (I hope this is what he's been saying anyway!) - we've had 40 odd years of PAP in power. We've also had mostly good prosperous years, low crime, good standard of living, etc. The people are perhaps ready to be more mature now, people will be more open minded to things; these people will choose then, how they want to be led. and you know, they aren't sheep. they will be smart sheep. i think chosing the right leader and right party to lead them, is the doing of smart people, not just people who "agree that giving up their individual rights for the better good of everyone is what they really want and not more democracy".

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, people start off at the lowest level with physiological needs, safety needs and move on to the third level of friendship/social needs. The fourth and fifth levels are much more difficult to reach for (self-actualisation) and most people don't reach it. But they try. Of course, there are many many critiques to Maslow's theory, some being that people don't operate in stages, that his theory was based on the 'western' world and that eastern culture people don't operate in the same way and so on. If we more or less agree with Maslow's theory, then we'll see that Singaporeans have reached the third level, and we're on our way to the 4th/5th stages - stages that perhaps the more developed/older civilisations have already reached. Give Singaporeans a chance to find their footing in the world. that's all I'm saying.

40. Mum2One left...
Tuesday, 2 May 2006 12:44 am
Sallie, I too have lived in 3 different countries. Have been living in Australia for 15 years, and 11 years in Singpapore.
I get your drift but perhaps where we differ is I'm more skeptical of govts that have quite a bit of control over freedom of speech. My point is, yes, there's the right to vote but without the freedom of speech, voters may not be voting with all the information available to them to make good decisions, therefore, do they really have a well-informed choice? Who decides if those information is good or bad? Sporean themselves or the govt? That's where I'm questioning.
I admit I don't really have the facts in front of me to decide that for myself and I am hoping discussions like this would bring up some factual arguments that would refute my skepticism.
You misunderstood my point on respect for individuals. I agree, there is social tolerance in Singapore by the different races, but the fact that freedom of speech is more restricted in Spore means the people sacrifices to a greater extent (than more democratic societies) their individual voice for the collective good of society. Thus the collective good of Singaporeans is upheld over individuals rights. Unless you disagree with that?
I haven't based my opinion on the stories my friends tell me. I've based it on my own experiences and my understanging of the different political systems. Granted, they may be conceptual and untrue but that's why we have discussions like this for.

41. Mum2One left...
Tuesday, 2 May 2006 12:51 am
Also Sallie, on one hand you say they are not mature enough to have a more democratic society and on the other you say they are smart enough to make informed choices? It sounds contradictory to me.

42. Sallie left...
Tuesday, 2 May 2006 1:31 am
I didn't say that they were matured NOW - I said we are starting to open up. not being contradictory.

all I am saying is, they have to start somewhere... surely you have to agree that the way our generation grew up (in the 70s/80s/90s) is completely different from the way our parents grew up (through the British transition, when Singapore broke away from Malaya etcetc), and how the current generation is growing up (exposure to MTV, internet, going on exotic holidays during school holidays, flying business/first class etc?!!). Surely the way your son is being brought up (granted, in a different country from the one you grew up in) will be different from that of yours, and NOT JUST BECAUSE of the country differential.
Freedom of speech is a matter of perception - you think it's more restricted in Singapore. Others might agree, but how about freedom of speech in China, in fundamentalistic countries in the middle-east and so on? Some may feel that freedom of speech is something worth 'sacrificing' for in return for safety and cleanliness on the streets. Some may not.

I don't think it's a matter of disagreeing or agreeing with that - it's more a perception. Clearly you think 'freedom of speech' is restricted in Singapore - and that is a 'sacrifice'. Perhaps that's why you left? If that's the reason (or one of the main reasons) why you left Singapore, fair enough. My reasons for leaving Singapore were completely different.
Let's just leave it as that - I personally feel that we're going in circles and what we'll end up saying will end up in the chicken/egg situation of which came first. We can argue till the cows come home that we need maturity before democracy, and you vice-versa. Nothing's going to be gained from it, especially more so when none of us (Jay included) actually live in Singapore and have a current, up-to-date experience of living there. For all you know, we might just be mis-informed. That would be rather embarrassing, don't you think? :)
Another thing, I recall you said that you have yet to watch the dialogue the 20somethings had with the MM. Perhaps you should take a look at it...and then come to some conclusions?

43. Sallie left...
Tuesday, 2 May 2006 1:53 am
Also, Mum2One, you seem to assume that with society being dynamic and constantly changing(as does everything else), Singaporeans will remain the way they are..? Isn't that just not realistic? Things will change, definitely - like I said above, the way things were when our parents grew up, was different from the way we grew up and ditto for the current generation. Everything changes - you seem to want things to change NOW at the next election..and sorry, that's just not possible.

It's about adaptive and progressive change and change needs to take into consideration the environment it's in, and the resources it has. For successful change to take place, the environment has to be appropriate, and the resources has to be sufficient to cope with it. Resources include the people, the skills, the knowledge and the abilities.

Over here (as I'm sure they are all over the world), alot of the toddlers are put on children leashes (not unlike those that dogs are put on when they go on walks).. they help the children walk, and yet not allow them to stray too far. When they are completely able to walk by themselves, we stop putting our toddlers on leashes and hold their hands.

Sometimes we let go of the hands and they continue to walk unaided, and we're so proud of them. When it comes to a road or a junction, we rush up to them and hang on tight, or we shout at them to stop walking and wait for us.

Might be a simplistic analogy and there is much more to consider when running a country, of course...but I hope you get the point.

Another thing is, Singapore's very much smaller and vulnerable compared to the larger countries surrounding them, and in the world. It may (I don't know) need more control and systems in place to keep things ticking over. It might have to do with the 'asian mentality' too. I know when I discuss parenting skills (back to the parenting analogies!) with my husband who is English, we have differing notions of how/when to let go of our children, and we don't even have kids yet. One eg: I go on about providing our kids with savings accounts from the day they are born (as did my parents when I was born so I had a lovely big POSB account when I turned 18, which I couldn't really touch before that), and my husband did not grow up with that sort of backing (and after doing a quick survey amongst my English friends, neither did any of them, rich or poor). It appears that when they turn 18, basically they are adults and can do whatever they want so to speak. What happened when most Singaporeans turned 18? They continued to stay at home (furthest they go is the halls at NTU/NUS), they continue to get pocket money from their parents, most get their tuition fees paid for by parents. Singaporeans continue to stay at home after graduation and most (not all) continue to do that till they get married. Some may say well, it only takes half an hour by car across Singapore anyway so no need to move house, rent a room/flat somewhere - but that's hardly the point isn't it? It's about independence, freedom and so on.

I'm digressing here - all I'm saying is that I think we're comparing apples with pears... sure both are fruits, but that's where the similarities end. I think the Singaporean culture is unique, as will the Singaporean identity. Democracy and all that is an ideal, for most and I think yes, it's something to strive for (just like holiness and Godliness) but it's difficult for most to even reach half way. Democracy in itself can be interpreted in many ways...and due to our cultural background, Singapore will interpret it in their own unique way. No right or wrong about it.

I hope I'm not rambling - it's getting late and I need to have my dinner soon. First, I need to cook it - oh what I'll do for a char kway teow to da-pao!

44. Mum2One left...
Wednesday, 3 May 2006 2:37 am
Yes I agree we are definitely going in circles. We seem to have different idea of where Sporeans really are. I keep saying that the more democratic society does not have to have a 'right' demographic of people. The open environment itself will promote justice and equality. But you and Jay seem to think that there must be a right type of citizens before the PAP will introduce more freedom of speech.

Are they underage citizens or are they child adults? The level of protection differs if you are caring for an underage child from if you are caring for an adult who is still childish. In the latter you let practice consequential learning. In the former, you have to do both consequential learning as well as forceful intervention where the child will be harmed.
I'm a great believer that people can change and society changes and is dynamic and that change does not happen overnight. But there are obtacles and factors that either slows down the process or increase the process. And in my opinion, the restricted freedom of speech is an impediment. Sure, it's not overnight, but what are the factors that are causing the pace is my question (other than Sporeans not mature yet.)

Yes, Spore must do it in their own way and in their own time and form their own identity. I don't disagree with that at all but I think people should still discuss Spore's current political system if any progress forward is going to hapen at all. There's always room for improvement just like any country has and that's all to it.

I'm not sure if I agree that freedom of speech is a matter of perception. You can't compare freedom of speech with a communist country or a country that does not profess to be democratic. But I do concede that no country has got 100% freedom of speech - just how much closer to 100%. There's definitely benchmarks available there.

Anyways, enough said. We're definitely going in circles... Char Kway Teow sounds nice.

45. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 3 May 2006 2:32 pm ::
Mum2One & SALlie: Holy Cow! I went offline for a few days and I see the comments longer than my actual blog entry!!
I read until my eyes blur like @.@
Anyway, just like to add that Mum2One, you haven't changed it bit. Debating with you here is like reliving the good old days again.
I don't think I have anymore to contribute here although I must say that I am closer to SALlie on this but we all have our own valid points to take note of.

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