Busy Last Few Months

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A couple of loyal readers asked how I’ve been doing, so here’s a quick update.

Split into three parts: my blogging, professional, and personal life.

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1. BLOGGING LIFE

a) I have continued to update the prolific Mr. Yoong’s blog excerpts throughout this year — check them out here!

b) I’ve been meaning to review Tey Tsun Hang’s book, Legal Consensus, for some time now. Hopefully I can get to it by the end of the year (I am doing a bit of traveling next month to visit my family in Maine, and have “some other stuff to get to” after that).

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Verdict: Totes Amazeballs.

Tey’s publication is a coolly concise book on “Singapore’s schizophrenic jurisprudence.”

Here’s a paragraph from the second chapter to whet your intellectual appetite:

The danger arises when ‘government-articulated collective interests in the name of culture and community becomes synonymous with state interests’. When this happens, any criticism of the government, even those that are constructive, becomes criticism subversive of the state and hence the community’s interest. The system becomes open to abuse by governments seeking to strengthen their political power and legitimise their actions via legal formalities within a ‘thin’ conception of the rule of law.
Legal Consensus, by Tey Tsun Hang (Page 5)

I’ll update my social media accounts more regularly once I resume some activity for jessINK-related matters (see below). This year I’ve been enjoying doing more things offline versus online.

2. PROFESSIONAL LIFE

a) As I wrote over a year ago, jessINK’s new direction has been on my mind for the past few weeks and months.

In the past year, I’ve shifted my interests away from indie publishing in order to explore some of my other skills and interests. I have some ideas for what I’d like jessINK 2.0 to be about. It’ll still (and always will) involve SOME degree of writing — my first love forever ♥ — just in a new direction.

It’s because I’m exponentially happier writing when the process is not narrowly dictated by commercial niche genres.

I really appreciate the readers who’ve appreciated my work over the years, so that keeps me motivated to offer good value to my new audience(s) in future, whether it’s in publishing or another field.

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Award-winning book.

b) Playmates, the first book in my psych thriller series, was a finalist in the 9th Indie Excellence Awards last year. That made me smile coz it’s a pretty big contest with tons of entries.

c) Matt Posner, my co-author on Teen Guide, sent me this complimentary mug featuring the book cover. It’s been 5 years since we starting collaborating on it. OMG where did the time go!

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#HappyFace

That’s not a particularly glam or “PR-worthy” photo of myself (I’m in a night dress, which is what I sometimes wear while working from home)…but, having an acne history, I’m quite pleased that breakouts have become more manageable these days. A lot of it is related to stress management and emotional health.

3. PERSONAL LIFE

a) I relocated to Florida earlier this year in January, after living in Maine for several years.

This was a good move on my part, albeit it took many months of “analysis paralysis” before I finally decided that something had to change in terms of geographic location. Maine is a pretty state, but it can be “desolate” (an adjective used by one of my American friends) depending on which part you are in.

The first few weeks in my new space were devoted to house-cleaning, baking, cooking, and figuring out what was wrong with the washing machine.

b) I passed the basic rider course earlier in the year, so my driver’s license says “Motorcycle Also.”

That was just something I used to think about getting during my teenage days, so I’m glad I got that done even though I’m a LONNNGG way off from being a skillful rider.

At the very least, I got a solid foundation from Highlands Professional Motorcycle Training based on a biker friend’s recommendation. Great coaches who were very positive, focused, and looked out for the well-being of the students.

c) The natural terrain is something else I’ve been getting to know a little better. Alligators and turtles in the small canals are common in certain areas.

Relationship-wise, the guy in the shadow pointing pic above makes me smile and I make him laugh — and that’s important. I will leave it up to you to guess whether or not he rides a bike.

On a slight tangent, I like using the following two brands of sun screen: Badger and Babyganics. I use them a lot if I’m spending some time outdoors.

My skin is very sensitive and I prefer organic skincare products. Right now I use a basic soap cleanser, beauty balm, and sun screen. I prefer to keep things simple on that front and not overload my face with chemicals.

d) Since I haven’t lived or worked in Singapore for Quite A While, I can only gauge what it’d feel like to live there now based on friends’ postings on Facebook, along with updates from sites like The Online Citizen.

Quality of life can be a subjective thing, since it is partly dependent on a person’s preferences and comfort zone(s) when it comes to feeling like a certain location feels like home.

A lot of my friends or former classmates occasionally gripe about SG, but continue to stay because of:

  • Their family network, and
  • The convenience of transport and amenities.

My immediate family members felt differently, so I grew up within a different way of thinking so to speak.

Here’s the core sentiment I remember the most while growing up in Singapore: that it never felt like home.

This was due to a combination of factors, such as:

  • The feeling of claustrophobia from the ever increasing population density,
  • Feeling trapped by education/career/housing options, and
  • Feeling that freedom of speech did not exist without severe repercussions.

The constant gleam of the latest and greatest shopping malls and eateries didn’t make me feel any different deep inside.

No doubt variety is good when it comes to food, but one can simply cook up a storm at home if malls are struggling to attract customers due to high rentals, etc.

Ministers’ Wives: Rich or Corrupt?

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Thanks to various readers/netizens for contributing to this post.

Links for verification and additional info below.

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1. MINISTER’S WIVES in GIRL GUIDES ASSOCIATION

a) Teo Chee Hean’s wife is Chew Poh Yim (“Mrs. Teo Poh Yim”). Chew Poh Yim was the 10th President of Girl Guides in Singapore.

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Girl Guides newsletter (2007). Source: GirlGuides.org.sg

b) Joy Balakrishnan, wife of Vivian Balakrishnan, is the 11th President of Singapore Girl Guides Association. She is a teacher turned housewife.

In 2015, Vivian Balakrishnan made the following comment (paraphrased):

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“Only Rich or Corrupt people work for free.”

c) Mrs. Christine Dhanabalan, wife of former cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan, received an Honorary Membership to Girl Guides Association from Mrs. Joy Balakrishnan.

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11th Girl Guides Singapore (GGS) president Joy Balakrishnan (in sleeveless white top), at the World Thinking Day 2015 event held at Methodist Girls’ School. Source: AsiaOne

d) According to AsiaOne and GirlGuides.org.sg, Ms Chang Hwee Nee took over from 11th President, Mrs. Joy Balakrishnan, whose term of office ended on 30 May 2015. Chang Hwee Nee is the wife of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

e) The patron of Girl Guides (in Singapore) has always been the First Lady (wife of the President).

A CAS UK PDF document defines a patron’s role as follows:

“Patrons” generally refers to well known or illustrious individuals who lend their name and support to an organisation.

On 12 November 2011, Mrs S R Nathan, former Patron of Girl Guides Singapore (GGS), received the Asia Pacific Region (APR) Appreciation Award. Mrs Nathan was also presented with the Long Service Award for her 12 years of dedication and invaluable support to the Girl Guiding movement.

Girl Guides Singapore is registered as a Charity with the National Council of Social Services (NCSS).

Girlguiding is a charitable organisation and adult leaders are not paid for their time.

2. MINISTER’S WIVES in BREADLINE GROUP

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Breadline Patrons (Executive Committee Report: 2014/2015).

a) Breadline is run by Richard Lim, with the minimum of overheads – eg no office. Richard dedicates many hours to his work on a voluntary basis.

From the organisation’s website:

The Breadline Group is a community service comprising of volunteers. It was formed because we share a concern for the welfare of the old and needy in Singapore, and want to channel our efforts towards helping them.

b) Patrons are mentioned as Mrs. Jek Yuen Thong, Mrs. S. Dhanabalan, Dr. Sheryn Mah Bow Tan, and Dr. Seetha Shanmugam.

c) Jek Yuen Thong was the former Minister for Labour and Minister for Culture. He was part of the People’s Action Party’s Old Guard of politicians.

d) Christine Tan Khoon Hiap is the wife of former cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan.

e) Dr. Seetha Shanmugam, a Berkeley-educated, Chicago-trained clinical psychologist (not a foreign talent), is the wife of Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

Minister K. Shanmugam was previously married to Jothie Rajah, the daughter of K. S. Rajah, former Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore.

Shanmugam’s marriage to Dr Jothie Rajah failed and they divorced after 15 years, due to “mutual incompatibility.” In 2012, Dr Jothie Rajah wrote Authoritarian Rule Of Law, a critical text which alleges that the rule of law is a subjugating rather than liberalising force in Singapore. Shanmugam said he had not read the book.

In 2012, Shanmugam sent a lawyer’s letter to blogger Alex Au to remove “defamotary comments” with regard to an alleged affair with MP Foo Mee Har. As yet, no lawyer’s letter has been sent to U.S.-based lawyer Gopalan Nair, whose blog post contains a detailed comment on Shanmugam’s “affair with a Chinese colleague” while working in Allen and Gledhill law firm (where Shanmugam was formerly a senior partner).

In 2015, Shanmugam wanted to make a police report over an “inaccurate and seditious” Facebook post.

f) Sheryn Mah, wife of Mah Bow Tan, sits on the board of directors of Compassion Fund and is the president of Mainly I Love Kids (MILK), a non-profit charity organisation providing aid to disadvantaged children.

3. MINISTERS’ WIVES re: NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION (NKF)

In 2005, Tan Choo Leng (Mrs. Goh Chok Tong) stepped down as the patron of NKF after the T T Durai corruption scandal. She is remembered for describing a S$600,000 annual salary as “peanuts.”

Mrs. Goh Chok Tong had previously supported Durai.

Ms. Ho Ching, the CEO of Temasek Holdings, asked for continued support for the NKF after the scandal broke. On the issue of the CEO’s pay, she said:

“I would not begrudge Mr Durai a proper and well-earned compensation and bonus.”

PAP Internet Brigade (IB)

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I wrote this post as:

1) Some people are still unaware of the “PAP IB” ;
2) A FB friend recently commented that the “PAP IB is now out in full force” re: the upcoming elections; and
3) Another friend recently got into an online argument on FB with a stranger on conservative vs. liberal politics, which got very bad until said friend deleted the entire thread.

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From a 2007 article in The Straits Times:

The People’s Action Party (PAP) is mounting a quiet counter-insurgency against its online critics.

It has members going into Internet forums and blogs to rebut anti-establishment views and putting up postings anonymously.

According to The Online Citizen:

The 50 Cent Party are the Internet commentators employed by the government of the People’s Republic of China or the Communist Party.

Their key function was to post comments on various Internet message boards, expressing a favourable opinion towards party policies, in an attempt to shape and sway public opinion.

[In Singapore], the counter-insurgency group is popularly known as the “Internet Brigade” or “IB” for short.

The man behind the PAP Internet Brigade is self-styled “moderate” Singaporean Jason Chua Chin Seng.

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Jason Chua.

Some other excerpts from TOC’s excellent 3-part series on PAP Internet Brigade:

You will notice a group of individuals throwing attacks at the opposition party within minutes of the posting and with clear signs of an organised angle of attack. These are also people commonly found frequenting anti-opposition/pro-PAP fanpages such as Fabrications About The PAP (FAP) and Fabrications Led By Opposition Parties (FLOP).

This is clearly not the behaviour of common citizens who are expressing their opinions, but a deliberate attempt to mud-sling the political opposition and sway the opinion of the common folks online. By flooding a forum with comments as soon as possible, IBs aim to command the conversation through sheer number of posts.

To be fair, no one is stopping supporters of the PAP from expressing their views in public forums. Decisive and deliberate astro-turfing by IBs, on the other hand, prevents the public and policy makers alike from understanding ground sentiments. The PAP is actually not doing the government any favours by allowing this to happen.

More importantly, members of the public need to be aware of the presence of such entities so that they would not be misled on issues and matters in Singapore. Being aware of the Internet Brigade would allow us to take a step back from their vitriol and focus on the social discussions that can help shape Singapore the way it should be.

You can read all three articles in the series here:

While the PAP Internet Brigade responds quickly to opportunities to denigrate the opposition, PM Lee Hsien Loong has been known to block less-than-glowing comments from being posted on his Facebook page (which, incidentally, brings to mind PM Lee talking at length about “Batman, Superman, Tarzan, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” during an #AskPMLee QnA, instead of providing “solid answers” to hard questions).

PM Lee once said that he stays positive online by being “flame-proof.” Perhaps it is this same quality which allows him to ignore the severity of the Singapore government’s long history of authoritarian rule.

If the PM can block or ignore less-than-savoury comments, there’s no reason why the rest of us shouldn’t feel free to block and/or ignore aggressive cyber-bullying types of online comments, whether they’re written by PAP IB’s or members of the public who have a different view.

I only came to know of the PAP IB’s existence earlier this year. I’ve rarely gotten into online arguments which centre around politics, because I prefer to allocate my time and energy to more sane, relaxing, and constructive matters (like research, reading, or socio-political blogging…).

Occasionally I do respond to a seemingly aggressive or hostile comment left on a Facebook post. I usually keep my responses short, around 1-2 sentences at maximum. Sometimes I add a link to an article that objectively backs up whatever it is I’d like to express, so that other people who happen to read the comment later can click on the link for more info if they so desire.

When it comes to reasoning and clarity of thought, perhaps Tan Wah Piow said it best:

Read carefully, and think slowly.

I am also reminded of this Tarot card, which is an interesting symbol to think about when you’re considering whether it’s worth it to engage in a debate/argument.

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Temperance.

Joan Bunning explains the meaning of this card as follows:

Being temperate:

  • Showing moderation
  • Mitigating a harsh position
  • Reaching a compromise

Maintaining balance:

  • Achieving equilibrium
  • Recognizing all sides
  • Feeling centered and secure

Experiencing health:

  • Renewing energy and vigor
  • Enjoying well-being
  • Recovering

Combining forces:

  • Joining with others
  • Creating synthesis
  • Getting it all together

Excerpts from “The Psychology of Military Incompetence”

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Excerpts from The Psychology of Military Incompetence, by British psychologist Norman Dixon (1976). On authoritarianism, leadership, and more…

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Book Cover (published 1976)

EXCERPTS from THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MILITARY INCOMPETENCE
by Norman Dixon

1. Even the worst government and most inept prime minister come up for possible dismissal every so often. (Pg-21)

2. How, if they are so lacking in intelligence, do people become senior military commanders? (Pg-23)

3. Computers make poor leaders and indifferent father-figures. They may be quick and efficient, [but] withal remain cold fish. They do not inspire affection, are devoid of feelings and, what is worse, quite indifferent to the outcome of their decisions. (Pg-33)

* Note: Refer to LKY’s comments on Singaporeans as “digits.”

4. Authoritarian organizations [are] masters at deflecting blame. They do so by denial, by rationalization, by making scapegoats, or by some mixture of the three. The net result is that no real admission of failure or incompetence is ever made by those who are really responsible; nothing can be done about preventing a recurrence. (Pg-44)

5. Certain characteristics of incompetence include:

  • An underestimation, sometimes bordering on the arrogant, of the enemy
  • Little moral courage
  • An apparent imperviousness by commanders to human suffering
  • A tendency to lay the blame on others
  • A lack of creativity and open-mindedness (Pg-67)

6. Military leaders [displayed] behaviour symptomatic of extremely weak egos. . .breeding an insatiable desire for admiration with avoidance of criticism, and an equally devouring urge for power and positions of dominance. (Pg-115)

7. The army was described as “too rigid and lacking in flexibility to be really adaptable to the conditions of modern quick-moving warfare.” (Pg-128)

8. The authorities did become increasingly concerned to prevent the civilian population from discovering anything new that might conflict with the official set of delusions which they themselves espoused. (Pg-132; on Singapore)

9. Military incompetence involves:

10. In extreme cases. . .everything that is free, uncontrolled, spontaneous is dangerous. (Pg-190)

11. A snob is one who is impressed by, and therefore tries to identify with, those who are higher up the socio-economic scale, while straining to disassociate himself from those lower down. (Pg-201)

12. [Authoritarianism] produces submission to the authority of the in-group. It arouses aggression, which is displaced on to a carefully defined out-group. (Pg-260)

13. An authoritarian’s thinking is confined to rigid formulae and inflexible attitudes. He is intolerant of unusual ideas and unable to cope with contradictions. (Pg-261)

14. Since authoritarians have been found to be more dishonest, more irresponsible, more untrustworthy, more socially conforming, and more suspicious than non-authoritarians, they are unlikely to make successful social leaders. (Pg-264)

15. Blind obedience and loyalty [are emphasised] at the expense of initiative and innovation. (Pg-267)

16. One of the least attractive characteristics of authoritarians is their preoccupation with punishment and their incapacity to feel concern for the human rights of persecuted minorities. (Pg-314)

17. The symptoms of this process [of] ‘group-think‘, include:

  • An illusion of invulnerability that becomes shared by most members of the group
  • Collective attempts to ignore or rationalize away information which might lead the group to reconsider shaky but cherished assumptions
  • An unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality (i.e. “incorruptibility“), thus enabling members to overlook the ethical consequences of their decision
  • Stereotyping the enemy as either too evil for negotiation or too stupid and feeble to be a threat. (Pg-399)

AUTHOR BIO:

Norman F. Dixon, M.B.E., Fellow of the British Psychological Society, is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at University College, London.

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NOTE: Check out Phillip Ang’s post on Singapore’s paper generals as well.

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SEPT 21, 1984: Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Loong. Source: ST.

“Slightly more than a quarter [of The Singapore Cabinet] had been generals/equivalent in the military before becoming politicians.

Military men do not make good leaders in the government for the simple fact that they are used to giving orders. They are not listeners but control freaks.

— Phillip Ang (4 Jan 2015)

The Main Cause of Singapore’s Brain Drain

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A paper on the main cause of Singapore’s brain drain.

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Excerpts from “The Causes of Emigration from Singapore: How Much Is Still Political?”

by Joel S. Fetzera & Brandon Alexander Millan (2015)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Taylor and Francis

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Definitions:

1. Brain Drain: The emigration of highly trained or intelligent people from a particular country.

Extracts from Article:

1) Efforts to maintain a robust Singaporean economy have had to confront the serious challenge of brain drain from the city-state.

2) To address the negative effects of this problem, Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has adopted a policy of increasing reliance on a foreign labor force. The PAP appears to ignore the continued loss of human and intellectual capital.

3) Data from [surveys] indicate that anti-PAP and pro-democratic ideas strongly influence the decision of native Singaporeans to leave the island state. These findings suggest that democratization and an expansion of business and technical education would be more effective in preserving economic growth than a policy of importing labor.

4) Observers question whether PAP authoritarianism itself is driving young, highly educated Singaporeans to leave their country of birth.

5) Yap Mui Teng argues that a sense of “helplessness and fear in the face of an overpowering political structure that the average person cannot hope to participate in [or] even understand” drives emigration. Such “voting with one’s feet” clearly harms Singapore’s economy.

6) In 2002, Singapore reportedly experienced the most elevated out-migration rate in the world.

7) Every year, upwards of one thousand educated Singaporeans renounce their native citizenship in favor of that of their new homelands. . .even emeritus senior minister Goh Chok Tong admitted that “at his high school reunion, it seemed all his best friends had emigrated to the United States or Australia.”

8) While the PAP went on to receive 60.1 percent of the popular vote in 2011, this majority was anything but a victory for the ruling party given its history of manipulating electoral rules to its own advantage.

9) More importantly, the opposition won its first Group Representation Constituency (GRC; a multi-seat bloc district). According to the Asia blogger for The Economist, PAP ministers suffered this electoral blow due to voters’ perceptions that the incumbent government had “lost touch” with the concerns of Singaporeans and allowed a “rapid influx of immigrants.”

10) 64.6% of Singaporean emigrant interviewees in Australia in 1989 reported that the political system was the worst aspect of living in Singapore:

“With regard to the government, the respondents were critical of the ‘limited freedom,’ ‘high-handed control of daily life,’ ‘government intolerance of opposition,’ and ‘short-sighted and forever-changing government policies’.”

11) In [the data we analyzed], a respondent who strongly opposed the ruling party and fervently endorsed democracy would be 91.7% more likely to emigrate than would an interviewee who loyally backed Lee Kuan Yew’s party and completely rejected democracy.

12) Of the forty-five Singaporean respondents in [the two immigration data sets], thirty-five said they had had little or no “ability to influence government decisions” in their country of birth. [Another] questionnaire from the forty-five respondents contained seventeen politically related “things they disliked most” about their former homeland (e.g., “the laws of the country”).

13) The political environment in Singapore seems to be the most important factor in determining emigration from Singapore.

14) In order to maximize the number of young, highly skilled Singaporean natives who remain in the country after university, Singapore’s political and educational leaders need to make significant changes.

15) The most important change the PAP should make is to open up the political system. As Sullivan and Gunasekaran suggested as early as 1994, increased public debate before decisions are made would help people feel less dissatisfied with the political conditions in Singapore and therefore less likely to leave.

16) One of the policies Yap suggested was “a more open government” to “erase the credibility gap between the government and the people.”

17) The establishment of true democracy would likely foster support for the government and the political system, as free and competitive elections often create strong national identity.

Source: “The Causes of Emigration from Singapore: How Much Is Still Political?” by Joel S. Fetzera & Brandon Alexander Millan (2015)

PDF Link: Taylor and Francis

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Bio:

Joel S. Fetzer is a Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University. Immigration Politics is one of his academic interest areas.

Brandon Alexander Millan is an independent scholar from the Political Science Department of Santa Monica College.

Overcoming Fear

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Being a respected leader doesn’t mean ruling with an iron first.

Showing compassion as a leader can be highly effective. . .according to Bill George, a Harvard professor, the leader must think about the “we” instead of the “I.”  In other words, the leader doesn’t think about him/herself, but about [others].
( — JEMS Journal)

I lived in Singapore until the age of 19. I remember what it was like to constantly live with the feeling that your every move, thought, and action was being watched. Whisper something that’s anti-PAP or anti-LKY — *BOOM*, you’re in trouble.

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The first quote that came to my mind when I viewed this image: “Big Brother is Watching.” (George Orwell)
| Image from ST Blog

The sense of dysfunctional paranoia these feelings can create certainly isn’t an ideal thing for anyone to live with.

Ruling by fear is wrong for several reasons, one being that no one should be made to do something or act in a way he or she doesn’t feel comfortable with.

Why should a human being’s mind/heart/spirit be subject to being controlled by an authority figure? Wouldn’t a true “saviour of the people” sincerely care for the well-being of the populace they have pledged to serve?

This isn’t applicable to the realm of politics alone. It is something that goes much deeper which has universal resonance in terms of being free to:

  • be your own self,
  • have your own thoughts, and
  • speak your mind or speak truth to power when it is necessary to do so.

Fear is a crippling weapon of control and manipulation. To overcome that fear is to release oneself from the shame of being ruled by fear.

Many people in history have literally died for their beliefs. Integrity and a moral conscience are things that some of us are unwilling or unable to trade for elitist commodities.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t predict the outcome of the next general election in Singapore. I don’t have expectations of the result, because whatever will be, will be.

But seeing this fear of expression up-close from numerous Singaporeans is proof that people DO have strong opinions, that they do have minds and a spirit that yearns to be free from the shackles of an authoritarian power (whether it’s referred to as an aristocracy, a pseudo-democracy, or fascist).

As 16-year-old blogger and prisoner of conscience Amos Yee said in a recent update:

If we allow the government, the police and the law, to continue to censor us, to use archaic laws to dictate our ideas and our views, to use fear to threaten us into not expressing our views, then though I am a prisoner, when freedom cannot be granted to me, you are a prisoner although freedom is granted to you. And that’s more saddening than any number of months or years in jail that I have to endure.

Buried beneath this fear is a collective need to aspire for something better — if not for yourself, then for the future generations that will come after you.

An article by Catherine Lim points out how a “compliant, fearful population that has never learnt to be politically savvy could spell the doom of Singapore.”

Singapore has been under decades of authoritarian rule. Do you want to see it through several more?

As Julie Hanus writes on the forward-thinking Utne Reader:

We can give up allowing fears to define us, and focus instead on which ones are worth tackling together. When we do that, we don’t just free politicians from fear-inducing rhetoric; we also give ourselves some much-needed relief.

I think of the dark events in Singapore’s political history (Operation Coldstore and Spectrum, in particular), and all the wasted years, hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled because of fear. That alone inspires my interest in socio-political issues.

There comes a point where staying silent would be the real crime.

Instead of feeling shameful about not having done enough: just do something different today. Time is short and precious.

May you find your bolt of inspiration too, that will set you free from fear itself.

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More Info:

1. Fear is Dead (Teo Soh Lung)

2. #FreeAmosYee: Hong Lim Park Protest (TOC)

3. Self-Censorship & The Climate of Fear (Catherine Lim)

4. PAP’s “Internet Brigade” (TOC)

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“Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.”
~ PictureQuotes.com

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Catherine Lim, Excerpts

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Dr. Catherine Lim wrote “A Great Affective Divide” 21 years ago, a sharp and eloquent critique of the PAP ruling party.

If only leaders had heeded her advice.

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Excerpts from Selection of Articles by Catherine Lim

Excerpts #1:

1) It is no secret that while the PAP Government has inspired in the people much respect for its efficiency and much gratitude for the good life as a result of this efficiency, there is very little in the way of affectionate regard.

2) While the PAP ideology remains the same, the people have not. Higher education, a more affluent lifestyle and exposure to the values of the western societies, have created a new generation that is not satisfied with the quantitative paradigm but looks beyond it to a larger qualitative one that most certainly includes matters of the heart, soul and spirit.

3) The absence of this affective dimension in the PAP framework is what has alienated the people from their leaders. It is easily seen that the main criticisms levelled against the PAP point to a style deficient in human sensitivity and feeling – “dictatorial,” “arrogant,” “impatient,” “unforgiving,” “vindictive.”

4) In other countries, political parties come and go, but the country remains the rallying point for the people’s feelings. [In] Singapore, the Government has become synonymous with the country. Indeed, Singapore is often seen as the creation of the PAP, made to its image and likeness. Hence, dislike of the PAP, even though it does not translate into dislike of Singapore, effectively blocks out any spontaneous outpouring of patriotic emotion. The best evidence is in the attitude towards the national flag. Singaporeans continue to be reluctant to put it up in their homes on National Day for fear of being thought PAP supporters and sycophants.

5) If loyalty towards the country is blocked, it has to be directed elsewhere. In Singapore, it is directed at the good life which the country has come to represent. It has been wryly described as the new religion of “moneytheism.”

Source: A Great Affective Divide,” by Catherine Lim (1994)

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Excerpts #2:

1) The fear in Singapore is a special, almost unique kind, for it is self-imposed. Its most obvious form is self-censorship.

Source: A Climate Of Fear In Our Society?,” by Catherine Lim (2010)

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Excerpts #3:

1) The PAP is incapable of reinventing itself.

2) Reinvention would require the opening up of one crucial area that the government is determined to have tight control over. This is the area of political liberties — open debate, criticism, independence of the media, public assembly, street demonstrations for the cause, all of which are taken for granted in practising democracies.

3) Pointing out the case of the 16 political detainees who called upon the government in September last year to set up a commission of inquiry to look into the allegations said against them, Lim noted that the petition was promptly dismissed and no further action was taken.

“I thought that the government had missed a fantastic opportunity to show Singaporeans that it had the honesty and courage to face up its past excesses or to take responsibility for them,” said Lim.

Source:Yahoo News: “PAP incapable of reinventing itself: Catherine Lim” (2012)

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Excerpt #4:

You transformed little, obscure, resource-poor Singapore into one of the most successful economies in the world. If today Singapore is described in breathless superlatives—‘best’, ‘richest’, ‘cleanest’, ‘brightest’—it is all because of you.

If only you had done so without so much human cost. If only the high ranking of Singapore in international surveys on economic development were matched by a similar ranking in surveys on human rights.

Source: If Only—To The Memory Of Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015)

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Excerpts #5:

1) The exuberance, boldness and defiance of the young voters, operating in the new media world of instant, dazzling communication, could be infectious enough to have an unstoppable snowball effect, engulfing other groups of voters, including even those normally sympathetic towards the PAP.

2) [Political] reform there must be. For only then can Singapore come into its own, only then can it claim to be a successful society in every sense of the word, and take a proud place among other societies in the world.

Source: My best hope lies in the young Singaporeans (2012)

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Excerpts #6:

1) We are in the midst of a crisis where the people no longer trust their government, and the government no longer cares about regaining their trust.

2) There are [clear] signs that the present situation has reached crisis proportions, that it is not just an affective divide, not just an emotional estrangement between your PAP leadership and the people. How did this crisis arise in the first place? With utmost respect, Sir, I must point out that it is ultimately your inability or unwillingness to listen to the people.

3) While you see yourself as simply going by the rules, Singaporeans see you as the PAP juggernaut ready to mow down the little people in its path.your PAP leadership and the people.

4) . . .even if it meant an apology and the need to make amends, that would have been a gesture large and empathetic enough, to win over even the most vocal critics. It would certainly have begun the process of creating, for the first time in the history of the PAP government-people relationship, a nexus of understanding and reciprocity.

5) In the absence of the people’s trust, effective government is virtually impossible, as every leader knows.

Source: An Open Letter to the Prime Minister (2014)

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Snapshot with Catherine Lim (2015)

CATHERINE LIM’s works deal largely with the East-West divide, Asian culture, women’s issues, as well as Singapore’s culture, history and politics. She has won national and regional book prizes, and was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture and Information. (bio from SWF)

Catherine Online: Website | Wikipedia | Interview | Kenneth Paul Tan on Catherine Lim

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More Info:

1) Catherine Lim: Political Commentaries

2) Catherine Lim: Newspaper Features

3) On Respect and Elitism (FB Comment, by Neo Swee Lin)

4) On PM LHL’s lack of sincerity and humility (100+ likes in 2 hours / FB Comment, by Edrei Valath)

5) Funny Comment by an ardent admirer of Catherine Lim

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