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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Political Abuse of Psychiatry (Amos Yee)

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Image by stimu1us on dA.

UPDATE (6 July 2015): Amos is free; however there are plenty of issues the government has yet to address.

Below is my original blog post published on 25 June 2015.

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A short excerpt (#1) on the subject of political abuse of psychiatry, viewed in the context of 16 year-old Amos Yee’s current prison-in-remand situation (Points #2-5).

1) “Psychiatric confinement of sane people is a particularly pernicious form of repression.

Psychiatry possesses a built-in capacity for abuse that is greater than in other areas of medicine. The diagnosis of mental disease allows the state to hold persons against their will and insist upon therapy in their interest and in the broader interests of society.

In addition, receiving a psychiatric diagnosis can in itself be regarded as oppressive. In a monolithic state, psychiatry can be used to bypass standard legal procedures for establishing guilt or innocence and allow political incarceration without the ordinary odium attaching to such political trials.”
(– Wiki)

2) “Amos has always been a chirpy, confident and very vocal child. He is also very creative, and would spend an endless amount of time on something which he sets his mind on.

But my son is a different person now. . .I wondered why my son, who is here to be assessed if he has autism, is kept here in the same block as those who are mentally ill.

[Block] 7 is where they keep the truly mentally ill patients, and those who have committed crimes or offences and who are also mentally unsound. It is also where my son is being held.”
(TOC: A mother visits her son at IMH)

3) “The entry of heavily shackled Amos Yee from holding room to dock in Court No. 7 on 23 June 2015 cuts a very depressing sight. No longer the cheerful teenager who looked and smiled confidently at the gallery, he walked slowly with his head bowed. It was painful to see this young person’s spirit reduced to such a sad state by our judicial system. He sat in the dock, head bowed most times.

The ill treatment that Amos suffered during his remand must be highlighted. Amos’ mother said that he was interviewed by a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors etc over two weeks. Such interviews took place during the one hour community time when a prisoner is allowed to socialise and enjoy a bit of sunshine. It is the only time a prisoner looks forward to in a long and boring 24 hour day. Yet the prison authority has to be sadistic by arranging interviews during this one hour. I can only conclude that such arrangements were deliberate, aimed to break his spirit. Indeed Amos spirit is broken for he no longer reads and is tired because he cannot sleep with 24 hours lighting in the cell and cell mates who harbour resentment against him for having to sleep in a cell equipped with spy cameras.

A prisoner in remand is very often worse off than a prisoner who is serving sentence. He is left to himself whereas the prisoner serving time has regular activities to fill his day. He can attend educational or vocational courses and is allowed to spend time with other prisoners. Amos Yee’s special treatment by being locked up in a cell with 24 hour close circuit cameras means confinement within the four walls for 24 hours with one hour outside his cell. 24 hour lighting ensure that the mind is disorientated. A prisoner will inevitably suffer insomnia for he cannot sleep well.

Some observers are happy that Amos is now remanded at IMH for another psychiatric assessment. This is so sadistic. Why is the report by the State appointed psychiatrist, Munidasa Winslow that Amos might be suffering from autism spectrum disorder insufficient for the court to make a decision? Is there a necessity for the judge to order another report just to confirm or dispute Winslow’s report? What is the intent besides undermining the expertise of Winslow?

It is depressing that a bright young lad is made to suffer in this way. Is this our world class judicial system?”
(Teo Soh Lung)

4) “UN Human Rights Office calls for the immediate release of Amos Yee in line with its commitment under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
(Forbes)

5) “Amos Yee’s medical condition is autism and not derangement and it is insanity on the part of the authorities to put this vulnerable teenager in a block together with adult patients suffering from derangement.”
(Former ISD Director, YSW)

6) “And the police told me: ‘Quickly sign this, then we don’t have to take any responsibility if something happens to you.’”
(Notes From Prison by Amos Yee)

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UPDATE / 27 June 2015: Signed. “Petitioning The Singapore Government Drop the Charges Against Amos Yee!” — Change.org

#FreeAmosYee / Support

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This is the first time I’ve taken a photo of myself in support of something. I guess hitting the ‘like’ button on Facebook posts or status updates wasn’t really enough this time around.

For more information, please read the following:

1) Roy Ngerng: Keep sending your photos to me, by today! You can send them to me on Facebook or email me at royngerng@gmail.com. I will be compiling the photos into a video before Amos’s judgment is passed on Tuesday. Thank you! ‪#‎FreeAmosYee‬ (Facebook)

2) Singapore Recalcitrant: The Supreme Fighting-Spirit of Amos Yee (Blog / Former ISD Director)

There’s still some time left to contribute a pic of support, so go ahead if you’re considering it!

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UPDATE (12 May 2015): Here’s the update on Amos, and the video of support.

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UPDATE (13 May 2015): Another update re: Amos and the mainstream media, and the allegation of molest.

Great points made by Ariffin Sha, Ravi Philemon, Martyn See, Teo Soh Lung, Roy, Jen, and a reader. Be wise, AY!

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UPDATE (16 May 2015): Amos Yee on Vincent Law being “Immensely Creepy.”

Amos Yee’s Speech

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I decided to transcribe the text from Amos Yee’s video so that what he said doesn’t get lost amidst the current lynching being directed at him. This is included in the second half of this blog post.

PART 1:

A quick summary: 16 year-old Amos Yee was arrested for posting an “anti-Lee Kuan Yew” video.

At the time of this posting, you can view a copy of the video.

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16-year-old Amos Yee in video

Amos Yee was arrested on these charges:

Police said Amos will face charges in court today under Section 298 of the Penal Code for utterances against Christians with a “deliberate intent to wound religious feelings”. Other charges include circulating an obscene object and making threatening, abusive or insulting communication which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
( — Straits Times)

I have a few questions to the Singapore authorities:

1) PAP grassroots leader, Jason Tan, threatened to chop off Amos Yee’s penis and stuff it in his mouth because of Amos’ 8-minute video. Is this not an abusive threat?

2) A pro-PAP page has been set up for the purpose of cyber-bullying and shaming Amos’ family. Doesn’t this constitute “insulting communication that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress”?

3) The anti-harassment law in Singapore covers harassment in the online sphere including online sexual harassment and cyber-bullying. Does this law not apply to critics of LKY and the PAP ruling party?

Readers, please peruse Amos’ Yee’s speech below to take a look at the points he brought up.

I did some light copyediting to the text, and I removed the expletives and profanity from his 8-minute speech.

I hope this makes the substance of his argument clearly visible to discerning readers and netizens.

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PART 2:

“Lee Kuan Yew is Finally Dead,” by Amos Yee

Video text transcribed by Jess C Scott (clean version)

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Amos Yee

Lee Kuan Yew is dead, finally.

Why hasn’t anyone said, “Yeah, the guy is dead!”

Lee Kuan Yew was a horrible person.

Because everyone is scared. Everyone is afraid that if they say something like that, they might get into trouble which — give LKY credit — was primarily the impact of his legacy.

But I’m not afraid.

So if Lee Hsien Loong wishes to sue me, I will oblige to dance with him.

Lee Kuan Yew, contrary to popular belief, was a horrible person and an awful leader to our country. He was a dictator, but managed to fool most of the world to think he was democratic. And he did so by still granting us the opportunity to vote, to make it seem like we have freedom of choice.

However, during [his] rule, he controlled the entire media and education, proliferating nationalistic propaganda on a daily basis. And he placed an excessive surplus of his books in popular bookstores. In most of his books, look at how he self-indulgently plasters reams of pages with these montages of pictures of his experiences. Like “Ooh, look how much better I am compared to you.”

And of course he is absolutely notorious for suing people who criticised him, forcing them into jail and leading them into bankruptcy. Apparently, his thirst for suing is hereditary, too. So he created an environment where his blatant flaws as a leader were hidden, because most people were afraid of criticising him in fear of being found guilty by the judicial system that he controls. So everything that people hear is about how great Lee Kuan Yew is.

Of course he is able to deceive people into voting for him. Despite our voting rights, he is undoubtedly totalitarian.

Now seeing what LKY has done, I’m sure many individuals who have done similar things comes to mind. But I’m going to compare him to someone that people haven’t really mentioned before: Jesus. And the aptness of that analogy is heightened, seeing how Christians seem to be a really big fan of him. They are both power-hungry and malicious, but deceive others into thinking that they are compassionate and kind. Their impact and legacy will ultimately not last as more and more people find out that they’re full of bull. And LKY’s followers are completely delusional and ignorant, and have absolutely no sound logic or knowledge about him that is grounded in reality, which LKY very easily manipulates, similar to the Christian knowledge of the Bible and the work of a multitude of priests.

On the surface, he seemed quite successful. He turned Singapore from a small seaport into a bustling metropolis, rife with skyscrapers and its own casino. World leaders seem to like him, most notably Margaret Thatcher, and many foreigners and millionaires wish to invest in Singapore.

But if you look deeper, and you find out what the true nature of LKY’s Singapore is…I’m sure most of your parents have told you how luxurious Singapore is, and how, if you go to another country, it would be much harder and much more expensive.

But all you have to do is do a Google search, look at our country’s statistics, and you will find out how delusional and ignorant your parents are.

Most people in Singapore are struggling to make ends meet. And it is reported that Singaporeans work the longest hours in the world. We are one of the richest countries in the world, but we have one of the highest income inequalities, highest poverty rates, and our government spends one of the lowest on healthcare and social security.

The money spent on the public is so low, it’s more representative of a third world country. And yet the amount of taxes is one of the highest in first world countries. And political leaders in Singapore earn more than quadruple the amount earned by political leaders in the United States. They are acquiring so much money — why aren’t they spending it on the people? What are they actually spending it on?

One time, an SDP member told me that once they got into power, they are going to take the key and open every cupboard, and search out all the information on the government spending to find out what those motherf**kers have been doing with all that money.

And whenever somebody wonders online if the government is pocketing the money for themselves, they get sued. Quite suspicious, isn’t it?

How LKY deemed what he considered as success was solely predicated upon measurable, concrete results: a rich country, the love of major powers, a positive public image. And his emphasis on results was transcendent onto how Singaporeans led their lives. Somebody who has the better house, the better results in an exam, the better degree — is deemed “more successful” than the other person.

Because of this emphasis on pure materialism, it sacrificed our happiness.

Because if someone is more concerned about money and status over what they’re actually doing and their life, no shit you would lead a depressing life.

I think the biggest flaw of LKY as a leader to our nation, is that he honestly thought that money and status equated to happiness. And his failure to understand how false that was really showed, leading us to be one of the richest countries in the world, and one of the most depressed.

Ultimately, how do you quantify a great leader?

It is by how he creates a place where people are able to live happily and prosper, based on their own unique attributes. And he hasn’t. So no matter how rich the country he made is, it doesn’t mean a thing.

His death was great for him too, seeing how he was struggling with an illness for several years and even declared that he wished he was dead. He should have asked his son to pull the plug or committed suicide by himself. But he didn’t. You know why?

Because if he did, his band of sycophants might despise him. And his oh-so-great reputation that he so desperately tried to uphold, might shatter. Because it would be deemed quite controversial for a leader to end his life with suicide.

And it is rather tragic, isn’t it, that he had to suffer the last few years with the atmosphere or materialism and the need for a positive image that he himself created.

So there you go: Lee Kuan Yew, an overrated, over-glorified person, a dictator, and exceptionally Machiavellian in nature. With his death and the upcoming elections next year, there is a high chance, that us citizens of Singapore [can] finally change things for the better.

Let’s all hope for change.

For good change, for every possible kind.

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