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.

+ + +

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 “Dare to Change”

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Excerpts from “Dare to Change”

by Chee Soon Juan (1994)

Link: Amazon | NLB | SDP

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Excerpts from Book:

1. There is no guarantee that the same Government that has led Singapore into prosperity cannot become corrupt and ineffective in future. . .if Singaporeans continue to behave in an uninterested manner, the tendency for the Government to abuse its power will become greater. (Pg-15)

2. An overpowering state-elite with a subjugated mass has proven time and again to be the worst formula for a country’s long-term prosperity. (Pg-25)

3. Singaporeans are constantly told how to behave in a certain manner. . .any one who dares to challenge the authority is quickly labelled as “bad” and discredited. (Pg-32)

4. Perhaps the closest definition [of “Asian democracy”] is the one provided by the PAP itself: a political system consisting of one dominant party and several small fringe parties with no turnover in the government. (Pg-39)

5. What do we make of the notion that there should be no change in the Government of Singapore? The frighteningly curious thing is that shouldn’t the citizens be the ones to determine this instead of the PAP? If this premise of no turnover in government is accepted it would logically follow that the PAP is legitimate in using every means, constitutional or otherwise, to stop its political opponents. (Pg-40)

6. It would make much sense for [opposition] camps to pool their resources together with the ultimate and overriding objective to entrench the Opposition in Singaporean politics. (Pg-49)

7. The Prime Minister of Singapore gives himself a salary of $96,000 a month. . .meanwhile, the PM studies carefully whether a man who is unable to look after himself deserves $150 a month. (Pg-74)

8. Of late, the Government has been strongly advocating Confucianist values. Embedded in the teachings of Confucius is respect and care for our elderly. However, judging from present policies and actions, it is clear that the Government has no intention on practising the sage’s preachings. (Pg-78)

9. [Singapore Inc.]: The PAP runs the country like a corporation with the Party leaders as employers and the citizens as its employees. (Pg-90)

10. In 1992, a study by business professor Alwyn Young from the MIT compared Hong Kong’s economy with that of Singapore’s. He showed that while Hong Kong got richer by becoming more efficient in its use of its labour, capital, and technology, Singapore became richer by taking more and more money from its citizens through taxes and forced savings. (Pg-97)

11. At a time when the nation requires individuals of innovation and creativity to help it stay ahead in an increasingly competitive world, the PAP’s heavy handed approach and tight control in governing the country produces a generation of people who are averse to risk-taking. (Pg-105)

12. David Marshall, Singapore’s former ambassador to France, described Singaporean journalists as “running dogs” and “poor prostitutes” of the Government. (Pg-109)

13. It is dangerous for any government to control the circulation of information within a country. . .totalitarian and dictatorial regimes have long used this tool to subjugate their people. (Pg-116)

14. In a society which claims to have a sense of civility and decency, physical abuse and torture cannot be used by its leaders to justify its ends. . .Every citizen of this country is born with a set of rights which cannot be removed at the whim of the Government. (Pg-138)

15. “I think what prevents Singapore from being a home to people is the lack of freedom of speech. Think about it this way. What is the difference between living in a hotel and living in a home?”
— Dr David Chan / NUS (Pg-139)

Source: “Dare to Change,” by Chee Soon Juan (1994)

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cheesoonjuan

DR. CHEE SOON JUAN is a politician and political activist from Singapore. He is currently the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). Recognised by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, Dr Chee has been arrested and jailed more than a dozen times for his political activities, mainly for repeatedly breaking Singapore’s laws requiring organizers to obtain a police permit before staging political demonstrations or making public speeches on political issues.

CSJ Online: Website | Facebook (CSJ) | Facebook (SDP)

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More Information on Dare to Change:

Amazon | NLB | SDP | Review

Excerpts from “The Bonsai under the Banyan Tree”

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Excerpts from “The Bonsai under the Banyan Tree: Democracy and Democratisation in Singapore”

by Michael Barr (2012)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Taylor & Francis

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Extracts from Article:

1) Singapore’s democratic processes are a bonsai version of the real thing, meaning that what passes for democracy is constrained, pruned, stunted, and mainly for show.

2) The government’s aversion to political contestation is complemented by its propensity to identify national crises and apocalyptic choices. . .Lee Hsien Loong describes this mindset as ‘paranoid government’, and it is a technique directed in part towards manipulating public fears.

3) Lee and the ruling elite do not believe in democracy, in the sense of contestation for power through the ballot box, negotiated by rules and social power structures that apply even-handedly to all parties.

4) . . .exaggerated by the system of punishment politics introduced by Goh Chok Tong that brazenly twisted the principles of technocracy and professionalism whereby services and upgrades were withheld from constituencies and even from individual housing blocks that voted for the opposition.

5) This reference to the banyan tree entered political parlance in 1991, when Minister for Information and the Arts, George Yeo, delivered what seemed at the time to be a landmark speech, promising to ‘trim the banyan tree’. It alludes to the fact that nothing grows under a banyan tree because, between the thickness of its foliage and the dominance of its root system, it sucks the life out of anything that tries to share its space.

6) Even at the time he was explicit on the limits of the ‘trimming’: ‘We cannot do without the banyan tree [. . .] We need some pluralism but not too much because it will also destroy us. In other words we prune judiciously’.

7) Since April 2009 freedom of assembly has become more restricted than it was in 1991, with the courts now having the power to declare a single person in any public place to be an ‘illegal assembly’.

8) It is with this history in mind that I turn my attention [to] the possibilities of democratization in this stultifying atmosphere, and characterize the operation of democracy in Singapore as being akin to a bonsai growing under the banyan tree.

9) In 2011 the bonsai plant started growing beyond its wire binding, thanks in large part to the perseverance of both opposition and civil society groups that have learnt their craft under the shade of the banyan tree, operating in an environment where the media, all the instruments of the state, and most elements of society are subservient to the ruling elite.

10) Government ministers have lost – possibly forever – the presumption of professional authority that they enjoyed before. This changes the dynamic of political contestation in Singapore.

11) The government is being challenged by a new constituency and found to be out of touch. This is a constituency of tertiary educated, middle-class Singaporeans, who are too young to have personal memories of the hardships of the 1960s and 1970s but are acutely aware of numerous grievances.

12) [The government] has built an education and social system based on ruthless competition, but argues that competition is bad in politics. It sets the pay scales for ministers by the standards of the CEOs of multinational companies, but argues that neither ministers nor the Cabinet as a whole should be held to account when they make mistakes.

13) Some of [the 2011 opposition] candidates are clearly more competent as politicians than most members of Cabinet, but this is setting the bar rather low, since none of these government ministers has had to face serious adversarial interrogation or criticism for decades, if ever.

14) Put bluntly, the crop of ministers and new candidates that contested the 2011 general election would not have passed muster in Lee Kuan Yew’s heyday.

15) It is easy to be pessimistic about the prospects of dramatic change, and yet who would have thought the opposition would even get this far? It has learnt how to survive under the banyan tree, and even forced the government to engage in some reluctant pruning.

Source: “The Bonsai under the Banyan Tree: Democracy and Democratisation in Singapore,” by Michael Barr (2012)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Taylor & Francis

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barr

DR. MICHAEL BARR is Associate Professor in International Relations in the School of International Studies at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs behind the Man and other books on Singapore politics and history, and is Editor-in-Chief of Asian Studies Review.

Michael Barr Online: Profile | Publications | Interview with James Minchin | Interview

Separating Myths from Reality

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* Thanks to FMT for featuring this as their highlight story.

During this time of mass sympathising, I think it is important to keep certain things in perspective.

SEPARATING MYTHS FROM REALITY

1. Both Sides of the Historical Narrative

I’ll preface this with a recent comment I saw on Facebook:

“Dear friends, it is important for all of us to hear all sides of Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy. ‪#LKY‬ has done many things right but history will record both sides of the narratives.”
(– Hani Mohamed, founder/CEO of Alertist)

I downloaded The Straits Times’ special 24-page edition to mark the life of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I have also read several local as well as foreign publications praising LKY’s reign, chiefly for leading the country from a “third world” state to one of economic prosperity.

I noticed one comment on a Politico article which brings some objectivity into remembering LKY’s legacy (comment edited for grammar):

“The worst and inhumane DISRESPECT for anyone who has passed away, is to simply laud only the good things, without noting also the bad things in their lives, and framing all of these in a proper context fitting for this person as a HUMAN BEING, however larger-than-life this person may be. History is for Objective Balance!”
(– Johnathan Li)

It comes as no surprise that a lot of the details from the darker side of Singapore’s history have been left out of the eulogies for LKY.

For instance, in Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore, T.J.S. George writes that “only the PAP possessed weapons with which to fight battles for the people’s minds.” LKY’s techniques in the early 1960s were described as then chairman of the Barisan as “Legal fixing.” (Perhaps that is where PM Lee Hsien Loong got the term “fixing the opposition” from.)

In that same book, LKY is described as applying “the free employment of authoritarian methods to eliminate all opposition,” because in his mind, no one else in Singapore “could be right.” What he achieved was a “one-man party and a one-party state.” His old comrade-in-arms, Lim Chin Siong, was denied trial or right of appeal and sent to Changi jail for seven years, of which some time was spent in solitary confinement.

Political insiders in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur claimed that “Lim was fed drugs which induced depression and self-destructive tendencies” (also mentioned in an Amnesty Report and a political detainee’s account). Let us also not forget Dr. Chia Thye Poh, detained for 32 years and left with poor health, Former Solicitor General Francis Seow, Former Magistrate JB Jeyaretnam, Tang Liang Hong, Tan Wah Piow, Chee Soon Juan, Teo Soh Lung, Dr. Poh Soo Kai, Dr. Lim Hock Siew, and countless others who were repeatedly imprisoned and/or bankrupted for being perceived as a real threat to the PAP’s hold on power.

Even with this knowledge, I found myself semi-enthralled by the halo effect certain mainstream media outlets have granted LKY, by portraying him in a saviour-of-Singapore, saint-like manner.

The thing that snapped me out of my enthrallment were presentations about LKY’s loving and caring side as a father and husband. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a model father and husband, I find it outrageous that this type of portrayal spares no thought for the political detainees/exiles — who had been LKY’s fellow Singaporean citizens — whose entire lives and ties with their family and homeland were majorly disrupted because of one man’s ruthless beliefs and access to state apparatus.

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LKY supporters justify his actions by saying that everything he did was for Singapore’s survival, to take it from a “third world to first world country.” He was also a shrewd, clever and pragmatic politician who had to (by his own words) do what was correct.

T.J.S. George adds that LKY “seemed convinced from the outset that anyone who opposed him was an enemy of Singapore,” so in that sense, it can be viewed that LKY was “protecting the country” from people he viewed as enemies.

2. For Whose Survival?

LKY may have viewed himself as The Right Man for the job, but that doesn’t mean it was fair to

1) use the law to incarcerate and intimidate opponents because he could, and

2) that it’s correct to explain away such actions as “simply something that had to be done” to ensure the future “success” of Singapore.

How can it be guaranteed that any of these political opponents would have been political failures, when none of them were given a chance to prove their mettle and implement their own vision? Depending on which side you’re on, it wouldn’t be wrong to categorise such actions as cruel, underhanded, and a significant cost to human rights.

Some people might say that concepts like democracy, human rights, and fair play, are too “idealistic” for the arena of politics. Real life just doesn’t work that way, so we, the people, have to just live with it.

The more I study LKY’s (and by extension, the PAP’s) behaviour and actions, the more it seems like certain things were implemented to ensure “the PAP’s survival.” Would a government who truly cares about its citizens have such an aggressive foreign talent policy?

Kenneth Paul Tan, the vice dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said:

“It cannot be just the government leading the way forward. The people have to be as much a part of this, so a new social contract can be forged which can be legitimate to all.”

If one reads between the lines, one could even infer that the current social contract is not “legitimate to all.”

The Straits Times is widely known by discerning Singaporeans as a government mouthpiece.

Presenting a one-sided view of history is dangerous, because if we have knowledge of some of LKY’s past actions and choose to justify those cruel actions as “necessary,” what type of effect does this kind of outlook and behaviour have on the rest of The Cabinet and Government of Singapore, and further down the line, on the mass populace?

It brings to mind Chris Ho’s recent post about the shameless brazenness of the government and how this is creating a more aggressive, callous society at the ground level.

It also brings to mind Alfian Sa’at’s recent poem, on “the other side of the news” that isn’t reported during this time of national mourning.

It breeds an outlook that is desensitised and inhumane — never mind if your fellowmen are suffering, never mind if they are poor, never mind if they can’t seem to get their act together and get ahead in life financially. It’s their fault, life is nothing but a rat race, and “economic prosperity” justifies everything at the end of the day.

It’s up to each of us to decide what matters most at the end of the day, whether “the end justifies all means” is the right type of outlook to take, and whether a lack of compassion in the name of power and economic success are values we aspire to uphold.

Speaking of “economic success,” we should also ask ourselves who chiefly benefits from this much-lauded national prosperity.

3. Separating Myths from Reality

Propaganda can be defined as:

Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. (– Google)

We elect governments officials whom we are made to believe can be trusted in being capable, “incorruptible,” and of integrity to handle the country’s affairs. No one in their right mind would elect an elite force to spread lies, half-truths, and/or mismanage funds while enriching themselves and their families.

It is up to each of us to make a collective, sustained effort to counter propaganda, so that government accountability is not reduced to a piece of fiction or a romantic pipe-dream.

I hope discerning individuals will be able to see through some of these myths that have been built up and propagated over decades, not because we want to “attack” a person or be “haters,” but because of the importance of being able to separate myths from reality. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to have an accurate version of history, which provides us with a real connection to a reliable, honest past.

If we don’t ask tough questions, we risk being brainwashed by state-supervised mainstream media propaganda. Furthermore, we risk being left in a permanently comatose and brain-DEAD state, from decades of propaganda which tells us what is the right story to accept — never mind if it’s really real or not.

Knowledge and awareness aid a society in moving forward. Learning from past errors or wrong-doings prevents the same things from happening again in future or being indefinitely prolonged.

How else could we ever be sure we are progressing in the right direction, if we can’t even tell if we’re standing on a secure enough foundation?

As One United People (Part 1)

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Let me preface this with the Singapore Pledge (English version):

“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

I have listed 10 points here from “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” an article by academic professors Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler.

Simplified Version: Part 1 (this post) | Part 2

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Part 1 refers to Singapore’s political situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

* * *

PART 1: Singapore’s Political Situation

1. Singapore is classified as a hegemonic authoritarian regime.

Figure 1: Where Singapore is placed on a table showing “five types” of political regimes.

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2. A breakdown of these 3 words (defined by Google):

i. Hegemonic: Ruling or dominant in a political or social context.

ii. Authoritarian: Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

iii. Regime: A government, especially an authoritarian one.

3. Hegemonic authoritarian regimes do hold regular elections as part of their system of governance, but in addition to widespread violations of political, civil, and human rights, the elections are not actually competitive.

4. Because no other party, except the ruling one, is allowed to effectively compete (i.e. the opposition is completely shut out from access to state-owned media coverage, banned from holding political rallies, or forced into exile or in jail), the dominant candidate or party wins overwhelmingly, leading to a de facto one-party state.

5. Elections in authoritarian regimes occasionally result in a “liberalizing electoral outcome” (LEO), which often leads to a new government that is considerably less authoritarian than its predecessor.

6. LEO’s provide at least a chance for a new beginning, in terms of a country’s political situation.

7. Democracy involves much more than just elections.

8. Robust civil society, effective and independent legislatures and judiciaries, and a civilianized military are just three of the many factors that are necessary for a genuine democracy.

9. “Hybrid regimes” combine democratic procedures with autocratic practices. They are the most widespread political system globally at the start of the twenty-first century.

10. Singapore was classified as having “No Liberalizing Electoral Outcome Electoral Outcome.”

NOTE: Table 1 below lists Singapore under the “No Liberalizing Electoral Outcome Electoral Outcome” section.

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Reference: “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” by Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler (2006)

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MORE INFO:

Part 1 refers to the situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

Simplified Version: Part 1 (this post) | Part 2

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Singapore Pledge image at top of post from SG Newspaper.

As One United People (Part 2)

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Let me preface this (once again) with the Singapore Pledge (English version):

“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

I have listed 10 points here from “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” an article by academic professors Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler.

Simplified Version: Part 1 | Part 2 (this post)

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Part 1 refers to Singapore’s political situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

* * *

PART 2: A Solution

1. Forming an Opposition Coalition has its purposes. The more divided the opposition parties, the more susceptible they are to governmental manipulation, co-optation, and repression. 

2. A quick definition of a couple of words (by The Free Dictionary):

i. Co-opt: To assimilate or win over into a larger group.

i. Coalition: An alliance or union between groups, factions, or parties, especially for a temporary and specific reason

3. What is important is the ability of opposition leaders to work together, in order to form a strategic coalition (whether formal or informal) for the specific goal of winning an election.

4. An opposition coalition can do the following:

  • Take votes away from the ruling regime.
  • Prevent incumbents from playing opposition parties and leaders against each other.
  • Mobilize people to vote against the ruling party, as people have a sense that change is possible.
  • Mount a credible challenge to the ruling party, since the authoritarian henchmen could face recriminations for their actions if the opposition wins.

5. An economic crisis undermines support for an authoritarian regime, divides the ruling elites, and creates opportunities for the opposition to mobilize.

6. [This analysis suggests that] the opposition and its ability to put aside differences and form a coalition, is likely to have a greater effect than waiting for the current ruler to resign or for the political system to open up sufficiently.

NOTE: Figure 2 below shows the statistical analysis (refer to Part 1 for a definition of “Liberalizing Electoral Outcome.”)

opposition_coalition

7. Kenya’s 2002 election is an illustration of a “liberalizing electoral outcome.” The opposition parties were able to [work] as a cohesive political force, and ally with a younger generation of [politicians], who were not afraid to challenge [the incumbent].

8. [cont. from Kenya case study]: With this degree of coordination, the coalition positioned itself to exploit the electorate’s antipathy to the Moi regime and channel votes to one opposition presidential candidate.

9. The case of Zimbabwe 2002 reminds us that the relationship between an opposition coalition and a liberalizing electoral outcome is probabilistic.

10. The achievement of an opposition coalition, even if it dissolves later, will likely remain as a pivotal historical moment, an inspiration to future opposition movements in that country and elsewhere.

Reference: “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” by Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler (2006)

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ADDITIONAL RELEVANT QUOTES

1) “Mr Low Thia Khiang should heed the famous saying: Unity is Strength (团結就是力量) if he wants to fulfill the opposition historical role of annihilating the PAP as the ultimate objective.”
( — Mr. Yoong / Singapore Recalcitrant, 24 Jan 2013)

2) Opposition unity in Singapore will only be possible if all the opposition leaders are “prepared to be honest [and] do what is expected of them by fighting for real change.”
( — Gopalan Nair / Singapore Dissident, 13 April 2010)

3) “Only with unity and equality, and justice and fairness, can we see Singapore move towards a brighter possibility, and this also requires Singaporeans to let go of the fear that the idea of Lee Kuan Yew has created, and to be willing to restart our engagement with our country.”
( — Roy Ngerng / TheHeartTruths, 20 March 2015)

4) An interesting page on “unity” from Page 57 of a Chinese Idioms book (collected by Qin Xue Herzberg and Larry Herzberg; also posted on my Instagram).

STRENGTH LIES IN UNITY

i. “Only when the group prospers, be it the family, the community, or the entire society, can the individual prosper.”

ii. “A single thread cannot make a cord; a lone tree cannot make a forest.”

chinese_idioms

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MORE INFO:

Part 1 refers to the situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

Simplified Version: Part 1 | Part 2 (this post)

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Singapore Pledge image at top of post from SG Newspaper.

Yoong Siew Wah – Former ISD Director (Quotes, Part 2)

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The original quotations post was getting a bit long, so I’ve shifted some of the excerpts onto this new post, which features Mr. Yoong’s blog excerpts from 2014+.

Be sure to check out the enlightening essays in their entirety at Singapore Recalcitrant!

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Excerpts from “Singapore Recalcitrant” (2014+; latest at the top)

[2018]

(1) “The fact that Dr. Thum Ping Tjin is an authentic reputed Oxford Historian can never be detracted by any amount of denigration by any party though there was no lack of such attempts as seen in his six-hour questioning in the Select Committee. The Operation Coldstore controversy will go on indefinitely because there can never be a definitive conclusion to it.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 4 May 2018)

[2017]

(1) “Singaporeans are so inured to the sophistry of the PAP demagogues that they now take it in their stride for its face value. . .the Malays do not appear to be comfortable with the presidential election in 2017 reserved for them as many, especially the more discerning ones, regard it as a gesture of tokenism by the PAP Government. ”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 1 April 2017)

(2) “Cannot our thick-headed PM Lee sober up for once and think of a more civilised approach to China? By now it should be abundantly clear to PM Lee and his Cabinet that there will be no resolution of the Terrex issue without President Xi’s nod.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 9 January 2017)

(3) “Is it not an indictment of the PAP Government that it requires the tragic death of a promising 14-year-old Benjamin Lim to jolt it into making a review of the criminal investigation procedures to protect vulnerable teenagers [when] they are hauled in by the benign police for interrogations? ”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 6 January 2017)

[2016]

(1) “How on earth can the 70 % electorate vote in such a mediocre PAP government is still an enigma. But they will have to face up to the unpalatable fact of voting in a self-serving government giving mediocre service to the public. . .there is an appropriate Chinese saying: “A wrong step will lead to an eternal regret” (一失足成千古恨).”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 29 November 2016)

(2) “It was just a matter of time for the precarious honeymoon between China and Singapore to come to a head. It was done by China with such finesse that it came as a severe jolt to the disoriented PAP leadership, especially the day-dreaming PM Lee Hsien Loong.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 28 November 2016)

(2) “It has now become a comic opera with the introduction of the Remote Gambling Act (RGA) to curb online gambling. . .the PAP Government is not comfortable in denying that it is sending “confusing and conflicting signals.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 11 October 2016)

(3) “Some bright spark in the Cabinet, probably PM Lee himself, came up with a life-saving solution of establishing a Constitutional Commission to review the EP Scheme — which would set the eligibility criteria so high that Dr. Tan Cheng Bock would automatically be precluded from standing as a candidate for the EP.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 19 September 2016)

(4) “Ex-President Ong Teng Cheong had brought immense progress to Singapore even before he became President as a PAP lawmaker and Minister. . .the question of the withholding of his State Funeral upon his death will not go away from the people’s mind and will resurface from time to time to the discomfort of the PAP wallahs, especially PM Lee Hsien Loong.
(
Singapore Recalcitrant, 24 August 2016)

(5) “True to their character, the PAP leaders are never slow in their haste to claim credit for the global honour to Singapore that Joseph Schooling has brought.

[It] was left entirely to the parents of Schooling to finance his training, especially his mother May Schooling. They spent more than a million dollars for his training and the Singapore Government is not known to have made any financial contribution to it.(Singapore Recalcitrant, 17 August 2016)

(6) “[My letter] must have come as a shock to Mr. Shanmugam but I am not too optimistic that the high and mighty Law Minister would have the humility to reply to a plebeian. My letter could have caused not a little ripple as it brings to the public notice a disturbing and unusual situation in the administration of justice.

The State Coroner was scheduled to give his verdict on the tragic death of Benjamin Lim on 8 June and quite inexplicably he gave a no-show without any announcement of any postponement. . .[this] could have serious repercussions on certain quarters like the police. Could there be a possibility, even if remote, for the State Coroner to have suddenly found himself to be in an unpardonable situation where he had to act against his own conscience and abstained from giving his verdict?”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 3 July 2016)

(7) “It is therefore more prudent to assuage the public mind to our counter-terrorism measures in a less pushy manner so as not to incur the animosity of the terrorists.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 1 July 2016)

(8) “It is a well-known fact that the Straits Times is a PAP propaganda organ. For it to come out now to portray itself as a purveyor of unvarnished news to the public is stretching the imagination to the limit.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 15 Jun 2016)

(9) “[This is reminiscent] of the British colonial days when you get civil servants writing in an uncultured manner chastising the disconcerted public for any minor infringement.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 8 Jun 2016)

(10) “Bilahari is not too young and one would have thought that at his age there will be some maturity in his actions towards others, especially members of the opposition.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 1 Jun 2016)

(11) “Dr. Chee Soon Juan is a picture of composure in answering deftly all the accusations levelled at him by the PAP speakers. [He] is aware that he is pitted against a party with enormous financial and manpower resources and above all a ruling party. From observations and reports, Dr. Chee is making reasonable headway in his campaign and this is what irks the PAP leaders.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 30 Apr 2016)

(12) “This is a deeply earnest appeal to the Bukit Batok voters to exercise your sacred votes in favour of a candidate who will bring improvement in welfare and municipal services to your constituency and more important to act as a potent alternative voice in Parliament in matters of public interests affecting your political life and livelihood. The loss of one seat in a by-election is not going to cause any dent in [the PAP’s] armour. If elected, Dr. Chee Soon Juan will become the most successful underdog to win a seat in Parliament. May God bless you.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 27 Apr 2016)

(13) “His intention may not be to portray Lee Kuan Yew intentionally as a villian who betrayed his comrades-in-arms in order to sustain his one-man rule but is a sincere effort in presenting history as he saw it. There is a Chinese saying:When a war is won, tens of thousands will have perished (一仗功成万骨枯)。”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 6 Apr 2016)

(14) “True to its slavish character as a PAP propaganda organ, The Straits Times produced voluminous columns of celebratory articles extolling the so-called virtues of Lee Kuan Yew, the distinguished father of PM Lee. Who would want to read such a huge amount of literary trash except the fanatical fans of the late Lee Kuan Yew who had nothing better to do?”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 24 Mar 2016)

(15) “[PM Lee and his ministers] try to impress the public that they owe their living today to Lee Kuan Yew. To put it cynically, nothing can be more preposterous. . .where is the sense of integrity and duty to the public for the PAP propagandists to say that it is a one-man show by Lee Kuan Yew to transform Singapore to its present stage?”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 21 Mar 2016)

(16) “Minister K. Shanmugam is known to be very loquacious at other times especially in his crusade against the cruelty of cats. Does this mean that a human life is less worthy than a cat in his lofty views? Just like the Chinese saying: To treat the people like grass.(視人民如草芥).”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 6 Feb 2016)

(17) “They should always bear in mind that minors are a vulnerable class and should be treated compassionately and decently. . .If we can henceforth see significant improvement in the police procedure in dealing with minors, the the tragic death of Benjamin Lim will not be in vain.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 2 Feb 2016)

(18) “Now both Lee Kuan Yew and Francis Seow have departed from the good earth and it is a matter of intricate diplomacy whose name is more morally accepted to the people. The netizens will have no difficulty in picking Francis Seow as their man of the moment. Renowned historians have not so far given any verdict on Lee Kuan Yew.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 22 Jan 2016)

(19) “So let’s see what possible motive ESM Goh could have on his mind in requiring such egregious action on the part of his neighbour. If it is from the ethical voyeurism point of view, people will be wondering what is there so sexually stimulating to peep from two who are over the hill in their youthful exuberance. . .Could it be that he drew his inspiration from his late political master Lee Kuan Yew who ordered that apartments in Cavenagh House be covered up to prevent snipers from taking aim at the Istana? But ESM Goh is not Lee Kuan Yew and has not reached his stature.

Is ESM Goh a law unto himself and is that how an exemplary minister should conduct himself? Above all, has he got the imprimatur of PM Lee Hsien Loong to issue his order to his neighbour? In any case, PM Lee is duty-bound in principle to come to his defence even if he had not been consulted. There is an old Chinese saying: Behead first and petition the Emperor later.(先斬後奏)”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 12 Jan 2016)

[2015]

(1) “And in line with his flamboyant character Cowboy Khaw could hardly hide his ecstacy as his appointment could provide him with the golden opportunity to flaunt his so-called extraordinary prowess to deal with an extremely intractable rail problem which had caused the political demise of his two predecessors.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 4 Dec 2015)

(2) “Khaw said maintenance is not sexy which may not be comprehensible to the public. To be fair to Cowboy Khaw Boon Wan, his almost daily regalement could not but have attracted the rapt attention of the public but sometimes it may seem to be a little bit long-winded. . .maybe he should try to open up his window a little bit and consider the nationalisation of the transport system as a panacea to all the transport ills. The only drawback is that this idea originated from the Workers’ Party which is anathema to the PAP. ”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 29 Oct 2015)

(3) “The automatic reaction of immediately putting the WP on the defence without examining the merits of the suggestion may not go down well with the public, but the PAP flush with their recent GE victory may choose to ride roughshod over the WP’s suggestion with impunity. There is nothing the WP or the public can do if this is how the PAP wants to show its hubris. ”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 28 Oct 2015)

(4) “Some who had voted the PAP out of fear of WP’s dominance are now regretting their hasty decisions. . .even those who voted for the PAP were also unhappy. One friend pointedly exhibited his dissatisfaction: “I want PAP to win but do not want them to win so numerously.” There were others more agitated who angrily said:”This is the regression of democracy.” It will be interesting to find out how widespread this dissatisfaction is.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 21 Sept 2015)

(5) “ESM Goh Chok Tong is obviously over the hill and shows senility by his delirious utterance describing the WP as “nomads out to plunder.” [It] really scares the shit out of ESM Goh that the PAP is in danger of succumbing to a formidable WP team.

gohchoktong-nomads

Very wisely he volunteered the anchoring of the PAP team to an unsuspecting Tan Chuan Jin as he would not want to be shown to be the anchorman in the remote possibility of a PAP defeat. So glamour boy Tan Chuan Jin may carry the honour of becoming the fall guy.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 1 Sept 2015)

(6) “It would have been a consummation of his oratory if he had refrained from extolling ad nauseam the so-called virtues of his late father Lee Kuan Yew and turning the Rally into an electioneering stunt calling for the election of the PAP team in the general election. ”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 25 August 2015)

(7) “The rot really started with the appointment of Ms. Saw Phaik Hwa as CEO. Her only experience was in the retail business and she knew next to nothing in the running of SMRT and its maintenance. She was however successful in making hugh profits for the shareholders, especially Temasek Holdings, mainly through rentals of SMRT properties and for a time she was able to ride high in the organisation.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 16 July 2015)

(8) “It must have been a sick joke for Desmond Kuek to have the temerity to make a long speech at the Company’s annual general meeting on how much rail reliability had improved just hours before the disruptions. Could there have been a bigger clown on whom PM Lee and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew placed such a high estimation?”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 8 July 2015)

(9) “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.

What kind of compunction does PM Lee need before he could realise that he is ruining the life of an upcoming teenager because he had described his father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, as a “horrible man” in his video.

The light in his cell is kept on 24 hours everyday no doubt with the evil intention of depriving him of any sleep with the hope that this will cause him derangement.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 26 June 2015)

(10) “Compared to the Old Guards, what has PM Lee Hsien Loong done to ameliorate the cost of living which continues to balloon without end in sight? The so-called affordable housing policy is a sick joke as public housing in Singapore has never been so pricey and unaffordable.

The Prime Minister and his ministers are happily enriching themselves with taxpayers’ money for ostensibly serving the people while the lower-income Singaporeans are suffering from trying to make ends meet with the oppressive high cost of living. [It] will be incumbent upon the opposition to pursue the issue of the obscene ministerial salaries in their election campaign. The ground is favourable to the opposition and they must not allow this opportunity to slip through their fingers by staying united.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 20 June 2015)

(11) “By now the name of Amos Yee is known far and wide for his supreme fighting-spirit in his confrontation with the inhuman PAP Government. . .Imagine a 16 year-old being shackled in both hands and legs and brought before the court. What kind of human being is capable of inflicting such inhuman treatment to a 16 year old boy is beyond humanity.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 7 May 2015)

(12) “If, in a moment of compassion, we think that Lee Kuan Yew had suffered enough in his illness, perhaps we could allow his tortured soul to rest in peace. We could show some magnanimity even if this was not one of his traits in his lifetime.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 23 March 2015)

(13) “The Chinese believe that in any pursuit of wealth or power, it is prudent to stop at the appropriate time (適可而止) for if you persist in being greedy, in the end you will end up a pauper. (贪而無厭,反而変为贫). ”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 11 March 2015)

(14) “So if for political expediency, it is found necessary for Desmond Kuek to continue as CEO, rail disruptions will be a perennial problem as Kuek will never have the expertise to overcome it.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 9 March 2015)

(15) “What started well for the PAP Government in the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) exposure of the so-called major lapses of the AHPETC in the financial management and governance of its town council has now gradually become counter-productive to the PAP for going overboard in their frenzied attacks of the Workers’ Party on these issues.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 22 February 2015)

(16) “WP must try its best to defend itself in the coming weeks to convince the middle-ground that its Town Council is still very much in good hands. Be transparent with the electorate and I’m sure they will be a lot more forgiving towards you. The same cannot be said of the PAP. Like one of their prominent minister said, “We are deaf to all these criticisms.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 12 February 2015)

(17) “So the often professed slogan of the Prime Minister to respect and reward the pioneer generation is but a myth. One can find no dearth of rumbles among the pioneer generation of citizens on such myth, the so-called generous distribution of the Pioneer Generation Packages notwithstanding.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 7 February 2015)

[2014]

(1) “And so the battle of words continues ad nauseam seemingly without abatement. There was a brief moment when a timorous Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Lawrence Wong showed a fleeting moment of chivalry in coming to the aid of a floundering colleague with some half-baked comments.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 14 December 2014)

(2) “Genuine pundits cannot help feeling that all [of PM Lee Hsien Loong’s] vociferous utterances of fictional inspiration to his followers could be a fig-leaf to hide his fear of a backlash to his party’s chances at the next election before 2017. . .

The never-say-die spirit of PM Lee in rousing his ministers and other potential PAP candidates to greater effort in winning as many seats as possible in GE 2016 is admirable on the surface but considering the mediocre performance of many of the run-of-the-mill type of ministers, PM Lee could brace himself for a considerable percentage of casualties among these ministers, which means that more GRCs may go to the united opposition.

GE 2016 is therefore very much an epoch-making election to watch. It may be PM Lee’s swan-song.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 8 December 2014)

(3) “By a quirky stroke of luck there is no dearth of gullible and well-meaning countries ready to show some semblance of civility and diplomacy to the clownish minority President in order not to belittle the self-conscious and conceited Singapore Government.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 22 October 2014)

(4) “Would it surprise PM Lee and his acolytes (i.e. one who performs ceremonial duties such as lighting altar candles) if there are discerning Singaporeans who are utterly unimpressed and disappointed with PM Lee’s Rally speech? They feel that there is nothing new or inspiring in his speech and that it was wholly a rehash of what he and his millionaire ministers had been harping on all the time. . .”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 18 August 2014)

(5) “Singaporeans may realise that the biggest joke currently in vogue in town is MediShield Life. . .the cynical joke is that very few people, especially the elderly, understand the intricacies of the over-hyped scheme.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 27 June 2014)

(6) “PM Lee has unwittingly made the hitherto little known Roy Ngerng into something of a hero by his imprudent action of taking out his defamation suit against Roy. There is a Chinese saying: What is gained cannot indemnify the loss (得不償失).”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 13 June 2014)

(7) “PM Lee could be imagining himself to be a ravaging tiger waiting to pounce on an unwary prey which to his utter horror turned out to  be a ferocious lion. PM Lee [claimed] himself to be ‘flame-proof‘. It would be better for his public image if PM Lee curbs his impetuosity to fix the opposition, especially the so-called recalcitrant WP leaders, even if they are a threat to PAP’s ambitions in GE 2016.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 28 May 2014)

(8) “PAP is the government and commands the majority in Parliament. If it pursues a bullying political culture, there is nothing the WP or any other opposition political party can do to rectify the situation. . .The wheel of history only moves forward and for it to move backwards for the PAP will have the historians flabbergasted. The Singapore electorate are now more discerning and will know how to cast their votes.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 27 May 2014)

(9) “Out of curiosity I watched the Days of Rage programme on Channel 8 last night which was supposed to present the much-hyped Laju Saga in an objective light. . .to say that I was left in a state of shock is to put it mildly at the brazen self-glorification of their roles in the Laju Saga by some of the characters in the narrative.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 28 April 2014)

* * *

References:
Singapore Recalcitrant (Mr. Yoong Siew Wah’s scholarly blog)
Yoong Siew Wah – Former ISD Director (Quotes, Part 1)