Friday, October 28, 2005

How Can One Love? Singapore Politics?

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
When the first arrests of the racistious bloggers were made known to the public. There was a hue and cry. Opinions were many, bloggers were defiant, legion some said, akin to a horde of independants.
This was Before. Before the accused were subjected to the investigative-juridical process. When the precedents were sentenced, the shout became a whisper. When the youngest was mentioned, the whispers died away into a mute. This is the After.

In the Between, the State Machinery hummed along efficiently. Investigate, meet the regulations, set the dates, prepare the case and wait the End of the sentencing.

In the Between : "how much can one love, the efficient process?" (Gilbert Koh, 'Changi International Airport,

Multiple pathways of efficiency are initiated by the Singapore State Machinery in the Between. Bureaucratic efficiency. Political efficiency. Messaging efficiency. The Law begins its efficient process not de-linked but neither bonded to the other efficient processes. An efficacious Web of State ministrations in which to fatigue, programme, calibrate, efface, a sterile Silence.
In the Between there exists an efficient process. Behind this process are efficient people. Honest people whose objective is to ensure the efficiency of the process. Speeds thing up. Smooth things along.

The Poet that sees this efficient process, feels for the Soul of this process. But in so seeing, he becomes deficient. Defeated by the efficiency. Because it is a Soul placed on a sushi conveyor belt, without even the different colored plates.

The State's Apparatus, (Police, Legal) stands by the efficient process. It gets to Justice quickly. Proven, swift, decisive, effective. Mean(s) End. The State's Apparatus does not stop at only one process. Compartmentalization is the sublime level of a perfect bureaucracy. And other efficient processes are initiated. Not de-linked, easily linked, but neither Bonded. Subtle Systems.

To re-capture : Three Internet users were arrested and charged for Sedition. In the [They were subjected to the efficient process] Between. They have been sentenced.

In the Between is this efficient process. It is carried out every day. when a crime is committed, justice is subverted. It puts away the Guilty efficiently. When a policy is introduced, opinion divided. It smoothes away the Doubts efficiently.

And how much can one love? The efficient process? Children of the State Apparatus?

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

Quote of the Day,

"Who, if I screamed, would hear me among the angelic orders? And even if one of them suddenly pressed me against his heart, I would fade in the strength of his stronger existence. For Beauty is nothing but the beginning of Terror that we're still just able to bear, and why we adore it is because it serenely disdains to destroy us." -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Devil Gazing at the Deep Blue Sea : Between You & Singapore Politics

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Why is blogosphere so fun and so rich in unpredictable political potential? Mr Wang ( kills Singapore Classics ( and accuses Anthony. And Singapore Classics is dead. Literally dead. Out of existence. The Clown is down.
The sea is so blue, a sparkling ripple of dancing sunlight like that forgotten necklace. From Perrini's? The one you blew your holiday job salary for that JC sweetheart. The blue is so intense in its promise of a cool embrace. You feel that you have to take that step. Cross that threshold. Traverse the Between in one drawn breath; from your nest of safety into the depths of that mysterious blue.
At the Between, on the Threshhold, in that Moment, the Devil says : You take that step. Your Order turns to Chaos. The savings of your Life disappear. You lose everything.

A blink and hesitation. The glamour of the Blue disappears. You turn back to join the Devil by his side. Back to the PanoptiPoint, where you can see all the beauty laid before you.
And you ask him,"Cannot you see the Blue?". And he says : But I am Blind. And I Need You by my side to tell me what lies beyond the Between.
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
At both ends of Politics, there is glamour at play. A manipulation of wants and needs, obligations and adventure. The mechanisms of persuasion to earth-bound rootedness by the Devil and the illusion of unbridled freedom, of infinite potentiality of the Deep Blue Sea.

Political systems play this game of manipulation not because they are intrinsically bad but simply because politics is about this. Politics understands that the difference engine is within the unpredictable human mind and it seeks to predict-alize this.

And in the meantime, Singapore Classics died because Mr Wang Said So.
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Quote of the day,
" '... but I have teeth that rend and tear the living flesh from the bones, and I can swallow it while the lifeblood still fountains into the sky.' And then Spider made a noise. It was a noise that could be made without a tongue, without even opening his lips. It was a "meh" noise of amused disdain. You may be all these things, Tiger, it seemed to say, but so what? All the stories that ever were are Anansi's. Nobody tells Tiger stories." Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Folding History, Facts and Time : (Ab)Use of History in Singapore Politics

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

In the past months, History has been evoked for various causes in Singapore. Take the feel-good NDP speech and the refrain of that famous rain-drenched parade 30 years ago. Take the latest ruling by Judge Magnus on the seditious blogs and the invocation of the need never to repeat the riots of 64 and Maria Hertogh. Take the most recent proud proclamation of home ownership in Singapore and the reminder of how good things are now.

Now, pick up the school’s history book belonging to your children or younger siblings. Flip through the pages and look for these historical events. There will be no more than a paragraph on these events if they are mentioned at all.

More importantly, each of the aforementioned historical event, isolated and upheld as so unique in our modernity, has been folded into a larger narrative of Singapore history. The riots of Maria Hertogh, 1964 and 1969 (which remains un-mentioned by many prominent Singaporeans) have been folded into a Narrative of a wildly communalistic past of Singapore. These three events are deemed as pivots in modern Singapore’s triumph over the spectre of communalism, a past in which we shall never return. The home ownership issue is folded into a general narrative of Singapore’s successful transition into a modern nation state with high percentage home ownership. Remember, my secondary school readers : History can be folded. (Gyanendra Pandey)

Read the history text books and tell me the Singapore story. The themes : pre-modern to modern. Immigrants to citizens. Poor to rich. Illiterate to literate. Bad to Good.

In each cited event, the basic assumption is that the Present represents a qualitatively better break from the Past. Ontological Progress. Good, better, best.

What if we have never been modern?

What if I tell you, in the past the various Singaporean races mingled very well with each other. Racial relations were absolutely fine. There was no difference then than now in the threshold between racial peace and racial violence? That the threshold to racial violence is breached only when there is deliberate political provocation coupled with media collusion and fertile social conditions?

To cite the Maria Hertogh and racial riots without the context is a folding of history into another narrative. A folding that does little justice to the events. In fact, such folding silences the events. Such folding smoothes these events onto a temporal and factual history-line when the events themselves have little respect for Time nor Facts. A simple example: a survivor of the riot will tell you, he had no sense of time during the violence … a survivor will tell you, all they had were rumors of things happening here or there.

The history text books will tell you otherwise. On 1964, at this time, this thing happened. A Fact. But it is a produced fact obtained from an ‘official source’. A policeman on the scene, recording the event in his notebook and subsequently filing it as a report. But what is the differe(a)nce between the historical Testimony of this Policeman and the injured rioter hiding in his house? The Testimony of the Policeman usually makes it to the history books while that of the rioter if lucky, makes it to a drama script.

How can I say that the spirit of Singaporeans were stronger 30 years ago when 90% of the parade participants could well have been cursing their luck that it rained just as much as participants cursed today?

What if I tell you, all the pre-modern Singaporeans were already staying under a roof ever since the first day immigrants have stepped foot onto Singapore?

What gives us the right to abrogate History? To appropriate the Past? To cite History outside of Time, outside of Space? The conquerors of the Political.

What stops us from looking beyond the presentation of Singapore’s History as it is?


I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

Quote of the Day,

“The moderns have a peculiar propensity for understanding time that passes as if it were really abolishing the past behind it. They all take themselves for Attila, in whose footsteps no grass grows back … they want to keep everything, date everything, because they think they have definitively broken with their past … maniacal destruction is counter-balanced by an equally maniacal conservation.” – Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

STruggling Roles

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Another veiled assault at a blog. My dear ST Journalists, why are you so afraid?
There was once a photo-journalist who shot himself in the head after taking pictures of starving African children.

There was once two journalists who brought about the downfall of the most powerful man on Earth and in so doing, stopped a senseless war in SEA.
ST journalists, you know your own power. Don't you remember?
Remember a few months back during the NKF affair?
Remember how you systematically destroyed TT Durai and ripped his credibility into pieces with your choice of words, headlines, pictures and innuendoes?
Remember how you gently evoked some subtle thematic balances in the reporting of the debacle? Carefully but surely demonising your enemy into public enemy number one.
Remember how you stoked the flames of public hatred squarely onto TT Durai with repeated coverage that he will not resign?
Remember that picture of a defiant Durai?
Remember how you twisted the peanuts out of MM Goh's wife and brought public outrage onto new heights?
Remember how the people and even the new media lauded you, the ST jouralist?
Remember the feeling of being a hero of the People, for once? To be an independent journalist?
When the People thought you did it out of true public interest and not self interest or regime interest?

So tell me ST Journalist. Has the ST found its role yet?
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
"Father, I betrayed you. I trampled on the picture of Christ", said Kichijiro with tears, "In this world are the strong and the weak. The strong never yield to torture and they go to Paradise; but how about those like myself who are born weak ... who when tortured and ordered to trample on the sacred image ..." "There are neither the strong nor the weak. Can anyone say that the weak do not suffer more than the strong?" -- Shusaku Endo, Silence

Monday, October 10, 2005


I am Xenoboy. I am the Political Savant.
While blogosphere rages with the repercussions of the seditious sentencing, harm and offence, freedoms and responsibilities, ayes and nays. Pray not forget that another waits in the gallows.
Quote of the Day,
"A mere day in prison reflects just as hideously as a thousand. At least those two gargoyles are in their twenties and are in possession of a steady job. But my friend here does not; he is a wasted bastard. So would you please be so gracious and benign as to let him off the hook this time? He already is remorseful. To err is human, to admit divine. I am leaving this whole fiasco at that, and I sincerely wish that everyone out there is similarly able to ascertain their capacity to extend their forgiveness."
Sometimes the young see so clearly.
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Mimicry of Puppets : Politicised Conversation with a Ghost

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

In the digital sub-strata of allusion, the following conversations emerged from the shell of a ghost, Molly Meek, the twice dead. (

Molly : In your little parable, the little girl is "told" to put the coin in. The sweet supplier finds a shortfall in his coins. Is violence an option? Practitioners of political coercion are sensitive to the notion of punishment utility. The master can only use negative reinforcement to a limit. The cane is a physical object conveying nothing in its existence. It is the thought of the cane and its signification with Pain that governs the action of the little girl. So we regress back to "conventional tropes" of Singapore politics which you wanted to overturn : Fear.

XenoBoy : Damn. For a shell of a ghost, you remain too inquisitive. The assassin I sent has failed, shafted in the blain by an ethereal dagger. Why did the girl open the trapdoor? I wanted the answer : because she was a little lucky and a little brave. She broke out from the linear conditioning of coin --> open trapdoor --> sweets. Perhaps it is her innocence, before she makes the association between cane and pain. I am confused and riddled by myself.

Molly : Ahh calm down XenoBoy. Lets move on to Ethics. What you are always repeating. Cannot Ethics itself be subverted and rendered into a condition of coercion and hence, create an asymmetrical power relationship? The holy and righteous shroud of the Master-Slave dialectic? Hidden under the rubrics of a self-serving Ethics? and ....

XenoBoy : Shut up. Utter relativism and my head spins into infinite slippages and the shadow that ... that ... always looms larger than the mantle of post modernism and its linguistic whore-son post-structuralism. There is simple Ethics. What Mr Wang said : "Put your hands to your heart and say honestly that your linkage was not for altruism but tainted by vain-glory" Put your hand to your heart and feel its beat. A child when first exposed to a scene of slaughter from the picture-box averts her gaze, feels that sense of wrong-ness. There is a Confucian or Mencius allegory of this primordial morality coded into our RNA, DNA or whatever fossilized nano-neural transmitters ... echoed by Locke, evolving a European tradition of natural laws, biological laws, but horrifically subverted by the German Nationalist Historians. If Ethics is subverted what reason do we have to live? ... Oh God ... guess such reasoning fails when I am conversing with a Ghost.

Molly : Took you many twisting sentences to realise this trap huh? Ha! Yes .. moving on to the trapdoor. The trapdoor is both armor and a sword, thrusting into the brain of the child. Erecting this barrier. Limits her power. But ..

XenoBoy : Fuck.

Molly : But ... the trapdoor opens to a smaller box when the girl is her self trapped in the bigger box. The Prisoner in a chamber of mirrors as you once lyrically put it.

XenoBoy : Bear with me as I repeat a Zen koan from Yukio Mishima, "Nansen Kills the Cat". There was a cute kitten that became an object of contention between the Eastern and Western wings of the great temple. The chief priest, Nansen, catches hold of the kitten and asks the contenders, "Why should I not kill the kitten?" No one speaks. Nansen decapitates the kitten. When the chief disciple, Joshu returns from his errand and realises what has transpired. He removes his muddied shoes and places them on his head. Nansen laments that if Joshu had been present, the kitten's life would have been spared. Nansen's action is the Murdering Sword. Insensibility begets a practice where the violent cutting away removes all contradiction and discord between Self and Other. Joshu's action represents the Life-Giving Sword. He cuts himself with such a humiliating gesture that he demonstrates the way of Buddha. The little girl in the Prison Cell knows she is imprisoned. Her only possible action to break from this state of imprisonment condenses into that simple action of opening the trapdoor without putting the coin; be it fear, pain, embarassment, humiliation. She frees herself while imprisoned. Life-Giving Sword.

Molly : Put your hand to your heart and tell me you thought of this when you were penning the parable.


Molly : I forgive you.

And with those words, the little child walks free from the ruins of the mirrors.

And with those words, the savant falls below the bimbo.

And with those words, audibly, the frozen part of his heart dissolves. (Murakami "Kafka by the Shore)

And with those words, the ass saw the angel (Nick Cave).

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Political Production of Fear in Singapore

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Think. The title of this entry conjures the conventional tropes in Singapore politics. Singaporeans are conditioned to fear of all things political. In a coffeeshop in Telok Kurau, the poor man by the table slams the PAP. Bloodsuckers all. I die rich while my CPF bloats. The same man circles the circled lightning logo returning the PAP to represent him.
The riddle of Singapore politics explained conveniently as Fear.
Political ministrations in Singapore can no longer adequately be thus explained. Moving the discourse beyond the ballot box, beyond conditioned fear, political sustenance is determined purely on the will of the ruled. Ideological shades may change, political systems can be tweaked, but political survival hinges on this will.
In Singapore this year, two events manifested this will. The Casino. The National Kidney Foundation. The third probable event, the General Elections manifests the will too. But this latter will is strictly manufactured, controlled and channelled in an election environment.
Fear is produced when the will of the ruled is spontaneously triggered. Predictability ratios enter a dramatic tailspin. A potential political event horizon that is inimical to the very spirit of Singapore.
The majority of Singaporeans are products of a rigorous social system. We are armed with strong education, analytical skills, the ability to make sense. This Singaporean is potentially powerful; forget the usual automaton categorisation of Singaporeans. Temperance occurs in the form of imbibing social values reflective of the ruling party's success. Channelling the potential power into a dependency relationship with the one-dimensional, non-negotiable Axioms of economic stability, morality, incorruptibility, meritocracy.
The Casino and the NKF threaten(ed) these Axioms. The majority of Singaporeans, who swear by these Axioms and vote by these Axioms, are the most outraged by the Casino and the NKF. In varying degrees, the State channelled the spontaneous eruption of the will, utilising the media, public messaging and the illusion of debate to assuage the outrage. Exhausting the Casino outrage in the production of exhaustive State-sponsored research and riddling away the NKF complicity with the sacrifice of Durai.
The Fear in Singapore Politics is located in this Singaporean who forces the State machinery to respond. Paradoxically, the most complete product of the system, who in normal circumstance, swears by the ruling party. Righteous and essentialist, capable of outrage.
The child is told that if she puts one dollar in the machine, the trapdoor is unlocked and she gets a box of sweets. One day, the child decides to try the trapdoor without putting the coin. The trapdoor opens and the box of sweets appears nonetheless. She was that powerful but she did not know it.
Why did she open the trapdoor without the coin?
The political production of Fear can be reversed.
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Quote of the day : "Because the people believed Lono -- Captain Cook -- was a god they worshipped him and exalted him ... If Cook went ashore many of the people ran away in fright and the rest bowed down in a worshipful manner. He was led to the house of the gods and into the temple also and he was worshipped there. He allowed the worshipping like Herod did. He did not put a stop to it. Perhaps one can assume that because of this error on the part of Cook and because he caused venereal disease to spread here (Hawaii), God struck him dead." -- The Apotheosis of Capt Cook, European Mythmaking in the Pacific, Gananath Obeyesekere