Monday, September 25, 2006

Our Differences

"They must, instead, stay and make a difference."

To make a difference. To make a difference. Must make a difference. Must. Stay. Difference.

I am brought back to one of my earlier entries. Very early entry. About making a difference. "What do you want to do when you go back? Why ... to make a difference, of course." To make a difference.

Define difference. How can difference surface in Singapore?

"What was important, he said, was not so much the medium used." "What you really need is also not just the medium but to be on the same wavelength as the young people, to know what the young people are concerned about and to be able to talk to them so that they connect, their concerns, their issues"

The medium is everything. The medium is the newspapers. The medium is in civil society. The medium is in music. The medium is in art. The medium is in film. The medium is everything; for difference to be made, to be noticed, to be effective. To signal, to hope, to dream. But when all the mediums are licensed and all have invisible and shifting OB markers and all operate in an environment of imminent censorship ... how can difference be born? How can difference prosper? How can difference be heard. And ultimately, how can difference be made?

If these mediums are tuned only to reflect concerns and issues deemed acceptable, than how can these mediums enable connection? How will difference be known? How can difference surface? How can difference be made? The truth is this. In Singapore, is there space to accept difference or only acceptable difference?

How about stopping the political victimisation of residents in Hougang and Potong Pasir for a start? How about giving these Singaporeans parity in a National programme? That is difference. Palpable difference.

To make difference, you need to be free from fear. Not only the citizens. But more importantly, the government, the ruling party, the authorities. It is these institutions which need to be free from fear. To stop fearing that Singaporeans are on the brink of revolt, that Singaporeans are plotting riots at every opportunity. When these institutions should be fearing that Singaporeans just do not care. Provide the housing, provide the infrastructure and thats enough. They do not care beyond the infrastructures. There is no Singapore in their minds, only infrastructures.

While those who care, leave. Those who imagine, leave. Finding more space elsewhere to make a difference. Space, space, space. Thats what you need to make a difference. To create difference.

Where are we? Back to the same unfulfilled promises.

How can a young Singaporean, with access to the world via a click, be obliged, to stay, to make a difference when she knows that difference is not there for the making? How much more courage does the State demand when the young can see for themselves what happens when difference is made in Singapore? Its not even Chee, just look at Seelan of the 400 Frowns. Just look at Mr Brown. How much more courage is demanded to stay, to make a difference?

No. There is no obligation for the young to stay and make a difference when there is no space to accept difference but only acceptable difference. There is no obligation to stay and make a difference when difference has no medium to flourish. There is no obligation to stay and make a difference when fear cripples difference. There is no obligation when difference is not free.

For some its better to just run. As if they had a choice. They hear another voice. Its louder and they are running for their lives. To a place where there are lights, lights and not only empty spaces, empty vassals.

They are running to make a difference.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Atilla The Han said...

I like your post. So to the point. It is very representative of what very many of us out there feel.

But this govt has entrenched itself so well (at least that's what it thinks) that it no longer really cared about how the citizens are affected by its very and myriad policies that basically ruled us from cradle to grave.

It's bottomline is not citizens' welfare and well being, but the viability of its own rule and control never mind if some Singaporeans have to suffer to pay the price, even tragic ones, for its continued own selfish and self-serving dominance.

It is a morbid empty rationalisation that the state must prevail, even as an empty edifice, a souless shell decorated and window-dressed with a beautiful veneer and facade of sky scrapers, mammoth buildings 'dedicated' to the arty-farty, spanking new govt buildings and complexes that obliged high maintenance costs, etc. The urge to build and build expensive grand buildings to reflect on the rulers' 'greatness' and 'great achivevements' reminds you of what Marcos of the Philippines did before his fall from power under the weight of people's power.

History is repleat with instances of how a tiny stubborn spark of peaceful passive resistance had eventually engulfed and brought down enslaving regimes when the spark turned into a gigantic explosion of retributive rebellion by an erstwhile docile populace.

Enough is enough. the rulers are fond of springing OB markers on its people. But they themselves are in great perils of over-stepping OB markers that the general population has drawn for them. So, watch it!

7:24 PM  
Blogger sei-ji rakugaki said...

i like the part on difference and palpable difference...

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great entry and awesome song

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pray that for each person who runs to make a difference, many others are not running to stand still at the end.

Amen.

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I care. I imagine. I dream. I stayed.

We can make a difference.

It is when you believe you cannot, that's when you lose to yourself. Nothing else.

Our enemies? Only ourselves.

1:18 AM  
Blogger The Dragon Prince said...

Partly agree with you.

The part which I do notagree with is that we should wait for the govt to give us the space.

This is the mindset which we must change.

If the people do not push and demand (yes, demand!) space, space will never come about.

As for those who leave, they are people who will not make a difference anyway. Those who would really make any difference are those who stay IN SPITE OF the lack of space.

They are the ones who would push and demand space.

And by doing so, they are the ones who will make the real difference.

Thus, I take my hat off to Dr Chee.

No matter what we think of him, he is staying and surrendering everything to..

Make a difference.

10:03 PM  
Blogger expat@large said...

Another great post XB. Great song too!

"Line up line up,
As if you have a choice...

Louder Louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak, I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say"

... Sometimes I understand thanks to your blog.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Kaffein said...

Well said and put. Speaks from our hearts, at least mine.

Many times, I feel that the govmt says stuff just to assure itself to feel good that it is listening to the masses. And to propagate that they are trying to.

Most people know a sincere gesture when they meet one. For this case, it is another attempt to close the gap. And failing miserably.

It's akin to putting a suggestion box and writing a notice "We value your feedback". When in actual fact, it is the cleaning lady that opens the box to dump the feedback papers in her trashbag.

That's how I feel. I have stopped writing to the ST.

Also, staying to make a difference is bull, IMHO. I don't have so much money to pay lawyer fees and libel suits. Go figure.

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Difference?
We're not short on differences
I see it everywhere...

I see how we're treated different from the talents from beyond the seas.

I see difference when deciding who should die & who should live.
Who should have lifts at their doorsteps while others should climb.

I see our sons serving the armed forces while the children of complete strangers studied for free to help widen the difference.

I see how we must justify our actions, our spendings, our lives, to produce results, so as to keep our jobs, our happiness, our freedoms.

while the great minds from far shores had only to weave dreams of grandeur & empty promises of prosperity, whispering tales of greatness that would follow should we accept, embrace their difference.

I don't see a lack of difference at all...

Yet, to most, we can only respond with dejected INdifference...

INdifference to what is the acceptable difference.

This nation is like a ship...alas a sinking one.
Call us lowly rats,

but who can blame the rodents that abandoned a floating wreck?

6:49 AM  
Blogger crankyed said...

Crikey! XB Da WordSmite is in da house!

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Xenoboy, for saying what so many feel but cannot, or don't know how to, say.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hypocritical doublespeak by the pm. They only want the pap prescribed differences. We all know what happened to those Singaporeans with non-pap prescribed differences (i.e. sued till bankrupt tactic). Those that can make a difference don't have the balls to make a difference, i.e. all the various new pap cadre for the average native Singaporeans. Empty words & promises.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous red11 said...

This is a great entry. I truly enjoyed reading it. Thanks, XB.

One day - would it even take 100 years down the road? - when S'pore fails as a country, when S'pore ceases to exist to as a country, or perhaps when multi-party political representation sees the light of day, it would be interesting and illuminating to see, learn and read about the "unacceptable differences" that have not been heard in the past 40 years, those unheard voices.

The unknown and unheard history of Singapore.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hve. always enjoy yr writings....pse keep on...its people like U amd Dr.Chee who will make a difference...

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Remember remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot... "

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too true, what you say.

Difference? The kiasu government has no idea what it is because it has already stomped all over it before even taking a good look.

We'll tell you how to be different they say. You don't have to think for yourself. We'll do the thinking for you because we're smarter than you, you know?

10:13 AM  

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