And so too must we understand what PM Lee really means when he wants a revamp of the PAP's image to be "hip and happening". The themes of the PAP will remain. Unchanged. When the crunch comes, the State will still raise its mandate, its monopoly on discourse to determine what is acceptable and what is not. To make me, to make us. This call is eerily like what STOMP is all about. It makes the appearance more approachable, more in sync with current fads and trends, but the messaging is the same. Nothing will change. This call then betrays the recent flurry of overtures between Government and the young Singaporean. Looks good politically, but never lacking the depth, the thinking overhaul that is needed. Its changing the screensaver not re-booting the system with necessary patches.
The human mind is constructed to recall soothing memories. It pushes away pain. This is the basis of trauma, of the silenced victims who cannot recall horror without a collapse of consciousness. So this remake of the PAP will be soothing for many Singaporeans, not all, but many enough. There will be a perception of change, of relevancy. But as it is stated, change is only at the surface. The themes will not change. The song will remain the same.
What is worrying is this. The objective of this "change" is to engage with a younger set of Singaporeans. Engagement as I can now fully understand based on PM's remarks is this : simply to talk and persuade, cajole, bribe them to the State's cause. Its not a discourse to effect any real change. Its engagement discourse is designed to include you into their policies of exclusion. And this remake of the PAP for greater engagement translates to making young Singaporeans more receptive to the State messaging insturments. Programmed to receive.
Your lips move
but I can't hear what you're sayin'.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I can't explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.
So for those who pursue an alternative narrative for Singapore or who envision a different possibility for Singapore, the task becomes harder. They will not be able to hear what you are saying. They will not understand the urgency. They are just comfortably numb.
It is not sinister, just politics. As the ruling party understands its growing disconnect with the future crucial demographic of Singaporeans, it puts in place its remedies. It is a simple way of ensuring that its captaincy of the ship is assured. Its like the campaign of 4 million smiles, phase 1 this route, phase 2 another angle. Final phase : 4 million perfectly crafted smiles.
But as the State goes down this road, it creates the counter-discursive possibilities. To get under and between this engagement strategy and challenge the core of the message. We still have the space in cyber-space to mount this challenge. Yellow boxing this space appears to be beyond the abilities of the State. And so far as it is unable to, we have this opportunity denied to many Singaporeans in the past.
And so we can gather all these strands of alt discourse, alt culture activities, and cast these strands into a network of windows in cyberspace for the confortably numb to feel unconfortable. Create little disjunctures, like flickers on your screen, in the transmission of this newly dressed State discourse. And let this dissonance take its course and see where it leads the Singapore consciousness. It will definitely be better than here and now.
Quote of the Day --
"The experiences of the 25 people recorded in this book will, I am sure, jolt the reader's mind ... if we are to surmount the crisis of the nuclear age, we must begin by chiseling deep into our minds the cruel events that the survivors have put into words for us." -- Naomi Shohno, Hibakusha : Survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki