Monday, August 11, 2008

Why They Like Singapore

There are some Singaporeans who like Singapore.

They belong to that sacred convenant of Singaporeans who have the most freedom in this island state. Well-schooled through the elite schools and recipients of prestigious scholarships to Oxbridge or the Ivy League, this class of Singaporeans are intelligent, articulate, sagely and well ensconced in the civil service, in the national newspapers, in the major GLCs, which run Clockwork Singapore.

These Singaporeans have it good. They can speak, reason and talk about politics in valuable newspaper space with absolute free reign. What authoritarian Singapore? They ask. They have all the freedom to publish commentaries with absolute impunity. They can talk about the Singapore system, on political accountability, freely without the blighting shadow of defamation.

For these Singaporeans, they cannot understand why other Singaporeans cry bloody murder on freedom of expression, freedom of speech, or the lack of human rights in Singapore. They cannot understand why Westerners hate Singapore.

In their sanguine sagacity, they dismiss these complaining Singaporeans as blue-eyed idealists who will grow out of their angst and accept the system; they scoff at the Western detractors as jealous, as cultural bigots who cannot escape the liberal paradigms they were schooled under.

These Singaporeans, so rational and pragmatic, who always have the answers, rooted deep in an ultra-Rankean historical perspective, for every contradiction apparent in Singapore society today.

Ministerial accountability for a terrorist escape? Look through the annals of history, there is no need. Why this fury?

Raising taxes to help the poor? Look at history and you see that the people have to bite the bullet to survive economic crises.

Gerrymandering in elections? Come on, we are a multi-racial society which needs proportional representation for the sake of democracy.

Every contradiction. A perfect, rational answer. Sometimes backed up with the necessary statistics.

These Singaporeans have absolutely no reason to dislike, what more hate Singapore? They reap the fruits of this nation's spectacular economic success. They enjoy great career success and hold positions of influence in the political, social, economic fields. They are the direct beneficiaries of Singapore Inc, the beautiful meritocracy of controlled political diversity.

These Singaporeans, who read the Singapore Story as how the PAP triumphed against the communists (after riding on the Malayan Communist Party to obtain political power and betraying them), went through a painful Merger with Malaysia (and the launch of Operation Cold Store to remove all the political opponents under the war against Communism), fighting the economic struggles of 1970s (enacting the Trade Union Act, the Newspaper Act, forcing the closure of Nantah and Chinese schools to annihilate all the bastions of Communist mass support), rising to the housing challenge with HDB (the forced repatriation of Singaporeans who received no compensation and the enactment of the grassroots RCs who receive favoured distribution of flats) and the birth of a modern economic miracle ( via the systematic de-politicization of society).

Really, for these Singaporeans, what's there to dislike, much less hate about Singapore? For them, the grass is always green. For them, a 10% pay-cut is just a few hundred off their six figure salaries. For them, the ERP is wonderful for removing congestion. For them, raising bus fares is an alien notion because they do not take buses. For them, Singapore is wonderful, they are free to do anything and they are happy citizens.

They just have to sing One song. They just have to believe in One nation. They just have to see One people.

And these Singaporeans are One Singapore.

Waltzing on a glass floor, looking down on the rest of the country, the rest of the world.

While the rest of us lift our heads and watch them dance through the glass ceiling.


Quote of the Day –

“Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.” – Joseph Goebbels, Hochschule für Politik

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful rebuttal 2 chua lee hoong! bravo!clapz

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is a first for me, both in terms of its kneejerk postulate and how completely off the mark it is.

I've studied in the better schools in Singapore, hell, I'm even in an Ivy League college, albeit not on a scholarship. From talking to friends who do fit the profile you've describe, I have yet to encounter anyone who's fully subscribed to state ideology.

In fact, no one I know even comes close to the pointedly defined stereotype mentioned. Perhaps your post might be a response to some letter in the Straits Times, but this post just reeks of illogical, hollow rhetoric that does nothing but stir the masses and widen any divide existing between the typical elite and non-elite Singaporean.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 7:16am

Why so quick to judge? It was pretty amusing to me. Perhaps like most elites in Sg, u lack a sense of humor especially when under the microscope.

Why should xenoboy's writing serve to reduce "any divide existing between typical elite and non-elite Singapore"? That's the job of the PR people in the state political machinery.

If you feel so strongly about this "illogical, hollow rhetoric", you ought to write a rebuttal. Perhaps yours will not stir the masses and widen any divide between typical elites and non-elite Singaporeans.

overseas singaporean

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To overseas Singaporean:

Because there are very few so-called elites who are really ensconced in the bubble described here. Xenoboy's writing doesn't paint a realistic picture of any "elite" I know, and this satire doesn't do anything but drive a hollow misconception.

Writing a rebuttal would insinuate that Xenoboy's post actually had some semblance of logic that I can relate to - unfortunately, I cannot. I know no one who's oblivious to such a extent. Again, the extremities of the caricature of Singaporean elites is understood, but they paint a picture of someone/thing completely alien.

In actuality, anyone who'd qualify for an elite title wouldn't care much for many of the points listed above. These concerns matter little to people when options to leave Singapore are plentiful.

On a final note: being humourless is a great trait, and it goes very well the Singaporean climate. Good thing I'm not in Singapore then.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous of 230pm can just keep quiet actually.

Some will see things wrong here and speak out - like this one

http://feedmetothefish.blogspot.com/2008/08/screwed-again.html

While others will find everything is ok here, no neeeeed to account to the people of Singapore and 'upset' them.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 2:30pm,

I certainly hope for the sake of my family, friends and future of Singapore that not all elites are like what Xenoboy painted out in his article.

Good on you and your mates if you are not totally oblivious to the difficulties facing the under-privileged.

But whatever we discuss or write online, it is just meaningless words if no actions result from such discussions, reading or writing.

If people who are in privileged/influential positions continue to abide state ideologies, whether they believe in it or not, then its just business as usual in Singapore.

And for the rest of us looking up at them, they all look the same.

overseas singaporean

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xenoboy, I enjoyed your prose. But just to wonder aloud: Is there nothing remotely worthwhile to cherish about Singapore?

5:56 PM  
Anonymous AntiCancer said...

There is much to cherish in Singapore....especially the many hard working and decent folks who contributed to the country. They are the reason Singapore is getting by despite the cancer in our society!
And the cancer is this govt and its system which we have allowed to thrive at our expense.

There are many elites who are in the position to make a difference but have chosen to remain silent and passive. Some are seen to rub shoulders with the PAP leadership for whatever reasons and will be viewed as birds of a feather flocking together.
One of the state ideology is that the govt knows best, they have the best to lead the country, so there is no reason to rock the boat. The elites who remain passive and silent are actually conforming to this ideology.

9:26 PM  
Blogger xNSman said...

Great article. My brother-in-law is typical of what you have describe. He seems very happy as long as any changes in policies don't affect him. He listens intensely to what MM lee has to say and will act according to their instructions except for having more than one child.He is like the Straits Times and any discussions on politics, he will answer word for word like Chua Lee Hong. Unfortunately, he is not an elite. I fear for our country when we have people like him running our country and competing against other countries for business.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of many elites. I married one of them.

I see them in their full glory of hypocrisy. They scrutinised policies only where they negatively impact them.

Otherwise, they feel no reason to rock their boat, a very comfortable one too.

Thus, my husband and I have no faith in this country because there will never be change. There are just too many of such elites in the nation.

We de-elitised ourselves by migrating.

Frankly, I don't know why Singaporeans think so highly of people who do well academically. Where I am now, they wouldn't care a hoot unless you prove yourself. That to us, makes it real.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous feedmetothefish said...

Hi Anon of 3.59pm,

Thanks for highlighting my being screwed again by my 'caring staying together moving ahead' govt.

If not for the sense of humour and the wonderful writings by xenoboy and mollymeek, among others, most may have just jump MRT tracks!

Do enjoy the one by Mollymeek http://mollymeek.livejournal.com/197584.html
describing the political editor as a prostitute, bullshitter and a testicles carrier.

Elites or no elites, some feel, some don't.

Some leave, some don't.

To each his own.

feedmetothefish

2:25 AM  
Blogger expat@large said...

clacking away on chinese calculator - 10% of 100,000s - not equal 100s lah! equal 10,000s, neh?

Fishy question - would elites like anonymous7:16, embedded in their elitism, ever discover the elite fluid they swim in, be it evian or nuwater, unless they were waterboarded with it, purely in the quest for Asian valued democracy of course?

-- oops, yet another non-singaporean with an opinion, OMG!

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to anonymous 7:16 ,

Who do you define as "elite"? If i read "elite" as the "creme-de-la-creme" chosen by the PAP to be ministers , political editor(s) and MPs in their party, they must fit into the "bubble" that xenoboy wrote. Otherwise why the silence in parliament despite the unhappiness on the ground. But if you're referring to undergrads in ivy league schools previously from RJC or Hwa Chong etc, I sure hope you don't fit in there yet. But wait till u become "beholden" to the PAP through a scholarship bond or paid millions to join the ranks of the gahmen that can do no wrong , then we'll see if you fit into Xenoboy's description !!

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Onlooker said...

Because it is called elite communism mah.
While the rest like us have to work in a democratic framework.
That why we have someone say that we peasant have porcelain rice bowl while he eat from the Adamantium Rice cooker mah which sadly was put in a place where the rats in rat race make off with a huge portion.
Now who can cook more rice? That why open door to let in those blur blur type to contribute rice lor.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo people. Easy on the kid la.
After he graduates, if he does well, he may become a 2nd tier elite. A bit like the Outer Party.

Sad to say, they are our hope and future. The correct response is to kiss their arse and hope one day they may become unsatisfied with their lot and develop some empathy. After that ... who knows?

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Bigprobe said...

There is so much ball-carrying, licking, blowing in the PAP culture, from 1st tier to whatever tier in the ascendancy.

I rather these young ones learn that there is no short cut to earning respect.
Kissing arse begets kissing arse does not solve problems.
The smart ones don't join the PAP, they know the oldfart and his eunuchs will probe every orifice. LOL

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dictators of Myanmar and Zimbabwe like Singapore too. They could not have gone to any other developed country and felt welcomed!

The rich and powerful likes Singapore too. What other developed country can you purchase human organs?

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All

Elites everywhere are "same same".

Over here on the other side of the Causeway, our PM advised the people to "change your lifestyle" to cope with the inflation unleashed by his drastic hike in petrol prices.

We have much to learn from you. But you can also learn from us, for example, denying your PAP political masters their 2/3 majority in Parliament at the next General Election? Good luck!

Phua Kai Lit

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I like your post, dude. You really have the heart for the average joe on the streets.

Glad you're a Singaporean! And thank you for doing what you do.

12:01 PM  

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