Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Anti-ISA Circus is in Town

It is strange that when Najib decided to repeal the ISA in Malaysia clearly for his own political survival, it stirred this hornet's nest in Singapore. Suddenly, our NGOs start clamouring for something similar and ex detainees start demanding redress for their "wrongful" detentions years past. What's worst, the liberal media starts imagining that there are hundreds of thousands of oppressed Singaporeans willing to go Bersih-like and start demonstrating down the streets.

People Care about Housing, Transport, Healthcare, Education, Not ISA

The funny thing is that most Singaporeans actually do not care; they did throng the streets but for the carnival of the F1. Despite the efforts of the esteemed TOC and even the oft-reviled Straits Times to create some kind of groundswell for this ISA issue, Singaporeans are just not talking about it. James Gomez and his Singaporeans for Democracy imported two foreign talent politicians to talk about the issue and it reached the ears of a ground-shattering 50 people in a pub. There is simply no buzz.

This is something of a lesson here for NGOs and ex-detainees alike; rather than flog a dead horse, they should focus on issues of greater currency and relevance? Ms Teo Soh Lung should know and have learnt by now surely? If Singaporeans wanted to take on her baggage and fight for her "wrongful" detention, the people of Yuhua SMC would have simply voted her into Parliament when she stood for election in May 2011. She had the entire stage in her numerous rallies to convince and persuade Singaporeans to her case but did she win? Nope. Was it even close? Nope again. But are Singaporeans blind, nope, when articulated correctly, Singaporeans disposed of a reigning PAP Foreign Minister and delivered a GRC into the hands of the Opposition. Most Singaporeans, like the constituents of Yuhua, have some sympathy for Ms Teo but that's about all.

COI and Much Ado About Nothing

Civil society in Singapore must know what are the issues that nauseate Singaporeans and not just ape vacuous liberal ideas that have no relevance in Singapore. We could be a monarchy for goodness sake and people will still be happy if their needs are met in a relevant manner. Trying to drum up some kind of Jasmine or Arab Spring in Singapore via this ISA issue is just downright silly. There is no groundswell over this ISA issue and even less over the "wrongful" detention of Ms Teo in Spectrum. And now, even the pre-Spectrum detainees have jumped on the bandwagon and are demanding their cases re-opened in front of a COI.

May I ask the question that no one seems to have thought of since most of the minority think that they are innocent ie what if the COI finds them guilty again despite all the show and tell they are allowed in the COI?? Do you think the ex-detainees will than suddenly see the light and quietly plead guilty again? Fat hope. If so, what then is the true motive of this COI but for this 16 to turn the COI into another platform for them to whine about their deeds and hopefully create a groundswell since they have failed in their numerous books, on the Internet and in the electoral hustings to awaken Singaporeans to their "grievances".

In the end, Singaporeans are not stupid. For Ms Teo and her comrades, perhaps if you can get the thousands of people who have been detained by the ISA and CLTP to sign this blood oath with you and get another hundred thousand Singaporeans to march behind you than maybe you will get the redress you crave; if not, just do the simple thing and move on, there are more pressing issues which Singaporeans need a voice for from their politicians and their civil society.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Why I am not a “PAP die hard”

Our recent presidential election (PE) had as much drama as any TV addict could hope for: four pre-qualified candidates (when all previous PEs after 1993 failed to produce even two!) and a recount that created a nation of temporary insomniacs.

Now it’s all over and the Net is awash with post-hoc analyses about why who got how many votes and so on. Much of it, however, lacks any real depth. (The only exception, perhaps, comes from Yawning Bread).

You see, I voted for TT; by some accounts, I am now labelled – along with 35% of my fellow voters – as a “PAP die-hard.”

I detest that label. I am not a PAP die-hard and had in fact voted opposition during the GE.

It was in fact a process of elimination.

First, as the president is an apolitical position, I tried to view each individual as such.

I could not in good conscience not vote for TKL because he appeared to be very much out of his depth. During the exchanges/debates, he was clearly outclassed by the other three candidates. He tried to be like a favourite uncle, but I was voting for a president, not an uncle.

I saw TJS as being divisive; sure, he had grand plans and promises, but the issues he raised are meant for Parliament. Given the role of the president as defined by the Constitution, I felt that there was a fundamental misfit between the person and the post.

I remained undecided between TT and TCB until polling day itself.

I did not buy TT’s claim that we need him as president because of the impending financial crisis. After all, in a fire, our best fire fighters should ideally be in the SCDF, not the Istana. Hence, he should have stayed in GIC. I also did not feel that he (or MINDEF) had adequately addressed the brouhaha over Dr Patrick Tan’s NS obligations.

TCB’s plan to boot the Prime Minister out of the Istana did not make sense to me. I did not see it as congruent with his claim that he would unify Singaporeans; after all, how can one unify a country if he feels he cannot stay and work in the same compound (and a very large one at that) as the Prime Minister?

My one vote was precious to me. I did my due diligence and thought over my decision carefully. I believe that many other voters likewise did not take their decision lightly. Those who are too quick to label voters as “die hard” fans (of either the PAP or anyone else) are guilty of shallow reasoning.