Monday, June 06, 2005

12 days: As free as a barnacle.

In other news from the homefront, which i'll be visiting so soon it scares me:

Apparently,all the cynics in Singapore are not being real.. we gotta get real lah, says Minister Wong, we don't live in the real world at all, we're like in the Matrix you know? Forever thinking there's a conspiracy theory.. but as you all know, the Matrix is a real as it gets. So ya.. get real people.

A ST Version available here, and also on Singapore Rebel VERSUS the Reuters version:

Stuff in Reuters that ST left out:

"In an annual report released on Wednesday, rights group Amnesty International slammed Singapore's human rights record, saying that control on political expression in the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state remained tight despite Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's repeated calls for more openness.

The U.S. State Department, in its 2004 report on Singapore, sharply criticised the country for using libel suits to intimidate opposition politicians, saying the threat of libel has stifled political opinion and disadvantaged opposition.

Early this month, a 23-year-old Singapore student in the United States shut down his personal Web site after a government agency threatened a libel suit for comments he made on the blog.

..... International free-press advocates have repeatedly criticised Singapore for its tight media control.

The government bans non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes, and publications need permits to circulate. Films and TV shows are routinely censored for sex and violence.

..... Singapore has been ruled by the People's Action Party since independence in 1965. Its 84-member Parliament has only two opposition members."

I wouldn't be surprised if they had a word file titled "S'pore extra filler info" with all of the above and just cut-and-paste into every relevant story.. but still, fact is fact mah. And how come never appear in ST version? M. Nirmala don't read Reuters ah?

And the most important section to me, from the ST version, my comments in bold:

Singaporeans on the one hand are being asked to be open and express their views and feelings. But on the other hand, the police have called up film-maker Martyn See over a documentary on opposition politician Chee Soon Juan. Is there a conflict or contradiction here?

No, there is no conflict.

A political video is not a good means of reaching out to people and engaging them and explaining rational policies.

(then how? hold a talk? oh no wait... must apply for license.. give a speech? oh no wait.. must apply for license.. wah difficult man.)

Political videos, by their very nature, will be political, will be biased and, therefore, will not be able to allow the listener or the viewer to see a whole range of arguments.

(ohhhh.. but this interview with you... and without Mr. See or any other "alternative arguments" does provide in itself a full range of the arguments... so the government speaking with one voice is not biased because they always give us a whole range of arguments, but when extra pple want to talk, they are biased and not adding to the full range of arguments. Big scale lah Mr. Wong.. u must see Big Picture. And your logic very weird)

So that is why many years ago, a Bill was passed to amend the Films Act to disallow political videos. And this law doesn't just apply to opposition parties or to Martyn See. The law applies to the PAP, too.

Last year, when we had our 50th anniversary celebrations, there were many ideas about doing a video on the party's achievements.

But in the end, even though the idea was very good, we did not proceed with it.

(No need what. Already go Lao Lee's memoirs. Best seller in Popular! Last time I also got a CD program on Lao Lee and his achievements u know, but i guess that was made before all the laws about non-political things came into effect. Lao Lee very lucky.)

And the Women's Wing also wanted to produce a video about its work in the last 10 years and we said 'no'.

So the law is even-handed and it is applied to everyone.

Where we have laws, we must enforce them. We must not make a mockery of the law.

(Warning: Cheap shot : No need to mock something that mocks itself lah)

Does the law apply to television stations that put out interviews and programmes on PAP ministers?

That is not a political video. That's a broadcaster and a content provider doing a job.

It is done in other places.

I is confused. Films on political figures also done in other places mah. Programmes on PAP ministers is okay? Please lah, some of the ST interviews read like a PR release from PAP can? Summore last time had that follow an MP for a day thing. So can assume broadcaster and content provider to be completely neutral and unbiased, even though Mediacorp is completely owned by Temasek Holdings. And plus Mah Bow Tan used to work in SBC as some chief ed or something. The plot thickens.

This is da man who wants us to get down and get real:

And dear how's-the-curry PH, who wouldn't let me quote him unless I called him The Great and acknowledged I owe him S$30 bucks, made me laugh like crazy over MSN when he said in response to my comment on the Singapore Rebel:

"U must understand da PAP lah, can say they fuck up, but cannot say other pple better."


Lars said...

The more you tell me about this, the more I want to go there. Wonder how any of this is possible to say with a straight face.

mangomaiden said...

Jess, i LOVE your comments in bold and agree with them on every bloody fucking count.

alvin said...

i'm quite curious as to what kind of state you (and many others) want singapore to be, exactly.. and whether you can say with a straight face that such a destination is possible

Anonymous said...

and i wonder if you can say with a straight face that if you were stripped off of everything singapore has provided for you, you'd be better off.

you are where you are because of your coutry's system.
you could have been worse off, and not have a say on the worldwide web.
you may not even have the means/ability to voice your views.

take things more lightly, my dears.

Lars said...

Hey Alvin!

Why is criticism of a system she's a part of not seen as care and concern for it? And isn't it wrong to treat objections to the system (that is made of people) as if it came from minors?

Less either or!

panaphobic said...

Anonymous: anonymous comments are extremely unwelcomed. Please be willing to be accountable for your opinions, if not, refrain from making any at all.

Alvin: the main point of contention I have right now is the contradictory signs the government sends out, which I feel insults me because it is very patronising and I feel like a little kid that you can placate with candy. And whether or not the destination is possible : how is that even relevant? If you only do things that you know for sure 100% it will work out, then nothing would ever get done - because honestly, how can you ever ever ever know?

anonymous: since when did my criticism of what singapore is like has got anything to do with being ungrateful? Is my government some sort of benefactors that immediately wins my respect and undying love because they gave me a good life in the beginning? Why do countries all over the world constantly hold elections and kick out governments that were initially good for them? The government is not my parents, I am not obliged to love and not criticise just because they have provided for me initially. Even with parents, not everyone feels obliged to them these days.

It is precisely this attitude "be grateful for what you have because you could be much worse and have a much worse government" that is slowing down the progress of our country. It is extremely pissifying. There should ALWAYS be criticism, there should ALWAYS be some form of dissent, there should ALWAYS be people seeinghow things can be better and trying to make it so.

I have more to say on the matter, and I apologise for not being completely coherant, but i'm very busy right now, and I will get back to you.

If you have time, dig up my old entry to the link to Tym's blog where she talks about what exactly the government is doing wrong.

mangomaiden said...

Thanks for all the wonderfully points offered Jess. They ARE coherent.

I especially agree with "It is precisely this attitude 'be grateful for what you have because you could be much worse and have a much worse government' that is slowing down the progress of our country."

To me, the highest form of civil disobedience is apathy. And boy is Singapore one of the most rebellious nations in the world.

mangomaiden said...

Oh and annonymous, you're absolutely right about "you are where you are because of your coutry's system." Which is precisely why I believe there is something severely worrying about this particular system.

Regarding your comment that "you could have been worse off, and not have a say on the worldwide web", the fact is even the web does not provide Singaporeans with a safe avenue of expression. Refer to the A*Star case, please.

Alvin: I feel that possibility should not be condemned or confused for probability.

alvin said...

oops, look at what i have created

maybe i wasn't being clear, but i was being concise and it's hard to do both sometimes. i'll try again: if you could make singapore anything you wanted, what "good" things would it have? complete freedom of speech? viable alternatives to the political incumbent? the press as fourth estate?

then think: do those things really come without cost? if your answer is yes, then we can agree to disagree and end this right here

political systems are inherently flawed - even the great western democracy, which you seem to be using as a yardstick for the rest of the world - because human nature is inherently flawed. attempting to fix these flaws, be it from within or without the political sphere, is a noble but ultimately futile goal.. especially if the method amounts to angry words on the internet and little else

giving the benefit of the doubt, internet-only dissidents are patriots who truly care about their homeland and the people in it.. put bluntly, they suffer from a serious case of over-education

but seriously (everyone), do go on with your discussions, critiques, etc.. after all, right and wrong aren't absolutes - it's who argues the point better.. hehe