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4/23/2007

IN THE PAST, WHEN YOU WERE CHIEF MINISTER, YOUTHS PLAYED A POLITICALLY-ACTIVE ROLE. HOW HAS THE ROLE OF YOUTHS CHANGED AS COMPARED TO THE PAST? The role of youths! Ha! In my time, I tried to educate our people in an understanding of the dignity of human life and their right as fellow human beings, and youth was not only interested but excited about what I consider things that matter. Things of the spirit; the development of a human being to his true potential in accordance with his own personal genius in the context of equal rights of others. Today, youth is interested in getting paper qualification and, as soon as possible, shoveling gold into their bank accounts. It’s a different world, even the law. I am a consultant here [Drew & Napier]. When I left in ’78, there were three partners – it was supposed to be a big firm; two assistants – we were a big firm; 17 staff. This office has four floors. They think that it is a waste of time to use the lift so we have an internal staircase. We have more than 90 lawyers, more than 200 secretaries and I don’t know how many staff. The law is no longer a vocation, it is a business. Everything is geared to business! Of course, there is this pragmatic development of our country. Ah, our rising expectations of a pragmatic character! It is a fantastic and almost a miraculous development in my lifetime. When I was Chief Minister, there were men dying of starvation and because of ‘beri-beri’. I took my PA [personal assistant] and an Inspector of Police for night at midnight. For two hours, we toured Singapore and we estimated there were two ten thousand men sleeping on the pavements. No homes. Today - no unemployment, no homeless. I started this business of building homes for our people. Compare the puny work I achieved and the fantastic HDB homes that are available today for our people. I am deeply impressed and I take off my hat to this very able honest government. Dedicated! But I am seen as a critic and I am a critic. I am frankly terrified by this massive control of the mass media, the press, the radio, television, antennae, [and] public meetings. You can’t write a letter to the Straits Times; if there is a shadow of criticism, it’s not published. And the Chinese press follows suit. It’s a very dangerous position because experience proves that no one group of human beings has got all the wisdom in the world. I mean… well, two of you are Chinese and one Indian [Ed: actually, the interviewers were one Chinese, one Jew and one Indian]. I don’t know much about Indian history but look at China. You had Confucian authoritarianism for more than 2500 years. What happened to China? She was a fossil. She had to reinvigorate herself with the Western ideology of communism. Another authoritarian ideology! And what was the result? There must have been a million decent people who were transformed into vipers, vicious obscene vipers. I’m afraid of this control of the mass media. And are youths the miasma of apathetic subservience to authority? But you say to yourselves, “Well, you know, what do we seek in life? We seek a rice bowl, full!” It is full and overflowing, in fact. They serve you your rice in a jade bowl with golden chopsticks; not that it makes much difference to the taste of the rice. But you’re empty! You’ve got technocratic skills and you are seeking more but internally you are empty. Money is your acid test of success. I’ve got nothing against money. I’d like to have money myself! I’d like to have a house and a garden and dogs and a car and a chauffeur but, look, I’ve got a flat. I’ve got a swimming pool attached to the flat. I’ve not even got a car but I use taxis. I have a dignified way of life without being wealthy. I don’t see the necessity of owning a Mercedes-Benz and a swimming pool and a couple of mistresses. I think we’ve got our values all wrong. You know $96,000 a month for a Prime Minister and $60,000 a month for a minister. What the hell do you do with all that money? You can’t eat it! What do you do with it? Your children don’t need all that money. My children have had the best of education. In fact, I’m very proud of them. One of them is a senior registrar to two major hospitals in Oxford. Another of them is a consultant in European law to the Securities and Investment Board in the United Kingdom. They’ve had their education. There are no complaints. I never earned $60,000 a month or $90,000 a month. When I was Chief Minister, I earned $8,000 a month. Look, what is happening today is we are encouraged to and are becoming worshippers of the Golden Calf. We have lost sight of the joy and excitement of public service, helping our fellow men. The joy and excitement of seeking and understanding of the joy of the miracle of the living the duty and the grandeur. We have lost taste for heroic action in the service of our people. We have become good bourgeois seeking comfort, security. It’s like seeking a crystal coffin and being fed by intravenous injections through pipes in the crystal coffin; crystal coffins stuck with certificates of your pragmatic abilities. What has changed? The self-confidence of our people has grown immensely, and that is good to see. Our pragmatic abilities have grown magnificently, and that is good to see. Very good to see! You are very able. You’re ambitious, and the government has heroic plans for the future. It hasn’t finished. I take off my hat to the pragmatic ability of our government but there is no soul in our conduct. It is a difficult thing to speak of because it is difficult to put in a computer, and the youth of Singapore is accustomed to computer fault. There is no longer the intellectual ferment, the passionate argument for a better civilisation. The emphasis on the rice bowl! Tell me I’m wrong, come on. THE PAP GOVERNMENT HAS INDEED DONE A GREAT DEAL FOR SINGAPORE. HOWEVER, THERE IS AN INCREASING DEGREE OF DISCONTENT GROWING AMONGST OUR YOUTHS AGAINST THEM. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS HAPPENING? Our lives are empty. The above is an extract of an interview with David Marshall posted at http://thinkhappiness.blogspot.com/2006/08/meeting-david-marshall-in-1994.html. Have we cheapen public service and the passion to serve our nation and people? Or Singaporeans are all a bunch of money grabbers and nothing else?

4 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

I always admired David Marshall for his mind, his insights, his amazing communication skills, his love of jurisprudence...and probably his most notable trait sadly lacking in the society in general—his PASSION.

However, I can't stand and am in almost total disagreement with his politics. HE also comes across occasionally as "holier-than-thou" with an air of "moral superiority" or spiritual pride, so it is important to keep one's wits about oneself and take his statements with a grain of salt.

There is no doubt however, that the man was a compelling speaker (I myself am a trained public speaker), and writer, IMO THE consummate communicator whose passion was infectious, which is why he spoke to PACKED audiences who hung onto every word. I used to like listening to him for the sole purpose of becoming a better and more effective communicator myself—although I disagreed with him on many fronts.

It is therefore wise to look beyond the man's passion and to evaluate his statements in the cold, hard light of day.

Al in all, he was a "voice of conscience" and a man who loved his country and was willingly to defend it against tyranny and absolute state power. It is important to accept the fact that Mr Marshall and Mr Lee were political rivals since the 50's, right up until Mr Marshall's death.

I don't care which way a person's political compass points—the fact that someone is willing to come out and speak against the government because it needs to be done wins my respect. Every citizen has the right and the responsibility (to himself) to determine the nature and function of HOW his countryis to be administered and governed.

Some quotes worth pondering:

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." ~ Thomas Jefferson (American Founding Father)

“Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.” ~ Henry Steele Commager (Historian)

“Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.” ~ H. L. Mencken (Writer & Social critic)

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government” ~ Edward Abbey (Environmentalist)

“The government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.” ~ Mark Twain (Author & Social critic)

redbean said...

dissidents or patriots are but two sides of a coin, depending on which side one chooses to see.

the worst enemies to the state are those who knows that things are not right but keep cheering the leaders to go on. the other kind of state enemies are the unthinking kind.

if the people are thinking, the govt will listen. if the people surrender their ability and right to think, the govt will think for them.

and this is happening now.

Matilah_Singapura said...

"Be patriotic to your country, always, and to your government only when they deserve it." ~ Mark Twain

Again redbean, your perpetual mistake is conflating the ideas of "state" and "country" into one—I do believe that you are simply unaware of your conditioning, which is I supposed forgivable, as most people who have grown up in Singapore and educated by the PAP's MOE syllabus are.

Present generations are so conditioned by the lack of diversity in political and social thought—never mind individual thought—that idea is essentially ALIEN to Singapore society. Hence the need to "import" peoples from other cultures more "individualistic" in nature.

Anyway back to Marshall—notice how "morally superior" he comes across—almost "boasting" that he lives a ascetic life as he states:

"I have a dignified way of life without being wealthy."

(I don't wish to speak ill of the dead, but what the heck, I'll point out some "spiritual contradictions"...)

Tut tut, Mr Marshall, do I sense a smidgen of judgmental spiritual pride creeping in there? I've always contended that "humility is the worst form of conceit" and David Marshall's statement proves my point.

--------------

"Our lives are empty."

Speak for yourself, and only for yourself, ArseHole!

Anyone who makes a claim like this is being a TOTAL idiot. In a sense, what he is saying:

"I don't know what to do with my life—I have neither the idea, nor the will, nor the courage nor the energy on how to fill up this 'void" with 'meaning'. I'm still waiting for 'someone' to do it for me."

If this is the kind of thinking the youth of Singapore have, the the country is totally doomed to spiral down the toilet of personal non-accountability into the universal cesspool of victimhood.

Wake the fuck up, and be at least GRATEFUL that you are alive, with possibility all around you... you spoilt, spineless, lazy, cowardly, cry-baby, ungrateful, unfilial, unspiritual DUMB MotherFucker!

Leo said...

$8,000 a month as Chief Minister? Was that in 1950's dollar? Back then you could get mee rebus for what? 5cents? 10 cents? Today it's $2 at the cheapest hawker centre. 20 to 40X increase.

By that measure, $8,000 then is roughly about $160,000 (at 20X).