The biting reticence of Singaporeans
Two articles worthy to read appeared in today's Sunday Times. 'Time to tolerate political diversity' by Cherian George and 'Feeling like the least favourite child' by Nur Dianah Suhaimi. Both expressed an inner feeling of what things are and what were their aspirations of how things could be better from two groups of disfavoured children of paradise. Let me deal with Cherian's piece first and Nur Dianah's in another post. Cherian George dealt with three issues, political intolerance, lacking of civility in politics and passionate people wanting a better Singapore for all Singaporeans. We have seen the worst of political intolerance in our history and this intolerance is not going to go away. It may get worst. It is already in our blood. The victims were people who chose to take a different path, join a different political party and sing a different song. Even when they were doing all these legitimately, legally as far as our constitution and political system granted them, their fate was absymal. This is mixed with a high dosage of lacking in civility on both sides. Yes, both sides. None is better than the other as far as civility is concerned. And this has led to a point that good people would not join the alternative parties and neither will they want to be seen to be associated with the ruling party. As Cherian George put it, 'Nobody should be surprised when either bully talk by those with power or histrionics by those without leave the broad middle ground turned off....There is that well known fear of taking positions that can be construed as anti government. But there are also talented young people who feel embarrassed about joining the Government because their peers scorn such a path as lacking in idealism.' A kind of sell out of principles and idealism I supposed. Lately there have been many calls by well meaning Singaporeans in power or close to the power saying that Singaporeans must speak out fearlessly, with passion and sincerity. There is this belief, or new trend of thought, that being passionate and sincere is a licence to say speak freely. I hope this is real. Turning back to what Chua Lee Hoong wrote yesterday, that we are now unfurling our authoritarian flag unashammingly and with pride, would we see a meaningful change in our political culture and political system? Or we are seeing encouragement to stride proudly into the realms of authoritarianism? We should not be confused with having a tough govt making tough decisions for the good of the people and an authoritarian govt that runs a country for their own good. The two are not synonymous.