Ladies and Gentlemen,
Miss Alice Wong, not her real name spoke to me yesterday from the Singapore Institute of Management where she reads Mass Communication for a Bachelor's Degree. She is 21 and a Singaporean.
While talking, I asked her if she has heard of the Singapore Constitution in which she has rights such as freedom of speech.
She said, she has only vaguely heard of the Constitution of Singapore and is really unaware of her rights. But what was worse was that she was completely indifferent about it one way or the other.
And she is not alone. In Singapore today almost everyone both young and old regardless of what they do for a living has either never heard of the Constitution or do not know whether they have any rights, or what they are. They could be engineers doctors or security guards. They know what is required of them in their jobs, but other than that, not much. The Singapore education system is useful only to do a job, other than that they are intentionally kept in the dark.
That is why you have to give it to Lee Kuan Yew for his cunning. Over 50 years he has carefully and meticulously kept the Constitution of Singapore a secret from his people. It is not taught in schools and even high school students or even college students have never heard of it. There is no school courses conducted on the subject.
The Constitution has instruments in them that he does not like, like the right to freedom of speech and expression. These things if made known to his subjects might cause dissension and demands, demands leading to a threat to his absolute control. Therefore he keeps the troubling Constitution under wraps. Just give them jobs and ask them to mind their own business, while Lee Kuan Yew does whatever he wants.
It is clear he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today the Constitution of Singapore is something the majority of Singaporeans have never heard of. They have never heard of it, and if they did vaguely, they do not know what is in it, rights which belong to them, like the right to free speech and expression, the right to assemble, the right to an independent media.
When I asked Alice Wong whether she was concerned about such things as freedom of speech and human rights, she seemed bored. She did not know one way or another. I could have spoken to her till the cows came home, but it would have made no difference.
My contact with her came about when she sent me an Email asking for my views on a paper she is writing in school on whether I thought the government should open up the media for a more independent press. I told her that it was not up to the government to decide on it, it is her right and therefore the government should do it at once. I am not sure whether she understood the point.
Today I had emailed her if I could have an interview with her for a blog post about how Lee Kuan Yew has kept the citizens of Singapore in the dark about their rights.
She has not answered my email. I am not surprised.
Alice Wong is studying Mass Communication to become a journalist I suppose. I shudder to think what sort of journalist she will become.
One thing is clear. Singapore does not have a thinking population. All they are good for is to do their jobs, have some fun and live their lives and be happy.
I am not sure who it was who said ignorance is bliss. Going by Miss Alice Wong here, he is absolutely right.
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