Monday, February 25, 2008

A comment from James Tan in repsonse to my post "An Excellent Question" which explains this better than I could.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

James Tan had written a comment to my following blog post. As it explains the situation better than anyone, I am posting his comment below as a blog post.

Saturday, February 23, 2008
An excellent question from Edwin Soh which requires a full answer.

james tan said...

Dear Gopalan,

When Edwin Soh use words like modern and global city, followed by the word success, I wonder where he get these words from ... the political propaganda machinery?(No offence to Edwin, just that I was once like him)Because I believed the similar lies told to me, I have an Aussie lecturer who taught me to think independently to solve problems within an organisation. I use the same set of thinking to Singapore as an organisation and I came to realise that a lot of things do not add up.

Trust the Aussies who teach Marketing, they will sell you a dead horse. But nothing beats the marketing LKY put up. The outward first world facade of Singapore is too perfect, everything is too efficient. There are a lot of energy, but the energy seems to move in one direction. Singapore is like a perfect factory, with a first-class production line. And success is narrowly defined in financial and economic numbers.

But if we are living in a truly modern and global city, I would first expect a melting pot of people who arrive from all over the world, I would expect a totally imperfect organic living city, where tradition stand side by side with innovation, successful buildings alongside decaying buildings, but always with spots of urban renewal, where there are creative energy, and destructive energy. There are conformists and there are rebels. Alternative views are tolerated because no one has the answer on what the correct way to the future. I expect a lot of debate, people who contribute diverse ideas out of good intention. There are the odd or weird people who decided to do things differently. There are people who are passionate about their beliefs and want to change the world. But there are also failures who are given the dignity to live within the society and not as outcasts.

But for all these to happen, you have mentioned about the basic criterias

- the rule of law - no one is above the law, especially human beings

- an honest government whose politicians are open to public scrutiny and who are not afraid to apologise for past mistakes, even if the intentions of the policies at that time are for the good of the people.

- an independent judiciary

- an independent central bank

- respect for human rights and institution to uphold human rights

- a free and independent press, whose reporters are empowered to investigate without fear of reprisals from the investigated. At the same time, there are independent institutions to check on the power of the press.

- freedom of speech and expression where whistleblowers are protected by law, alternative views are valued.

But these are the very things which I was taught are dirty and only for barbaric countries. These things will disrupt the comfortable life I had in Singapore. I feel like I am betraying the countryman by quitting the place.

Finally, I realise how blissful ignorance is. Lies were so sweet.

And now, I am writing this comment, and think, what took me so long to regain my life. I should have left long ago. I am no difference from a North Korean escapee, esp it is my mind which is imprisoned.
February 24, 2008 5:25 AM

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

all true, i'm happy for you that you have a balance and can see through things.

I would like to say to all people no matter where you live, what country you live in, please please please take courses on critical thinking. More than ever, singaporeans need to be critical thinkers. this government and it's policies try to tell people that nation and government comes before the individual, yet in reality what is happening is the individuals that are in government have somehow put themselves before the nation itself... even the constitution

think, to me it's like when a pedophile says to a young child "don't tell anyone." whenever you are asked or ordered not to talk it is because someone will get in trouble. and usually the person telling you not to say anything has the most to lose... sort of like the singapore government.

you can say almost anything you want, but do not talk about race, religion, which are things we should talk about to better understand each other instead of close our doors to it. and of course not to talk badly about the government. if only good things are said about the government, then people believe it to be good. if bad things are said, then people question it. and questioning a government does not destroy it, it challenges it to do better, to fix mistakes, to build upon things that are right, and to hold decision makers accountable to the people.

here's things to remember

fell onto the train track = jump, suicide

fell = jump suicide

good times ahead = less work and harder work ahead for common folk. or, more cheap labor for businesses and jobs for old folks cleaning toilets.

we will be a hub = more foreigners

cpf = the relative who borrows money but pays back late or not enough

self sufficient = government will not help you, fend for yourself.

tax increase = singaporeans getting old, need to put money back we lost investing from cpf funds

HDB upgrade coming soon = bribing voters

madarin speaking job = we don't want malays or indians

singapore is efficient = robotic citizens who do not question and have lost all creative skills, soulless

robust = government has control over its people and can do whatever it pleases

you think about what you hear from the government and you'll find more of your own conclusions.

before any real progress can be made, people need to learn to be critical thinkers, and the government has stripped that ability. is that success, if you are the government it is. if you are a living thinking breathing human being, it's not.