Tag Archive | "religious harmony"

No one can have the last word, not even Lee Kuan Yew

No one can have the last word, not even Lee Kuan Yew

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Lest we forget, Lee’s words are not the last on the subject. They are the first. And so are mine.
By Belmont Lay

Lee Kuan Yew

"Why liddat?" Because I say so"

IN MY opinion, I consider the following things to be very wrong: Incest, paedophilia, line dancing in public and infanticide.

Also considered to be quite wrong is megalomania by way of Saddam Hussein who once required one-half of his cronies to shoot the other half in the face just to seal a pact with him.

Therefore, without wanting to always come off as stating the obvious, I, of course, found what Lee Kuan Yew said last week about Singaporean Malay-Muslims being “distinct and separate” as a community to be fairly acceptable and utterly defensible.

No seriously, I find it as acceptable as, say, getting slizzard when popping bottles in the ice like a blizzard.

Because it sounds like a fair and natural comment to be making if you happen to have been under the influence of a particular state of mind.

Yes, I know a lot of people are up in arms and whingeing about the fact that singling out the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore is insensitive and foolhardy just ahead of the next general elections.

And yes, forthrightness and political correctness are not His Leeness’ strongest points.

But seriously, what are we really challenging here?

Should we take issue with Lee’s statement because it is blunt?

How adamant should we be that his views are not influencing the ruling elite’s policies?

Are we to assess the degree of falsity or truth in his remarks by reviewing the history of the claims he made on the same subject?

And how credulous or sceptical should one be about his observations?

Should we subscribe to it?

As far as I can tell, well, I can’t tell, really. I have been putting my head to these questions for the last seven days and I have yet to derive a succinct answer I can summarise in 600 words.

And isn’t that the whole point of it?

What Lee did, whether he intended to or not, was start a well and proper debate inside our heads and among people with too fat ego-filled heads who can’t seem to concede a point about a pertient issue.

What would otherwise have been an issue that cannot get started as everyone else has been too polite or too distracted to instigate, due to a host of seemingly other better things to do in life, is now on its way.

And that’s well good by me.

I welcome the analyses, rebuttals, hand-waving dismissals, recasting of arguments in perspective and diagnoses of Lee’s neuroses that have sprung up inside and outside the Internet since the news broke about what he said.

I need, as much as you should require them, to help me and you make up our collective minds.

But within the latest discussions, I also found the indefensible and cowardly: To insist that there are topics that are too taboo to talk about because it is potentially divisive, is usually a preference for convenience – to sweep the issues under than to have an honest open discussion publicly.

To participate in an open-ended dialogue that hurts, sucks, gets personal, becomes unmanageable, takes a lot of time, effort, ink and digital ones-and-noughts to convey and/or concede just one point is to possess an iota of temerity.

So here’s the point of today’s missive: To assert what is right or wrong on the basis that I said so is to not use that matter between your ears to judge. It is simply resorting to tribalism, demagogy and stupidity.

And therefore, this rule also applies to Lee or any other fat-headed opinionated person.

You also learn that there are things that can be considered wrong or right and are subjected to critical, as opposed to say, wishful thinking.

So, always remember, Lee doesn’t have the last word. Neither do I. And so can’t you.

And I can’t see how any of these is a bad thing.

Go free inquiry!

The return of Mr X

The return of Mr X

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A peek at what goes on in a reservist “National Education” lecture.

By Alvin Phoon

Even the lao peng (old soldiers) are not spared from National Education efforts by the government. Picture from MR MIYAGI / Creative Commons

Even the lao peng (old soldiers) are not spared from National Education efforts by the government. Picture from MR MIYAGI / Creative Commons

ALMOST A year ago, I wrote an article for The Online Citizen describing my experiences in a “National Education” lecture conducted during my very first reservist training. In it, I described in full detail the tactics of one Mr X, an ‘eloquent, intelligent and charming’ salesman on a government payroll.

His product? Belief. Belief in the ruling party. Belief in protecting our nation. Belief that the life this country… no, this corporation has crafted out for us is exactly what anyone would want.

A year on, Mr X has returned to more or less the same crowd, in a different room, and his topic for the day is religion and race.

Mr X makes his first move. He casually mentions how he used to visit Mersing, and drones on about how it was a tragedy that could’ve been avoided. He moves quickly this time, and hops onto the topic of COE prices. He speaks ill of the ruling party with all the sincerity of a professional poker player playing for the river, then jumps to their defence.

Then he slides his way into the issue of voting. He tells the bunch that the elections are coming, and they must vote. He insist they vote with their head and not with their heart.

“If the PAP has done well, then vote the PAP. If they haven’t, then vote the opposition.”

He goes on to slip in subtle messages on how well the ruling party has done so far, and continues to urge the crowd to vote with their heads. Then, it’s on to the special of the day.

Mr X declares his faith; he is a man of god. A not-so-devout follower of the myth of Christ, who tries his utmost best to uphold the word of his deity. It is around this time that I start to tune out.

“Men like Mr X are crucial to the government’s battle to stay afloat. Their words appeal to the working folks. People who, with all due respect, may not be able to see the big picture. People who fall short when it comes to completing the train of thought.”

Talks on religious and racial harmony don’t interest me, not because I’m not interested in harmony, but because it doesn’t work. Harmony is not harmony when it is enforced by the law. It is simply a rule to follow, a “do it or you’ll be spanked”. Harmony promoted as a law will never be attained, and it is a lesson that Mr X and the government has to learn.

He reveals that there are cracks in our harmony. Stating the obvious is beginning to look more and more like his strong suit. He cites the “little bride” couple as examples of good people who’ve fallen prey to the evangelistic nature of their religion. He maintains that every one of the 10 official religions in Singapore is good, and that we should all adopt a religion as it teaches us morality.

The argument is so teemed with stupidity, yet heads are nodding around the room. This gives Mr X more confidence. He launches into a story about him and his best friend, who is supposedly a Muslim, and how they sit at lunch and learn to be respectful to each other. It is almost as if Mr X’s homo-erotic tendencies are threatening the rip apart the seams that hold them back. He then delivers the final blow:

“If someone insults your religion, don’t throw a punch. Don’t cause trouble. Just walk away and make a police report.”

At that moment, I cannot help but feel like I’ve overestimated Mr X’s intellectual capacity. Either that, or he has grossly underestimated mine. Yet, the heads keep bobbing. The sedition act is good, he says. It keeps us safe. It brings us harmony.

The next bit, I cannot fault. Mr X’s voice thunders as he says these words:

“Religion and politics must NEVER mix.”

I join the gang of bobbleheads for a few seconds. He cites the “allah” issue as proof, though the evidence is thin and I wonder if he even bothered to do his research at all.

Mr X’s conclusion is a list of rules to follow, none of which I bother to listen to. The room applauds him, and I cannot tell if they genuinely believed his talk, or were just glad it was over. Mr X retains the same arrogance he previously exuded, only this time he was less prepared. His eloquence was retained, but his material lacked the same bite it did the first time round.

Still, Mr X delivered a sharp blow to the chin of the lingering doubts lurking in the minds of the men in the room. Men like Mr X are crucial to the government’s battle to stay afloat. Their words appeal to the working folks. People who, with all due respect, may not be able to see the big picture. People who fall short when it comes to completing the train of thought.

It is in these fields where the war is won or lost. The ruling party has infiltrated, and it’s not looking good.