(This article was first posted on The Real Singapore on 16 November)
Dear The Real Singapore,
I recently came across these articles shared by my Facebook friends by two 16 year old guys [Link] (Terrence) and [Link] (Arrifin)
As an 18 year old girl from by society’s standards, a top JC, I’m not much older than them. Before I begin, let me say I’m born from a family that is neither pro-PAP nor pro-Opposition. They are what we typically call middle-class but politically apathetic. Nevertheless, from what I have experienced so far, I’m more inclined to agree with the Terrence than Arrifin. I’m not a regular reader of TRS but from what I have seen, most of the articles are filled with complaints of this and that and are anti-government in nature. Let me bring some balance in cyberspace.
Arrifin’s rebuttal and the whole horde of netizens who vigorously castigated Terrence for his immaturity spurred me to write this article to provide some balance to this otherwise unregulated online community.
From the comments I have read, Terrence was accused of being immature, ignorant of the affairs of the world, quoting irrelevant books, unaware of people who were detained during Lee Kuan Yew’s administration etc.
Arrifin brought up opposition leaders and some defiant PAP members who have supposedly done good things for us. Yes, I know they may have done something. However, our textbooks have so limited space and curriculum time is short. If we include contributions from every Tom Dick and Harry, our teachers will be so stressed out. We have to leave out some people. No matter who we leave out, there will always be unsatisfied people. I agree Ong Teng Cheong has done much for Singapore and he deserves greater mention. I do not see what significant things the troublemakers Chia Thye Poh, J B Jeyaratanem and Chee Soon Juan have done that deserve academic mention.
Staying on this point, Lee was quoted to have said if we have to lock certain people up to maintain order in society, he will do it. I agree with it. As much as many disagree with the ISA, it has served us well. Imagine if Lee Kuan Yew had not used the ISA to detain the communists, we would not be one of the richest countries in the world today. Our flag will probably have a hammer and sickle in it which is suspiciously like the logo of an opposition party. If we have to sacrifice the rights of few to improve the majority, it is something society has to do.
At the tender age of 16, we should applaud his intellectual curiosity for reading so many books. Most of my friends at that age myself included can’t be bothered with books unless they are forced down our throats by the schools. One comment says these books are irrelevant as they were written in the olden days. He suggested books from Francis Seow.
I have not read any of those books in question. I disagree with comments that those books are useless. Those were written by renowned authors. Although fictional, it is often said that fictional ideas of authors come from the reflection of society. If there is no law and order of society, society descends into anarchy and very soon, it is a slippery slope to ruin and self-destruction. It is often said Lee Kuan Yew ruled with an iron fist. It is all to bring Singapore to what it is today. Now the youngsters and readers and most writers to TRS take it for granted and want to dismantle this order that has brought Singapore to its success today.
I’m very skeptical with books from Francis Seow. I read up a little about Francis Seow as it was the first time I heard about him. From the little I have read, He did not have the balls to face up to government lawsuits and fled Singapore. He with the likes of people like Gopalan Nair who was arrested have no stake in Singapore. They can write whatever they want with no consequences. How can I believe what they write is real? How real is the “real” in “The Real Singapore”?
Just like the voting slip I will get when I am 21, either you appreciate or vote for the PAP or you do not. Arrifin puts it so simply that he loves the founding leaders but dislikes the current crop. At the same time, he criticises Lee Kuan Yew. Isn’t he contradicting himself?
The issue of gay marriage is a thorny one. I admit I’m a devout Christian but that does not imply I hate gays because some people think my religion says so. A marriage is between man and woman. A marriage forms the basic unit of society. Any tampering with this definition is a slippery slope to the ruin of society. Sex between men is sometimes known as unnatural sex. Why unnatural, because it is just weird and unhygienic. As a female, I can’t understand how something like this is done and even the very thought of imagining how that is possible gives me goose bumps. Section 377A ensures that the moral fabric of society remains. The only thing I disagree with 377A is that applies to men only which is biased. I wouldn’t mind that law being gender neutral.
Arrifin seems to hate the use of the “repent” word by Lee. Come on Arifin, don’t you already know politicians say things in the heat of the moment. Have the maturity to take things with a pinch of salt. Just make sure what you say has substance and you can defend them in the court of law. If everybody hates the “repent” word, you can sue Lee Kuan Yew. I don’t see anyone suing him.
Income inequality was brought up. Arrifin, you probably have not taken JC-level economics but I have. Let me enlighten you that income inequality is normal in the context of a free-market capitalist economy like Singapore. Income inequality incentivises people to work harder to earn more. You desire equal incomes; a socialist country is the one you want, look at what happened to the Soviet Union or North Korea. The Singapore government gives out so much hand-outs and education subsidies for the young and working adults. If people do not want to make use of them to upgrade themselves, it is their fault for not earning enough. Don’t demean the hard work of others. Besides, income inequality is a growing trend in the world, not the fault of the PAP.
I am all for the high salaries paid to our ministers as long as they are transparent. People like to compare to Obama who earns only US$400k per year. I shake my head and tell them Obama has this Boeing 747 jumbo jet known as Air Force One at his beck and call. I can bet the cost of maintaining these planes* exceed that of all our ministers’ salaries combined. Do you want to start including his White House privileges? Our ministers’ pay may seem astronomical because they are transparent. Once the US and European nations start including all their benefits, then we talk about whether our ministers’ pay are justified. High but transparent or low but hidden, your choice.
*I read that there are in fact, two Boeing 747s used for Air Force One”
Nevertheless, have you heard “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. You want the best people for the job, you pay through the nose for them. This is just economic sense. If you dislike our leaders, the elections are open to you to replace them if you get enough votes. The majority of people voted for the PAP since independence, this proves the majority are satisfied with the PAP and that the typical complainers are just in the minority.
What we take for granted in Singapore today is safety. You can drop your purse and almost guaranteed to find it back hours later there or at the police station. My boyfriend does not always need to accompany me back home when I need to go home late. I can jog at 3am in proper sportswear without needing to cover up unnecessarily or fear of being pulled to a corner and raped. Our strict gun laws mean we don’t need to fear about shootings or high murder rates. We take it for granted that it is these very strict law and order rules that are keeping us safe.
PAP like every other political party is never perfect. What we have to do is choose the party that is best with least shortcomings. The issues and complaints we face now are not limited to Singapore. Japan has the crowded trains issue and the US has the gay rights and income inequality just to name a few.
Finally, let me say that I do agree mostly if not all of what Terence has written. His writing skills may need some polish. However, do remember that people like him who support the PAP do exist. I used to be part of the silent majority until now.
I can guess the responses I get from the typical TRS commenters. I urge all of you, before you criticise me like Terrence, think. Without the PAP, without its high-handed policies, there will be no Singapore, or shall I say, no Singapore like it is today, no high GDP per capita, no good jobs for you, no computer for you to type your rebuttals to me. Every time you complain, ask yourself, do you wish to be in Singapore or some country in Africa or in Afghanistan. The issues we face are first world problems and are nothing compared to the problems of others.
Please, don’t bite the hand that feeds you just because that hand may give you something you dislike sometimes.