Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Elusive FEAR

The Elusive FEAR

The recent episodes of Martyn See and Acid Flask have raised a 4 decades old topic, the politics of FEAR in Singapore.

Under normal circumstances, I would be very unwilling to become the “FEAR monger” of this society. However, it seems that some of the bloggers and youngsters do not understand this FEAR at all, regardless of it being imaginary or real or otherwise.

Even when there are bloggers who have chosen to close down their blogs in the light of the Acid Flask saga, they are still maintaining that it is just “a matter of choice” but not “FEAR” that they did so. It is also “a matter of choice” that they do not want to be associate with any political party other than PAP.

Singapore has a long history of a culture of FEAR. The white terror period of the late 60s and 70s was barely remembered by the young ones. They do not even understand what “white terror” means in the late 60s and 70s. One could get into trouble simply by mere mentioning of certain “sensitive” words. Massive arrest of dissidents in Operation Cold Store was hardly mentioned anymore. This rule of “white terror” is justified by the need to counteract communist threats back then.

In the late 80s, ISA was still used against dissidents and the same tune of communist threat was used; i.e. the “Marxist plot” theory. But it is quite unconvincing to many despite of telecast of “confessions” basically because the biggest exporters of communist ideology, USSR has crumbled and Communist China was more interested in building up its capitalist market system. The Marxist Plot saga has implicated the US government involvement but it was quickly resolved. From then on, defamation lawsuits became the operandi modus way of dealing with dissidents instead of ISA detention.

As an individual who is participating actively in partisan politics, I would say that I have gone through the baptism of this elusive FEAR too. I started as an internet armchair critic who always believe that it is not FEAR but a matter of Choice that I refused to join any political parties. I was proven wrong during the period of 2001 GE when I made my first trip to the old WP HQ in Jalan Besar.

My feet were rooted right in front of the long dark staircase leading to the WP HQ. My heartbeats increased and my mind was filled with all sorts of imaginary “possibilities”. My consciousness of my mind had made me realize that all my past brave excuse of non-partisan activism was a Choice is nothing but subconscious FEAR in action. Then it appears to me that this FEAR would only be “REAL” for those who have experienced it, “Imaginary” to those who couldn’t realize it, “Non-existence” to those who refused to admit it. The next natural question that came to my mind was “Why am I living in such FEAR unconsciously?” “Why am I letting this FEAR loitering around?” “Why would I tolerate such existence of FEAR and allow my children and future generations subject to its mind control?”

My conclusion is that we could only fight this FEAR with the conscious knowing of its effects on our society. But at the same time, we should not perpetuate such FEAR into our people by making constant reference to it. It is a delicate way of dealing with this.

It surprises me recently that some young bloggers seem to disregard this elusive FEAR as the main hindrance to the progress of our society’s political landscape. It is a worry to me when there are substantial number of Singaporeans who did not consciously understand the effects of the rule of FEAR on this society. It will lower our guard against it and our desires of ridding it would diminish. You could not possibly solve a problem if you don’t even know the problem exists.

Even up to modern days, PAP has been capitalizing on various issues based on “FEAR” to win votes. In the early days, it is the FEAR of “freak election results” that a good government like PAP will be kicked out of power; then FEAR of “MNCs withdrawing their investments (plans or commitments) to Singapore if PAP did not have a “strong mandate”. (To them, a strong mandate is a “clean sweep” of all seats, leaving no opposition checking on them in parliament.). Then it was about the “FEAR” of losing “good ministerial caliber people” if the GRC was lost to opposition. Then it was about not having HDB upgrading, selling of HDB shops to shop tenants, places turning into slumps….etc.

It is all about “FEAR” of losing something. Such pervasive political culture of FEAR is unhealthy for Singapore’s progressive development. It will have impact on the risk taking mindset that is needed for entrepreneurship, creative and innovative explorations that are needed to further our economic, cultural and social development. Such political culture is not confined to our political development but has inevitable influence on the social, cultural and economic spheres.

The world will not wait for Singapore and we should understand the depth of the implications of such elusive FEAR exerted upon our Nation. If we failed or refused to face this elusive FEAR head on, we will definitely be left behind in this era of rapid Globalization.

Goh Meng Seng


Young Singaporean said...

This is unrelated to the topic...

Just i wonder what is the stand of Workers' Party on the recent increase in ERP and the proposed increase of public transport fares.

Due to low media coverage of the opposition parties, most people don't really know what is their stand on the local issues that affect common people who don't really care about the abstract stuff like "democracy", "freedom", etc.

I personally think the Workers' Party shoud try to publish their stand on these local issues on their website so that the people can know what they stand for on these mundane but important issues.

I have browse the websites of the major political parties in Singapore, and found that none of the opposition parties' websites really touch on such stuff.

Moreover by regularly updating the website and maybe setup a fourm, it can also reach out to more young and internet savvy people this way.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Young Singaporean,

Thank you for your feedback.

WP does have a stand on the recent hikes. Zao Bao has reported it as it seeks views from Mr. Low on the ERP hikes.

As the transport cost hike is only confirmed today, we might respond to it later.

Goh Meng Seng

Fear is no more said...

People talk about fear in S'pore do not often bring up that PAP is also afraid of a lot of things.

If they really are so strong, they do not need all those tricks like GRC, high deposit, ballot serial number tracing, lawsuit etc etc.

When they do fall, it will be the greatest political fall in the history of the world, as there is no government so powerful as to earn the name of Big Brother. We are that state mentioned in '1984'.

The people are losing their fear when they have nothing to lose.

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