Monday, January 12, 2009

Unnecessary Violence

I have been very busy lately, being tied down with lots of work, business trips as well as meetings with lots of people and writing an important article for Minibond-DBS High Note issue.

I have not made any comments of recent happenings all around the world in my blog lately due to all these commitments. Even though I have just stepped down from NSP CEC recently, it seems that time is never enough for me nowadays.

Two issues caught my eyes recently, apart from the rapid development of the Minibond issue in Hong Kong. The war in Gaza strip and the attack on PAP Yio Chu Kang MP Seng Han Tong. I am a Peace lover and I am against violence of any kind.

As a practicing Buddhist, I believe that violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred and violence creates hatred which in turn creates further violence. The vicious cycle will have no end. This is the basis of Karmic cycle.

For the present Israelis' attack on Gaza strip, it is not just a reaction to the sparse rocket attacks by Hamas. It is the jump start of past Karmic cycle of violence that existed between the two people. Of course, there will be many others who would want to see such violence to be restarted. The arms dealers will be the first to be smiling all the way to he banks. Politicians who send the sons and daughters of others to risk their lives would be the one who want to use such violence to use Nationalistic rhetoric to increase their own political capital.

Whatever sufferings bear by others are just digits of death figures. Apart of using the death of others to strengthen their own political position and safeguard their political career, these figures are just mere cold statistics. It is bloody cold murder in essence. Both the Israelis and Hamas politicians survive on the sacrifices of lives and blood of others. Else, they will no longer maintain their political importance among their people.

I believe many Israelis and Palestinians are beginning to get sick of mindless killings for all these years. Half a century of bloodshed will definitely take a serious toll on the psychological health of the people on both sides. But yet, politicians survive on such bloody conflicts. I would urge the people of both lands to assert their political wisdom in rejecting these politicians that feed on other people's bloodshed. A permanent solution to the Middle East problems could only happen if and only if the voters and people of this land reject violence in totality. Politicians that shout rhetoric about violence and hatred should be shunned or even ostracized in public shame.

Back to Singapore, we have a seventy year old man setting fire on a public elected representative. MP Seng Han Tong was quite badly burnt by the attack and my sympathy to him. I hope he will have a speedy recovery.

The attacker is said to have a known mental problem in the past. Why would he attack MR Seng is still a mystery up till now but whatever reason it may be, such violent act is totally unnecessary.

This is not the first time MP Seng has been attacked. Coincidentally, the last attacker is also a man of over 70 year old who gave MP Seng a punch when he was having his usual meet-the-people session. It is a tradition for Singapore politicians to hold Meet-the-People session where they would see voters who have come to seek their assistance for all sorts of things. Apparently the old man did not get what he asked for and thus, he punched MP Seng at that moment.

The case has been settled after MP Seng has withdrawn his charges against that old man with certain undisclosed conditions.

It would give people the impression that old people who are 70 years old or more are a violent lot in Singapore. But this is far from the truth. Singaporeans are generally a law-abiding lot. It would take a lot of agitation and frustration to ignite that fire in old people of 70 years old to make such violent act. After this incident, a special law has been added by the PAP dominated parliament to set the maximum punishment for hitting an elected MP to be 20 years of imprisonment. I do not really know why there is a need for such a "special law" to protect elected MPs from violence but apparently, now we know, it would not stop people from hurting an elected MP (in fact, the very same MP)if they are mad enough to do so.

This may have something to do with the stress and pressure suffered by our people who are supposed to be enjoying their retirement. But due to the fact that there is no social welfare in Singapore and that the supposedly retirement funds, CPF, has been depleted by various policies like housing and health care, living a happy and care-free retirement for Singaporeans is hardly possible nowadays.

While I would say such violence from these two elderly men are totally unnecessary, but such incidents actually reflects certain tensions existing in the failure of Singapore's system of retirement financing. Unlike the violence happening between the Israelis and Palestinians, these two elderly men have resorted to violence without any politicians instigating them to do so. To solve this unnecessary violence, we will need to go in depth of the social root cause of these violence against a public elected representative.

Just like the unnecessary violence happening in Middle East, we would need to look deeper down to the causes of such acts of violence. In Singapore's case, the answer may just lie in the "work till you die" mindset which the PAP government tries to cultivate in Singaporeans. This is the desperate move by PAP government because they simply know that due to the many ill-considered irrevocable policies made by them, Singaporeans no longer have sufficient funds to finance their retirement. This is really a cruel irony to a people that used to pride themselves as a nation with highest saving rate.

What we have seen is only a more serious case of violence done on others. The suicide rate in Singapore is very high and many of those who kill themselves are elderly people. This is in actual fact, unnecessary violence against themselves. It just happens that these two elderly men chose not to apply violence against themselves but rather putting their frustration and anger on their MP whom they assume would have the responsibility to help them out. This is really unfortunate but a reflection of an underlying social time bomb.

Singapore may need to do a total revamp on its policies on retirement financing as well as social welfare system in order to curb such unnecessary violence displayed by the harming of MP Seng as well as violence in suicide cases.

Goh Meng Seng


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

good ideas but could have expressed them better

Vincent Sear said...

1. The Israelis and Palestinians, and others concerned about them, already have enough differences and problems with their respective religions, i.e. Judaism and Islam. Please try not to introduce or confuse your Buddhist concepts or precepts into this.

(Frankly, I think that you know nuts about the history of Canaan, Judah, Israel and Palestine.)

2. I agree with you on the S.H.T. attacks. If it's insanity, then it's people driven to insanity by hopelessness and exasperation.