Saturday, February 07, 2009

Reflections: Voice of the People

Cartoon from Sam's Thought

In this article, there are three caricatures of Rear Admiral Lui Tuck Yew in response to his remarks made in parliament about Singapore netters' "vicious attacks" on PAP MPs, especially on MP Seng who was burnt by a 70 year old man. (To be exact, there are two drawings which one of them has been translated into Chinese.)

A report in Zaobao appears with veil threats against those who made these "vicious attacks" on "PAP MPs & Ministers"! Please note that, it seems that other "Lower Mortal" like me will not be under the protection of the police, only internet attackers of "PAP" members will be "chased" by the police!

For the whole newspaper report, the focus is apparently on those "Lower Mortals" who criticise the PAP.

“我不认为那些反政府或反人民行动党的人都有意真心地与政府沟通。因此,我们需要的是可辨别是非和能作独立判断的人民。”

I have been a victim of vicious, malicious and baseless attacks from some Singaporeans on the Internet forums, talking about me having "extramarital affairs" (with someone who is actually my sister!) They have even left defamatory comments on my blog! But I don't see the police officers jumping up and down over such incidents.

Most importantly, I don't see the PAP controlled newspaper has that kind of "self-righteousness" in upholding "Truth". On the contrary, they even took the opportunity to publicise such malicious lies in an attempt to make character assassination on me!

Besides, when someone made malicious attacks on opposition MPs like Mr. Low Thia Khiang and WP, calling WP names like Wayang Party etc., the newspaper reporters and editors did not put on their Self Righteous cloak to "reprimand" these attackers. Instead, they gave them full media exposure, in an attempt to undermine WP's public image!

Sketch from My Sketchbook

Thus I really find it very HYPOCRITICAL for the newspapers to become "upholder of Truth and Justice" when such attacks have turned against the PAP members!

So, it all boils down to one thing. Whenever the situation is favourable to the ruling party, never mind whether these attackers are credible or not, never mind whether they are hiding behind anonymous monikers. They will even put up big headings on the newspapers just to get the attention of Singaporeans to these malicious and unfounded attacks. They would even interview these supposedly "evil doers" (under their new definitions), giving full accounts and publicize their great acts and lies!

This one is translated into Chinese by a forumer.

Well, I am getting used to PAP controlled local media's double standards but getting used to it does not mean I will condone such mindset. Beside the Media, what really amazed me is that even the civil servants like the police force is reacting according to the needs and complains of the ruling party only! It is really ironic and amusing that the ruling party still claims that the civil servants are impartial and they are not made used for petty politicking!

I can only shake my head, really. But I guess this is life in Singapore.

While Rear Admiral Lui lamented that Singapore bloggers and netters have missed the opportunity to exercise self-regulation, I have one important message for PAP and the newspaper reporters and editors.

I happen to pass by my old shop location the other day, which is still empty six months after I shifted out. A friend of mine asked me what had happened to the whole building? Why did I left and now it has become so empty? I told my friend this:

While negotiating with the landlord about the new rental contract, I was merely telling them the truth: business has gone worse and there are eminent signs that a recession is coming. I requested the rental to be reduced. But to my shock, they actually requested to raise the rental by 20%! This happens back in August. From then on, one by one, tenants with expired lease left.

Why am I mentioning this little episode here? The main lesson from this episode is about REAL feedback. A company or a government is sucessful initially basically because they knew the ground. They understand what their clients and potential customers need. They LISTEN to the ground, the market place, take notes of their expectations and their needs. Afther taking into all these considerations, they come up with products and services to cater to their customers' and clients' needs. Their sales will increase and business will expand.

After they have become sucessful, most businessmen thought they are smart and intelligent. They credit their success to their good judgement and brains in making the "right decisions". But they have totally forgotten the basis of their success, paying attention to the market, their clients and customers. When they are wealthy, they chose to live in their own castles. They mix with different social class of people and eventually, they hardly spend time talking and mixing around with "Lesser Mortals". They have basically build a solid wall surrounding their castles just like any Emperors and Kings of ancient time.

In the end, they will only rely on the few people surrounding them to feed them information and details of the people outside their castles. And this is when their business will go down hill.

So, what's the moral of the whole process? Voice.

The success of any businessmen or politicians lies in the Voice of the People. If you are constantly paying attention to the Voice of the People, you will always get the politics right, You will always get the market sentiments and directoin right. The RIGHT decisions are always made with observations and voices heard from the ground, from the market places. Right decisions are not just made in Ivory towers surrounded by "Higher Mortals" of "Elites and Talents". The Wisdom comes from the ground, not a few brains in the "Higher Mortal Circle".

In history, be it modern or ancient, it has always been the case that Power is lost and dynasties fell because the political leaders have distanced themselves from the people because they see themselves as HIGHER MORTALS that needs to be differentiated and live apart from the "Lesser Mortals". Palaces and castles are built to "protect" themselves from the harm of the people that they are supposedly to lead and take care of.

If we look at the Chinese history, the most prosperous time in Qing Dynasty were times whereby the Emperors pay frequent visits to the towns and villages outside their palaces. Basically, these were times where Emperors pay attention to the voices and opinion of the people. Conversely, whenever a dynasty comes to an end, it is when the Emperor start to surround himself with people who will only sweet talk to him without giving him the real picture on the ground.

So, what's my point? Rear Admiral Lui only thinks of the big bad comments on PAP and its Members of Parliament. He just find it disgusting that those people who poll actually think the attacker of MP Seng should have all their sympathy instead of MP Seng. He only concerns about while those bloggers and internet forumers are attacking PAP, MP Seng and his party colleagues, nobody comes into PAP MP Seng's defence.

He cannot see beyond the little bickering, venting of frustrations and sarcastic comments aimed at PAP. This is, to me, a BIGGER PITY that PAP Ministers and MPs have failed to reflect upon the Voices of People, as compared to the supposedly lost opportunity of Singapore internet users in "self regulating".

The internet is the place where UNCENSORED Voice of the People could be heard. Of course, there will be the usual malicious lies and attacks going around but it is the cause of such intent that is more important. If there is only one or two persons or a few persons that do that, then it is not that bad. But if many people are saying the same thing, singing the same tune, then it is important for those who are in power to examine what actually went wrong.

It seems that in Singapore, we have a perfect situation for a sudden fall out of love for PAP.

First, the traditional newspapers are not performing their role as the forth estate in providing REAL feedback and independent Voice of the people. This is because PAP has always been the invisible hand behind them and that is also why almost ALL newspapers come under one roof, SPH. Almost ALL free radio and TV stations come under Media Corp. It is for easy command and control.

Secondly, although PAP has won on average, 66.6% of popular votes, but one would notice that supporters of PAP are not passionate towards them at all. Look at their political rallies and you will understand what I mean. If a ruling party needs to use buses to transport their supporters to their political rallies with free dinner and drinks provided, then something must be very wrong.

This explains why there are very few people who will "defend" PAP MP Seng on the net even when the attacks hauled at him and PAP are sometimes overboard! Support for PAP is merely a "transaction", "pay you high salary, you do your job" and that's about all. It seems that Rear Admiral Lui does not really understand this very well but instead, lamented about the lack of passionate support for his party and colleagues.

There are writers who have written about the disaffection of PAP Higher Mortal Elites and how lost touch they are from the ground over the years. But I guess they did not really pay much attention to it, merely pay lip service to feedbacks.

I think there is a big underlying problem with the recent development here. Nope, the problem is NOT "cyber users not self regulating", it is much bigger than that. This incident is just a trigger to a pent up frustrations of many Singaporeans and the most important thing PAP should pay attention to is NOT about why they try to throw abuses at it but rather, what is the SOURCE of the frustrations.

Goh Chok Tong has once said that if there is no retrenchment then he worries. I say, if there is no Singaporeans venting their frustrations at the ruling party, then I worry. The reason is simple, if there is no longer a VOICE, it could only mean two things, one, Singaporeans have given up on this nation but just treating it as a hotel, ready to move on to other places. Two, they are doing something else like what the JI is doing.

The best way of avoiding a boiling kettle from exploding is to let off the steam and try to turn off the fire, not pressing down the cover. Putting up veil threats of all sorts trying to suppress the REAL Voice of the people is the most foolish thing to do.

Goh Meng Seng

2 comments:

Sgcynic said...

10 years back, the sentiment at the polls would be:
the heart may be against the PAP, but the mind says vote for it (grudingly).

Then things changed:
the mind and heart are in full agreement:
vote against the PAP!

It used to be the case that even if a minister or MP is disliked, we respect his/her appointment. Now the taint is such there is contempt for the men and their posts.

Anonymous said...

George says:

Very well said and accurate Mr Goh. You put it so very succinctly.

The rot started when they begin to avail themselves of the people's money that they are supposed to protect on their
behalf.

Mighty empires fall for various reasons. In the case of Singapore it would be because they got blinded by their insatiable greed for money and power.