Thursday, December 17, 2015
Challenge to Rule of Law – Mob Rule
A police report has been lodged by the Organizing Secretary of People’s Power Party, Mr. Augustine Lee, against Calvin Cheng over his remarks that we should kill off family members and children of terrorists. I supported Augustine’s move to lodge this police report. The police has confirmed that there are several police reports made against Calvin Cheng.
It took me quite some time to ponder over this issue of Calvin Cheng. I believe in Freedom of Expression with responsible speech towards the society. There have been lots of cases whereby both PAP and activists have raised issue with hate speech. Most of the time, PAP-related offenders were just let off with just mere warning whilst offenders who were critical of PAP governance were charged. Eg. Amos Yee. The Sedition law has somehow been over used by both sides. When someone lamented that we should lodge a police report against Calvin Cheng under Sedition law, I hesitated.
I felt that what Calvin has done is MORE than Sedition. What he has done is actually inciting violence against innocent children and he is basically challenging the well established Rule of Law we have in Singapore.
Well, not everyone who challenge the current rule deserved to be charged and put behind bars. Eg. Those who are against unfair law or simply law that people feel out-dated. It is definitely alright to challenge laws which we think need to be changed for the better, but not for the worse. Definitely not to challenge the law to become illogically violent.
Most people may just laugh off Calvin bigotry logic of wanting to kill children of terrorists but the truth is, such practice of killing whole family, extended families, associates, teachers, classmates etc was practiced in Ancient Chinese dynasties. This is called 诛九族 (massacred the nine relations of the offender). This is the subtle cultural mindset we had in our Chinese blood, to believe that it is “officially legitimate” to have such practice as the ancient Emperors have legitimized it. I believe Calvin must have thought that such method is legitimate as Chinese Emperors had used such method before.
The danger lies here. Singapore has a huge population of Chinese who might buy that kind of logic from Calvin even though our law is pretty clear that the family of criminals, less so of children, should not be regarded as criminals and punished as such. Some people may just extend that kind of logic and started to take law into their own hands and turn it into Mob Rule.
During this period of sensitive time, our multi-racial and multi-religious society is at its most vulnerable. There are already Chinese heard berating Islam loudly and deliberately in front of Muslims. We do not need public figure like Calvin Cheng to add oil to the fire, knowingly or unknowingly.
Due to the nature of Chinese inherited culture, it is easier to convince Chinese that it is legitimate to kill off innocent family members of criminals. We even have idiom to describe the legitimacy of such act, “斩草不除根，春风吹又生” (literally means if you do not cut off the roots while clearing the weeds, it will grow again when spring comes). Calvin Cheng might have mistakenly taken this as that "profound logic" that he professed to support his proposition of killing the children of terrorists.
We definitely do not want our society to turn into chaos like what happened in US, England and Europe whereby people mindless attack Muslims with the belief that they have everything to do with the terrorist attacks or terrorism, just by the mere supposed association of religion with the terrorists. Such situation of Mob Rule once started, is difficult to stop.
Thus after weeks of thinking through this issue, I come to the conclusion that such advocacy, which sound ridiculous to some, is dangerous and pose a potential problem in breeding Mob Rule in Singapore. It should be stopped and as a public figure, Calvin Cheng should retract it else the state should make its stance clearly against it.
Goh Meng Seng