Sunday, 18 September 2011
Open letter to Singapore's Civil Society - Wake Up & Screw the Hibiscus
As with most Singaporeans, my initial reaction to Malaysia's decision to repeal the dreaded ISA was one of pleasant surprise; is this a sign of progressive liberal democracy? Does this mean that Singapore will follow suit? Looking at how our fledging civil society has reacted, fists pumped and rhetoric flowing, it does seem that they genuinely believe that the winds of change are nigh.
Let me prick this euphoric bubble a bit. The only reason why Najib made this decision is to keep UMNO in power. Forget about liberal democracy. Without the ISA, a corrupt and crap government can and still will stay a corrupt and crap government. This is a political move to sucker us into this kind of euphoria and by the looks of it, we've been hooked, line and sinker...and by a Malaysian politician for goodness sake! My relatives in Malaysia surprsingly said that they would rather have the ISA than a divided polity now willing to give UMNO a chance. Going by how the country operates, how wheels and deals are made in kampungs, having an ISA is not so bad after all, especially if you are a minority community forever living in the racialist past. It's all politics. There was no sudden intervention by the heavens to make Najib realise suddenly that the ISA is an evil legal instrument. It was pure politics, simple as that.
So even as our civil society gets all hot and horny and starts parading ex-detainees like Chia Thye Poh and Teo Soh Lung as victims of the ISA and let's just say that they do get their wish and the ISA is repealed; does it change the political landscape of Singapore? Nope, except that the PAP will get political mileage and our civil society will be left sucking their thumbs. Are we so stupid not to see that it is the people wielding the ISA, and for that matter, any other legislation? After Spectrum, can we not see that political dissidence is dealt with by court of law under crippling defamation suits?
If our political culture is to evolve and we are to become a mature citizenry, political moves like this should be exposed for what they are; stop-gap PR measures to hide a more severe rot in the political machinery. Can our civil society please stand up?? Your role is not ape a political manoeuvre by our abang neighbour; think more strategic, your role is to make citizens more politically aware and mature, to see through these political shennanigans rather than be sucked into it!