Tuesday, December 09, 2008

CSJ : Fool or hero?

UPDATE : I've gone through the comments and many of you do have a point when you say that CSJ may be a politician whose time may never come. His actions may be viewed always as antics....his bankruptcy and incarceration be seen as misfortunes he brought upon himself. But I do want to point out that nothing Chee did would have caused him so much misfortune if he had been a citizen of another country. The existence of Chee, a man jailed for speaking in public, bankrupted for his views reflects the repressive laws we have in Singapore. The fact his actions are seen as antics and that he is viewed negatively reflects the influence of the govt over the media. ...anywhere else in the developed world he would have been viewed simply as an activist whose views differ from his govt. You may even be right in saying that his methods don't work and all he has done is painted himself in the corner. But the day may come and events may drive Singaporeans seek drastic change, and such changes don't come from people writing letters to the forum page. It is also possible that day does not come in our lifetime and Chee will be viewed 20 years from now the same way he is viewed today. But all that is fair because if Chee's view that this system is so broken so unjust so unsustainable is correct, he will definitely be vindicated. But if he is wrong, he will be a politician whose time never comes.....
"What is the difference between being a fool and a hero? .....Timing"
- TV Serial , Tour of Duty, 1987-1990.
When I was young, I loved this TV series called Tour Of Duty. It was about the adventures of a platoon in the Vietnam War. You do learn a few things about loyalty, heroism, comaradarie and patriotism watching it. In one of the episodes, an entertainment unit (something like our own Music Drama Company) came over to entertain them. After the show, one of the entertainers came over to talk to the guys in the platoon. He was disappointed that he got drafted to army to perform in a band, he wanted to serve his country by fighting and had requested for a combat posting. He was full of idealism and patriotism. As soon as he left, the guys started laughing at him and calling him a fool. Here was a guy surrounded by pretty girls everyday living the good life singing his favorite songs and he wanted risk his life to join them in the jungle fighting vietcongs....oh what an idiot.
A week later the entertainer turned up at the platoon to the dismay of the everyone - of all the platoons in Vietnam, he got posted to this one. They all find his patriotism and idealism difficult to accept. Is this guy delusional or what? Driven by his beliefs, he did everything with pride and honor and that was seen by his platoon mates as something foolish. One day there a few vietcongs were spotted near the camp and the platoon was sent on a mission to hunt them down. Everyone in the platoon except the entertainer was cursing their bad luck. The entertainer as usual performed his duty enthusiastically - that really got on the nerve of everyone who by then had developed a dislike for him. The platoon set off on their mission, trudging through mud and haunted by gunshots fired in all directions. The ghostly enemy was again toying with their minds and causing them to be fearful. The gunshots stopped for while and the platoon found a spot to take a 5 minute break. While sitting around, the vietcongs lobbed grenade right in front of them. They looked at each other in the next few seconds - you can tell from their eyes ..."this is it guys...our turn to go". The entertainer dived onto the live grenade and used his body as a shield. The grenade went off killing the entertainer but everyone else was saved. It was only at that moment that everyone realised he was a hero. It was only when he sacrificed himself for them that they understood that his beliefs, ideals and patriotism actually mattered.
While Tan Kin Lian stepped forward when he was badly needed in the minibond saga, Chee started his fight when we were all looking forward to the Swiss standard of living in the 90s. While we were all busy shopping for fondue pots, his message that change was much needed fell on deaf ears. People are just not very receptive when they have the money to eat at restaurants, shop along Orchard and decide which FullHD TV to buy. They can't see the importance of the ideals of justice and equality when their incomes are increasing. It is only when they lose their jobs and can only find one that pays $1000 a month that they realise the importance of a minimum wage. It is only when they cannot afford their utilities and have it cut off tha they see the importance of helping the poor. It is only when they need that expensive cancer drug or have a newborn with congenital disease that is not covered by their insurance policy that they understand the inherent weakness of medical care based on insurance. The wool over the people's eyes can be especially thick when the govt can manage the information in the newspapers and tell everyone what they want them to hear.
If they can make a man who is driven by nothing but his ideals and his belief that we deserve our freedom and equality out to be a fool, they can also turn their broken policies into masterpieces. In the show, the sergent was asked by his men, how did they ever make this mistake of calling a real hero a fool. The sergent replied it was all timing. People will not see the value of your sacrifice until they need it. Tan Kin Lian took a great risk to step forward in a big way - in the past he did take on smaller issues like Income's bonus policies etc - but only when he was needed...people call him a hero and rightfully so because he made a big sacrifice. In some ways, the current financial crisis is like the grenade that went off in the show, times have changed and perceptions will change. People will come to undertand the importance of democracy, justice and equality. Sacrifices that were made in the past... people will come understand. When JBJ passed away, the PM called him a man who tried to "destroy the system"....but the people....they are all beginning to see that he was trying to improve the system. Where is the delusion? It is high up in the ivory tower our elites have build for themselves and their ridiculous salaries. The real fools among us are the people who lost more than $18B of tax payers money mis-investing in troubled western banks and those who lost millions of TC money. They are the ones who should be answering questions, not Chee and his supporters who were hauled into court for wearing T-shirts.


Anonymous said...

Great article Lucky! I hope Singapore need not go too far to find out if CSJ is a fool or hero. There would be too much pain by then.

yamizi said...

What has TKL sacrificed?

Kaffein said...

Good article.

People hate those idealistic fools. But many don't know their status and positions were built upon the ideals of others - eg. Martin Luther King.

What has TKL sacrificed, Yamizi asks?

Does TKL have to be persecuted to know by stepping up on the plate to go against the norm of MAS and the financial institutions is asking for a life sentence?

Indeed, like I've mentioned - many don't care for idealistic fools. Perhaps we are just fooling ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan,

Another sterling piece of work. Thank you.

Your sincere reader

Anonymous said...

It's entertaining.

Now, let's get back to ....reality.

Anonymous said...

Once again,Lucky Tan has shown we have real talent and Obama after all ! Who dare say Singapore has no talent except those asshole high up in Ivory Tower enjoying luxury life ?

Anonymous said...

I think we cannot call the monies that GIC and Temasek throw out as investment. It should be called OUTvestment since it will not come back at least in our lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Great article. What many apathetic people fail to realise is that while you may not have any interest in politics, political decisions and policies affect our lives, and our society. Hence, the paramount need to have a say or an interest in what goes around us, whether you like it or not. Don't just let the politicians run the show. Keep asking questions, and keep probing. We pay taxes and we have the right to know what's going on.

Onlooker said...

Good post.
Actually when the Monopoly collapse there will always be people who cared enough to stand up and build our country back up from the mess that the PAPers had created.We are pragmatic and can survive well without them.
TKL is speaking up as a representative of the aged and elderly who had contributed a lot to our society(even more than our imported FT).Folks who have to invest their life savings in Dubious products because their moneys were locked up in a Gambler fun that has been leaking at it's seam by a gambling addict for "Long term".
They are also the People who are not as mobile because they had family and friend that they cared about here(and not forgetting the massive Ransom: CPF contributions that will not be pay to them if they leave at least not immediately).And Because It take a long time to adjust to another country and they do not have much time and money left.
PAPer Elites like to target the Real Representative of the people(JBJ,CSJ,Pres OTC) while faking their concerns over issues that never got resolved and asked "just pretend" concern question that were raised in parliament.
Example of real concern of the people:-
JBJ :- land issues he is a lawyer he knows his stuff about land acquisition.
CSJ :- fired over postage but the main point is he pointed out many facts that PAPers like to keep concealed from the people with help from the media.
Pres OTC :- >>>56<<< Man years to process where is our Reserve(CSJ asked this also in Jurong in the same context) aka Our CPF money.

Anonymous said...

good read...your analogy from the tv show Tour of Duty hits the mark,Lucky.It was one of my fave show..
If it wasn't for Martin Luther King,there wouldn't be a civil rights movement nor would there be a rosa parks who defile civil disobedience on the bus which segregate the color of the skin.
without these there wouldn't be a Black US president sitting in the white house now...
Hopefully people of singapore will vote with their head...voting against PAP doesn't mean anti-singapore...we need to vote for the right people in regardardless whether they are PAP or opposition...Right now lots of things are happening now that we can see their flaws creepinhg up to the surface...From here on .it's damage control...it's not helping when they don't admit faults and are arrogrant about it...Pride comes before a fall.

TeE said...

Life is unfair.

People who fight fires usually enjoy far more accolades than people who draft measures to prevent them.

Sri said...

Your rulers are clearly the smartest in the world. other dictators make the lives of their subjects misreable. Here they make it so comfortable (for 66% at least) that people don't want change and they also are admired by the world for creating such an efficient system.

I lived as an expat in Singapore for 6 years and it was close to paradise. a house off Orchard Road, green and clean roads, great public transport. It is a place made for foreigners - citizens be damned.

One has to admire people like CSJ and JBJ for even attempting to take on such a system knowing they are going to pay such a heavy personal price.

Koh said...

Outstanding, one of the best article you have shared with us, keep it up.


Singapore Indian Voice said...

The example of the Tour of Duty really reinforces.. great post!

Anonymous said...

Superb. You really sprinkle some pinch of sanity into those who view CSJ as an outcast to be avoided at all costs.

Sometimes, fate is so cruel. You need something drastic and painful for people to see clearly.

Anonymous said...

Timing is everything. It was so easy to assassinate Chee's character because he seemed to be making a mountain out of a molehill, he was a rebel without a cause because the cause couldn't be understood by those who didn't suffer.

Anonymous said...

two thumbs up.prime minister material if you can believe it.

ArtBoon said...

What has TKL sacrificed? He sacrificed his privacy.

Anonymous said...

4 all u know, he culd be an xheebitionist 4 dirty people. HAHAHAHAHA.

Anonymous said...

tan shld be the vp. LOL

Anonymous said...

good article. I tend to believe the a hero rises out of hundreds of fools, though elevating CSJ to that high a pedestal is as good as saying most singaporeans are fools.

Anonymous said...

You need a fool to lead another fool?

Anonymous said...

i remeber a horrigible holiday experience led by a horrigible tour manager so at the end of the trip, when the tm gave psycho talk before passing out feedback form, i remember an old lady in the tour group who said...whatever your grouses were, don't break someone's rice bowl.

though these tm maybe horrigible professionally - nothing personal, they are still in the business because of the kindness of many singaporeans.

we never return the feedback form

don't think we are the only ones though.

Anonymous said...

We need the PAP leaders to be sacrificed as "HEROS". I long for the day when these esteemed but super rich PAP Men in White are butchered on Singapore streets.
Only then, we will see decent changes after that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your views on CSJ and a well-thought out article.

However, I disagree that what CSJ did so far was "heroic". I felt that he is wasting our time and wasting his effort. He is always trying to get more attention with his clowning antics. I don't know what his agenda and motives are. There are no plans, no leadership, nothing of substance to persuade anyone to vote for him.

PAP may not be the best or perfect government, but they beat CSJ and the rest of the opposition anytime.

As for TKL, his ambition for politics was perceived by a few people long before he admitted himself later, after it became obvious. BTW, having a blog in cyberspace with your real name is hardly considered as trying to protect your privacy. However, TKL hardly the E. President/MP/Ministar material, it just many of his wishful dreams ... Anyway, I wish him good luck with his 700 odd signatures...

Anonymous said...

Frankly speaking, politically... Singaporeans are either a bunch of Ignorant Fools OR Informed Cowards. Neither of these categories of citizens help at all. CSJ & TKL are the exceptional cases.

JohnnyKid said...

Given the amount of skepticism (via brainwashing) we have nowadays, I think even Hero Lim Bo Seng will be treated as a pariah in today's Singapore.

He was a rich man's son with a happy family and the means to live a peaceful life anywhere else. But he chose to give it all up for Singapore and his countrymen.

In today's Singapore, I suspect Lim Bo Seng will be treated as a foreign collaborator who received British help to fulfill a hidden agenda, personal vendetta or to destroy the PAP system. If he didn't watch himself, he will be sued till bankrupt or imprisoned.

We have problems trusting altruistic people but have no problems trusting people who would only accept public office if given million dollar salaries. Sad isn't it?

Anonymous said...

If TKL is not president material, then who is? Nathan? Ha!

Anonymous said...

The Strait Times propaganda machine ran a piece of news on Nathan recently that he worked for the Imperial Japanese army in WW2, right?
This actually implicitly hinted that Nathan is good at taking orders from invaders, ie, good dogs that wag ita tails. Suits PAP wa....presidential caliber!

Clear eyed said...

The tragic reality in Singapore is that most of us are still in the deep slumber cast on us by our masters, as JBJ put it. Imbibing the daily doses of drug dispensed by our very efficient propaganda machines, it is unlikely they will ever wake up unless a catastrophe happens and opens their eyes. In this drugged stupor the men in white are angels while the heroes who sacrificed greatly to try to awaken them to the truth are evil, stupid, selfish, psychopathic, clowns, collaborators with foreigners, etc. Those of us who have awakened must help the heroes to bring the light of truth to the sleeping. Only then will there be a future for our country. And only then will CSJ be seen in the true light by all Singaporeans.

xNSman said...

Wonderful insight of CSJ Mr Tan. As someone who is born in the 60s, I was a typical Singaporean who believed and trusted everything that came out of the mouth of LKY. Fortunately, the internet has opened by eyes to new viewpoints that the MSM tends to slant towards the PAP. By shutting our minds and hearts to things that are going wrong with our country, things are really going downhill faster and faster. We need more courageous people like CSJ and the late JBJ to speak out about the real issues that affect us Singaporeans and not the tai-chee we see in our current crop of leaders aka followers.

Anonymous said...

one of the funnier pages i have read in a long time.

keep it coming. thks

Anonymous said...

have you read this:

The SIN gov makes sure of roofs over heads and food in bellies thus can use fear as a measure to keep its people in line.

Anonymous said...

you have on one side a group of naive political thinkers and on the other side...a group of deluded political thinkers.( you decide which is which LOL)

between these two groups is a lot of noise. basically useless noise.

the joke is, whilst all these are going on...innocent people are suffering whilst they bickle amongst themselves or ignoring each other. LOL

路人甲 said...

A lot of people has considered CSJ as a fool, a mad man.

But i can tell you most of these people cannot even point out what is wrong with CSJ's point. In fact these people once they hear CSJ they immediately switch off their ears.

They did not even give him the slightest chance by hearing what is he saying, what's his point.

I can only say our system and media has successfully brand CSJ as a madman that no one bother even to listen what he is talking about.

I am not his supporter and I do not agree with the way he is trying to gain awareness from the people and oversea.

But those things that he has pointed out, I wont say there are 100% no truth inside, at least it sounds logical to me. In fact too many things sound logical here, just that no way we can prove it.

Even major mistakes that surface, they either deny, argue, act blur or eventually admit that it is an honest mistake and let's move on.

How about those that are not surface? Perfect system? I doubt.

feedmetothefish said...

Hi Lucky,

Another cool post!

I agree with xNSMan, if Chee Soon Juan is a psychopath, so am I.


Anonymous said...

Recently I was reading about a group of people in Nazi Germany plotting to assassinate Hitler. The famous being Claus Von Staffenberg.

To cut a long story short, the plotters failed and during the time of the Nazi era, people genuinely felt that these plotters were traitors.

Post Nazi Germany, the exploits, albeit a failed one, is still not clearly appreciated.

Some clearly saw this a heroic act.

Some consider the actions were basically a waste of time and if not counter-productive. After all, had the plot succeeded, Germany might not have collapse comprehensively and then become successful ultimately.

Some felt that these plotters themselves who after all believe in the Nazi's grand plan initially but only turned when they fell out with Hitler were not so clean anyway. If Heroes were to be found why not those that opposed the Nazi from the very beginning and paid their life for it.

I think in many ways, the story of Nazi Germany and the story of these Hitler assassination plots, possibly is more telling about the Singapore situation now and Chee's predicament.

Take the Chee vs TKL situation. Chee I suppose could be liken to those who opposed from the beginning. Whereas TKL, at this juncture, has only begun to question the policies of his former political allies.

Whilst I am not suggesting we have a Nazi-like government, some aspects of the story of the plotters and Nazi Germany has some parallels here.

Anonymous said...

Here is an extract about German resistance during the Nazi era from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Resistance.

So might be arguing what has this got to do with CSJ being a fool or hero.

Well, I think this is the kind of backdrop where heroes or fools are more likely to operate in. As you can see from this backdrop trying to discern a fool from a hero is not a straight forward thing.

So if we try to place CSJ in that kind of context, is he a von staffenberg or just one of the many, unknown, resistance figure or simply a downright pests!

The tour of duty series whilst useful to carry a message but may be too simplistic.

Peukert and other writers have shown that the most persistent sources of dissatisfaction in Nazi Germany were the state of the economy and anger at the corruption of Nazi Party officials — although these rarely affected the personal popularity of Hitler himself. The Nazi regime is frequently credited with "curing unemployment," but this was done mainly by conscription and rearmament — the civilian economy remained weak throughout the Nazi period. Although prices were fixed by law, wages remained low and there were acute shortages, particularly once the war started. To this after 1942 was added the acute misery caused by Allied air attacks on German cities. The high living and venality of Nazi officials such as Hermann Göring aroused increasing anger. The result was "deep dissatisfaction among the population of all parts of the country, caused by failings in the economy, government intrusions into private life, disruption of accepted tradition and custom, and police-state controls."

Sound familiar here?

Change that to: "A Party that is often credited for 'high growth'....

Opposition based on this widespread dissatisfaction usually took "passive" forms — absenteeism, malingering, spreading rumours, trading on the black market, hoarding, avoiding various forms of state service such as donations to Nazi causes. But sometimes it took more active forms, such as warning people about to be arrested, hiding them or helping them to escape, or turning a blind eye to oppositionist activities. Among the industrial working class, where the underground SPD and KPD networks were always active, there were frequent if short-lived strikes. These were generally tolerated, at least before the outbreak of war, provided the demands of the strikers were purely economic and not political.

Note the purely economic NOT political. Sounds familiar?

Another form of resistance was assisting the persecuted German Jews. By mid 1942 the deportation of German and Austrian Jews to the extermination camps in Poland was well under way. As recent writers have shown, the great majority of Germans were indifferent to the fate of the Jews, and a substantial proportion actively supported the Nazi program of extermination But a minority persisted in trying to help Jews, even in the face of serious risk to themselves and their families. This was easiest in Berlin (where in any case the Jews were progressively concentrated by the regime), and easiest for wealthy and well-connected people, particularly women.

Ok we are not so bad as to exterminate people here in Singapore but question:

do the majority of Singaporean care about the plight of the foreign workers in their mists?

jt said...

Great analysis - with a great deal of common sense. If we do not defend our rights, who will?