Monday, November 23, 2009

Apathy among Singaporeans...

In a recent speech by Law Society Chairman Michael Hwang, he described Singaporeans as apathetic and urged lawyers to stand up for justice.

"You must care about justice, and fight for justice where you see injustice, not just for your immediate client, but for the community at large" - Michael Hwang[Link]


In his speech he cited a few examples of apathy among Singaporeans. But he didn't explain why and how ordinary Singaporeans and lawyers became so apathetic. After a number of lawyers in the law society were detained under the ISA[Link] in 1986, I remember the then PM telling lawyers they should focus on their legal practice as there were plenty of opportunities for them (to make money) as the economy expands. MM Lee made it very clear when he ran the place that fighting for justice comes with steep personal price - you're better off minding your own business. In the 70s, the university was the hotbed of activism and the govt ended that with the arrest of student leaders. By the time I went to university in the 90s, most students had little interest in anything else other than passing exams. The hightlight at that time was when a few students from the Socialist-Democracy Club plucked up enough courage to visit Chia Thye Poh in Sentosa who by then had been detained for more than 2 decades.
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Years of authoritarian rule has transformed Singaporeans into 'sheeple' - having only enough enthusiasm and energy to make sure things are okay for themselves and their families. I've frequently been given this advice - if you're not happy with how this country is run, you're better off using your brains to make as much money as you can so that you can emigrate rather than change the way it is run. This is true only if most people believe it is true. Unfortunately, thousands of Singaporeans take this advice and leave the country every year. The more you believe things cannot change, the more they will stay the same.
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In the past few years, Singaporean sheeple have noticed the grass in front of them has been getting thinner - the things they don't care about and complacently left to the people who were suppose to take care of their interests are starting to affect them in negative ways. A number woke up one fine day to find their lifesavings have vanished because the banks and regulators have allowed toxic financial products to be sold to them. Many find that job security is now gone - they can be easily hired, fired or replaced with little compensation. Others woke up to find they can no longer afford something as basic as the housing they want. Many suddenly discovered that they are surrounded by foreigners who have no long term stake in this island. Many discovered how far they have fallen behind as the cost of living rose and the income gap ballooned.
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In a society we are always better off if we learn to care for each other and pay attention to the plight of other Singaporeans because we won't know when their problems will become ours. They like hiving subservient apathetic citizenry so they can keep their hold on power and maintain the status quo. At the end of the day, being a Singaporean only matters if Singaporeans care about what happen to their fellow Singaporeans otherwise you can just issue those pink cards like candy to anyone who comes here just to boost the population numbers.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know of a PRC Singapore PR. He works in construction site. As soon as he got his PR, his two daughters and wife came along. The whole family took out 3 jobs, with the youngest daughter in school.

When I met up with him, he spoke like a little LKY telling me Singaporean poor work attitude and how his PRC fellow workers perform in outstanding manner....

Anonymous said...

With the prospect of bankruptcy and ISA detention, is there any surprised why Singaporeans prefer to focus on survival rather than getting involved in politics. This is a police state for all intents and purposes. As long as you don't you threaten their right to rule, they will leave you alone. Otherwise you will feel the full force of the power of the state. Perhaps, you should be a guest of the ISD to get a taste of what it's like to fight for the rights of fellow Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

Our "founding father" is LKY, a fella who signed on to serve the Kempeitai during WW2.

Needless to say, as de-facto ruler of Singapore, he will shape the people to follow his values as clearly described by Lucky.

I wonder how Singapore would have turned out, if we were led by people of similiar character to those of Lim Bo Seng or Lt. Adnan.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

No doubt Singaporeans appear to be apathetic.

But this appearance could be due to two contrasting scenarios: either the people really don't care any more, or they are trying to look as if they don't care.

The magic about scaring people into apathy is that it always appears to work.

Anonymous said...

be apathetic all you want.

just be intelligent enough to tick the right box when the time comes.

Anonymous said...

YOu know, I've supported your blog and check it every day. But lately I stopped checking. It's as though I can't seem to do anything about what's going on. Are we becoming more and more helpless and trapped? Anyway anon above is right - just remember to check the correct box at the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

What will happen if LKY dies tomorrow?

Local propaganda machines will protray him as a founding father. Foeign leaders will come to pay respect, praising his miracular achievements. Many Singaporeans, including some in the opposition, may even miss him!

For me, I will definitely pop a Champagne to mark the end of authoritarianism. The future may appear a bit uncertain, but there is also hope for Singaporeans to take back their country from the tyrant and remedy the demage.

Lucky, I wonder what will you do?

Anonymous said...

By marking the correct check box in the elections, Singaporeans have nothing much to lose anyway. Right now the ties that bind you to he land of your birth is slowly eroding away. There will come a time when you realise that the country you call your own belongs only to those who earns very much more than you.

Anonymous said...

Now you know how it feels to be displaced by people from foreign lands. A hundred years ago, the native Malays stood helplessly watching their homeland being taken over by more competitive, hardworking and commercially minded migrants from foreign lands. Now you and your children are facing the same onslaught by hungrier, cheaper, harder working migrants from foreign lands. Isn't it scary history seems to repeat itself?

Anonymous said...

Checking the correct box on the ballot paper is one thing, but how many of you will get that opportunity to cast your vote???

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 13:09,

I agree with you. Who can tell how many Singaporeans can vote with all the GRCs and walkovers.

Someone said only 50% get to vote. Don't know true or not.

If mostly, the eligible voters come from well to do areas, I think we can look forward to 10 more years of PAP rule.

Anyway, I'm not waiting that long too see what I predict comes true.

Cheers

Economist

Anonymous said...

Good post
specially with the ending quote

"At the end of the day, being a Singaporean only matters if Singaporeans care about what happen to their fellow Singaporeans otherwise
you can just issue those pink cards like candy to anyone who comes here just to boost the population numbers."


Unfortunately, i'd lose faith in our fellow sinkies. Afterall, materialism pursuit is their first priority and not about rights of Singaporean.

Anonymous said...

yin & yew

A European tourist was visiting a temple in Singapore when he noticed a
statue, with two faces, a man and a woman, back to back, by the altar.

He asked the monk what was the significance of the two.

The monk explained that in the Chinese belief of yin and yang,
positives must always be balanced by negatives, and having the statue
with two sides ensures that the universal balance is maintained.

"This statue of the woman is the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan-Yin."

"What about the other one?" asked the tourist.

"The one with the man's face is the God of No Mercy, Kuan-Yew.."

Anonymous said...

If the old man was to drop dead tomorrow, I will be both happy & sad.

Happy that the vindictive old man is no more around to cause more harm.

Sad that he is not made to pay for the grave injustices that he has caused to so many people & their families.

Onlooker said...

Yes, that about sums it up in a neat package.

Another thing to note is the "Elites" are getting bloated.

I wonder how they can manage to keep so many dead weights around.

runroad said...

Lucky, you just described the proverbial frog sitting in a saucepan of water, croaking away complacently and not realising (or ignoring) that the pan is on the stove and the water is gradually being heated. At last, in the year 2009, we approach the beginnings of a boil when we see that the bill for decades of political apathy, materialism and cowardice will come due.

Michael Hwang's vomit-inducing words are breathtaking in their blatant hypocrisy but he will be fine. He is after all a part of the elite laughing all the way to the bank. His job is safe. It's the stupid frogs and their families who will pay dearly for sleep-walking to ruin as their jobs, homes, culture, lifestyles and security disintegrate under the onslaught of foreign vultures who will pick their bones clean. Such is life for the apathetic.

I suspect it's too late to turn the lumbering Lee super-tanker around now, to be honest. I think the rot has set in so deep only amputation could cure the patient of his terminal growth sickness. We deserve the black-heart feudal government we have. We the serfs could have changed it but chose not to take the pain of sacrificing for the greater good. We willingly accepted the iron fist because it only hit other people, not us, and we deserve everything that's coming to us.

Get out now while you still can think for yourself is probably the most sensible solution for our youth and they seem to realise that almost instinctively. Only a fool would try to defend a country which he can no longer proudly call his. Those unfortunate enough to be middle-aged and older will have to swallow the bitter pill just like the lost generations of Mao's China and Pol Pot's Cambodia did.

Anonymous said...

"""A number woke up one fine day to find their lifesavings have vanished because the banks and regulators have allowed toxic financial products to be sold to them. Many find that job security is now gone - they can be easily hired, fired or replaced with little compensation. """

Well said. Many lost their savings for nothings.

Clear eyed said...

runroad at 19.38, I agree with you. I am both outraged and sad at the state of affairs here - outraged at the all-consuming greed and selfishness of the self-appointed "elites" and sad at the suffering of the frogs. What makes it even sadder is that most of the frogs are still in deep slumber, sedated by the drugs fed daily to us for decades. Although they are suffering, they don't know what is hitting them and think that this is life and there is nothing they can do about it but to endure. They even mock the few courageous and noble souls who try to wake them up and save them from being boiled alive.

Anonymous said...

Get the hell out of this forsaken place as fast as possible. If you cannot, then make as much money as you can. Nothing is impossible.

Anonymous said...

Read the papers, the foreigners are getting intergrated - By PA and grassroots - so guess who they support. What a joke, we need the immigrants so that pappy can stay in power.

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Anonymous said...

What will happen if LKY dies tomorrow?

When Mao Zedong dies, China got another public holiday.

When Chiang Kai-Shek dies, Taiwan got another public holiday.

utopia said...

my heart goes to those who are stuck here in sinkie land

Goh Meng Seng said...

I have come to the conclusion 12 years ago that either I exercise my rights as a citizen to take ownership of our own destiny and try to change the undesirable environment, particularly the political environment, or that I will just leave my home land quietly, to become second class citizen somewhere which may be a better option than staying back to watch the rot.

One could write so well, articulate with all fanciful ideas and words about what went wrong with our system but what is most important for all of us is to walk out of the shadow fear that was deliberately casted upon us, and walk bravely into the sunshine alley of courage. While I read this speech with little signs of heartache, I wonder how much effort the speaker has taken to make his point in reality.

It is interesting to note that it takes foreigners who come to our land to make us realize or awaken to the fact that how important it is for us to take charge of our own destiny, instead of leaving it to a small group of elites. Is it too little too late? I don't know. But it is definitely better late than never.

I have no delusions about change coming sooner because I know many Singaporeans that I met on my regular walkabout in the heartland neighbourhood are still pretty indifferent and apathetic to the political reality in Singapore. It is just wishful thinking that something could actually happen in a drastic way politically in Singapore.

I may not see it in my lifetime and thus, I shall not let my children be entrapped in such system.

Goh Meng Seng