Friday, September 30, 2011

ISA : Interesting Video from the past...

As countries around us move further away from the authoritarian regimes of the past, the difference in terms of political progress between Singapore and other countries starts to increase and the desire for change among an increasing segment of the populace will increase. 2 decades ago, Taiwan & S. Korea were under martial law and dictators so were Indonesia and the Philippines. Today these countries are full blown democracies and citizens have greater freedom of speech, right to assemble to speak up against injustice and free press. Their govts have also undergone several peaceful transitions. Economic development has continued at the same pace if not faster after these countries move away from authoritarian rule. Corruption and crony capitalism in general declined in these countries. As these countries move ahead, Singapore tries to preserve its political system with little change. The refusal to repeal the ISA and replace it with a more suitable anti-terrorist act is symbolic of this refusal to change.

This old video (courtesy of The Online Citizen) from 1990 is interesting in several ways. Lee Kuan Kew explained that the detention of the Marxist conspirators was  decided by the next generation of leaders led by Goh Chok Tong. He than praised them for it by saying "Singapore would have been a different place" if they had not acted. A very young James Gomez then stood up to ask if the Singapore would consider abolishing the ISA given the region had become much more stable. Lee then tried to justify the ISA by saying that it was recently used on a group that was hoarding firearms - this is a bit strange as a justification because firearms are illegal in Singapore and these people could have been arrested and jailed under some other law. Lee then went on talk about how we were not yet a nation and hardly a community so these powers were needed to stifle "destructive" groups before they gained so much influence and power before they become mainstream groups.

Whenever laws are enacted to for the purpose security, there is a reluctance to repeal them because some people will argue that society will become less secure. That is why Malaysia's move to repeal the ISA is perceived as a bold step even when most countries provide a safe environment for their citizens without such a law. Most fringe groups are intercepted and stopped through intelligence operations that will yield sufficient evidence for a court case. There is a real risk of the ISA being abused by a bad govt to stifled legitimate opponents and used to preserve a power structure no longer beneficial to the ordinary citizens. Psychologically, the existence of such laws that are closely associated with police states, creates a climate of fear among citizens. 21 years ago, a young Arts and Social Science student in NUS asked Lee Kuan Kew about the need to keep the ISA. Today, many more young people are asking the same question. ISA symbolises the refusal of the present govt to begin moving away from our authoritarian past now that times have changed. For the hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans who want political progress, the existence ISA symbolises the frustrating lack of political progress. At the end of the day, as we fall further and further behind other countries support for the PAP will simply erode. The PAP has to remember that  one-off economic transformation that made the people accept some form of authoritarianism is over.


Anonymous said...

Whatever laws the govt passed, amended or abolished, they have majority voters (60%) support.

Isn't this democracy, where the people make the decisions?

In Singapore, ultimately it is the majority voters, not internet bloggers, activists, Hong Lim Park speakers or what not that influence or make decisions and destiny of the country.

Lucky Tan, don't you agree?

And I admire your perseverence in blogging such matters, although another fellow popular blogger Mr Wang, who perhaps realised the futility of it all, has already given up.

Anyway do continue to blog.

Anonymous said...

the tempered decisions of a majority electorate that is consistently misinformed and threatened and coerced in their votes is not democracy. no wonder others say majority singaporeans are dumb.

Anonymous said...

I've said elsewhere, the majority of Singaporeans are not dumb, they are made dumb.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:55
Please keep coming back and one day you too would understand why it is important for people speak up! Lucky is one of the best bloggers so you should consider yourself lucky getting to know this blog.

Anonymous said...

Don't think any voter was forced to vote any particular party.
Where is the proof of coercion?

Anonymous said...

anon @12:55

HDB upgrading? or else repent for 5 yrs?

Anonymous said...

Until the recent PE, i heard that one of my relative whose husband is a civil servant voted for TT and she asked her close relatives to do like wise. Reason: her husband is the sole bread winner and can't afford to lose his rice bowl.

There, so much for our progress in democracy ! So long as our MSM broadcast lies very day, its hard for the man in the street to know the truth.

Having said that, Mr Lucky, please continue to enlighten the masses. Because the rest of us need to know the truth or alternative views.

THANK YOU, Mr Lucky.

Anonymous said...

I think lucky is not comfortable that the garbagemen ppl have the resources and intelligence to watch and collect information of his mother taking a bath.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Look at Tan Kin Lian. Of all the Presidential candidates, I think he blogs the most and longest. His blog has over 3 million hits since 2007. He even spoke many times at Hong Lim Park.

Yet he lost his deposit in the recent Presidential elections!

And Workers Party MP Low Thia Khiang does not blog at all or spoke in public, except at election rallies.

Yet he won election after election, including a GRC!

So any popular blogger who thinks blogging helps when entering politics, do consider carefully.

Anonymous said...

"There is a real risk of the ISA being abused by a bad govt to stifled legitimate opponents and used to preserve a power structure no longer beneficial to the ordinary citizens."

6.1% of Singaporeans trust their government to use ISA to weed out unworthy opponents, who if they come to power, will form a bad government. The MSM have been cowed by the ISA such that they will help the present family to dumb down Singaporeans to keep the present power structure intact. Almost everyday you get to hear the bombastic spewings of a geriatric neo-nazi and nobody in the MSM dares to not feature him prominently. The PAP is not really in control of Singapore when itself is under the control of his son who is controlled by the Father.


Anonymous said...

Once LKY dies, a lot of things will change. Just be patience.

Anonymous said...

Lucky,why do you bother? It turns them on hahaaa

The said...

/// Whatever laws the govt passed, amended or abolished, they have majority voters (60%) support. ///

By the same token, you can also say that high ministerial pay and obscene presidential pay also have the support of 66.6% of the voters. But is this really the case/

Those 60% voted for a whole package of diverse policies. The real test is to put it to a separate vote or referendum.

Have a referendum on the abolition of ISA and then we can see the real for-or-against situation.

Similarly, put the ministerial pay to a referendum and see the results.

Anonymous said...

Come on lah, ISA cannot put 60% in jail or make them bankrupt la.
Don't talk rods, please !!!

Anonymous said...

Bravo anon 1646, those 60 percent are intelligent singaporeans who know how to appreciate talents fit for leadership.

Anonymous said...

That young chap was James Gomez, is it not?

Lye Khuen Way said...

I have for the past few years hold Malaysia in higher regards and sadly dismiss my own Country or is it only a City-State as only good in holding the status quo.

Actually, in more than one way, we have slide back. No ?

Anonymous said...

Since when Taiwan, S. Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines' Corruption and crony capitalism in general declined?

You may want to say 100% of the voters are not agreeable to the high ministerial pay, but 66.6% of the voters accepted it as a whole package for Singapore.

I kind of wonder why there are always talks on 60% of the voters are dumb and the 40% are the smarter ones.. Why not we put it to a separate vote or referendum?

Anonymous said...

To 22:14
Just give you one example. Why government give money just few days before election? Because some people will remember and support pap only when their wallet still have money when they went to the polling station.

Anonymous said...

Someone has forgotton that government nowadays give money every year around the same time.

When example is given, please make sure that it is at least 90% concrete to your advantage and not those 50-50 kind.

Anonymous said...

To comments made by Anonymous 30/9/11 09:55-
I, for one, has learnt a lot from blogs that Lucky Tan and Mr Wang has made on the political scene.
It has awaken my political knowledge, and how skewed the Straits Times can be.

So I disagree with your comments.

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