Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Morality in Reality - Secret lives of Singaporeans...

" I'm a member of parliament not a private investigator."
- Low Thia Khiang, when he was asked to take responsibility for Yaw's actions.

Low worked with Yaw for 10 years and never suspected that he had such an exciting ECA. Before I tell you a few stories lets start with some numbers. The New Paper on Sunday reported that 20% of Singapore women cheat on their husbands based on a survey done recently. For husbands the number is likely to be worse - you can take the 20% and double or triple it. The number of illegal hookers arrested in 2010 was 7000 and the number that are not caught is likely to be 10 to 20 times this take 7000 multiply by 10 and say, each one has 10 customers, you get a very big number...think about it.

I was looking around to check if any other Singapore blogger discussed this issue and saw things the same way I saw it. I found one. A dentist called Dr. Chan and he wrote about what one group of married men he met did when they were away from home [Preachers, Teachers and School Principals]:

"Let’s backtrack to the time when I was climbing Kinabalu with a friend of mine. We met a group of Singaporean men. They were all married men and they met one another in Shenzhen when their companies sent them there. After their return to Singapore, they found that they missed each other so much that they decided to hold regular gathering. Climbing a mountain seemed healthy enough. But while chatting with them over dinner, the men revealed an interesting (but not startling) fact. They all had frequent sex trysts while working at Shenzhen.

I’ll save the lurid details for people who buy me drinks, but just for my readers, the guys had a whale of a time playing as hard as they worked in China’s economic capital.

These guys were not your regular Hokkien pengs or Ah Bengs. Far from that. They were highly educated people holding MBAs and other impressive degrees that will make them ministerial material. If the identities of these men were revealed and published in our mainstream media, it’s sure to cause an uproar" - Dr. Chan.

When I was in secondary school, I was the 1st batch of students to be taught "Moral Education". My teacher was in his sixties and near retirement. He took out the textbook on the first lesson and said, "According to the textbook, I'm suppose  to teach what is right and what is wrong ..and you guys are suppose to go off and  remember to do what is right. Hmm...this is not going to work".  Actually most people already know what is morally good and what is morally bad so you don't have to tell them what is right and wrong - even a 6 yr old will know that lying, stealing, cheating, is not right. People know the rules - the 10 commandments have been around for more than 2000 years - but following the rules is another matter. Most people won't do something if the retribution is immediate or there is a high chance of being caught later. Most people will also avoid doing something that hurt someone else directly. According to my moral education teacher who tossed the textbook aside after the first lesson and taught the lesson using the wisdom of his own experience, most men are ruined by 3 things - women (lust), alcohol (or drugs) and gambling. Among the 3, he found gambling the most devastating.  Most men who are hook on women (sex) are able to give up when they get old and find this activity too strenuous or  when they are financially strained. It is the gamblers who will get into big trouble because they can't stop even they are broke - they will borrow to feed the habit. Drinkers or drunks usually run into health problems and mostly hurt themselves. Drugs addicts are rare due to effective law enforcement so we don't get many that fall into this trap but those who do often destroy their is probably as bad or worse for the individual but gambling causes more destruction for society because of the large number people involved.

The key to helping people avoid destroying their lives is not to just telling them what is right or wrong ..moral or immoral because most people already know that but how to handle the temptation and how they can help themselves if they get into trouble. It is pointless to tell a gambler that gambling is bad and he should stop, he already knows. He needs to be able to handle the temptation and treat this problem as an addiction. Similarly those who womanize need to cope with the temptation - I'm sure Jack Neo, Yaw, the ex-CNB chief, ex-SCDF chief, civil servants and the ex-school principal all know what is morally correct but they couldn't stop themselves. Nowhere in our education system and perhaps nobody teaches us how to resist the temptation. In fact the movies, the TV shows, magazines tells us to do otherwise ...admire James Bond when it comes to women....not to resist the temptation but to enjoy the conquest. Yet we are shocked, when sex scandals occur. You shouldn't be because the reality is it is that this bad behavior is far more common than what many people think. A lot of it is hidden like what Low Thia Kiang said - he worked next to Yaw for 10 years and knew nothing about the allegations.

When I was serving my NS decades ago, I was posted to a department where there were a number of civilians, yes, civil servants. One day the department organised a night tour of Singapore. Because the department head whom every one loathed was not going, the organizers decided make it more fun by adding a visit to the red light area at Petain Road - the other places we went were the Central Police Station, the fish market etc. As an innocent 19 year old kid, the tour of Petain Road was an eye-opener. It was my first time going to a place like this and the light, smell, women was overwhelming. We were suppose to just walk around the red light district ...amuse ourselves then get back onto the tour bus and head for fish market. But that was not what happened. As soon as we got off at Petain Road, one of my fellow NS men headed for one of the rooms procured the services of a hooker. Half an hour later, he got back on the bus and had this smile on his face....the civil servants go up the bus and asked him about his experience..the professional skill of the... ...I'll spare you the details but none of them showed any hint of disapproval. This NS man had been sitting next to me every single working day for 8 months and often spoke to me and I had no idea he had this past-time/ECA. Over time, I learned that civil servants are not angels, they are probably the morally same as a snapshot of people you meet if you went to a food court in Singapore or those Singaporeans who went to Suzhou. They are however afraid of being reported to be seen at Geylang or one of the local red light districts. That is why Bangkok is a favorite holiday destination for some of them. The recent scandal involving civil servants using the service of an online vice ring that was busted caused quite a stir. However, if you think about it, they are more unlucky than they are unusually immoral.

While the public is quick to judge and moralize, harsh actions will only suppress bad behavior in the short term. We can't eliminate the temptation unless we treat vice like drug activities and use sledgehammer against the illegal vice rings by raiding them every week. However, if you do that, you're just sending more men to Batam and Bangkok We have to be realistic about values and morals of a society exposed to the Internet, TV,  Hollywood movies and a capitalistic system that often puts money above everything else and encourage people to be materialistic and perpetually tempt people to seek pleasure and instant gratification. It is not entirely the fault of sinners that they sin. You cannot build casinos and expect people not to go there to gamble and some people to become badly addicted. You cannot allow tens of thousands of women to come here on social visit pass and expect our men not to be tempted .The practical approach is to contain rather than try to eliminate. We should also be careful not to over-punish those who have fallen short when such failings are a natural outcome of a system and environment we have created.


SG Girl said...

Men will be men. They (99%) will cheat given the opportunities. If their wives ask if they have cheated on them, husbands would say 'no'. If the wives show husbands pictures of them in bed with another woman, they'll denied the one in the pic were them.

P.S. the other 1% are still hesitating; to cheat or not to cheat.

Oh, this is just my personal opinion on men.

Anonymous said...

This is why prostitution is the world's oldest profession. It cannot be stamped out, even in Islamic countries with strict laws. So we may as well consider it a service industry (in countries or cities where it is legal, prostitutes pay tax). The less well-off pay for service in Geylang, the more well-off get escort, and the richest ones get mistresses - all of these are no different in the eyes of many.
I think we judge our public servants and leaders based on their sexual morals too much. Should heed Deng Xiaoping's words - don't care if the cat is black or white (of it it screws too many cats) so long as it catches mice, it's a good cat. We're not asking the leader to be a sage like Jesus, Confucious or religious figure.
Remember the US Congress impeached Bill Clinton in the 1990's. Now the US economy is hurting so much, people remember his presidency (or the economy during his presidency) with fondness. If Bill Clinton can run for election now, most people think he sure win.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Getting mistresses is not prostitution.

Anonymous said...

"It is pointless to tell a gambler that gambling is bad and he should stop, he already knows."
Lucky Tan

I strongly agree on this.

But can this also be applied to voting in elections?

For instance is it also pointless to tell a group of voters that keep voting for a particular party that this is bad and they should not, although they already know?

And if this group are majority voters, isn't it wonderful for that particular party?

Anonymous said...

Whatever moral failings some voters may have lah, be it womanizing, gambling or drinking, as long as such things don't seriously affect majority support for the ruling party and it helps GDP growth, the govt may even encourage it, for instance even allowing casinos.

Anonymous said...

Anon 22/2/12 08:53

You are very enlightening.

Now I know why some govts keep winning elections despite their performance becoming worse and worse over the years.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Lucky Tan, I have now decided to live a life of debauchery. That way, I will not be a hypocrite, and I am just being my natural self.

Anonymous said...

it can be done. To avoid temptations. I am a 100% man and I used to live in Vietnam by myself for a year. I am God fearing.

Kaffein said...

Telling people not to do it will fail. If still not convinced, here are a few examples:

1. Put a sign "Do NOT open!" outside the fridge door. Most kids I know will open the fridge door just to find out what's so 'forbidden' about it.
2. Put a sign "No valuables" on your car front screen and see if it doesn't get smashed the very next hour.

This shows that the more you tell someone not to do something, the more he will be tempted to do it. Not to sound preachy, the bible calls it 'Sin'.

Anyway most people don't have extra-marital affairs are because they can't afford it or they don't have guts to do it. Those who do it seek the thrill of not being caught.

Knowing how weak we are, let's not be so quick to 'demand a pound of flesh'. Yet again we ourselves must also remind ourselves that these 'quickies' get us nowhere. Our loved ones are the most impacted and affected.


Anonymous said...

When our spouse or partner can no longer sexually satisfy ourselves any longer, what do we normally do to satisfy our sexual urges ?

Either you look for a different partner, pay for a hooker, masturbate or remain celibate like a monk ?

Which option do you think our PAP Ministers & MPs resort to if money is not a problem to them ?

Anonymous said...

We are all human beings. if you don't have one of the main 4 vices
(woman,wine,smoke & gambling) you are indeed very blessed. At least you must have one of the 4 weaknesses some part of your life.
Some people call these variety is the spice of life. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Looking whiter than white results in whitewashed tombstones.

Anonymous said...

We are the Party Against People.

We want babies.
But we don't want the passionate sex.

Just as we want the casinos.
But without the social problems.
The information wonderland of the internet.
Without the dissenting opinions

So marry an ugly woman.
So we can have our babies.
Without the passionate sex.

Anonymous said...

Wise words. Good analysis. yeah - someone once said "Which cat does not eat fish ?" Just pity the wives - as they are usually the last to know. Even when they do, they are either in denial or have to put on a brave front to support their hubby.

Anonymous said...

You know that infamous DSK case in France. His lawyer said his client may not have known he was with prostitutes as "in these parties, you're not necessarily dressed. I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude woman of quality."

So I guess for those who keep hammering the 'hardtruths' and telling LTK to be responsible for his protege's personal failings, if WP has it own top gun law firm, I bet it will also read something along the line 'I defy you to tell the difference between a good governing MP who is good connecting with people, or a good governing MP who is philandering with some people.

Here's another hardtruth - if the mainstream media can spend almost 1.5months now and still investigating the CPIB suspects that didn't "vanish without a trace" (to quote them) in fact, under their 24/7 custody, you have to wonder what is taking them so long to do the detailed 'accounting' to the nation on their CRIMINAL or MISCONDUCT, instead of obsessing over a rogue MP that is privately 'resolving' his personal failings.

Affairs may be no one else’s business, but corruption and cronyism is everyone's business.

Anonymous said...

To anon 12:57

I fully agree about corruption and cronyism.

If top Civil Servants or MPs holding key strategic positions in certain Ministries are dipping their bananas into colleagues or others' honey pot and she gets rewarded for keeping quiet, then I shudder to think how many will do the same and accord the name 'on merits', spouse/supplier or what not.

And we all know that everyone is equal under the law.

Now I am stomping my feet as I write this.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

My ex colleagues who were females told me that in one of the regional meetings in Manila by the USA company, the trainer with the agreement of all the male managers agreed to cut short the training by one day so that they all can have a day off to screw.

My two colleagues were upset but then nothing much they can do as all the managers were senior managers of the company.

Anonymous said...

In this business, the Malaysian counterparts - Mahathir, Najib and Anwar - are more savvy.


Anonymous said...

"You cannot allow tens of thousands of women to come here on social visit pass and expect our men not to be tempted ."

You forgot the tens of thousands of maids working here also.
And the tens of thousands of male construction workers.

Sure seems like a recipe for a lot of activity here in Singapore.

The only people not getting any are the overworked and overstressed Singaporeans.

No Saint said...

Eisenhower cheated.
Kennedy cheated.
Johnson cheated.
Reagan cheated.
Bush senior cheated
Clinton cheated.

And they are all spectacular leaders who deliver.

George Jnr Bush for one, apparently didn’t cheat , and look what a mess he made of the world.

Where does Nixon fit in? Oh yeah, he cheated (lied) on everyone.

So back to Asia. The recent CE-hopeful for HK not only admitted openly his marital flaws, he even threw his wife under the bus and saw his popularity tanked to basement low for having too many illegal erections of different kinds.

Circle now to Singapore, that was exactly what I had visioned (above case of political confessions) when Khaw Boon Wan openly states public & personal lives are one and the same. What a 'new normal' it would be. Imagine all the running MPs-to-be declaring and affirming their impeccable character, honesty and integrity at start of campaigns (rather than expecting the electorate to take the Party's or its lawyers' words for it), surely this would make every running individuals start at the same level playing field, morally speaking? Anything outside the norm down the road, clearly would easily be verifiable as lies, cheats or not. Sadly it was not the case when PM Lee came out with an libel embargo, laying to rest all that hypocritical higher moral standards that was never privvy to the uninformed public to evaluate.

So back to us, the electorate - the passengers. What do we expect from all these bumps on the road as we ride high and low along with our elected drivers & co-drivers? I can't vouch for everyone, but here's my own personal code - reality above morality.

Because what is moral behavior to one person, is an indignation to another. Society functions more effectively and responsibly when politicians and our elected officials can expect to follow the “rule of law”. And chances are, if they respect and obey the rule of law to begin with, they’re bound to have higher moral standards that are genuine and socially reciprocal. Most of us who obey laws, don’t just do so because we’re afraid of being caught if we don’t. We do so because they make sense to our survival.

I am evaluated and paid for at work for my performance, not what I do in my personal life. So to expect one set from our elected leaders and another from us mere mortals, is a myth at best and a lie at worst. After all, like us, they are only too human not to fail.

Well, as for WP.
They won't be getting my vote.....oh wait...

Anonymous said...

"Most of us who obey laws, don’t just do so because we’re afraid of being caught if we don’t. We do so because they make sense to our survival."

Does it make sense to keep your penises clean?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you. There is a difference between
1. being single and screwing prostitutes (your NS mate)
2. being married and screwing prostitutes (the group of Shenzhen executives)
3. being married and screwing other people's wives
4. being married and screwing your married colleague

Morally, most people can accept 1. and 2. but the others are not acceptable especially for a people's representative.

Even if you get pass the moral factor, how do you entrust power to someone who don't have the willpower not to do something wrong? I know I can't.

Anonymous said...

//...he worked next to Yaw for 10 years and knew nothing about the allegations.//

Since when do we expect LTK to be a fly on the wall?

Why would LTK be any more responsible than say - his wife or his parents if you go by that logic!?

Anonymous said...

To anon 22/2/12 19:49

1-4 are all consensual, are they not?

hyom hyom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Leaders are expected to be better than ordinary folks. Not only must they be smarter, they must have higher standard of integrity and self discipline. Those who failed on the job when they succumb to the temptations of greed and lust, deserved to lose their leadership position.

hyom hyom said...

Hi Lucky Tan,

This is another masterpiece. Perhaps I should archive it for my son's future reading when he is old enough. Too many men who could have went on to greater things have been destroyed by scandals.

If you do not mind, I have also some articles on gambling, womanizing and smoking written to discourage such activities by analyzing them from a financial angle. I thought the universal love of money might serve as a strong deterrent to keep people from such vices. I would like to share it here as your blog enjoys higher readership. Sorry for the advertisement which cannot be avoided.




Anonymous said...

Lucky, while you may argue that a politician's sex life only affects the individual but does not affect the public, it is hard not to imagine and extrapolate that the same weakness that makes them succumb to "temptations of the flesh" does not make them susceptible to other things like money or power. After all, money and power usually bring in the women and the sex.

Can someone who is morally depraved in one department (e.g. incorrigible love cheat) be "completely" morally upright in other areas?

Can morality be assessed in parts and not in whole?

Are we so liberal as to allow an exposed love cheat to "get away" without a hint of public censure? And allow him/her to freely continue his/her ways without sounding an "alarm" to other unsuspecting victims? (Assuming that there are both willing parties as well as genuine victims in these scenarios)

Shouldn't we pause to think just what kind of societal behaviour we are trying to encourage here and its ramifications?

Anonymous said...

Morality can only be taught in school but in actual lives, students are exposed to the press which did not set itself on high moral standing. Straits Times is always at war with the opposition parties, and the attitude of PAP leadership is appalling. You can construct alot in school, but such construction can be easily demolished overnight by what has happened in recent month when the same principal and police chief who are supposed to impart high moral standing were not shamed publicly by PAP. Instead, they spend so much money and time chasing after Yaw's family story.

Chan Joon Yee said...

Yes, there is a difference between:

1. being single and screwing prostitutes (your NS mate)
2. being married and screwing prostitutes (the group of Shenzhen executives)
3. being married and screwing other people's wives
4. being married and screwing your married colleague

But these "sins" are all one-liners. They are not complete stories. There are loads of examples of people in 3. and 4. who corrected their mistakes through divorce, remarriage and lived happily ever after.

Chan Joon Yee said...

"Leaders are expected to be better than ordinary folks. Not only must they be smarter, they must have higher standard of integrity and self discipline. Those who failed on the job when they succumb to the temptations of greed and lust, deserved to lose their leadership position."

Huh? I thought even our teenagers have learned that their "idols" are not supposed to be infallible creatures - unlike in the past when kids really believed that their heroes had superpowers.

In an age of reality TV where the most capable stars and professionals can fumble on national TV, shouldn't we be smart enough to extrapolate that to politicians who will never appear on reality TV? Shouldn't we be wise enough to realise that the political stage is exactly what it is?

Anonymous said...

Men will be men, so what we have to do it protect them and ensure they cannot be investigated by a private investigator. This proviledge must be extended to opposition party members as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chan,

3. and 4. are alright in your book but not in mine. I am an old fashioned man in my early thirties who believe in doing what's right and not succumbing to temptations. I wouldn't even want friends like Yaw, let alone have him as my representative in parliament. It may shock you, but there are still some old fashioned people like me who believe in living an honest life and having an old fashioned family.

Anonymous said...

Anon 22/2/12 20:06

Many other relationships are also consensual, but why are they illegal?

Drug seller and buyer
Teacher and student
Prostitute and pimp

Some people think what Yaw did is alright, some people don't think so. We should just leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if you get pass the moral factor, how do you entrust power to someone who don't have the willpower not to do something wrong? I know I can't.

22/2/12 19:49

I guess between a capable politician who has sexual trysts and an incompetent one who does not, you would choose the incompetent one? So who's going to govern the country in the meantime? Can you round up enough perfect human beings to govern any country in a single term? Don't be naive and perfectionist - this is the fallacy played by PAP and it is falling apart for them as well.

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