Why liberties matter

Posted On // 6 comments

I keep hearing people saying that Singapore should act like a First World nation, that they deserve the right to freedom of speech, that Singapore should uphold civil liberties, that Singapore shouldn't arbitrarily detain people like they do with the ISA. Yet a question lingers on in my mind. Why are these liberties so important? And if they are indeed that important, why doesn't anyone take any concrete action?

If our civil liberties are truly that important, if our fundamental right to freedom of speech, to lead a life free from government oppression, to be able to criticize and hope for change within our government is indeed that important, then surely we must do something about it.

While it is true that the government holds the power of violence and coercion, there is something we must ask ourselves. Does it hold the power of democracy? Is it able to withstand a democratic defeat in the elections?

Herein lies two other questions.
1) Is it possible that we may defeat this flawed government in an election, and so attain our liberty? And i know that this question will often be met by accusations of gerrymandering, of unfair incumbent advantages, of things like buying votes with lift upgrading (I'm really amazed at the PAP's creativity)

2) So i ask this second question. If Singapore isn't democratic, what are we going to do about it? Is it possible somehow, that after all these years of nation building since we were granted independence by the Colonial powers, (note the colonial times can barely be considered nation building for the pursuit of democratic ideals took backseat, while priority went to independence) we are somehow still not a truly democratic nation. Is it possible, that as in so many other nations, the incumbent party have just been entrenching themselves further and further in power.

Personally, I feel that we have reached a point where the government only listens when it benefits them. Criticism of the government now needs to be made known to the masses, where the votes count. And should the votes fail, maybe we need to start taking legal action, or pile on the international pressure.


Anonymous said...

Take a lesson from history.

Marcos and Suharto were not charged during their reigns; who dare charge them? When they wielded powers. How much were they punished in relation to their crimes?

Estrada(Philippines) is said to be detained in a 'bungalow' prison with all sorts of amenities and 'services' provided by the guards(prison officers).

When history showed evidences that power and monies had more bargaining powers in lowering penalties when convicted, it will never deter abuses of power(political especially).

Liberties seem to be more free plays for the powerfuls than the average man to claim equal rights. It is a sad fact.


BlackSheep said...

The countries in SEA which is our part of the world have been ruled by despots, and we are no different. Sheep city's despot has done better than the other despots, with a more visible infrastructure and a fat reserve.

The sleek way in which our despot market his achievements seem to impress the international community. Not realising that the ordinary people are suppressed and have very little share in the wealth which was essentially accumulated through their collective effort.

The repressive system of our despot has dealt a serious psychological blow to the people, at least to the 66.6%, and they have yet to recover.

I believe we need the help of the international community to return the favour of a psychological blow to our despot. It is evident that our despot treasures his standing with the west, especially Europe and the US.

The west can start by criticizing the despot more openly in the various media and more frequently. It will be a great impact if credible media like the BBC and CNN do a live coverage on the despot and his system, with phone- in-participants. Of course priority given to sheep city citizens.

A revered personality like Nelson Mandela should be courted to appear with Chia Thye Poh on such a program to share their experience. Mandela will be pleasantly surprised to know someone who has been detained far longer than him and for a unjustifiable reason.

The BBC and CNN can also invite Francis Seow, Tang L H, JBJ etc. and also not forgetting to extend the invitation to the despot, since he has been bragging that he can withstand scrutiny.

cy said...

anon: Agreed. Just like how victors write history, so do the politically powerful and economically influential dictate what is lawful and what isn't. In fact, this is the precise flaw in our society that democracy attempts to tackle. Yet, the failure of Singapore's democracy to function is ironically due to this very problem that it seeks to tackle. Does this then represent a failing in the ideal of democracy? Or simply the Singaporean people's failure to apply this ideal.

Blacksheep: I do agree that international pressure might be a necessary step forward.

The question is what kind of pressure. For the most of it, international pressure has been all talk no action, and more importantly, a primarily NGO business. We mostly see non-state actors like Reporters Without Borders criticizing our government, but rarely does a nation, especially the influential ones, take a tough stance on our government.

This current form of international pressure has been proven ineffective by our government's continued tyranny. Yet, are we willing to suffer under harsher measures like economic sanctions? (Although targeted sanctions sounds like a good idea, I doubt it actually works. I mean, are there things that Ministers do that we don't? We're talking about Singapore, not Myanmar)

Ironically, this platform of economic growth is the very same thing that many still vote the PAP for.

Anonymous said...

Cannot look for foreign sovereigns to criticize our regime, most other nations suffer similar problems.

Even organizations like United Nations and Greenpeace are ineffective. Especially United Nations, it is as impotent as the Consumer Association of Singapore. At least Greenpeace activists are more proactive.

It is high time that Organizations liked United Nations and Consumer Association of Singapore be disbanded and even erase from history.


BlackSheep said...

We do not need any kind of sanctions from the international community, which will ultimately hurt the ordinary citizens more.

The gist of my suggestion is to reveal the truth about the despot to the international community who have been sold by his sleek PR. The despot desperately wants to be remembered well and is extremely face-conscious.

He is far more intelligent than Marcos and Suharto put together and he will not wish to be compared with them nor will he wish to be compared with the Myanmar regime.

The despot has not or will ever admit to any mistakes. The rest of the ministers are following his example. Just think of WKS and you get the picture.

Many citizens are convinced that the despot has many skeletons in his cupboard. The British government have de-classified many documents concerning the despot and there will be more to come from other sources.

We must learn to understand the mind of a bully and the first step is to have the international community deal a psychological blow. The west control the media and the media can be a powerful tool. The S.T. have been a rather effective tool of the despot during the past 40 years before the internet age.

For a moment just imagine Nelson Mandela sitting with Chia Thye Poh for a BBC/CNN dialogue. This in itself is a very powerful message to the despot and will make those who have a positive view of the despot to reflect on the man they thought they knew.

Anonymous said...

Another very real and sad fact is that professionals in legal practices, judges, lawyers, attorneys etc throughout the World are only interested in making money.

These legally trained professionals have no balls to fight injustices and subjugate themselves to rulers. Where are their senses of justices?

What is the World Court doing? Waiting for beggars to file cases with them? Waiting for laymen to fight for justice? What a shameful World!!