Tuesday, March 08, 2005

MM Lee vs PAP (click to link)

DISCLAIMER: I'm not big into politics, and I'm the last person to cite. I just recently found out that Jews had only accepted Christ as a prophet as recently as their US backing. I'm definitely not the most clued in person in the world.

Anyway, I *just* discovered the Jamie Han issue (late. I'm so late) and only because ST online (Singapore's national paper) has decided to charge and somehow the Jamie Han issue was brought up. So one thing led to another and here I am commenting on Jamie Han.

I think Jamie Han was extremely respectful, and his wording suggests to me that he has respect for the man, despite calling him a despot.

Myself, well. "despot" has 2 meanings. One meaning that a single person has dictatorial power over his people. The other meaning "tyrant". But since Han used the word "despot" in the 1st meaning, I'll take it as that. I'm sure being an honours student in history and all, he'd realise that calling someone a despot has negative connotations, hence the media furore.

While I'd certainly call MM Lee (Lee Kwan Yew) a dictator, I'd hardly call him a despot. I think that's pretty damn unfair. There are MANY things I may not agree with on how he ran the country, but I'll give him kudos where its due.

The man was, and is, a visionary of stunning intellect. and to him, the end justified the means.

And this has been my theory for a long time:

MM Lee stepped down for many reasons.

a) to show the world that he wasn't a DESPOT
b) to show that he had the presence of mind to hand things over...and also keep the people happy and not mind his son

and

c) because he knew that his fear tactics could only get so far.

Han calls his example "fear tactics" and argues he could find cases that show otherwise. This is certainly true. For every Mugabi and Castro there is a Marcos and Saddam. And history is shaped according to the winners. Mandela doesn't exactly have a clean slate. Palestine once had US backing. So did the Taliban. The US doesn't need to apologise for Vietnam or the War on Terror, but the Japanese need to apologise for WWII. The jews are still paying for killing Jesus, the muslims are still responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world that doesn't have to do with communism or Africa, and the christians are right. All the time.

LKY knew all this. He knew his ISA was causing a nation to live in fear. He stepped down to allow a more progressive, gentler, government to rule...without ruining his personal image.

The man's a genius. But we all knew that.

Han is also...idealistic. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it's frigging wonderful that there actually are Singaporeans who give a shit about ANYTHING. People who actually CARE. and I think that's Han's answer to his 1st question. He cares about the country. That makes it his. He owns it.

anyway, to justify why I call Han idealistic. LKY has obviously lived through the racial riots. He understands how tenuous the social fabric of Singapore is. He bloody made it up. Actually, I hold him personally responsible for the fact that it's still as tenuous as it is. Everything's just below the surface, and everyone is still bloody racist.

I also hold him partly responsible for the mentality that Singaporeans hold. Partly.

but well. Idealism. This is the case with most of the socialist left here in Melbourne. They throw up all these 'we must reform! rebel!!' statements, and can never find a viable, suitable solution. Also, as Staggard told me today, usually, and especially in the case of Singapore, the change needs to come from the inside, and not from external people power and rioting because god knows, in Singapore? HA!

But yeah. good on Han. He's got guts in a culture like Singapore.

So. That leaves me with my original statement. LKY vs PAP. (PAP= People's Action Party. Practically the only political party- and it's been in power since the birth of Singapore)

Let's just say I know through an inside source that when SM Goh (does he have that title even?) was PM, LKY employed brothers. One to be PA to him, one to (then) PM Goh.

and it's been well documented that Goh and Lee have had their differences. I'd argue that the PAP does exist outside of Lee. Certainly, Lee has a stronghold on the party, but I'd argue that there are very strong personalities within the party itself.

He wanted the reform, but also through the push from the other party members I'm pretty sure. As well as listening to the wind.

He's a genius. No way is the man going senile.

(and I'm actually going to actively invite comments for this post. Comment away all you William Safires!)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I didnt read finish the entire entry so im not fit to comment.

anyway, my bf doesnt like australian wine. so yeah. im a wine idiot too. so stressing. i wish he was a beer guy. then i'll just have to buy a crate of heineken.

hope u had a gd day. :)
-nicole aka glamourswirls

Ben Hourigan said...

Aside from Jews for Jesus, what Jews have accepted Jesus as their messiah? Or was that a joke? Anyway…

I'm sure LKY's political style has its merits, but in the main I side with Han. And you know it's not just me being a lefty and thinking "reform! rebel!" because I'm not a socialist anymore. The thing is, it's time for Singapore to change, perhaps not so that individuals can overthrow the entire political system, but so they can make decisions about how to live their lives without government interference. Decisions about whether they want to use drugs, drive a car, where to live, who to partner with, what to teach at university or what to write in a letter to the Straits Times, and so on.

Han's statement that people don't feel like Singapore is home, or that they don't own their country, really resonates with what the Singaporeans I have met here in Australia say. "I can't deal with living there anymore," is the one comment that sticks out in my mind. This is from someone who used to work in drug enforcement. Mind you, the Singaporeans I know on World of Warcraft are often quite different. They're more attached to the place, and feel resentful of those who go abroad to study and come back with what they see as a sense of superiority.

That you say it's wonderful that there are Singaporeans who even care about politics in there country is a symptom of the problem: there's no point caring because there's nothing you can do with your opinions (except make a courageous gesture like Han did). LKY's response saying that some people will have input in running the country, but not all, seems to translate to: "some members of PAP will get to have input, but you won't, and neither will most people you know, so don't bother to worry about it."

I can't comment on the race riots: I had never heard of them, but I can imagine how Singapore would have some serious problems with racism. Dictatorship is not the only answer. Pluralism is still possible within a very basic framework of law and order, provided that you have a reasonable idea of what actually threatens the stability of the state and the safety of its citizens. In fact, this idea, according to John Rawls, is the entire basis of liberalism. He says that what states require is "reasonable pluralism": you allow multiple worldviews and interest groups to take hold, but only if they don't threaten pluralism. Thus, drug-user interest groups may be allowed to flourish (for example), because they don't threaten the existence or freedom of anyone else, while Islamic organisations (or Christian ones) that argue everyone must convert, may not (at least if they threaten to use force or take over the state). Stability doesn't require the whole raft of social controls that seem to be the hallmark of Singaporean life, but it may require the occasional ruthless crackdown on rioters, ethnic separatists, or terrorists.

uncunninglinguist said...

hey ben. Gosh. talk about a long reply.

I'm actually in the middle of something atm but I'll get back to you on this one.

Ben Hourigan said...

What can I say: I love comments. You've seen how long the replies on my own blog are. I am also at home and at the computer all day most days, supposedly editing my thesis.

In your own time, by all means.

uncunninglinguist said...

ok ben, 1st free day and I'm procrastinating.

But in 2 words, I agree. Well, almost.

Roy said...

It can't really have effect, I think this way.
Beef casserole with edam