Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Tragedy of the Dragon Voter

Let me digress first, would it be defamatory if the media and government kept describing and portraying one Mas Selamat as a very dangerous man, when he has not been formally charged or brought to justice? He was after all, detained without trial. At least a trial could have proven how dangerous he was by listing (casting in stone) the "bad things" he has done. For all the defamation, libel and slander against Mas Selamat, he could probably buy a Premier League football club if he successfully sues his defamers. Let us hope for peace and happiness, and that he is finally caught.

Any how, reading up more about the defamation suit against the Chee siblings, I realised there are some lessons we have to take home. Here are two:

1. Criticism of the ruling political party or its members, may be conflated into criticism of the government.
2. You cannot question the law, for it could be deemed as an insult, whereby the law will punish you.

There is no humanly possible way to ever fault Lee Kuan Yew. He has done so much for Singapore. He is Mr Singapore.

He leverages on lessons of history to put us younger folk in our place. He is after all, part of our history. No one can dispute that.

History gives us solidarity; it also makes us feel guilty and fearful. History can be presented in a way such that us wide-eyed citizens bite it, hook, line and sinker, and believe that our country will forever be delicate and fragile.

History makes us believe in the virtues of meritocracy and that complacency will stunt our economic potential.

History makes us prime economic potential over other desires. Our anxieties follow accordingly. That is why anxieties of freedom are such a non-issue. The anxieties of economic progress overrule the anxieties of love and happiness, for love and happiness become contingent on economic progress.

1988 is an auspicious year, where many couples have bore the dragon baby.

The state has long anticipated the spike in birthrates, and planned to make infrastructural improvements to accommodate the dragon babies. Schools have merged and expanded. Education systems have gradually changed. Universities have expanded. National Service has been reduced to 2 years. Heck, even the style of the government has changed, with the inclusion of rhetoric that makes the state appear to be consultative, compassionate and have an open ear to every view.

Within the next 2 to 5 years, the job market will also strive to accommodate the 1988 dragon babies. Maybe the state might already have plans for this. After all, every child is precious to the country (but I haven't specify whether it's local-born or not, which is of course a whole different issue).

The youngest of the Generation Y's, the growingly technologically savvy, increasingly media literate, I believe these '88 dragon babies will probably be the focus in the next General Elections, as and when the non-independent Elections Committee calls it, either 2011 or 2012. It depends on how the economy is doing too, so it will be timed to perfection to maximise the votes for the ruling party. It would be irrational for any ruling party to not want to stay in power.

The dragon babies will be 23 or 24 come the next election. If I were the ruling party, I would leverage on history to guilt-trap these people, telling them if it weren't for my government's foresight and diligence, they wouldn't have the education, healthcare and so on. "Be grateful!" I would say.

My government has worked hard to ensure that you people did not suffer a dip in standard of living. Of course, I would also address the young couples who have benefitted from my baby bonuses. I would address the graduates who have found employment. I would say, "I did it all for you and I have helped you sustained you socio-economic status!"

I will tell the dragon babies that their grandparents are better taken care of than in the past, now with changes in CPF and welfare policies. On a sidenote, dragon babies were the ones who have been indoctrinated on the little pros and many cons of living in a welfare state, as well as the many merits of a meritocratic society.

This is where governments continue to stay in power. The brave, the talented and the yes-men all combine to form a dynamic team. They thus have the foresight to anticipate opportunities and threats, plus the cunning to leverage on these case studies to remind and guilt-trap their voting citizens.

Being part of history legitimises your preaching history. Moreover, you are not wrong.

The ills of neoliberal capitalism have plagued our society. We are all materialistic. We think it is normal to set material and financial goals, thus legitimising the existence of corporations and business that leverage on these consumerist needs, wants and demands. It would thus verge on pathological to deny materials.

These are the very materials on which the state has come to leverage. Like toys, we babies want them and in the process we are distracted. We feel we need the toys or we would suffer imbalances, dissonance and dissatisfaction with our lives, never mind the various injustices and atrocities that happen around us.

Now the parent has come to say, "My child, I have worked really hard to make sure this toy will always be a possession of yours. Now give me a hug."

Maybe and just maybe, closer to the elections, the state can claim they have somehow found a badly decomposed body of a 1.58m tall man who used to walk with a limp, and that Singapore is finally safe thanks to our diligence and vigilance. It is definitely a good way to keep morale up. Of course, this is not to be taken seriously.

Orchestrate. Engineer. Fix. Everything falls into place.

There are a lot of things almost all of us Singaporeans do not know. Our knowledge is confined to what is told to us. Intelligence will always be on the side of the ruling party and no opposition party will ever be government.

All political opponents are screened by secret intelligence organisations (and followed) and the information provided to government, run by the ruling party. Party members, who are also members of parliament, will use this to their political advantage. Furthermore, there is no way of proving this connection, because everything is probably classified top secret any way.

I won't dare challenge the government, for I too have material desires, thanks to all the ideas put into my young head. My reputation will be continuously attacked and slimed. I may lose my job or not be employed. I may be made bankrupt. I may be made to look insane and ridiculous. And since the ruling party forms the government, I would not dare to criticise the ruling party, because I might be deemed as criticising the government. I will not do anything to threaten its position or reputation.

My parents taught me important things, like "don't talk to strangers" and "don't go into politics; politics is very dirty". So for now, I will just sit on my butt, and type away my opinions.

The next General Elections will be similar to the previous, with a focus on the young voters. We will only know if they harbour the fears and anxieties socialised and indoctrinated into them, or use the savvy and literacy to transcend the materialism and ideas they take for granted to be conventional and correct knowledge.

I will observe with great interest the tactics employed by all contesting parties, as well as the changes in mainstream and internet media policies. Will the dragon bite the hand that claimed to have fed it? (wait, hands can't talk! Sorry, lame joke)


yuetching said...

Great article..we r uniquely singapore with our own unique ideology fed to us. Like u, I wouldn't dare criticize the gahman, I have a desire not to get sued or jailed; nor do a few persons have the ability to change the SYSTEM with all its parts

Abao said...

u can be at ease that 1 dragon vote wont be going to the ruling party come next elections.

Sam Ho said...

the people's action party may dangle carrots, but not everyone has the same appetite for carrots.

we may have a materialist culture where "carrots" are seen as a staple, a necessity, but there are a growing number of people who value things other than carrots.