My Thoughts on the Violence in Thailand

Violence is never the solution to our problems. History has shown time and again that using violence against oppression, however unjustified, always eventually fails.

One such example would be the infamous Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Noble as their cause may be, that is, to end discrimination against the Tamils in Sri Lanka, they have, out of frustration and anger, turned from practicing peaceful negotiations to resorting to violence as the only way to solve their problems. What happened in the end, of course, proved  all their efforts to be fruitless. After over 30 years of senseless fighting, the militant group Tamil Tigers were defeated and their leader shot. A new Tamil Tigers emerged, but this time in the form of a democratic political party.

In the case in Thailand, both parties, the government and the protesters, are in the wrong. The protesters have resorted to violence and riots, while the government used the army to further suppress them. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once famously said,

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

We, the people fighting for freedom in Singapore, must be careful never to lower ourselves to the standards that our oppressors live by, otherwise we will be no different from them. Only through Love and Non-violence can we achieve our goal of freedom in Singapore. 

"38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Matthew 5:38-48 (New King James Version)

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Update: Petition has been sent but no reply

The petition asking Lee Kuan Yew to apologise for his disparaging remarks against Singaporeans has been sent through email to the MPs since 27/3, and as a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office, Istana and Lee Kuan Yew’s Residence since sometime last week. As of today, 25/4, there has been no reply by any MP on this matter. Below is an image of the petition in .pdf format as well the letter before sending.

Kindness

The following is an essay I did in English class. The teacher asked me to print it out and since I’ve already typed it, I thought it would be practical to post it here since I haven’t updated my blog in ages. Also, it is based on an exaggerated true story.

A Student strolled through the shops at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub, looking for a new mobile phone. He had in mind the latest mobile phone, with a touch screen and all the latest technologies embedded into it, and he was determined to get it today. After all, he had been without a phone for almost a week now as his old phone was beyond repair and he had worked hard at his job during the holidays to earn enough for it. “I deserve it,” he reasoned to himself.

He passed by each phone shop with glee, checking and comparing the prices to get the best deal. As he passed by a convenience stall, he noticed many bundles of cardboard stacked against each other at the corridor just outside the stall. “Strange,” he thought to himself. “They should have thrown these next to the rubbish container. Don’t they know that it’s obstructing the way?” He got closer to the numerous stacks of cardboard and noticed that an old and frail lady was sitting among them with her hands hugging her legs, as if it was snowing all around her. “What is she doing sitting among all the cardboards? And why does she look so sad?” the boy wondered. He then noticed a man, supposedly from the convenience stall, cutting cardboard into flat layers and bundling them up, placing them next to the other cardboards.

His heart sank as he finally realised what was going on. This woman was homeless, and had to collect cardboard in order to make a living. This convenience stall was donating some of its spare cardboard to her. Now the boy, who initially wanted to purchase the latest mobile phone, was struck with overwhelming guilt. How could he continue buying the phone he wanted so badly after observing the suffering of a homeless person? How could he, like the passers-by who walked past the old woman, be so blind as to pretend not to see her? He was struggling to make a decision as he stood next to the lady, staring blankly at her.

At last, his conscience got the better of him. He resorted to settle for a lower-end phone in order to give fifty-dollars to this old woman whom he had never met before. As he handed her the money, fresh from his wallet, the old lady looked up with tears in her eyes. She politely declined, but the boy, who had already made up his mind, smiled and insisted that she take it. He left almost immediately, overwhelmed with tears he could not hold back.

Kenneth Lin, 4N1

 

You go down New York, Broadway. You will see the beggars, people of the streets… Where are the beggars in Singapore? Show me. (2007)

Lee Kuan Yew,
Minister Mentor

 

 

Read More –

http://yoursdp.org/index.php/truth-about/poverty-in-singapore

http://www.sha.tc/singapore/singapore-swiss-standard-of-living

SPH: An insider speaks

I had no illusions about the independence of the local media when I first started my job  in StraitsTimes, under SPH.

I knew that my work would be edited, and possibly censored for political safety, and I was mostly fine with that – no media channel anywhere in the world is entirely free from some form of editorial trimming, after all. But there is such a thing as a free press but certainly not one in Singapore.

What I didn’t bargain for was individual self-censorship, unspoken policies and rules, and the stoutness with which people swallowed their journalistic dignity and integrity (because it does exist, even strongly, in some places) to toe the company line. Incredible as it seems, reporters in Singapore do have the same fierce pride in their work as reporters anywhere else; only pitifully and sadly they cannot demonstrate their beliefs. After all its a job.The omnipotence of the CPF.

Its on the cards that there will be a general election in 2010. It’s hard for me to swallow the indignation I feel whenever I see the local media doggedly ignoring its news sense. We have seen it all before. We will see it again. And again. We see it every day.

Articles and TV programmes are edited to balance out pro-opposition views; awesome camera opportunities – like the opposition rallies – are studiously left out of media coverage; banal and unfair quotes and tactics are highlighted and headlined simply because they are tools of the ruling party and the lap-dog media will comply.  But the truth will out. The voting public are not as blind as they seem. For those that WILL get the chance to vote, that is.

There are many things journalists see that the eyes of the public are not privy to, and that we would like to report on but can’t. Please remember that when you read an article or watch a broadcast that seems particularly, emetically subjective.

And help spread the word that a lot of us in the media are sorry that we can’t do the job we want to. It may not mean a lot to you, but it sucks for us that for every day, people’s opinions of us plummet – despite the fact that we work our asses off in 14-hour days with no breaks on weekends or public holidays to bring you OUR (or it THEIR) version of the news. We are just doing a job..for THEM.

And for those who think it’s as easy as quitting your jobs and following your conscience – grow up. This is a job. It puts food on our tables. We can all get up and leave, but it’s ridiculously easy to replace us with more party-line-spouting drones. And it’s also likely that we’re doing something about it, in our own little ways, even if it’s as small as writing about and expressing our dissatisfaction with the system from the inside. But we cant tell you about it.

After all, walls have ears inside here too. And some of those ears are positioned to hear everything, sometimes for some who want to just get on with company at the expense of dobbing their own friends. But that is another sad story.

Clearly the pressure coming from the head is overwhelming, and it is no surprise whatsoever that that pressure should translate down the chain, so that the executives chastise the editors, the editors chastise the journalists, and so on, if anyone steps out of line, and that perpetuates self-censorship because ‘you might as well mutilate your own article before they get to it, and in any case there’s no point in drawing attention to yourself’.

Will it make some people squirm after reading this.

Doubt it. There is no soul.
——————————

This was originally published on Gayle Goh’s blog here

How Protests work

If you’ve been reading the government newspapers and watching government shows on TV (Which I assume you have), then you would have probably gotten the impression that Protests are bad and will turn violent, and that is why the government have imposed a law restricting one or more people gathering together for an event, under the Public Order Act. This is ironic as our constitution promises us Freedom of Assembly, as well as Freedom of Speech. The government proves this by citing examples, violent protests back in the 1950s. But the truth is, these protests started off us peaceful, but later on turned violent, because of police intervention. The police wanted to give a reason to arrest them, so they provoked them, thus causing violence. This was the fault of the police, not the peaceful protesters.

But what are protests for? Are they just for show, to attract attention just for the sake of it?

Let me start from the beginning. Firstly, if you have experienced injustice done to you by, let’s say, your employer., then the first thing you would obviously do is to lodge a complaint, or feedback to the head of your organisation. Now, if that doesn’t work, then you complain to the trade unions. And if that doesn’t work, you complain to the Government. But what if all these still does not work? This is where protests, or civil disobedience comes in. You protest on the streets to get the attention of other people, so that they are aware of the unfortunate situation you are in. They, in turn will pressure the organisation who has done injustice to you and would most probably negotiate with you, else their reputation is lost.

Notice that I’m talking in the context of a Democratic society. But here in Singapore, you can’t do it the same way. If the government does injustice to you, you can’t complain to the trade union, the only trade union in Singapore is the NTUC which is  affiliated with the PAP. And obviously, you can’t get them compromise with you; they are the ones who have done injustice to you! People must realise the importance of Freedom of Assembly and Speech, and not discard it away like an unnecessary add-on.  Benjamin Franklin once said “Those who trade Freedom for Security do not deserve nor will they ever receive either.”

Read on-

Democrats apply for permit to speak at Bukit Panjang

Singapore Democrats
The SDP has applied for a permit to speak at Fajar Road over the wet market issue. Assistant Secretary-General John Tan put in an application for party leaders to address Bukit Panjang residents on Sunday, 25 Oct 09, from 9 am to 12 noon
As the title of event, Keep our wet markets, suggests the talk would be about the impending sale of wet markets to Sheng Siong Pte Ltd and the impact the sale would have on shopkeepers and consumers.
The venue is the open square outside the Fajar wet market which is ideal for the public forum as it has a covered stage. The police have yet to reply.

But the Government’s unconstitutional decree of not allowing such activity will mean that the application will probably be turned down.
This is where Singaporeans must see the relevance of human rights in their lives. The denial of the right of the freedom to assemble and speak freely in public means that livelihood issues such as the Sheng Siong takeover of the wet markets cannot be effectively addressed.

Residents no matter how displeased with the sale cannot adequately express themselves and bring political pressure to bear on the authorities to stop the transfer.
With no pressure, the MP for the constituency can remain quiescent to the transaction knowing that come elections, he will be shielded from criticisms by the state media and with the election rules being the way they are, win the contest again without having to break sweat

The PAP and big business will push through with the sale, and the people will just have to stomach the consequences.
This is the way that people in a one-party state live – they simply have no say in matters that affect them.

Compare this to a society with all the attendant freedoms like Hong Kong. In 2006 the city’s administration wanted to introduce the GST. Hong Kongers strongly objected and made known their displeasure in no uncertain terms.

They conducted public forums, organised peaceful public rallies and marches, and the opposition spoke up vociferously on their behalf. The result? "We have heard clearly a strong opposition to the GST from the public,” Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said. The government backed down.

Singapore? Ministers are paid indecent salaries the amounts of which are kept secret, CPF savings are withheld through one scheme or other, HDB prices have become incomprehensibly expensive, billions of dollars are lost through the GIC and Temasek who incredibly refuse to reveal their accounts, and the F1 grand prix continues to be held right smack in the middle of the downtown area no matter how much losses we incur and how much inconvenience it creates.

We simply don’t have a say.

And why? It all boils down to the fact that our rights to the freedoms of speech and assembly guaranteed under our Constitution have been plundered and stolen.
Singaporeans must realise that without political rights, we have no economic rights to speak of. Politics and economics are two sides of the same coin. The sooner we realise this the happier our lives will be.

This is the reason why the Singapore Democrats continue to alert Singaporeans to the importance of human rights and civil liberties in our lives.
Make no mistake. The stallholders and vendors in the wet markets are vexed because their very livelihoods are at stake. But because they have no rights and the opposition has been shackled, they have no choice but to accept their fate.

They come younger and younger

Singapore Democrats
The SDP has always had young people coming into its ranks. That’s how we’ve been able to set up the Young Democrats (YD), the first opposition party in Singapore to do so. But our young folks seem to come younger and younger.

Today a 15-year-old student joined us for a walkabout and sales of The New Democrat. The young gentleman was acted as if he had been making the rounds for years, confidently approaching shoppers and asking them to buy the newspaper.

He was also strikingly well-informed about the issues and the goings-on in the political scene and had even taken issues of The New Democrat to school to show his classmates. It is refreshing to see students take such a keen interest in politics.

To be sure, however, this is not altogether surprising. Students regularly come to the office to meet with SDP leaders and to interview them for school projects. This is despite the apprehension that their teachers express in their choice of the subject.

Through the years the SDP has seen young faces take an interest in the party and the cause it promotes. Many of them are concerned with the lack of political freedom in Singapore and the continued abuse of human rights in this country.

The Young Democrats have also been doing their homework in raising discussions that interest young people in Singapore. (Please visit the YD’s Facebook here)
With the advent of the Internet, it has been easier to raise awareness among the younger generation of Singaporeans and the SDP has been using this new media to reach out to this segment of the population.

Even as we campaign on bread-and-butter issues, the Singapore Democrats are aware there are not few young Singaporeans who feel strongly about their democratic rights. Unfortunately, many feel so disillusioned with the system that they end up emigrating to other countries.

To our younger Singaporeans, we want to tell you that the political future of this country is worth fighting for and the Singapore Democrats together, with our YD, will continue to be the party that leads the fight.

This is an excerpt taken from the SDP’s website – http://yoursdp.org/index.php/news/singapore/2928-they-come-younger-and-younger

The real Singaporeans

Obviously, the mainstream media has been thoroughly successful in convincing the people that Dr. Chee is a psychopath, an attention-seeker and does more harm than good. This, I speak from experience as well as observation. Before I watched the film “One Nation Under Lee” which exposed all the lies that the government sold to us, I was incredibly patriotic. Not to say I am not patriotic now, but I was extremely loyal to the country or rather, the government such that whenever anyone tries to criticize them, I would be filled with anger. After all, schools taught that Lee Kuan Yew heroically rescued us from the evil clutches of the communists and brought us to where we are today, a first world country. But I now realize that it is far from the truth.

As with my observation in sites such as YouTube, I found quite a number of “Netizens” who would loyally defend the government such that they would actually quote from the government’s words to argue with us. One such encounter was a commenter who kept saying that Dr. Chee Soon Juan is a psychopath. Obviously, these claim was by none other than our dear LKY, and when he made that claim, the whole mainstream media announced it like it was the biggest sporting event of the year.

Listen up Singaporeans. Why do you think there are opposition leaders who keep on fighting for freedom and democracy only to end up bankrupt again. Yet they still strongly believed in what they did. I do not think that they are mad, but rather, it is the great love they have for Singapore, such that should there be a wrong in society, they would be the ones who have the initiative to correct it. It is the fire in the hearts of these people, the passion that allows them to persevere on and continue fighting for Justice and Equality. These, are true Singaporeans, who fight for their, as well as fellow citizens’ rights and well-being. They are the ones who should be commemorated during National day, not the greedy MPs of the PAP.

If you want to know the truth of this "psychopaths" who fight to the death, I recommend reading online and not the mainstream media.

Here are a few good alternatives-

http://theonlinecitizen.com/

http://www.yoursdp.org

http://singaporedaily.net/

http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.com/

http://www.sgpolitics.net/

http://wayangparty.com

Happy National Day to all Singaporeans.