21 Dec 2003

Singapore's Unemployment Rate - Show Us the Money

According to reports at MOM the unemployment rate in Singapore (Q3) has climbed to a 17 year high of 5.9%. The powers that be are hoping that this will soon peak and then start declining in 2004.

However, after reports during the week in the Today newspaper that Singapore was letting its regional neighbours down in terms of receiving foreign investment, this optimism maybe mis-placed.

Yes, this is the epoch of globalisation, but regionalisation also plays a key role in the fortunes of all involved. Remember the collapse of the Thai currency in the late 1990's?

The article published by Forbes, called the current situation a crisis of plenty. For those at the top of course.

Estimate figures, "already estimated to exceed $100 billion in a nation of just over 3.3 million citizens, are set for a top up from a record current account surplus the country has in its balance of payments with the rest of the world." (see linked article above).

This excess may explain the current slump in investment in Singapore by foreign investors, but this money, so far, appears to simply be lying in an account somewhere, while the unemployment rate reaches all time highs, GST increases, etc...

I have some simple questions.

Why don't they invest the money that the population of Singapore created, into Singapore?

Or is it to be invested regionally, AGAIN?

Singapore is part of the South East Asia region and the international community has not viewed Singapore as a priority for investment. In order for Singapore to play its part in the region, surely investment has to happen either internally or externally. The external option has been refused.

So, the 5.9% of those Singaporeans must be roaring

"Show us the money..."

11 Dec 2003

SINGAPORE: New laws for cyber-dissidents

Singapore has introduced new laws giving local authorities sweeping powers to take pre-emptive action against so-called "cyber terrorists". Under the changes, anyone suspected of preparing to hack or deface a website can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to five thousand U-S dollars.

Transcript:

DR CHEE: It's just another way that the government continues to use laws to begin to restrict the growth of the internet, the use of the internet for democratic purposes and this is just another example of it.

LOPRESTI:
And just how real though is that threat from cyber terrorism? Is it a rising threat?

DR CHEE: "Well you know, you can't begin to try to work on some of these legislation to address the problem that you want to get at. But by coming up with laws that are just so vague and this allows this government to do almost anything. It's just another way that this government wants to tell the people that look, we are watching and we will take action for people who want to try to use the internet to promote democracy in Singapore."

LOPRESTI: You say that these laws are vague, and in that vein I guess you could say that there is very real possibility that the laws could be open to abuse?

DR CHEE: "Yes. I mean let me take you back to what 30 to 40 years ago when the internal security act was first put in place. At that time, you know the government was saying that well, it was targetting at the Communists. Well guess what? The law was repeatedly used on the ruling parties opponents, legitimate opponents, opponents who are elected opposition MP's and that for the last 20 to 30 years they have used it to crackdown on the democratic activist people who want us to see more freedom and human rights take place in Singapore and this is just another horrendous piece of legislation that will give this government even more unbridled power.

And there is absolutely no check and balance that we have here. I mean given the state of the opposition, given the dismal obscene of democracy here in general. It's suicide for democracy if we continue on this manner."

LOPRESTI: So would you describe these laws as the internet version, I guess of Singapore's internal security act?

DR CHEE: "Very much so. I think this has given again the government a new lease of life if you will in as far as cracking down on internet activity. People who genuinely want to push for a more democratic political change in Singapore and given this government can be excused to that it wants to take whatever action it wants to continue to perpetuate its authoritarian control."

LOPRESTI: Now that these laws have been passed, realistically what can the opposition do?

DR CHEE: "You know for us here the debate always goes on after the government makes the decision and you know given as I said the state of democracy in Singapore. It's a complete laugh that you know we all make this pretence of having this debate when things are shoved down our throats and government decides it does. And the worst part of it is we are unable, there's no way we can hold this government accountable. And it doesn't have to justify for any of its actions. It just goes ahead and does what it wants."

'"So really it doesn't come as a surprise. I mean you know people may so oh, you know look at this. Now we have this new law, but for us it's really just something that's very normal. It doesn't raise any eyebrows over here in Singapore."

Transcripts from programs "AM", "The World Today", "PM", the "7:30 Report" and "Lateline" are created by an independent transcription service. The ABC does not warrant the accuracy of the transcripts. ABC Online users are advised to listen to the audio provided on this page to verify the accuracy of the transcripts.

12/11/2003 15:41:02 | Asia Pacific Programs

Singapore and Authoritarian Capitalism


By intellectual Christopher Lingle...........(feared and driven out by PAP)
Singapore and Authoritarian Capitalism
by Christopher Lingle
Publisher: The Locke Institute, ISBN: 8485809521


Despite the impressive growth rates in the region, there are some serious questions about the policies and institutions in the high performing East Asian economies. Indeed, several of the traditional institutions can be expected to impose a binding constraint upon the continuation of the rapid economic growth in Singapore and in other countries in the region.

In particular, many of these institutions militate against individuality and individual rights and freedoms. In turn, "authoritarian capitalism" describes the operational elements of this particular development model. On one hand, authoritarian-capitalist regimes place a limited and selective set of persistent policy interventions into market activities. On the other hand, these same regimes impose heavy restrictions on political activity. Whereas, Soviet economies contrived to have an economy without prices, authoritarian capitalism presides over markets without the guarantee of individual freedoms or rights. As a result, there are conflicting and misleading signals about a relatively free economy whereas political freedoms are repressed within an authoritarian- based government. Singapore's single-party regime offers a model of authoritarian capitalism that may be followed by other single-party regimes in the region.

Although this economic development model bears strong similarities to "authoritarian socialism," authoritarian capitalism has been so far immune to the criticisms of their shared potential for failure. Apparently, the strong economic performance has led many observers to ignore the ill effects and the long run costs associated with authoritarian capitalism.

Acceptance of authoritarian capitalism as a viable and exportable model for development depends upon an understanding that economic and political liberties are not interdependent. However, similar faulty reasoning induced promoters of authoritarian socialism (communism) to overlook its most fatal contradiction. The collapse of communism provides evidence that repression of political freedoms will eventually undermine the activities that support economic growth. While authoritarianism can be consistent with short run economic gains, there are logical and economic limits to these results.

On the economic side, authoritarian capitalism involves the politicization of commerce and the commercialization of politics. Commerce is politicized when the profitability of economic actors depends more heavily upon relationships with the ruling party than the efficient use of scarce resources. Commercial politics describes the actions by ruling parties to develop their own sources of revenues through business transactions to decrease their dependency upon the electorate. These activities are likely to involve privileged, insider access to economic data that benefit the party and also allow party functionaries to enjoy private gains.

Despite the impressions to the contrary, authoritarian capitalist regimes employ extensive, if not always deep, interventions in the economy. Most of them have highly interventionist foreign exchange policies. These are implemented in support of industrial policies that target specific industries as leaders in their export-orientated industrialization (EOI) strategies. Investment funds and subsidies are directed toward selective areas of economic activity and, conversely, are diverted from use in other areas. Many of those countries applying EOI policies tend to be highly dependent upon foreign investment funds or technology or both, as well as access to foreign markets for their exports. This dependency on outsiders is exacerabated by the institutionalized restrictions upon the formations of domestic entrepreneurs to provide an indigenous source of economic growth.

An equally problematic issue relating to Singapore's growth is that it can be explained in large measure by the massive increases in input of labor and capital instead of from increases in efficiency or productivity. Most economists readily recognize that such input-driven growth will be limited by the law of diminishing returns. Following this logic, East Asia's "miracle economies" mirror the early stages of growth in the Soviet Union that obviously proved to be unsustainable. In all events, the necessary sources of increases in productivity are inventiveness and free thinking. Unfortunately, policies under authoritarian capitalism suppresses individualism and intellectual freedom and will greatly impair the formation of entrepreneurs.

There are few signs that regimes such as Singapore's are willing or able to undertake the necessary changes to modify their policies and institutions that have generated the conditions of "parasite economies" where they depend upon the financial capital or the creativity and inventiveness of other countries. In the long run, the economic arrangements associated with East Asian authoritarian capitalism are unlikely to sustain the levels of high performance recorded in recent years.

Singapore's authoritarian-capitalist regime has its own peculiar political arrangements that mesh with its economic policies. By combining a sense of national insecurity and dread of the unknown with the fear of government retribution, Singapore's ruling party has implemented a special form of "Asian democracy" that can be identified as phobocracy. The rule-by-fear government of the People's Action Party (PAP) regime judiciously combines a western democratic vocabulary with a particular set of traditional values that it claims are unique to Asia.

In order to maintain a disciplined and docile electorate, the PAP rulers rely upon a beguiling combination of reason and force. However, their idea of reasoning is limited to an unbalanced insistence upon only the advantages of communitarian arrangements and the necessity of consensus building. Their ability to construct these incomplete images of political utopia is supported by a subservient domestic media and a cowed international media. The passivity of the media results from legislative and judicial actions that operate at the behest of the PAP-controlled executive branch. In sum, the regime exercises obsessive and complete control over all branches of government and media as well as other elements of civil society. In turn, there are few limits to the amount of force that can be wielded as reprisal against critics or political rivals.

Singapore's regime practices a form of "soft authoritarianism" without political murders or disappearances. Nonetheless, executive control over the judiciary and the legislature means that law follows the whims of the regime. One element of the illusion of the legal system is the scrupulous application of justice in cases that involve commerce, particularly when it affects the interests of multinational corporations. The resulting system is one of rule by and for rulers in place of the rule of law. The compliance of the courts leads to "lawless order" and is a conspicuous contradiction of the reputation for Singapore's corruption-free government.

The criminalization of politics and politicization of crime represent several of the other institutional arrangements associated with Singapore's authoritarian capitalism. Politics in Singapore is criminalized in the evident pattern whereby opponents of the regime are sued for criminal defamation after criticizing the actions of the ruling party. Moreover, the authorities in Singapore use crime as a political weapon. One aspect of this involves the manipulation of perceptions and the apparent masking of crime statistics to provide the illusion of a crime-free environment. Another aspect is to place the blame for much of the crime that does occur on westerners and their decadent influences.

Blindness to the shortcomings of the intricate and extensive elements of their development strategies has left the PAP open to a potentially serious crisis. It may not be the forces of modernization, per se, that prompts political change in Singapore. A failure in their economic structures may come first. A serious long run challenge that must be faced is how to escape the entrenched dependencies with the developed economies. However, the incentive structures associated with authoritarian capitalism work against the necessary emergence of local talent to serve either as entrepreneurs or as researchers capable of doing original research.

Of more immediate concern is the stability of Singapore's economy that exhibits the classic symptoms of a property and stock market bubble. There is no reason to expect that the record of centuries of the collapse of bubbles can be changed even by Singapore's famously efficient bureaucrats or its supposedly squeaky clean rulers. The question of the bursting or deflating of the speculative bubble is a matter of when, not if.

Happily, there is no doubt that the next century will witness a continuation in the rising fortunes and growing political importance of East Asia. Even so, it may be premature to anticipate that a simplistic extrapolation of the recent economic performance in the region will be an accurate harbinger of its post-millennial achievements. It may be just as likely that the authoritarian-capitalist regimes will set another record. Perhaps they will match their rapid pace of economic development by consigning themselves to the dustbin of history more quickly than was their predecessor, authoritarian socialism.

© Christopher Lingle

10 Dec 2003

Oligarchy - A definition...

Oligarchy - Any form of government in which there is ‘rule by a few’; for example, by members of a self-regulating élite having domination over a larger society.

Yes, we all know that 'democracy' is an essentially contested concept. But this is getting beyond a joke.

An open society requires a free press and high levels of transparency, standards of accounting need to be high including disclosure of accounts and democratization.

Democratization will provide Singapore with flexibility, sustainability and legitimacy. It would also enable the replacement of ministers on a grand scale, bringing new life-blood into the stagnated old-guard that have dominated the 'group-thought' for the last 30 plus years.

Read the article below.

An interesting read...

Just how much surplus wealth does a country need? And in how many hands should that wealth reside? Read on...

26 Nov 2003

Spot the Contradiction

One rule "that remains firmly in place, is the requirement that foreign journalists stay out of Singapore's politics," Lee said.

But the minister said that the government did not expect its stand to impede Singapore's ambition to become a base for international news organisations, adding that the number of foreign correspondents here had risen to 190 from 82 in 1986. (Littlespeck)

A belief that the forces of globalization are unstoppable in economic terms, so we have to cut your wages, yet the effect that it is having on culture and politics are stoppable, within this little island.

Don't Singaporean journalists comment on foreign government policies?

The forces of globalisation are not simply economic but also include the spread of ideas and cultural values that may not be adhered to in Singapore. Nation states around the globe are all facing this issue. Values and ideas that may appear 'new' are being fed directly into the homes of Singaporeans and allowing individuals to re-assess previously held notions. Driving some into an idealized image of the 1950's and others into the 20th century.

Freedom of choice is not merely the choice to buy the items advertised on TV but the right to choose how you live your life. The world order is possibly going through a process of restructuring, in values as well as economic concerns.

To think that Singaporeans could be sheltered from this up-heaval and that the government doing the sheltering would remain immune is un-workable in the long term.

Singaporeans and Singaporean ministers no longer define all the rules.

12 Nov 2003

Singaporean Internet Laws Tightened

The following has yet again not been reported widely within Singapore. In fact it failed to receive a report on the evening news yesterday.

The new law gives the government the powers to spy on ALL internet activity. Some MPs have even expressed concern that these new laws may be a further tool of oppression in an all ready authoritarian state.

The law has been introduced to combat hackers and enables the government to conduct a pre-emptive strike. I am all for undermining the attempts of malicious hackers but this law means that while you read this you are being watched.

Recent reports in the press regarding the detention of an adult male for having consensual oral sex with a legally consenting female has shown that old archaic laws can and will be implmented when the judicary decides to. What guarantee do the people of Singapore have that this new law will not be used to stifle a new born sense of free speech that the internet has heralded?

The Singaporean government claims to be opening up and becoming more transparent. They call for Singaporean's to express their views. Expressing your views in the full light of a government official can only undermine free speech in a country that is infamous for 'self-censorship'.

10 Nov 2003

singaBLOODYpore


Yes, its official. The law in Singapore ensures that anyone can be imprisoned in Singapore. Old laws still have their function in 2003. Its a definite that no matter who you are you have contravened some law or other.

It would be hilarious if it didn't result in a man being sent to jail for two years. Yes, the law may exist, but like rights the law needs to be exercised wisely and appropriately. Otherwise the law appears to be a mechanism of ensuring a Kafkaesque draconian state.

As in the novel, 'The Trial' we are not aware of our actions being criminal here in Singapore, but when they come a-knocking you will realise that 'the law is an ass',(meaning the donkey variety) administered by unthinking, uncaring bureaucrats.

What follows is yet another example of the global village looking upon the 'nanny state' as the global 'jobs-worth'.

Singapore Policeman Gets Two Years for Oral Sex
Fri November 7, 2003 07:55 AM ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singaporean police sergeant has been jailed for two years for having oral sex in a country where prostitution is legal but oral sex is not, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Straits Times reported that the 27-year-old police coast guard sergeant landed in court after a 16-year-old reported to the police that she had performed oral sex on the man.

She was above the age of consent and agreed to perform the act, but oral sex is against the law in the city-state, the paper said.

"The act by itself is an offence. It is not a question of consent or no consent. Even between consenting people, it is an offence," criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan told the paper.

The maximum punishment for the offence is life imprisonment.

© Reuters 2003. All Rights Reserved.

5 Nov 2003

SleEze-Link - What's Next?


Articles have recently appeared in the local press regarding changes to the price structure of the Ez-Link cards. Yet again the lack of planning and general research that normally takes place before an organisation introduces something new, has been lacking.

And yet again in Singapore, guess who is expected to deal with the price tag for such an error. The consumer, or rather the Public, who depend heavily on the mode of transport provided by the monopoly.

The government and large monopolies in Singapore seem to regard the consumer as a bottomless pit of money. This is yet another blow to the wallets of those of us who can afford it the least.

In the recent interview with the PM he refused to be drawn on the relationship between the government and the electorate. When pressed he opted for a relationship of 'equality'. This admission highlighted a very entrenched 'mind-set' of those in power. They believe that they have an unquestionable right to rule and ignore a very central notion of democratic states, namely that 'they' are public SERVANTS and not the masters.

This 'mind-set' spills over into the corporate world of Singaporean CEO's and managers. The work force and general public are viewed as resources of finance. Resources that can be called upon at will, with little opposition. The population of Singapore is its only natural resource. But this should not be read as resulting in a culture whereby, management and government pay for the up-grading of skills within the work-force.

The working class people of Singapore are a source of income to be tapped as often as possible. Month after month they are called upon to fit the bill that was created by errors not of their own doing. Ez-link, GST, CPF, Redundances..., Hospital Bills. No wonder a popular advert campaign asks...

"WHAT"S NEXT?"

8 Oct 2003

Dah Management

Recent articles in the government sanctioned press, in particular TODAY newspaper have been dancing around the idea of questioning management practices in Singapore.

They continue to dance around the most pertinent issues, namely the amount of cronyism and nepotism within all large scale organiations and SME's in Singapore. Speaking as an employee in an SME solely owned by an individual, the style of management is one of dictatorship.

The managers are all completely unqualified and are in position simply because of there personal relationship with the boss. Rediculous decisions made in the last few years have resulted in a business that has too many "Chiefs and not enough Red Indians". The overwhelming desire to constantly expand and grow results in staff-to-customer ratios that are a joke. They call it 'multi-tasking', the employees prefer to call it 'exploitation'. All this and creativity too.

The Singaporean economy is in dire straits and the 'official' unemployment rate is at an all time high. I dread to think what the actual rate is at. Frankly there appears to be little trust in the management being able to pull the work force out of the gloom. It is the same cronyism and nepotism that has resulted in the current economic situation.

The attempt at 'Remaking Singapore', seems to highlight the problem. the policies of the PAP have not been able to manufacture creative and free-thinking individuals simply because it was not their goal. The PAP manufactured the current 'mind-set'. It is this mind-set that is holding the employees, employers and politicians back.

The government tells Singaporeans to stop asking for permission. It was the government's demand that permission be sought, that has created the current stagnation. So what price will be paid for 30 years of prosperity gained from conformity? Will Singaporeans retaliate when the policies of the PAP no longer bring the rewards and standard of living that they have become accustomed to?

The carrot and the stick routine only works if you have a carrot tied to the end of the stick. Without a carrot to entice movement, the stick is a whip.

HARDtalk CAN'Ttalk

Transcribed below is the recent interview of Tim Sebastian with PM Goh. Very select extracts have appeared in the Singaporean press, so I have decided to make it available here so that you can read the less glowing parts of the interview.

If the Singaporean education system has made you so dependent on being spoon-fed you can watch a video stream of the interview below the transcript.

The Hardtalk interview should be a beacon to all Singaporean journalists. Surely you remember the passion and excitement of a real political interview.

Why did you become a journalist in the first place? Don't tell me you thought it would be a secure profession with a regular and dependable salary.

Click here to watch the full interview

HARDtalk with PM Goh



Transcript of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's interview with Tim Sebastian of the BBC programme HARDtalk broadcast on Sept 23, 2003.

Mr Sebastian:
"Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, a very warm welcome to the programme."

Mr Goh: "Thank you."

Mr Sebastian: "You have been in the past and you remain a potential terrorist target here in Singapore. To what extent is Singapore bracing itself for an attack?"

Mr Goh: "We have prepared our people to expect the worst because we were the ones who exposed the Jemaah Islamiah terrorists in Singapore. It's quite clear that we remain a very prime target for them."

Mr Sebastian: "You remain a prime target for them. Are you satisfied with the efforts of other countries in the region to prevent their rise and to prevent the radicalisation that you've talked about…"

Mr Goh: "I would say at this stage, I'm more satisfied because the countries are aware that we have to cooperate. But of course, there are weak links in the fence."

Mr Sebastian: "What are the weak links?"

Mr Goh: "Well, the borders, for example, of some countries. The terrorists could get through quite easily..."

Mr Sebastian: "Which countries are you talking about?"

Mr Goh: "I think Philippines, for example, and Indonesia. People could move around quite easily across the borders."

Mr Sebastian: "Are you saying those countries should do more?"

Mr Goh: "They are doing quite a bit, but it's (Indonesia) a huge country and the borders are long, so it's difficult for them to actually track the movements of all the so-called terrorists."

Mr Sebastian: "But to some extent, the countries of the region were in denial for a long time about the potential threat, weren't they?"

Mr Goh: "Unfortunately, I think a few were."

Mr Sebastian: "Were you in denial here too?"

Mr Goh: "No, never, never. We are realists. We recognise the problem; we were never in denial. It's an important problem. You just can't deny this. Sooner or later, even if you're in denial, you will be hit by the terrorists."

Mr Sebastian: "Do you think some states in the region have ignored what Douglas Hurd, the former British Foreign Secretary, talked about as creeping fundamentalism in the region?"

Mr Goh: "The awareness was not quite there initially. Just take the case of Singapore. We never expected that the terrorists would be here so soon, and we never expected that Southeast Asian Muslims could become radical jihadis, or to become suicide bombers. So in that sense, I think some states would not be fully aware of this creeping fundamentalism."

Mr Sebastian: "But why didn't you notice it? Because there's a marked difference which Douglas Hurd pointed out between the first Gulf War and the second one. He said during the first Gulf War, no Singapore Muslims were interested in the Palestinians. None wore the veil or even wanted religion to play a decisive role in politics. That isn't the case any longer, is it? You didn't notice the change?"

Mr Goh: "We noticed the change in our people, that they were becoming more religious."

Mr Sebastian: "More radicalised?"

Mr Goh: "No, not in the case of Singapore. They're becoming more religious. They're putting on headscarves but that does not equate to becoming radical or to becoming a terrorist."

Mr Sebastian: "Despite the fact that the extremist groups in the region have become more radicalised, haven't they?"

Mr Goh: "That is after the event. We knew that there were problems at that time in Malaysia and the Malaysians had actually arrested quite a few people belonging to some small groups, but the governments over here did not realise that that (Jemaah Islamiyah) network existed."

Mr Sebastian: "There are efforts by some political parties, political movements, politicians in Malaysia to turn it into an Islamic state with Islamic law, Syariah law. How much would that concern you if that took place in Malaysia?"

Mr Goh: "If it's done openly and they win the elections, well, then that is not a big cause for concern. It's just that the country has become more Islamic. And if they are not radical and they are not encouraging terrorism, that is a matter which we have to accept."

Mr Sebastian: "But you're not worried, for instance, that they've had to close down some of the religious schools, the madrasahs for instance?"

Mr Goh: "The Malaysians are worried."

Mr Sebastian: "You're not worried?"

Mr Goh: "We leave it to the Malaysians to worry."

Mr Sebastian: "Do you think they are doing enough then?"

Mr Goh: "I think they are doing as much as they can."

Mr Sebastian: "One of the ways that you've coped with the people you've arrested, you had detention without trial here. Are you happy to try to achieve stability at the price of freedom and the price of human rights?"

Mr Goh: "Well, we've got to have a fine balance. We will not do things against human rights but when your own security is threatened, you have no choice, and the justification for us is that even the US now recognises the importance of preventive detention."

Mr Sebastian: "Why is that a justification for you? Does it matter what another state does? If another state does something wrong, is that a justification for you doing something wrong?"

Mr Goh: "No. What I'm saying is they are now realising that under certain circumstances, when their security is threatened, you have to do it. We have always defended our position on the Internal Security Act and we have always challenged the opposition parties, if they disagree with it, to take it to the electorate."

Mr Sebastian: "One of the things that Geoffrey Robertson, the international human rights lawyer, talks about is your "obsession", as he put it, with crushing dissidents in this country instead of actually watching out for the really dangerous people."

Mr Goh: "No, that is..."

Mr Sebastian: "The Islamic extremists groups who presented a real threat to the society and others in the region."

Mr Goh: "No, the first statement is not accurate. We are not obsessed with crushing dissidents. You can disagree with us. We will accept the arguments. But when somebody poses a threat to our security, we take very stern action against them and when you're dealing with terrorists, it takes a long time. It requires intelligence networks, to cooperate with one another, to know who they are and then you have just got to arrest them to prevent a bomb from going off. You can't work like the police - let the bomb go off first and then you catch them and put them on trial."

Mr Sebastian:
"It depends how you define a threat, doesn't it? He says one of the great ironies is how Singapore's Internal Security Directorate concentrates on prosecuting liberals instead of worrying about the people who are running unlawful arms and explosive shipments which would cost hundreds of lives in the region."

Mr Goh: "No, that's not so. The Internal Security Act has not been used against the liberals. I mean, you have so many of them running around in Singapore. They are free to air their views. They are not persecuted."

Mr Sebastian: "They are not free to air every view that they want, are they?"

Mr Goh: "No. They are (free)."

Mr Sebastian: "You need to get a police permit for more than five people to assemble."

Mr Goh: "Within the law, within the law, yes, you have to do that."

Mr Sebastian: "And the permits are often turned down."

Mr Goh:
"Yes."

Mr Sebastian: "Aren't they?"

Mr Goh: "Yes."

Mr Sebastian: "So that's not exactly freedom of expression, is it?"

Mr Goh: "No. That's freedom because it depends on your definition. In our case, the laws have been there all the time and it is for the parties concerned to change the laws if they win the elections. So they've got to convince the people that we are wrong and they are right."

Mr Sebastian: "I want to talk more in a moment about your internal policies. Before we leave the threat to the region, you will have seen the results of the trial of Abu Bakar Bashir in Indonesia. Do you think the trial was botched?"

Mr Goh: "Well, it's a matter which we've got to leave to the Indonesians. I will not want to air my view over here on this."

Mr Sebastian: "But you will have noted in the trial of a man who was accused of being the leader of Jemaah Islamiah, the extremist group in Indonesia, that the judges produced a contradictory verdict. On the one hand, they said he was guilty of treason. Elsewhere in the verdict, they said he wasn't. How impressed are you by that?"

Mr Goh: "The prosecutor, as far as I understand, is going to take the case to the higher court or to the Supreme Court and Abu Bakar Bashir is going to appeal. So at this stage, I don't think I want to get involved in their own internal legal system."

Mr Sebastian: "But you are worried about it, right? You are worried about the trial?"

Mr Goh: "No. We are concerned that Indonesia should be taking action against the terrorists. The trial, the verdict, we leave it to the Indonesians."

Mr Sebastian: "And it does seem to have been hopelessly mismanaged, isn't it, the trial? I mean, witnesses during the proceedings said that Abu Bakar Bashir was the head of Jemaah Islamiah?"

Mr Goh: "And then they turned the story after that."

Mr Sebastian: "And they turned the story after that."

Mr Goh: "But what can we do?"

Mr Sebastian: "Who did you believe?"

Mr Goh: "In Singapore, based on the evidence that we have, we believe that he is the head of the Jemaah Islamiah. That's the intelligence that we have from the people arrested in Singapore."

Mr Sebastian: "So, therefore, you're deeply unimpressed with the way that the trial is handled? For the wrong results, then?"

Mr Goh: "I would say the result is what they have decided."

Mr Sebastian: "But given what you have just told me, it is not the result that you would like to see?"

Mr Goh: "It's not the result which we would like to see, but it's a result which we have got to accept."

Mr Sebastian: "You are involved, Prime Minister, your country is involved at the moment, here in Singapore, in remaking Singapore. This is the new campaign. Is it time to admit that the old ways haven't worked?"

Mr Goh: "Well, the old ways have worked but we're always looking to the future. In the future, you have a new generation with different aspirations. So when we are remaking Singapore, we are actually getting the younger generation to decide for themselves what kind of future they want."

Mr Sebastian: "If you're remaking something, by definition, the old version hasn't worked, has it? Otherwise, you wouldn't need to because it wouldn't need replacing."

Mr Goh: "It's a contradiction in words. But sometimes, to remake, as they themselves have noted, you would lift a stone up and very often, you put the stone back."

Mr Sebastian: "The fact is, your society based on the rules that have been established over the last 20-30 years has not sufficient flexibility to change with the times, has it?"

Mr Goh: "We have not changed radically but if you look at Singapore today and compare it with Singapore, say, 15 years ago, it has changed."

Mr Sebastian: "But my point to you is the old Lee Kuan Yew model has failed, hasn't it?"

Mr Goh: "No."

Mr Sebastian: "It's time to admit it. I realise that's dangerous political ground for you to admit it."

Mr Goh: "No, I don't think so."

Mr Sebastian: "That remaking Singapore in itself is an admission that the former system, the old system, hasn't worked."

Mr Goh: "No. When you say remaking Singapore, I'm remaking it after 13 years in the government. So it's not remaking Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore. In a sense, it's my Singapore which I am trying to remake and I'm doing that because I'm leaving the scene, so I thought the younger generation should decide…"

Mr Sebastian: "You're handing over actually to Lee Kuan Yew's son."

Mr Goh: "Yes."

Mr Sebastian: "Who presumably is going to perpetuate the system of his father which has been proved to have failed?"

Mr Goh: "No, Lee Kuan Yew's son…"

Mr Sebastian: "What is the point of that?"

Mr Goh: "Lee Kuan Yew's son is not Lee Kuan Yew."

Mr Sebastian:
"He's the son of Lee Kuan Yew."

Mr Goh: "He's the son of Lee Kuan Yew but he's not Lee Kuan Yew."

Mr Sebastian: "You're telling me he's not going to be influenced by his father?"

Mr Goh: "I don't think so."

Mr Sebastian: "You're telling me that this isn't some sort of just dynastic continuation in Singapore?"

Mr Goh: "No, no."

Mr Sebastian: "Do you think people are going to believe that?"

Mr Goh: "Well, they may not want to believe it but I'm here and I'm not going to be a pushover, just to hand over to Lee Kuan Yew's son because he happens to be the son."

Mr Sebastian: "Who takes responsibility for the serious situation that this country is in at the moment, the economy? Where does the buck stop in Singapore?"

Mr Goh: "The buck would have to stop in Cabinet and I'm the Prime Minister."

Mr Sebastian: "So the buck stops with you?"

Mr Goh: "It stops with me."

Mr Sebastian: " So you take the blame for the situation?"

Mr Goh: "I will take the blame."

Mr Sebastian: "You're happy to take the blame for it?"

Mr Goh: "I have to. It's not a question of happiness. I'm in charge, I've got to take the blame."

Mr Sebastian: "How serious are you in changing the kind of boarding school rules that have persisted for so long in Singapore? Fines for not flushing toilets, fines for selling chewing gums - that sort of thing. How important is it to change those kind of nanny rules?"

Mr Goh: "You've got to understand the objective - it is to have a cleaner city and the fines are necessary so long as they are necessary. In other words, I would change the rules, I would drop the signs when Singaporeans are able to do things on their own without the threat of fines."

Mr Sebastian: "So you have very little trust in your own people, do you?"

Mr Goh: "Certain habits take a long time to change."

Mr Sebastian: "Very little trust then?"

Mr Goh: "No. I think certain habits... for example, spitting, it's an old Asian culture, you just spit as you like. And they will throw things out of the window and even if they live in high-rise flats, they will still throw things out. So you require education, threat of fines to stop the habit."

Mr Sebastian: "But this is governmental intolerance, isn't it?"

Mr Goh: "For certain issues, we're intolerant."

Mr Sebastian: "You're intolerant of free speech from time to time, aren't you?"

Mr Goh: "No, not at all."

Mr Sebastian: "Geoffrey Robertson points out that he acted a few years ago for some women playwrights who were detained without trial for two years on a charge of singing progressive songs and performing plays which exaggerated the plight of the poor and the inadequacies of the system. Is it right that people should be charged?"

Mr Goh: "Who is this? Jolt my memory on this."

Mr Sebastian: "It's Geoffrey Robertson, he is talking about some women playwrights who were detained without trial for two years. You have no recollection of this case?"

Mr Goh: "Which one is that?"

Mr Sebastian: "He didn't mention the names of them."

Mr Goh: "I would not speculate because I cannot pin this thing down."

Mr Sebastian: "But you know that these charges are made against people and have been made from time to time? This isn't foreign territory for you, is it, Prime Minister?"

Mr Goh: "No. If it's against the law and security, we will detain. We have never made a secret of that. "

Mr Sebastian: "It is ironic that people should have been charged for highlighting the inadequacies of a system that you now want to bring forward and correct?"

Mr Goh: "I would not worry about that. But I do not at this stage remember exactly what this case is."

Mr Sebastian: "I come back to the point that you need to trust your people, don't you, if you expect them to trust you. Don't you need to trust them with more information about what is going on?"

Mr Goh: "Not a problem, not a problem. I agree with the point. You have to trust the people for them to trust you because trust has got to be mutual. So that's not a problem but if you're talking about…"

Mr Sebastian: "Who's the servant here, who's the servant and who's the master?"

Mr Goh: "We have no servants and have no masters, we work together."

Mr Sebastian: "No, no, in a democracy, the government is supposed to be the servant. This is public service you're in, isn't it? You don't own the country."

Mr Goh: "No, we work on the basis that we are equal. We don't own the country, I agree. I regard myself as a trustee of the people. So..."

Mr Sebastian: "So, you're the servant, then?"

Mr Goh: "If you want to put it that way, but I prefer the word trustee."

Mr Sebastian: "I asked why you didn't give them more information. Why don't you publish the numbers of people that are executed in Singapore?"

Mr Goh: "Not a problem. If Members of Parliament request for the information, they'll get it."

Mr Sebastian: "And it is not published openly? Why not?"

Mr Goh: "I am not aware of that but it's not a problem."

Mr Sebastian: "How many people have been executed in Singapore this year?"

Mr Goh: "Oh, I think probably it will be in the region of about 70 to 80. I do not know the precise number. I stand to be corrected." [See AFP report]

Mr Sebastian: "You really don't know precisely?"

Mr Goh: "I really don't know."

Mr Sebastian: "Why not?"

Mr Goh: "Because..."

Mr Sebastian: "It's a fairly important issue for a Prime Minister how many people in this country have been executed."

Mr Goh: "I have got more important issues to worry about."

Mr Sebastian: "More important than executing?"

Mr Goh: "Each execution comes to the Cabinet and we look at it. If we decide that a certain person has got to be executed, he is executed. I don't keep count."

Mr Sebastian: "This is a punishment described as cruel and unusual by human rights groups around the world."

Mr Goh: "Well, but if you don't punish them and they manage to get their drugs through to Singapore, more people would be punished by their acts."

Mr Sebastian: "What really needs remaking? Wouldn't you agree in Singapore, it's the human rights aspects of your government, the observance of human rights? Human rights groups talk about - this is Amnesty International - the Singaporean Government's history of using civil defamation suit to stifle political opposition. What would you respond to that?"

Mr Goh: "I'll come to that later on. We have disagreements with human rights (groups') observations of many things and we stand by our record. Anybody who comes to Singapore would know that we have more human rights here than Singapore of, say, 30 years ago."

Mr Sebastian: "Prime Minister, the record is, a number of defamation suits is against political leaders in this country, isn't it?"

Mr Goh: "I am going to come to that. I am not going to duck that issue. I am coming to that. It's quite simple. If anybody defames us, the law allows us to (take) them to court so if you don't take it out to the courts, it means that the allegations stand true. Say, somebody alleges that I have, for example, given funds of the government away to somebody else. I have got to stand up and take him to court, not charge him but take him to court. If I don't, that allegation sticks. Then where is my standing in society? And we have a standing rule -- if a minister is alleged to be dishonest plus other things, for example, the minister doesn't take the person who alleges that to court, then that minister would have to face Cabinet and he has got to resign."

Mr Sebastian: "This is part of a pattern, isn't it, of suits that have been used against party leaders? I mean we have had the former Workers' Party leader J B Jeyaretnam, his political career collapsed under the weight of defamation suits, he was declared bankrupt despite the fact that the Privy Council recommended that the Government make amends for his wrongful conviction. Chee Soon Juan, Singapore Democratic Party leader, he faced a defamation suit as well. It's rather a pattern, isn't it?"

Mr Goh: "It is a pattern because there is a pattern amongst the opposition leaders to accuse us of wrongdoing."

Mr Sebastian: "Not a pattern among the government to use these things to crush them?"

Mr Goh: "No, it's a pattern for us to restore the harm that they have done to our reputation. It's a pattern on their side, so it's a pattern on our side."

Mr Sebastian: "One human rights report says the threat of potentially ruinous civil defamation suits against opponents of your party continue to inhibit political life in this country?"

Mr Goh: "It's nonsense. Why should people want to defame the leaders just because they are in opposition? There is no reason to. There is no reason to. You can take us on but you do not have to defame us."

Mr Sebastian: "Ironically, you don't need to use these methods against your opposition, do you? Because you win by a landslide. The party wins by a landslide at each election."

Mr Goh: "And the reason is because each time there is an allegation against us, we safeguard our reputation. So the voters can see that all those allegations are nonsense."

Mr Sebastian: "Safeguard reputation or crush dissent?"

Mr Goh: "Safeguard reputation."

Mr Sebastian: "Depends which side of the fence you're on."

Mr Goh: "No, I would say safeguard reputation. If I may explain, for example, there were accusations some years ago against Mr Lee Kuan Yew for allowing his wife's firm to take advantage of government contracts. If you do not sue the opposition at that point of time, the story will take hold and you are going to lose massive votes."

Mr Sebastian: "What you need to encourage, Prime Minister, surely, is the spirit of entrepreneurship in your people which can only flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and independence? So you need more freedom for your people. You would accept that?"

Mr Goh: "I accept that."

Mr Sebastian: "And it's true that until you create that atmosphere, your economy will continue to stagnate, wouldn't it?"

Mr Goh: "No, I think Singaporeans are entrepreneurial. They can be very free in their economic activities but many of them are not really interested in the so-called human rights, free speech. But you've got to allow people to be creative, to think, otherwise, how can they be entrepreneurial? So I accept that freedom and creativity and entrepreneurship go together."

Mr Sebastian: "Perhaps they didn't think so much about human rights because the standard of living was so high and particularly in government service, salaries have been much higher than in other developed countries. So to a certain extent, you bought their loyalty."

Mr Goh: "But how did it come about? How did the standard of living come about? It's through our method of governing Singapore."

Mr Sebastian: "Didn't last though, did it? Hasn't lasted?"

Mr Goh: "Has lasted 30 odd years."

Mr Sebastian: "Will you cut government salaries now? Salaries in the civil service? People are feeling the pinch, aren't they?"

Mr Goh: "That's the flexibility of our system. See, that's the beauty of the system."

Mr Sebastian:
"Flexibility of the system that you have to cut their wages? Now, it's the failure of the old system, isn't it?"

Mr Goh:
"No. It's a system when the private sector salaries go up, our salaries go up in tandem. When theirs go down, ours go down."

Mr Sebastian: "A lot of people feel that Singapore's attitude to Burma is unprincipled. That you haven't stood up and criticised the abuse of human rights that is taking place in Burma. On the contrary, you maintain very thorough, very extensive trading links with the country instead of trying to implement sanctions which might change their policies."

Mr Goh: "There are good reasons for this. If I may…"

Mr Sebastian: "Like making money."

Mr Goh: "No. Let me elaborate. First, there is the principle in ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, that you don't interfere in each other's internal affairs. Because if you look at ASEAN, there are ten countries at different developmental stages, different cultures, different populations, and politically, if we start interfering in each other's domestic politics, ASEAN will never be together."

Mr Sebastian: "But rights are rights and freedom is freedom and when the opposition is crushed and you see that happening in Burma, you have got to speak up. You're heavily criticised, you and other ASEAN nations, heavily criticised by the United Nations for not taking a tougher stand."

Mr Goh: "So we're criticised by people from outside. But within ASEAN, if we start criticising one another, there will be no ASEAN. So that's principle number one. Two, you may not know it but we prefer quiet pressure and the quiet word on the Myanmar leaders."

Mr Sebastian:
"Doesn't work though, does it? Hasn't produced anything in Burma."

Mr Goh: "But neither has the other approach, unfortunately."

Mr Sebastian: "But that approach has been diluted by ASEAN countries who trade with anybody as long as they can make some money of out that."

Mr Goh: "If there are sanctions against Myanmar, we would follow the sanctions but there are no UN sanctions against Myanmar. And would it work?"

Mr Sebastian: "Individual countries have taken sanctions -- the United States which you firmly support has taken sanctions?"

Mr Goh: "Yes, but would it work?"

Mr Sebastian: "It will only work if enough people do it, won't it?"

Mr Goh: "Well, Myanmar doesn't have enough trade with people. And what sanctions do you have? I mean, they are at that bottom level, so it will not work."

Mr Sebastian: "So what you are telling me is that if everybody else will join in, you will join in as well. If they won't, you won't?"

Mr Goh: "Yes, yes, correct."

Mr Sebastian: "Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, it has been a pleasure having you on the programme. Thank you very much."

Mr Goh: "Thank you."

24 Sep 2003

HARDtalk - CAN'Ttalk


Well I am not one who usually likes to gloat. But I think I will make an exception this time.

If you have access to cable or satallite TV. You have got to watch HARDtalk with Tim Sebastian and Goh Can't-talk Tong, (Prime minister of Singabloodypore). The local papers in Singabloodypore are saying that he did well in putting himself through such a tough grilling. My thoughts on the matter are that the squirming of the PM highlights the pathetic journalism that takes place here in Singabloodypore. The PM has never been questioned by a local journalist in such a manner and therefore has very weak debating skills.

The interview almost became a farce with the PM, having to begin answers repeatedly with, "That's not a problem." A means of gaining a few seconds to contemplate and rebound from the shock of being asked questions on the 'out-of-bounds' topics.

The programme aired yesterday by the BBC should be a wake-up call to local journalists. Local journalism has for too long been hand-in-hand with the PAP. Out of fear and a general lack of real passion, published journalism in Singabloodypore is a joke.

Singabloodypore's journalists usually publish every burp and expulsion of wind emitted by the PM and other dynastic leaders.

Where are the detailed point-by-point regurgitations that usually follow from the local media? The PM looks bad as a result of this interview. But even more concerning, so does Singabloodyporean journalism.

18 Sep 2003

State Censorship, Channeling and Self-Censorship in Singapore


Well I have decided to undertake a little research project of my own. Assuming I can find the time I intend to study how Singaporeans write on the net. This will involve reading a lot of blogs by Singaporeans and pouring through them to see signs of self-censorship. It will involve categorizing the many blogs by Singaporeans into various categories. The ones I am primarily concerned with are those that may from time to time contain political ranting or be about issues that are 'out of bounds' in the PAP sense, whatever the hell they mean by that.

The title above refers to censorship, which on my part will involve collecting the names and addresses of sites that are banned in Singapore and making them public. Also assessing whether they are banned because of sexual or political content. Are bans on sexually orientated websites being used as a smoke screen for a crack-down on political sites or increased monitoring of website activity by Singaporeans?

Now channeling is not such a commonly known means of control. To put it simply, it will be an attempt to uncover the mechanisms that the government employs to ensure that debates or 'out of bounds ' issues are not discussed. An example of this type of 'discussion-suppression' could be the use of laws in order to suppress dissent. In the more concrete sphere of every day life this would involve applying for a permit to hold a rally or demonstration, or applying to the police to speak at 'speakers corner'.

The final stage will be the long trawl through blogs by Singaporeans at home or abroad.

As you can probably tell the initial phase will be a long and arduous search of many different websites, trying to get the magic ‘Access Denied’ to appear. As they do I will place the address on the links section of this site. So first port of call MDA Singapore.

11 Sep 2003

The slaves of money - and our rebellion


A rather extreme take on globalisation and the current world trade negotiations...enjoy the old rhetoric of Marxism and Communism. It really always seems to undermine the entire arguement but it is extremely easy to understand.

Subcomandante Marcos
Thursday September 11, 2003
The Guardian

Brothers and sisters of Mexico and the world, who are gathered in Cancun in a mobilisation against neo-liberalism, greetings from the men, women, children and elderly of the Zapatista National Liberation Army. It is an honour for us that, amid your meetings, agreements and mobilisations, you have found time and place to hear our words.

The world movement against the globalisation of death and destruction is experiencing one of its brightest moments in Cancun today. Not far from where you are meeting, a handful of slaves to money are negotiating the ways and means of continuing the crime of globalisation.

The difference between them and all of us is not in the pockets of one or the other, although their pockets overflow with money while ours overflow with hope.

No, the difference is not in the wallet, but in the heart. You and we have in our hearts a future to build. They only have the past which they want to repeat eternally. We have hope. They have death. We have liberty. They want to enslave us.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the people who think themselves the owners of the planet have had to hide behind high walls and their pathetic security forces in order to put their plans in place.

As if at war, the high command of the multinational army that wants to conquer the world in the only way possible, that is to say, to destroy it, meets behind a system of security that is as large as their fear.

Before, the powerful met behind the backs of the world to scheme their future wars and displacements. Today they have to do it in front of thousands in Cancun and millions around the world.

That is what this is all about. It is war. A war against humanity. The globalisation of those who are above us is nothing more than a global machine that feeds on blood and defecates in dollars.

In the complex equation that turns death into money, there is a group of humans who command a very low price in the global slaughterhouse. We are the indigenous, the young, the women, the children, the elderly, the homosexuals, the migrants, all those who are different. That is to say, the immense majority of humanity.

This is a world war of the powerful who want to turn the planet into a private club that reserves the right to refuse admission. The exclusive luxury zone where they meet is a microcosm of their project for the planet, a complex of hotels, restaurants, and recreation zones protected by armies and police forces.

All of us are given the option of being inside this zone, but only as servants. Or we can remain outside of the world, outside life. But we have no reason to obey and accept this choice between living as servants or dying. We can build a new path, one where living means life with dignity and freedom. To build this alternative is possible and necessary. It is necessary because on it depends the future of humanity.

This future is up for grabs in every corner of each of the five continents. This alternative is possible because around the world people know that liberty is a word which is often used as an excuse for cynicism.

Brothers and sisters, there is dissent over the projects of globalisation all over the world. Those above, who globalise conformism, cynicism, stupidity, war, destruction and death. And those below who globalise rebellion, hope, creativity, intelligence, imagination, life, memory and the construction of a world that we can all fit in, a world with democracy, liberty and justice.

We hope the death train of the World Trade Organisation will be derailed in Cancun and everywhere else.

· Subcomandante Marcos is the leading voice of the Zapatista movement, which fights for the rights of Mexico's 10 million indigenous people. This is the transcript of a message - Marcos's first international communiqué for four years - delivered on Wednesday to the anti-globalisation conference taking place alongside the WTO global trade negotiations in Cancun

28 Aug 2003

The Demise of Managerialism




Having recently read an article by a group of academics from England it prompted me to write the following in relation to my current place of employment. The article concerns the march of ‘managerialism’, in places of Higher Education. (Written by Clegg et al and titled: The Emperor’s New Clothes: Globalisation and e learning in Higher Education. British Journal of Sociology in Education, vol.24, no. 1, 2003.)

It addresses the recently perceived demands for e-learning facilities by the ‘market’ of educational customers, formally known as ‘students’. And the demands being placed on academics to fulfill these customer requirements at the demise of pedagogical interests.

It also addressed the all-pervasive notion that the spread of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) as a result of Globalisation is not as deterministic as we are being told. The central tenet of their argument is that the government of many nation states are encouraging the populations of their states to see globalisation as an unstoppable force. Then they use this as evidence that all spheres of the social including education will be closely integrated if not dominated by ICT.

The reason the worlds politicians are demanding that specific educational policies incorporate ICT is that the ‘inevitable’ future will be dominated by the internet and that in order to compete, the future generations of their people will need to be ready to work in that environment. It makes their workers more competitive in the future. Therefore the current educators, lecturers, teachers and tutors must enable the future generations to meet the increased competition that will ensue. This entire argument is built on a grand theory (globalisation) that is attempting to predict the future in the same way as early modernist theorists attempted to do so. The notion that globalisation is the primary cause of social changes effecting the society that we live in is rather narrow sighted.

The current debate around globalisation claims that the State as a force of change is now outmoded, and needs to resign itself to the unstoppable forces of Globalisation, Capitalism and ICT. The claim is that globalisation and the other forces are un-challengable and overwhelming. They argue that they should be challenged. (Clegg et al, 2003)

The locus of efforts needs to be the discourse between ‘Educators’ and ‘Managers’ of educational institutions.

This now brings me to the letter I published recently on this blog with reference to lecturer’s appearance and other issues.

The management of the educational establishment tries to get the lectures to take it seriously as a ‘customer’ complaint. And as every good businessman knows, ‘the customer is always right’. The crux of the matter is that we are not business people and the customer is actually a student and IS WRONG.

Yes, every one is free to express their opinion and yes it will be heard and listened to. But it may not and does not have to be acted upon. The student is sitting in the room because the student doesn’t know and assumes that the lecturer does. Treating the student as a customer instantly undermines the roles associated with the individuals in the context of a ‘learning environment’.

The orientation of the current educational establishment that I work in is openly ‘customer centric’ and the market. This produces managers who apply ‘an atomistic and mechanistic understanding of knowledge and learning’. With the introduction of the government backed SQC awards the ISO9001 educational establishments are attempting to further bureaucratically control and regulate knowledge. (Brian Salter and Ted Tapper, 2000)

There are various responses open to educators in light of this onslaught. Some lecturers openly support and promote the advancement of ‘managerialism’, others appear to comply but actually do not and are happy to maintain the status quo. The last response is ‘rejection’. Out and out rejection is very muted.

The ‘rejectionist approach’ is dominated by the central idea that education does not have to focus on producing the future oppressed, dominated and exploited workers. They argue that attention should be removed from the relationship between the student and new technology and back to the relationship between student and teacher. The negotiations between educators and managers have to allow for the position that e learning not be used at all. That technology be used only when it is appropriate to do so in relation to the concrete situation of the student. When is it appropriate to use e learning and when is it not?

Their conclusion sounds remarkably familiar; that genuinely innovative development may be found when driven by pedagogic (education autonomous from other social institutions), democratic and critical concerns. Academics can avoid becoming complacent by reminding people of the pitfalls of declaring something as inevitable. Technology dominating all spheres of human life merely requires our complacency.

22 Aug 2003

The Bloody Reason


The reason that alludes so many is quite simple. Singabloodypore may regard itself as an advanced or developed country but this view is not held by other nations. Singapore likes to see itself ranked amongst the worlds most developed nations such as the US. But there is one stark contrast that Singaporeans have been unable to voice for the last 38 years.

To put it in the most simplistic manner I can, I will have to use an analogy. So please read on. Do you remember when you were a child of 8 or 9 years of age? You would run around creating mayhem and carnage with your other 8 and 9-year-old friends. You may not be able to remember the fact that there was always this little kid of maybe 4 or 5 years of age who also tried to run around with you. They were smaller, younger and insignificant. Insignificant simply because the bigger kids saw them as different. Saw them as immature. Yes his or her parents may have had the same wealth and same car as your parents but they were the ‘new rich’. They had the money but not the cultural outlook that you and your other friends had.

Singapore may have a level of economic development that equals and may even surpass some Western countries but in terms of political or cultural development it is an underdeveloped, undemocratic third world oligarchy.

An oligarchy is a state ruled by a self-perpetuating elite.

The day the Senior Minister’s son sits in parliament as Prime Minister will confirm this. ‘The best man for the job’ will read the blurb. How would the population of Singapore know? A new leader will be thrust upon the people of Singapore after an ‘oligarchic’ election.

The US and Britain, although they claim to be the father’s of democracy, also have their levels of oligarchic rule. The major difference is that they have in place mechanisms to ensure that the rulers can be removed. Singapore does not. It is this lack of the possibility of the removal of the Peoples Action Party that keeps Singapore out of the bigger boy’s gang.

Merely replacing one eugenically engineered PAP clone for another is insufficient.

The possibility that the PAP be defeated in a general election is tantamount in ensuring that Singaporeans dictate their own future. A future that is uncertain and full of risk will require a people that are actively engaged and empowered to make real decisions.

The current Prime Minister, Mr. Goh, alluded to this issue in his recent National Day rally speech when he tried to rally the Singaporean people out of the gloom. His attempt reads as a call to adhere to the economic burden being forced upon Singaporeans, not by the government but by the current economic situation. Singaporeans can change to meet the changing environment or perish. The choices, he claims, for Singaporeans are limited and it is the economy and not the current government that is forcing the Singaporean hand. It IS the current PAP government that is forcing the people of Singapore to adhere to the demands of advanced capitalism. There are other choices that PM Goh did not outline.


The wages of Singaporeans most be more flexible simply because Singaporeans are now competing with countries such as India and China where wages are a lot lower. If the wages are too high then investors will be put off. Therefore wages most and will come down.

There is another solution.

Campaign for the wages in India and China to be increased to above the poverty line. Join others battling against the G7 and the International Monetary Found. Globalisation is putting wage earner against wage earner. Multi-national corporations are shifting the arena of competition from amongst themselves to the wage earners. The risks of advanced capitalism are being fostered on to the shoulders of the poor. And that includes the wage earners of Singapore. The PAP has abandoned the workers to the multi-national corporations. And removed their human right of freedom of speech.

Shame on you and me, who see and do nothing.




20 Aug 2003

Prime Ministers Speech

During the recent National Day rally speech by Goh a few points came to mind. The first thing that struck me as odd was that the Rally of a particular political party is heralded as the nation’s speech. Surely it should be classified as the Peoples Action Party Rally. This then led to further ideas. In particular, that the PAP has assigned itself as 'Singapore', and as 'the' Singaporean Government, past present and future. Now the electoral system maybe gerrymandered in such away as to ensure this, and the national media structured and controlled in such away as to ensure this, as well as housing development board upgrades and the judiciary, trade unions and academia aligned closely to the PAP. What startles me is the audacity of any Political Party in any country to so self assuredly state that they no longer internally elect the next leader of the party but the next Prime Minister. They state it loudly and clearly with no possibility of rebuttal or counter claim. However the ability to predict the future of the Singaporean economy and future mindset of Singaporeans eludes them and I know why.

14 Aug 2003

Current Debate on The Bloody Economy



A debate infers that there is at least two sides to the arguement or discourse that is taking place. In Singapore there is no debate. It is merely a matter of everyone abidding by the dictate of the overly paid government dupes. The opposing argument is unheard, and not because of censorship, but because its arguments is not explicit, but rather the argument is the mode of communication. Globalisation.

The use of ideological discourse is so common and engrained that people are currently unable to spot it. A prime minister that talks of past, present and future in almost every speech is trying to foster a sense of continuation of a particular cultural outlook that he senses may no longer be viable. It is no longer viable because Singapore and Singaporeans are no longer at the helm of the ship. Globalisation is now a ubiquitous force, in all spheres of culture and social institutions, from family to the work place. The leaders of Singapore are debating with an opposing ideology that is unvoiced.

This opposing ideology is at the core of the forces that are effecting Singapore. These forces are present in all forms of external media that are permitted into the country, to silence the oppositonal ideology would mean closing the internet down and banning the sale of all literature and media from outside. Singapore is caught in a bind, or rather 'check mate'.

Cracking down on the internet, will undermine their position as the economic hub, simply because that economic hub is dependent on the internet. So they must seek out other ways of ensuring that the unvoiced remains as such.

A possible return to the methods of the 1960's may be immenant. However, Singapore is no longer the same country and the old methods are not applicable to a global age, dominated by global communication. A lot has changed in 40 years. Some idealists believe that the internet can be a force for the spread of democracy, I am ONE.

13 Aug 2003

Singabloodypore plans wages shake-up


Workers KNOW their pay packets will shrink

Singaporean workers are bracing themselves for changes in their pay packets, as the government takes increasingly painful measures to help the economy. These measures only appear to be painful to the lower paid workers while those in government continue to earn salaries that are in excess of their American counterparts.Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (one of those earning excessive wages)warned that wage reforms were necessary in order for the city state to fend off fierce competition from emerging economies.

"Wage restructuring is painful medicine, but it will make our economy healthier and fitter," said Mr Lee said. Scepticism prevails that the government has now been shown to be purely reliant on the American economy. A recent free trade deal with the US, will many feel, led to increased competition within the domestic market.
But he denied the widely-held belief that wage reforms would mean smaller pay packets. Since when did your boss introduce a pay change that insured that you would earn more money?
"Wage restructuring does not mean an across the board wage cut... it means linking workers' pay more closely with their performance, making it depend less on seniority," he explained. It will not be a pay cut accross the board, merely a pay cut for those at the the lower end of the scale. If all pay in Singapore was linked to performance then the Members of Parliment would owe the people money. The role of the Members of Parliament in Singapore is that of the nodding dog in the back seat of a ford escort. Question time resembles that of a 'love-in', but without the mind altering substances.

Singapore is losing ground as a manufacturing hub, as India and China emerge as the new Asian hotspots for foreign investment. It is reported that Singapore is itself investing heavily in China, thereby fueling the overseas competition.

Shrinking

And the economy, once one of the region's richest, has suffered a series of setbacks.

The recent Sars epidemic caused the economy to contract by 4.2% between April and June, following a severe recession in 2001. So tackle the cause of the SARS outbreak rather than the effect.

And unemployment is stubbornly high at 4.5% and expected to rise further still. This figure is highly dubious. Recently two academics were lambasted for stating that the new jobs that were being created were being given to foreigners. They were forced to remove this claim a few days after it had been published.
The statement about wage reforms came at a speech to celebrate the state's 38th birthday.

In a televised speech, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced the government was further slashing its economic growth forecast this year to between zero and 1%.

But he also promised that things would pick-up next year. Promising you the earth and unable to deliver the goods. Only if the American economy picks up next year.

"We have lowered taxes and fees, and will continue to do so to meet the competition... if we make these adjustments, we will have a clear start when business conditions pick up," he said. They may have lowered the business tax and fees, but these reductions have not been placed on the shoulders of those top earners who can afford the increase. The government has consistently increased Goods Services Tax and allowed state afiliated transport operators to increase prices for the last two years, which affects those least able to cope.

"We will not just cope, we will soar again," he vowed. I am quite sure that he hasn't been eating maggie mee for the last 12 months.


12 Aug 2003

National Day Parades



In Singapore the locals seem very keen to generate their own excitement around events that other countries tend to avoid. Or are they possibly trying to emulate that other nationalistic and patriotic country, known as the U. S. of A.

The speeches and images concentrated on the recent out-break of SARS and how Singapore has vanquished this un-seeable and deadly enemy.

For 38 years now the PAP has been trying engender a sense of Singaporean-ness within its loyal subjects. National identity is not something that is fixed and rigid but is fluid and changing so I imagine these national day parades will continue into the unforeseeable future. This attempt at creating a sense of nationalism is in direct contradiction to the more powerful social force of globalisation that has been shaping the Singaporean psyche for the last 20 years. American created pulp bombards Singaporeans. Pulp that is apolitical in nature, yet the underlying themes of shows such as 'Friends' have been quietly chipping away at prejudices and stereotypes in Singapore.

The Singaporean approach to globalisation seems rather chaotic and schizophrenic. They wish to remain as the middleman in business affairs. They continually strive to be the 'gate-way to the East'. But this is also undermining any ideas or values that may have been unique to Singapore and Singaporeans. Globalisation is for a large part accepted for its economic influence. What with the recent signing of a free trade agreement with America. That globalisation is also affecting Singaporeans aspirations are just recently beginning to be accepted. The Prime Minister saying that 'Gays' could hold a high position, (as if there are not gay individuals within parliament) within the government, seemed to cement the acceptance of globalisation altering the inhabitant’s expectations.

One unwelcome aspect (for the PAP), however that may be gaining ground are calls for freedom of speech and the right of individuals to criticise the government. A recently published article by two economists was quickly lambasted by the government. The two economists claimed that a disproportionate percentage of new jobs were being given to foreigners rather than Singaporeans. With the reaction of a hungry lion, the PAP released their statistics that showed that the situation was the reverse. And the two economists had to withdraw their claims. A process we are not privy to.

My point is that any first year research student can tell you that regarding statistics as 'fact' is a grave error of judgement. Especially OFFICIAL STATISTICS. When confronted by any form of statistic, the first thing you do is look at who commissioned them. Thereby illuminating any BIAS, or political agenda. Official statistics are not unbiased but on many instances are the products of propaganda or ideological lies.

SARS was a very nice distraction from the economic position of many Singaporeans. Images of George Bush and Iraq spring to mind. Are they possibly trying to emulate that other nationalistic and patriotic country's attempt at distracting their inhabitants from the growing inequality between those at the top end of the pay scale and those at the lower end?, known as the U. S. of A.Or is the USA trying to emulate this despotic regime?

I Am Not Alone

I may not agree with a call for communism but the following member of the Italian parliament and European Member of Parliament seems to be in agreement with me in terms of a democratic movement within the workplace. Fausto Bertinotti is a member of the Italian Refounded Communist Party, but lets not hold that against his opinion and call for social democracy in this dollar controlled era.

Fausto is calling for a global call for democratization of work. Personally I feel that the only place I can have influence over is the organisation of which I am an integeral part.

5 Aug 2003

An Example of the Idiots in Charge of the Bloody Asylum





Subject: Lecturers who need grooming


Dear Mr Vice President

I am right now a part-time student studying in (Name Removed). I have been to the (removed) for a month now and my impression of the school is fairly good. I met great lecturers, both looks (not great but pleasant enough) as well as class professionalism. One is very interesting and motivating, one not too bad and the other two very boring. So long as they don't put us off in any way, we will continue to go for as many boring classes as well. Granted that we should be there to learn but it is also very true that we feel motivated when we see pleasant lecturers. Lecturers who look and smell unpleasant will put us off!

Some lecturers could be nice in the heart but certainly the smell together with the look that we see in them will also have effect on our desire to learn. When lecturers belge in a class, it can be totally disgusting especially when the lecturer is standing just next to us. Some lecturers have bad body odour which need some corrections, especially those overweight, including those not so overweight. I have seen about 5 or 6 fat lecturers although some are not my lecturers. One is a woman. They lack exercise. It is good for both their health and looks to go to (removed) down in (removed), 5 minutes from the (removed).

I read in the newspaper recently about staff development for the lecturers in this (removed). They should go for grooming classes. Pardon me for being so direct in my comments but it is my true feelings about the (removed). I hope the management will take care of the lecturers' health. The lecutrers (sic) will also project a better image of the school if they look good themselves. Realistically and true to my heart, I look forward to go to a class with a lecturer who is both pleasant to look at and great at lecturing. I truthfully admit that I have at least one at the moment. I hope to see more of them.

I thank you for listening to my true and direct feelings. Please do not take offence at my comments. I truthfully appreciate your attention to my mail. Thank you for your precious time.

Oh i appreciate this feedback...Management then demands that we take this b.s. seriously...

My response to all... see previosly submitted article below...

29 Jul 2003

Democratization of Work

Well today I have decided to write a more serious article on the current working conditions in Singapore. Apart from the annoyance of having to work 6 days a week, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. The issues are avoided within all the media controlled newspapers, TV stations and radio stations. The issue is linked to poor job satisfaction and the high level of staff turnover, which must have a detrimental effect on the nations productivity. So instread of calling for Singaporean workers to change their mind sets I feel it is necessary to demand a 'Democratisation of Work'.

The political theorist David Held argues that 'democracy' although a highly dubious and argumentative concept, possesses the following generally held notions.

Number one is 'Equality', that the relationship between the parties involved is that of equal partnership. When applied to the Singaporean worker's conditions this is regarded as a normative value within other relationships, and the working relationship is not exempt from this criteria. Decisions that effect each partner should involve each member in the decision making process. Rather than commands being issued from the management or government.

Number two is 'Autonomy', whereby people are in the relationship as a result of choice and they have a degree of freedom as to how they define their personal space. This involves issues of appearance, working hours and conditions. Working over-time without receiving proper monetary compensation is eating into individuals personal lives and eroding time spent with family and significant others. Resulting in long term detrimental effects on the birth rate and individuals ability to define themselves or be creative.

Number three is 'Respect', that each others views and wishes are given the respect that they demand. No ones grievance should be brushed aside or merely ridiculed without proper consideration. This is particularly important with relation to an open dialogue that is not manipulated and is not simply the imposition of the managements motives and goals at the expense of the work force. Which leads us to...

Number four, 'Communication', that discourse and discussion are free from interference and to refer to Habarmas, that anyone can at anytime introduce a topic for discussion or as a summary of Habarmas:

Habarmas Ideal Speech Situation;

1. Each subject who is capable of speech and action is allowed to participate in discourses.

2. A.) Each is allowed to call into question any proposal.

B) Each is allowed to introduce any proposal into discourse.

C) Each is allowed to express his attitudes, wishes, and needs.

3. No speaker ought to be hindered by compulsion - whether arising from inside the discourse or outside of it from making use of the rights secured under [1 and 2].

And finally, 'Free from violence', now this criteria will require a little alteration in order to include safety at work and health care benefits for workers. It does however also include freedom from the constant threat of, 'well if you don't like it you can leave', issued by an individual who is aware that the worker cannot leave. This is a threat of 'retrenchment' or 'sacking' and should be regarded as a verbal warning to all those present. The situation usually arises when an arbitrary altering of working conditions is about to be implimented thereby rendering all, if any, contracts invalid. It is a threat of violence to the ability of the worker to maintain an income. It is a THREAT.

The issues outlined above are merely values that many feel but are unable to express in Singapore. They maybe unattainable but that does not necessarily mean they can be ignored. The trade unions here are to put it nicely a 'joke'. The workers have no one to protect them from the ever changing whims of the management and the government. They have no real voice, and no means of expressing their legitimate concerns. However, managers and government administrator should always remember that Singapore is NOTHING without it's workforce.



16 Jul 2003

It has just occurred to me that with the recent change of office facillities, that i am now in a living hell.

i have a rather small cubicle with no door and if i stand up i can just see over the partition. however, while working at the computer 'i hear voices'. i even recognise some of these voices as in i can put a name to them. but isn't that how some schizophrenics also relate to the voices they hear in their head.

I also hear the clatter of their keys as they communicate with the outside world. these partitions have created a 'virtual world', even though i am at any given time no more than two feet from my closest fellow inmate.

i once read somewhere that modern capitalism coud be likened to a type of schizophrenia. I however would prefer to compare the structure of the organisation i am currently commited to as being an attempt to induce a sense of schizophrenia in the natives, and this alien. This little island is modelling itself on what it perceives the entire planet to be engaged in. they are following the western model of office planning. I think it was Foucault who mentioned that the design of a building in the 'modern' world was first devised as a prison. this enabled the prison warden, to view many inmates at the same time from one vantage point.

todays more backward model no longer requires a warden to monitor the inmates. the inmates are now monitoring each other. i have no privacy....

They are trying to turn me into a schizophrenic, paranoid, self-censoring machine. i could not be in hell then. because to be in hell requires me to have had at one time or another a soul. my only release is to vent my pent up issues via this machine. if there is a way in then there must be a way out.

planning escape....
this is nicky signing off

11 Jul 2003

well it looks like the locals are actually starting to question current leadership policies. just recently the leader announced that gay foreigners would be 'welcome ' to come and work on this little island. thats very nice of him i thought. is he saying that they were not welcome last week? they may however have to declare their sexuality, which if implimented appears to reafirm suspicions of discrimination based on sexuality on this tiny island.

this little island has for a long time lagged behind in terms of human rights, and civil rights. the papers are peppered with debates on 'bar-top' dancing, 'extended opening hours' and now the 'gay issue'. all of which appear to be avoiding the large plank embedded in the human rights 'eye'. namely... the thorny issue of freedom of speech and an open democracy that has free elections. gerrymandering is a large issue during elections, with the ruling party redrawing electoral boundaries as they see fit.

also, the media (tv. newspapers, radio)is all state owned and so opposition parties are not given the same air time in the run up to elections. those who do place themselves in opposition are often dragged through the courts on charges of slander or defimation of character. all of these cases so far have been in favour of the slandered MP. christopher lingles work may account for these court rulings. this is an authoriative government that is relaxing its strangle hold, but not quickly enough and only in areas that they see fit. areas that do not jeopardize their strangle hold on power, economic and ideological.

the fear of the leaders appears to be a backlash of some sort from the electorate, possibly with regard to 'how they came to power' and the human rights violations that were carried out during the transition period. the past will haunt...

8 Jul 2003

yesterday i decided to take my campaign of questioning every little command issued by the management to a new level. i have now started encouraging others to do the same. the leaders of this little island have been saying 'no' to the natives for so long now that the natives need to be taught how to say it again. classes will be run daily, formally and informally. the first issue that the natives need to overcome is fear.

the leaders in the past have dealt devastating blows to those who opposed them. some natives are reported to have spent months in solitary confinement. the great supreme leader even takes pride in crushing opponents who were once strong individuals. rather sadistic i'd say.

as mentioned in early postings, the leaders are determined to create individuals, with diferent 'mind sets'. there is great danger ahead. the 'out of bounds' topics have recently come to the attention of the leader controlled media. demanding that the natives be more adventurous in questioning and debating issues while at the same time, limiting the freedom of the discourse does appear self-defeating. what the leaders require are a few instances of individuals tresspassing the boundaries, in order for these 'criminal types' to be hauled through the media circus. thereby informing the majority of the natives that the boundaries are real, that they will be inforced and these are the rules that need to be adhered to. These so called criminal types will fulfil a valuable and necessary function for the stability of the nation. thereby attracting investors from multi national corporations and it 'will be good for the economy'.

this is hicky, signing out......