What happens when citizens fear their government?

Late Lee Kuan Yew

American founding father Thomas Jefferson had this to say: “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

It would seem that fear is a one-way street in this country. Just how pervasive is the fear factor?

Singaporeans young and old fear that if they offend the powers that be in whatever way possible, no mercy will be shown.

Some even fear that their vote is not secret.

And how unnerving it is that we still see people speaking in hushed tones, looking behind their backs, because they fear that Big Brother is watching.

But who’s to blame them? Singaporeans are conditioned to toe the line. Or else.

There are constant reminders. Chilling examples have been made of people – from critics to academics – for simply voicing their opinion.

And if there should be a slip of the tongue or the pen, the sledgehammer is wielded to devastating effect.

For Singaporeans who find themselves in the opposition camp, fear then turns to resignation that the worst could befall them. To oppose white is to be consigned to the dark side.

And so the majority have learnt that it is best to mind their own business, to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, to be indifferent and take the path of least resistance.

They fail to realise that citizens have power in their hands and that the rulers’ duty is to serve, not to be lord and master.

It is not by accident that there is such a climate.

Lee Kuan Yew made no bones about the kind of people and society he wanted:

“Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right. If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless. Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters . . .”

But even with knuckle dusters, does anybody have a chance against the might of the sledgehammer, hatchet and lightning rod?

LKY succeeded in his mission to instill fear.

With or without him, the four-letter word rears its ugly head.

 

Augustine Low

* The author is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.

 

 

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12 Responses to “What happens when citizens fear their government?”

  • Bapak:

    Don’t be afraid, just mark the right box. They will be done. See who fear who then.

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  • Haigen-Diaz:

    Today’s political situation only goes to show just how far the government’s ‘dumbing down’ of citizens has gone. It is not only anti-intellectualism on display but what we’re looking at here is audacity, arrogance, overconfidence, and insolence. If there is uncertainty or cracks in our political foundations the least that can happen is that we, the citizens, lose our freedom to voice out. The worst outcome is that chaos ensues and internal threats along with external threats become real challenges to our sovereignty.

    We are a nation paralyzed by fear. That’s why our system is stagnating and people are becoming polarized over issues that are often little more than red herrings to distract us from the real issues. There is no better combination of a political power structure used to launch a nation into a dangerous era of literary nescience.

    The surge of establishment endorsements for a ‘Kwai-chai’ and a ‘Carrot-cake’ just re-confirms that the establishment underestimates the degree of anger, disgust … within the electorate. Unfortunately the incompetence and the incompetents appointed are eviscerating our government and, by extension, the entire country. One cringes at what the next wave of replacements will be like. What’s worse is there’s no solution, either.

    We must face the reality, well, voters must come to grips that their obeisance runs counter to their best interests, is beating the heck out of the nation domestically and abroad. It’s all about the “ship of state”– a clueless captain, an incompetent crew, an uncharted course, mounting seas, and serious underwater obstructions all around. Our founding fathers would weep to see this.

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  • RDB:

    When lky selected the circle with a lightning striking through it, he had already revealed his dictatorial mindset as the best to be a ruler. however, he died blind that he isn’t a creator of mankind etc on this earth. Let alone of limited space beyond this world.

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  • LIONS:

    The TRUTH is the blokes who instill fear onto
    others are *FEARFUL* themselves.
    They fear others may not fear them.
    They want full control of others to soothe their fear and that is the very TRUTH.

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  • RDB:

    He was thus a complete idiot about all these things. Let our creator deal with him and all of his henchmen, including PM2 GCT and now his con and dictator son lhl when the time comes beyond this earthly they revered for self glory so extremely in this life.

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  • N.Jungne:

    He was known to be far-sighted, yet he could not see beyond 38 OxLee Road. May be his eyes are tightly closed when he dies, who knows State Secret again.

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  • rukidding:

    Believe in GOD !

    GOD says,…”Do Not Fear”,…”Do not fear”…”Do not Fear” !

    I hope our religious Leaders will “listen and act” to the words said by GOD !

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  • opposition dude:

    As long as voters don’t get over their fear then nothing will change.

    It was in 2011 when they lost their GRC that they feared what might happen in the next GE. The PAP cannot do anything to anyone who votes opposition, in this way not only do you voice your opinion, you do not get hunted down for it.

    If the majority actually stopped to think this way PAP’s fear would vanish overnight. If PAP were to fear voters it’s when they vote opposition and PAP are no longer the government.

    THAT is the real fear that PAP has, nothing else.

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  • Why suffered in silence:

    The gahmen is voted by the people to serve the people and not the other way round.Just how many citizens are aware that real power lies in our votes.If citizens constantly succumb to fear ,then better remove what is in between your legs and be a eunuch.Citizens should instead fear that one day you are unable to put food on the table,collecting cardboards to feed yourself and cannot afford to seek medical treatment for your illness when you are old.So if you fear to vote for a change,you would continue to fear for how to sustain your livelihood.

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  • Anti-Machiavel:

    Frederick the Great’s argument is essentially moral in nature: he asserts that Machiavelli offered a partial and biased view of statecraft. His own views appear to reflect a largely Enlightenment ideal of rational and benevolent statesmanship: the king, Frederick contends, is charged with maintaining the health and prosperity of his subjects. On the one hand, then, Machiavelli erred by assigning too great a value on princely machinations that, Frederick claims, ended in disaster, as the king’s evil actions are taken up by his subjects. On the other hand, and in support of the first idea, Frederick points out the numerous cases in which Machiavelli had ignored or slighted the bad ends of the numerous malefactors he describes and praises.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    FEAR!!! was created by a Bastard now dead…

    he saw 1st Hand what the Japs his Master did during the occupation and registered it in his mind…(how to control the mind through FEAR)…brought it to UK where he Learns & Hear more of this “FEAR” tactics and honed it to PERFECTION when he returns to take POWER from Nationalists & Patriots to Create the Evil Dynasty through rule of Fear and NOT by Law

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    RDB:
    He was thus a complete idiot about all these things. Let our creator deal with him and all of his henchmen, including PM2 GCT and now his con and dictator son lhl when the time comes beyond this earthly they revered for self glory so extremely in this life.

    Bro, the BLOCKHEAD Goh is lucky he was NOT roped into The Owl Club…the OWL Hooted in 2013 and the Bastard F…..went home drag by demons to see his lord…The Owl Hooted again in 2017 and the stoopid son took it as a joke and posted on his FB “Look who is BACK???” yes BACK to call you to join your father in 2 Years…that is the TIMLINE…hopefully he will go after the GE in order NOT to collect sympathy vote like his F…father!!!

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