The insignificant ‘small’ in Singapore

“SMALL” has become the latest catch-phrase of the 4G politicians. It was fashioned by Edwin Tong when he refers to those opposing the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (POFMA) Bill as “small” the previous week.

Just a couple of days ago, Law Minister refers those who commented negatively on his celebrity-driven video on POFMA as “small” too. Was it a mere coincident or are they trying to communicate something more significant about the insignificant “small” segment of Singaporeans?

If we were to aggregate the concerned Singaporeans against the POFMA Bill, from journalists, writers, academics, researchers, activists, alternative politicians and the casual social media users, the actual sum may be quite significant as the majority of them are voters. But if spread over the wider population to include babies, elderly and the “care-less” bunch, then their significance is definitely much lower.

This begets the question – why are they using “small” when referring to those who are against their POFMA Bill? Are their feedbacks, opinions and social-value really that insignificant?

The full argument of the government on POFMA Bill is still very vague for people like me as I am still clueless on its objective and who exactly are those Foreign Interference that our government has been referring to all these while. It could be due to the fact that I do not have access to the Big Data that the 4G politicians are privileged to access. It could also be that I lack their power “to think as they think”. I can only lament that as a nation, we have much to lose when honest criticisms and strong opinions are curtailed out of fear. The onus is on the 4G politicians to show explicit goodwill.

Missing The Gems

When concerned Singaporeans slammed the government for their lack of timely communication of their policies and issues of national interests, or more specifically in their unintended-misinformation and disinformation, the 4G politicians may have misconstrue when they bring in the celebrity-power to help them.

Using a crude analogy, no chef, local or foreign, can cook a proper meal or sushi out of a rotten fish, I hope the extra emphasis will help them see that the issues have been largely in their substance, the lack of clarity of their policies, or action when addressing issues of national interests. If there is an issue with the clarity or the master copy, then all transmission there forth cannot be any better. This has become a pertaining issue that is frustrating Singaporeans.

Anyone who can research will be able to substantially show the many good that these concerned Singaporeans have done with the empowerment of social media. From helping our authorities to catch up with law-breakers to giving grounded opinions, to exposing the plights of our children in schools, where female students have been violated for years whenever they shower, the lists can go on and on.

Permissible Foreign Interference

When the 4G ministers and PM Lee uses foreign and local celebrities to sell Singapore to potential tourists to boost tourism, the quality of their governance or articulate their political agenda or policies, they were not clear upfront, in explaining what is permissible foreign interference and what is non-permissible foreign interference.

As such, it has led probably the same “small” segment to accuse the government of being selective and behave like Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator where his citizens are only permitted to sing his praises or risks persecution.

I hope the 4G politicians will take note and make more effort in explaining what permissible foreign interference is and what is not permissible. This will take the lighting out of the thunder, and no one needs to be engaged in the blaming-game.

Government Cannot Tango Alone

Similar to pre-GE2011, the current ground sentiment against the People’s Action Party (PAP) 4G leaders is already getting from bad to worse. Its slate of 4G candidates is also not well received by many Singaporeans, and even from within the PAP activists, who see some of them as arrogant, insincere or even self-entitled.

As logic dictates that it takes two to tango, it is the prerogative of the 4G politicians to appreciate the legitimate concerns of Singaporeans. It is also in their longevity to understand that good behaviour matters, and that it requires good role-models who can actually walk their talks, and not just talk their talks. If so, then they ought to start learning to tango. The first step lies in their commitment in clarifying their policies and actions, and making them comprehensible for the masses.

Importance of Private Space

Singaporeans are not robots but human, and they need time and space to socialize, share and exchange opinions meaningfully with others. It allows Singaporeans to articulate their critical thoughts and ground their sense of reality. With many having to work hard just to put food on the table or from hand to mouth, the little space left become even more precious for some.

This new media space is also the critical exchange platform where the conventional MSMs are unable to transcend on behalf of the government, as exampled by Law Minister’s latest video attempt. Like the old British Club for true-blues gentlemen, everyone can agree to disagree civilly. The 4G politicians have to find the courage to play on the same playing field, and not be seen to be curtailing it to their advantage.

Are Online Hooligans Permissible?

As such, our authorities ought to be alarmed when Internet Brigades create troubles online, just like hooligans would on the street. Surely our government are well aware and ought to be clamping down hard on these trouble-makers as they would with street hooligans. If politicians are true to their call for unity, they would have also demanded that the relevant authorities act more swiftly and put an end to such online malice. Why aren’t they doing so?

Are they being clueless about what is going on online, display pure ignorance or are they simply being selective? How can these 4G political leaders earn the respect and trust of the people if they do not see this as an issue worthy of their urgent intervention?

Why is SG Courting Extremists’ Eyeballs?

If the controversial Nas, or Nuseir Yassin, is an example of “permissible” foreign interference, just like any celebrities, then there is no real issue of his selfie with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Meet-&-Greet session at the Botanic Garden. If the government want to use him to sell their governance to the outside world and show its liveability, enhanced, fake or stage, that is a tourism matter. But the danger of using Nas is much greater than meet the eyes.

He is a Palestinian, born to a Muslim Arab family, who travels with an Israeli passport. His current travel option remains very limited as most Islamic countries do not recognize Israeli passport. Anyone who is in his shoes will be equally desperate to find new citizenship elsewhere. I personally like him and do empathize with individuals like him who aspire for a better life.

Extremists and deadly conflicts have reduced the West Bank-Jerusalem region into probably the most unliveable place on earth. Despite the best attempts by the global superpowers to reconcile their differences over many centuries, there is still no end to their conflict. Such state of hopelessness is driving many Palestinians out of their homeland but migration is an issue as many countries ban them or make it almost impossible for them to even travel.

As such, having an Israeli passport is like a ticket out of hell. But why would the Israeli be so kind to Nas, who is a Palestinian, their arch-enemy? Who is empowering him to garner millions of online followers all these while? Here lies the legitimacy of my concern.

Why do our 4G politicians want to draw the attention of extremists onto our shore or take the risk where Nas could implode or be exploited by foreign trouble-makers, and unintentionally draw SG into their conflict? By putting Nas into the equation, the probability has been created. Is it worth the risks when extremists take advantage of his high profile to create their own high profile eventuality in SG?

If our politicians are showing compassion to a stateless person like Nas, why not show compassion to our own stateless ones who are currently living among us? Like Nas, they would say or do anything that the script-writers of our politicians put in front of them, no question asked. With money and a passport, they can migrate out of SG and reduce the financial stress on our social safety net too since they are currently unable to even work and are not economically viable unless given a second chance like Nas.

Questionable Foreign Interference

Michael Petraeus, who use the pseudonym “Critical Spectator”, is a much more dubious character that is testing the permissibility of foreign interference. During the bilateral tension between Singapore and Malaysia last November, he was actively slamming the Malaysian leaders and instigating the emotions of Singaporeans into calling for a war with our neighbour.

What is ironic is that our authorities are not even remotely concern about this foreign character interfering in our domestic affairs, especially during a time of great bilateral tension with our neighbour.

He is a Polish but has been deliberately singing praises about Singapore. By so doing, he seems to be deliberately antagonising the Malaysian leaders, as if to score a political point. Can any patriotic Singaporean appreciate or accept such a questionable trouble-maker?

When exposed, our MSMs were quick to “interview” him but no one questioned him in detail as to why would a Polish citizen, come to this part of the world without an employment, be vested in Singapore domestic and foreign affairs over many years, and why he must deliberately antagonize our neighbour needlessly? What right has he to risk our peace with our neighbour? This surely cannot be a permissible foreign interference just because he is singing praises of SG. This trouble-maker is very troubling.

He has been singing praises of SG, citing our government fabulous policies and is quite insistent that all Singaporeans must appreciate what our government is doing for us. The reverse is also true. We can insist that Poland has a great government, with good policies, and demand that he return to Poland and be more patriotic in serving his own country instead of meddling in others. Go home to Poland and stop being a trouble-maker when it comes to our bilateral ties with Malaysia. We can manage it ourselves and do not need irritants like him. We value our peace.

What is troubling is that his writing has no trace of Polish or European accentuation. That makes me wonder if he is just a front of a group of politically-motivated writers, foreign or local, with unknown agenda. If he is not under proper employment in Singapore, how on earth is he able to stay in Singapore for so many years?

How has he been able to work in between to keep himself economically viable without contravening our Employment Acts and ICA’s regulations? Are there really so many loop-holes in our Employment and Immigration Acts that foreigners can easily exploit us to their advantage right under our noses?

The 4G politicians have much more work to do in clarifying what is permissible and what is not if they want to be more credible and win the trust of Singaporeans. Small or big, all Singaporeans deserve better.

 

Joseph Nathan

 

 

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15 Responses to “The insignificant ‘small’ in Singapore”

  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    It is The People who PUT these Bunch of IDIOTS to stand on the Grave of a Coward to look TALL…when they are NO BETTER than Pygmies trying to be Giants and barking dogs…wonder who let the Dogs OUT???

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  • Treebicycle:

    SG going into the twilight zone

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  • oxygen:

    THE CELEBRITY-DRIVEN VIDEO OF PROFMA is low quality trivialisation of something far more serious intense discourse in the public space. Simplicity and superficiality overwhelmed blocking out the depth, complexity and the serious substantive issues residing in POFMA flawed legislation.

    The architects and engineers of POFMA is obviously uncomfortable with public discourse of POFMA and that video is desperate distraction of public scrutiny of what is wrong with POFMA legislation.

    It is against conscious, illogical, contrary to law and adverse to national development imperatives in my opinion.

    Viewers of that video are unlikely to appreciate these complexities and its flawed texture. If they are intensely informed, most likely they will think the video is just good humour entertainment.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Looking at the photo of a 4G leader above reminds me of people with a FrogJaw…
    They Croak & Lompart within a WELL!!!…

    with only the sky as a VIEW seeking a Rainbow while they are hopping in their OWN pot of SHIT!!!

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  • Ascent into Megalomania:

    NARCISSISM meaning:
    (Psychology) Selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

    (Example sentences)
    1) ‘She might even have admitted to extreme narcissism if it made a good impression in the corridors of power.’
    2) ‘Psychologists call this narcissism, the personality trait that was inspired by Narcissus, the Greek god who saw his reflection in a pool and fell in love with himself.’
    3) ‘Would-be politicians had personality defects ranging from extreme over-confidence, narcissism and aloofness to being overly empathetic.’
    4) ‘Although about one in five were found to have personality defects such as extreme overconfidence, aloofness and narcissism, the same group also tended to score well on IQ tests.’
    5) ‘This neural pathway supports the idea that an extreme narcissism is a specific psychogenic factor here.’

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  • I'm Halimah also jiak liao bee:

    As long as you are willing to bend down and be a ass licker like Nas, you are totally welcomed by the PAPIGS.
    These PAPIGS are so desperate for someone to sing their praises, and to them, it’s not foreign interference in our domestic affairs.
    So why would a Palestinian Muslim with a isreali passport be coming here to ass lick, if not to get his PR and citizenship and hold a SG passport with unfetted travel.

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  • HarderTruths:

    Joseph

    If you still think that there is hope for $G with the pappies in charge you will end up rummaging through dustbins one day. Wake up.

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  • Chuang Tzu the Taoist text:

    “Great knowledge is wide and comprehensive; small knowledge is partial and restricted. Great speech is exact and complete; small speech is (merely) so much talk. When we sleep, the soul communicates with (what is external to us); when we awake, the body is set free. Our intercourse with others then leads to various activity, and daily there is the striving of mind with mind. There are hesitancies; deep difficulties; reservations; small apprehensions causing restless distress, and great apprehensions producing endless fears.

    Where their utterances are like arrows from a bow, we have those who feel it their charge to pronounce what is right and what is wrong; where they are given out like the conditions of a covenant, we have those who maintain their views, determined to overcome. (The weakness of their arguments), like the decay (of things) in autumn and winter, shows the failing (of the minds of some) from day to day; or it is like their water which, once voided, cannot be gathered up again. Then their ideas seem as if fast bound with cords, showing that the mind is become like an old and dry moat, and that it is nigh to death, and cannot be restored to vigour and brightness.

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  • TruBlu:

    4G needs to have more advantage with POFMA?
    If scared, dont fight lah.
    4G with 3G cartoon$ like Ah Long sure screw up more.

    4G needs to learn from low peng like Goh Kemg Swee.
    Hope Ah Heng does not worship Lee Ah Long.
    If so, sgs sure kena kelong.

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  • 操场霸王泰哥鸿:

    利用科技来影响左右某个区域或国家的行为已经发生了而且正在发生也会继续发生。

    在这阴影垄罩下产生的民主还算是民主吗?会不会比封建更封建,比极权更极权,比威权更威权?

    还有,当今地球上那个国家对人类心理学的研究投入最多,掌握得最好,而且在很多方面都不止已投入应用,而是广泛的应用!

    科技加上应用心理,不但能把那30%玩得团团转,也能把那70%玩得团团转,甚至30%加70%也不是他的对手,那么,有了“婆妈”,利用“婆妈”把这看不到的魔爪废了,不是在保护真正的民主吗?

    那这样做,敢这样做的政府应该不多。但会是最好的,最成功的。而生活在这样政府管辖下的人民是最幸福的。

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  • Merobok:

    The “small” will soon be revealed in the coming GE whether it is true! It may be a Goliath and our beloved PAP members and MPs may have to be an ostrich hiding its head in the sand!

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  • oxygen:

    I HOPE THAT THE NARRATIVE OF “insignificant small” is NOT referring to the “exciting illuminations” found in this survey and its publishing. That survey HEADLINE reads-

    Half of Singaporeans support anti-fake news Bill

    https://sg.yougov.com/en-sg/news/2019/05/22/half-singaporeans-support-anti-fake-news-bill/

    Internally, the findings appear to be SELF CONTRADICTORY.

    What do I mean?

    Read my comments of its windy happy contradictions in this TRE thread @ oxygen: May 25, 2019 at 9:23 am.

    http://www.tremeritus.net/2019/05/19/why-most-singaporeans-keep-voting-for-pap/

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  • MarBowling:

    In ancient China, this Xiao Ding Tong bugger would be the Chief Eunuch cum Executioner who would decide and execute ANYONE who criticized or against the Tyrant Emperor! For 24/7/365 all day and night LOONG, this bugger would carry the Emperor’s SWORD and chop off the head of anyone as and when he thought was the right thing to do, macham like this famous quote by Lee Kayu “do what you think is RIGHT, don’t care what other people say”!

    One fine day, this shortar*e bugger will usurp and take over the post of his SIFU cum Mentor SnakeMugam! Just wait and watch, won’t be LOONG! His BLOODY and SNEAKY Hand and Mind have played a very impotent part in the drafting and EVENTUAL passing of the POFMA Bill!

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    PAP IB dogs hard at work leh!!!

    patriot of TUMASIK:
    Looking at the photo of a 4G leader above reminds me of people with a FrogJaw…
    They Croak & Lompart within a WELL!!!…

    with only the sky as a VIEW seeking a Rainbow while they are hopping in their OWN pot of SHIT!!!

    patriot of TUMASIK:
    Looking at the photo of a 4G leader above reminds me of people with a FrogJaw…
    They Croak & Lompart within a WELL!!!…

    with only the sky as a VIEW seeking a Rainbow while they are hopping in their OWN pot of SHIT!!!

    PAP IB dogs hard at work leh!!! thumbing down…Ed please remove the thumb Up/Down…waste of time…some will thumb themselves up with supporters or IB dogs thumbing DOWN…does NOT show the true Essence of the comments…Commonsense will tell if a comment is Good or Bad leh!!!… NO NEED for thumbs lah!!!

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  • one-man assembly also small:

    yar lor. one-man assembly also small and insignificant lor.

    that means to say that if you do not see not many people protest & making noise on the street (since illegal as permit needed), that means the significant majority must be happy with the white idiotic policy lor.

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