The politics of wild accusations, polarization, fear-mongering and hate

The Issue

Remember what the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as part of his swearing-in speech in 2004,

“We should have the confidence to engage in robust debate, so as to understand our problems, conceive fresh solutions, and open up new spaces”

So how does that reconcile with our space for civic discourse today, especially as evidence in the past week?

As most of us now know a highly contentious statement was recently made by the Prime Minister surrounding Vietnam’s actions regarding Cambodia in the ’70s and ’80s, not just once but multiple times on multiple platforms, and it has triggered a diplomatic incident and generated much-heated conversation and friction between our respective countries and within Singapore itself.

So far, rather than acknowledging a miscalculation or mistake may have been made, what we have witnessed is first silence and then a string of justifications to try and validate the contentious statement.

Beyond that, and even worse, we have seen an extreme polarization of positions accompanied by what I can only describe as hate being thrown at fellow Singaporeans, originating primarily from the side of the People’s Action Party, and now apparently endorsed by the Speaker of the Parliament and the national media.

Tan Chuan-Jin in his Facebook post is suggesting anyone questioning the PM or the PAP is doing so for nefarious purposes and may even be driven by foreign troublemakers and not because there are fair questions for concerned citizens to be asking surrounding the issue.

Adding to that his most ardent supporters in their comments are calling those questioning the government treacherous and traitors to the nation even calling out some individuals by name.

Rather than cautioning against this behavior, he appears to acknowledge and accept it, and this whole position has been echoed in the Straits Times and Today articles referencing his post put out on Friday evening.

I was one of those singled out by name on that questionable Facebook post’s thread.

Since I became involved in politics, I have weathered a steady string of disgusting online activity, but this incident has taken it to a whole new level.

I have seen many comments and threats including that I should variously be arrested, have my citizenship revoked, be thrown out of the country or put in jail all alongside a range of insults and other derogatory statements both on my posts related to the statements and in the various shares and sites covering it.

These actions, of what I can only describe as extremely hostile and irrational hate and fearmongering, should not be tolerated in any civilized society. Instead of any thought or addressing the message, it’s all about attacking the messenger.

Further, this behaviour should certainly never appear to be endorsed or driven by any competent authority or political representative under any circumstances.

Instead of debating a very important issue to “understand our problems and conceive fresh solutions” to find a resolution these actions are driving polarisation and whipping up dangerous and negative emotions that serve nobody, hurt many and are highly irresponsible indeed.

The Context

When you look at the original statement about Vietnam by the PM I think most people who have studied the period and events in question understands that nobody comes out smelling of roses.

There was a terrible atrocity being committed against the Cambodian people, but it was happening in a fluid and combative geopolitical environment, so everybody’s responses were coloured by their own agendas of the day and not just to the ongoing genocide.

There is no black and white and given the murky and dark place that it was, and the range of interpretations of who did what and why, it is a period that should surely be best left to individual soul searching and national lessons to be learned and certainly not to be lightly brought back to life in a very different time and regional political environment.

One lesson of which should be that while many believe in the doctrine of not directly interfering in other nation’s internal affairs there is a point where a matter of principle becomes one of Humanity. Indeed, without that fundamental what are we?

My Position

Given this background, I think it is very fair that we question why was the statement made and, especially where we have personal experience and connections in the affected countries, that we reach out to those friends and acquaintances who are impacted by it and apologize or mend fences where we feel it is necessary. Again, basic decency and humanity.

The birth and growth of ASEAN has had many contentious moments and to preserve its current level of development and cooperation some cans of worms really should not be opened. If they are, by accident or otherwise, they should be cleaned up as quickly as possible and not opened wider and made worse by taking rigid or confrontational stances instead of diplomatic ones recognising individual sensibilities.

We recently had the Prevention from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (POFMA) bill passed and we have ongoing bills on hate speech and online bullying in the process all at a time where the government and its supporters are now seemingly engaged in the very acts these pieces of legislation are designed to address.

I believe we Singaporeans are a rational and highly educated people and not only should we hold ourselves to a high standard of decorum in our public and political space we should demand an even higher one from our elected representatives and those responsible for creating peace and security in our country and with the world at large.

I hope we can be far more diplomatic in our future relations with our neighbours, learn from our mistakes whether past, present or future, and clean up this situation with the speed and delicate understanding it deserves.

And at home I hope all those involved in this incident, especially in the PAP camp as the ones with the authority, will look long and hard at their actions, words and motivations before continuing down a path that does not bode well for a country that pledges itself as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.

 

Brad Bowyer

 

 

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18 Responses to “The politics of wild accusations, polarization, fear-mongering and hate”

  • opposition dude:

    “I hope we can be far more diplomatic in our future relations with our neighbours, learn from our mistakes whether past, present or future, and clean up this situation with the speed and delicate understanding it deserves.”

    Brad I like your sense of humour!

    PAP’s pattern is either to maintain what they have said or to issue a statement saying that it was quoted out of context. No way in hell will they ever apologise and you can bet your HDB flat that this statement will either be repeated years down the road or they will commit yet another offending statement.

    Who doesn’t remember the goondu one joking about having a free smoke or pork soup straight from the tap? Or how about trying to tell China to obey the international court’s ruling on the South China Sea? It seems like he has not been paying any attention when he was understudying to be PM under both his dead dad and the wooden one. And this is why he has shown just how much of a goondu he has been since he became PM.

    Keep up the great work though Hsien Loong, we can never have enough of a laugh when you make a big mistake!

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  • Flabbergasted:

    this d**honourable clown must go, let a new govt dig up his shit and sent him to changi to get married.

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  • lky clown goes lying:

    Remember what the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as part of his swearing-in speech in 2004, …

    pap clown also put up his right hand swearing to govern without FEAR or FAVOUR.

    So when Mr Roy Ngerng pointed correctly that CPF money is gic temasick money but a little carelessly, pap clown sued.

    Rightly so, since pap clown has sworn to govern without FEAR or FAVOUR.

    But when Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling said pap clown abused power, a far more serious allegation than what Mr Roy Ngerng who was sued said, pap clown cited all manner of excuses cannot sue own brother cannot sue own sister but rather abused parleeement to ownself declare ownself not guilty.

    BUT can sue Mr Roy Ngerng and cannot sue Mr Lee Hsien Yang Dr Lee Wei Ling?

    How come can govern without fear or FAVOUR in the case of Mr Roy Ngerng but can only govern WITH fear or FAVOUR in the case of Mr Lee Hsien Yang or Dr Lee Wei Ling?

    it seems highly probably possible pap clown is speaking with forked tongue during 2004 swearing in ceremony, NEVER intending to govern without fear or favour at all. A man who slapped dana and faked as if not. Can trust such a human shit? ffff NO.

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  • vincent tan:

    ah loong copycat president bush
    “either you are with us or against us…”
    so PAP stand is those jump ing onto the bandwagon are
    traitors ….
    thus loong has no principle to lecture his audience in
    the recent shangri-la defence meet !
    you just throw the bushie remark onto your own
    easily-offended-pale face.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qdvm6h8WKg&feature=share

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  • HarderTruths:

    Please don;t mention that guy again. He gets encouraged by people always talking about him.

    Next time he will create a problem with Trump for no reason – and Trump will retaliate and threaten to sanction $G like Venezuela. Then $G people will see how the real world works when toilet paper costs more than a Mercedes.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Stay the course, Brad,… with God on your side who the Devil can be against you besides the Evil regime that ought to be Destroyed…and who let the Dogs out???

    Oh!!! forgot that when an idiot is doing what comes naturally for him the Dogs are let loose without hesitation…well TRAINED & Pliant Par Excellence can perform without cue!!!

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  • A Nation Of Dafts:

    PAP still living in the past, parroted Vietnam invaded Cambodia, but Cambodia themselves feel that Vietnam liberated them. Vietnam feels they had liberated Cambodia.
    So where is outsider Sillypore in this equation? Sillypore has no business in this equation. It does not serve much for Sillypore to put up any stand, neither is it required.
    This is the same playbook that Sillypore used for South China Sea dispute.
    Countries involved in the dispute are willing to work with China and downplayed the issues, but not outsider Sillypore.
    Major overhaul is needed in our foreign service.
    They are still living in the past, playing the broken record.

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  • Straight "A"s Marlboro Tan:

    Quote”I believe we Singaporeans are a rational and highly educated people”

    Sorry to break yr bubble. Most singaporean do not have university education..

    and watever little education they had makes them even stupider than a farmer in cambodia or vietnam…

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  • TruBlu:

    Taichi ma$ters,experts in *PUSHING BLAMES* away…blame sgs n even blame God?
    Cannot help elderly or jobless by giving social assistances that are decent or the young sgs will have to bear more social costs in future?
    Fake News Law should be applied to those make that law instead for they arr constantly instilling fear by propagating FAKE NEWS.

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  • left work to his minions:

    me thinks pm is getting not fit for his job.
    he didnt even take responsibility to defend his stance on the speech he made , to answer the serious allegations from vietnam’s leaders..yet can just happy happy go on leave?
    ..leaving work undone..is he alright.
    oi pm, vietnam is still waiting for your apology or for you to explain yourself.

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  • TruBlu:

    As an related aside.
    Can the gahmen push away blames for the increasing HEATING UP OF SIN CITY.
    SG seeing high temperatures…SAVE MY WORLD?
    With F1? With ARTIFICIALLY DOUBLING OR TRIPLUNG THE POPULATION?

    Our SMALL ISLAND was meant for a small population but $cholars THINK THEY CAN ACT LIKE GOD?

    I am pretty sure the ARTIFICIALLY INFLATED SIZE OF OUR POPULATION BY *FAKE* AUGMENTATION has contributed much to TEMOERATURE RISES here un recent times throgh faster than normal increases in URBANISATION.
    MORE GREENERY SACRIFICED TO BUILD MORE HIGH RISE JUNGLE$ to accomodate the ARTIFICIALLY AUGMENTED POPULATION IF 6 MILLION agaist a more natural size of 3.5 million???

    More cars, more aircons, more fuel burnt.

    Our HASTEN POPULATION INCREASES CAUSE MUCH OF THE *TEMPERATURE RISES*,both GEOGRAPHICALLY N SOCIALLY( more fights n quarrels everywhere).

    The GREEDY N DAFT PAPies are respinsible for this.

    Dont PUSH BLAMES TO SGS.

    SAVE MY WORLD ONLY SOUNDS NICE N EVEN * NICER* WITH ALL THE CARBON EMI$$ION EMITTED DUTING THE F1???

    FARK YOU VERY MUCH.

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  • Oh Jedi Fraternity!:

    “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose…Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering … “You will know (good from bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

    (Jedi Master Yoda)

    “Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the Dark side: Anger, Fear, Aggression – the dark side of the Force are these. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the Dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

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  • Darth Vader:

    Obi-Wan’s former apprentice here. Yoda told only the half the truth about me. Had Obi-Wan or the other supreme council members been open to me instead of marginalizing and ostracizing me I wouldn’t have gone over to the Dark side.

    And the pap is marginalizing most ordinary Singaporeans just like the Jedi Supreme Council did to me…

    Oh Jedi Fraternity!:
    “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose…Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering … “You will know (good from bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

    (Jedi Master Yoda)

    “Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the Dark side: Anger, Fear, Aggression – the dark side of the Force are these. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the Dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

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  • Haigen-Diaz:

    Brad Bowyer:
    There was a terrible atrocity being committed against the Cambodian people, but it was happening in a fluid and combative geopolitical environment, so everybody’s responses were coloured by their own agendas of the day and not just to the ongoing genocide.

    Arguments about the ‘right or wrong’ of invading Cambodia seem to center on the legality of the issue and the fact that the NVA/VC were using the territory with tacit approval or inaction of the Cambodian government.

    The key word is “protection”, Sihanouk knew that the US could never “protect” Cambodia and was prescient in his prediction that the NVA would outlast the Americans and prevail. Who would protect Sihanouk and Cambodia one might ask? Why, none other than “Red” China, because although China wanted US forces out of Vietnam, in turn they did not want a united Vietnam to dominate SE Asia.

    Furthermore, a neutral Cambodia led by Sihanouk offered China diplomatic openings with the non-aligned nations. In actuality, both China and the NVA disliked and mistrusted the Khmer Rouge leaders and NVA and Khmer forces even had an occasional skirmish. Sihanouk correctly assumed that his small and ill-equipped army was no match for the NVA and the peasants would bear the burden of any attempt to oust the NVA.

    PM Lee need to keep in mind that applying facts and logic in any discussion about the war when, as we see in the other comments, so many remain mired in a fantasy world in which was silly. For sure it’s important to never drop important subjects, but eventually any responsibility or blames remain empty of any substance.

    When an enemy has attacked you, and you are at war with that enemy, you have every right as a nation to obliterate that enemy wherever they are.

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  • Afterword to Vader:

    “When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”

    -Joseph Campbell (guru of George Lucas)

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  • StaleAir:

    there is nothing good that will come out of Singapore except dirty politics, dirty religion and dirty mouths and it comes not from illiterate or the lowly educated blind followers but people who would pass themselves off as “wise” and in the know or care about the people(shuddle) – the educated class who has their stomach and mouth full of hell notes.

    The Chinese whip will perhaps teach this lot a good lesson.

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  • Darth Vader:

    Yes; I’m very sure the khmer rouge said this to the Khmer people very often. Their suffering is for “the greater good”, creating the “perfect maoist state”

    Just like the pap keeps exhorting ordinary Singaporeans to keep making sacrifices “for the greater good”, sacrifices they themselves aren’t making…

    Afterword to Vader:
    “When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”

    -Joseph Campbell (guru of George Lucas)

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  • oxygen:

    WHY MUST I BE REMINDED of this yet again?

    Sam Donaldson: Trump’s attack on the media isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous
    By Shawn Langlois

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/sam-donaldson-trumps-attack-on-the-media-isnt-just-wrong-its-dangerous-2019-06-11?mod=mw_latestnews

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