Politics


Recently, I’ve noticed two distinct camps on social media. Those defending the government voraciously while ravenously attacking the opposition vs. those attacking the government aggressively while enthusiastically defending any form of opposition.

My personal preference is moderation. Regardless of the good that we think the government has done, e.g. nation-building, low crime rate, etc.  (the former camp) or the shortcomings, e.g. overcrowding, cost of living (the latter camp), I prefer not to take camps and instead objectively think and politely engage.

I say this because, as a born-Singaporean, if I question (not even criticise) government policies, I run the risk of being labelled “ungrateful.” If I defend government policy, I run the risk of being labelled a “brainwashed minion”.

In this environment, civil discourse can often become difficult.

I’d prefer to take ideologies and partisan sentiments out of the equation and discuss the issues objectively. Then, whomever is to be taken to task, should be alerted. If the majority are not happy, there is the election process. (OK, I admit GRC makes the democratic process a little challenging).

I’d like to have a civil discourse without the flaming. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a wimp but I’m guessing more people with become engaged in a tempered environment.

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International diplomacy. That’s why I would love to write for the foreign or diplomatic services. Every word has to be carefully calibrated and nuanced. Fascinating.

Face saving statements here for both sides. Not sure if the truth prevailed but the point of diplomacy is to advance (hopefully) mutual interests. If the intent was truly to rile, the statement, I believe would have been more terse.

But these guys are not dumb. They know exactly what they are doing. Hence, its so fascinating to study the unfolding of events the choice of words on both sides.

Update (12 Feb 2014):

This is not about the naming of the warship but about the possibility of “fresh” haze coming to Singapore from Indonesia. The statement made by our Minister of the Environment and Water Resources is strong for “friendly neighbours.” (Emphasis mine).

Again. Hot spots increasing dramatically in Sumatra, with 458 visible today. Haze may worsen when the winds weaken next week. Some rain expected, but not enough to douse the fires.

We will try to encourage them to take action – but we all know the welfare of close neighbours is not their priority.

Hard truths of regional politics.

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No beating around the bush. No, not in this case. He’s made his stand known plainly and categorically.  Minister Chan Chun Sing is against Ashley Madison (link deliberately not provided) coming to Singapore.  From his Facebook page:

Saw media reports on Ashley Madison, a dating website targeting married spouses, which has plans to launch in Singapore next year.

I do not welcome such a website into Singapore. I’m against any company or website that harms marriage. Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage. Our marriage vows make it clear that marriage is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. This includes staying faithful to one another.

I’m heartened by the responses of many Singaporeans who also spoke up against such website. This reflects the significance we all place in commitment and fidelity in marriage.

lky

I finished the book over a leisurely holiday week.

I enjoyed it. I learned a lot from it. That’s not to say that I appreciated the entire book. I just wanted to present the big picture, my macro takeaway – it was a good book from which I learned.

LKY is very much a big picture kind of guy. He has an amazing ability to see the forest for the trees. Actually, he sees both the forest and the trees. The book covers his point of view on China, the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, India, Southeast Asia, Middle East, the Global Economy, Energy & Climate change, and his personal life.

When LKY paints his point of view of a country’s future (or a region), he draws not only on current affairs and leadership but also on the collective history and psyche of the nation. In my view, this lends substance and gravitas to his analysis. He has a firm grasp (or at least a strong point of view) on political systems, and their advantages and limitations.

In the process, I learned a lot. And I like learning.

Though I respect this man, I recognise that he is not God. At points in the book, he comes across to me as self-indulgent. For example, when he cites a conversation he had with Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Deng was apparently impressed with Singapore and congratulated LKY on the job he had done so far.

From the book:

He had congratulated me over dinner and when I asked him what for, he said: “You’ve got a beautiful city, a garden city.” I thanked him but added: “Whatever we have done, you can do better because we are descendants of the landless peasants of south China.* You have the scholars, you have the scientists, you have the specialists. Whatever we do, you will do better. He did not answer me. He just looked me with his piercing eyes and then he carried on and switched the subject. That was 1978.

In 1992, he went down to Guangdong in his famous southern tour to urge the leadership to carry on with the opening up and he said, “Learn from the world and, in particular, learn from Singapore and do better than them.” I told myself, “Ah, he has not forgotten what I told him.” Indeed, they can do better than us.  

There were some missing bits I would have liked to hear his point of view on such as the wisdom of his support of the “graduate mothers” scheme and on his political opponents, especially those from the 1960s to 1980s.

Although LKY is a thorough pragmatist, there is an aspect of the man, in this man’s view, that breaks down when he contemplates religion and the after-life. He admits to being some sort of nominal Buddhist, admits that he does not belief nor disbelief of a God, makes reference to “heaven” not having enough “space” for the dead who may inhabit its realm as spirits, and admits “not knowing” if he will meet his wife again.

Some excerpts: (read the book for proper context)

“I wouldn’t call myself an atheist. I neither deny nor accept that there is a God.”

“I am not a Christian. I am not a Taoist. I do not belong to any special sect.”

On Buddhist traditions he admitted that he would “go through the motions and the rituals like offering to his ancestors food and so on.” He went on to say, “It is like clearing the graves during Qing Ming. With each passing generation, fewer people go. It is a ritual.”

I wish I can meet my wife in the hereafter, but I don’t think I will. I just cease to exist just as she has ceased to exist – otherwise the other world would be overpopulated.” (Emphasis mine)

“I am not given to making sense out of life – or coming up with some grand narrative on it – other than to measure it by what you think you want to do in life. As for me, I have done what I had wanted to, to the best of my ability. I am satisfied.”

“But human beings on this earth have developed over the last 20,000 years into thinking beings, and are able to see beyond themselves and think about themselves. Is that a result of Darwinian evolution? Or is it God? I do not know.

So I do not laugh at people who believe in God. But I do not necessarily believe in God – nor deny that there could be one.”

For me, the most telling in that there is a hint of his wishing to see his beloved wife again:

“All that is left behind are her ashes. I will be gone and all that will be left behind will be ashes. For reason of sentiment, well, put them together. But to meet in afterlife? Too good to be true.” (Emphasis mine).

For all his pragmatism, LKY’s love for his wife is incredible. It’s  divine – a match made in heaven. Oh wait. (See my blog post on the Humanity of Lee Kuan Yew).

My favourite bits must be LKY’s opinion on world leaders.

It’s easy to see whom he respects and whom he doesn’t. To be fair to LKY, he does give credit where credit is due, even if he doesn’t think very highly of a leader (Sukarno).

His non-answer when asked for an opinion of a certain leader is particularly scathing – for example, when asked about Jimmy Carter. Read the book to feel the sting of his answer. Ouch.

He clearly has his favourites.

I can see why this book is called “One man’s view of the world”. It implicates no one but himself. It’s not Singapore’s view, it’s not the party’s view;  it’s LKY’s view. At his age and with his accomplishments, I think it’s ok to indulge him.

The book has been referred to as a “no-holds-barred” account of the world. But I sense he has held back in some places. But still, it is interesting, insightful and for me, I learned. It is also readable. I’d recommend it.

PS: LKY makes a lot of reference to iPhone and iPads but I don’t think he ever mentioned Android. He’s still got some to learn. And knowing him, he will.

* DD note: As an Indian Singaporean, it makes me feel ignored.

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“I think residents of Hougang are special. I don’t think they’re representative of voters in Singapore as a whole.” – DPM Teo

Lots of well trained and regurgitated soundbites. How many times did he say “I’m my own man” or variations thereof? And the “underdog” card is a nice touch.

Was doing some research on a book I’m writing and I came across this.

1. You must be a free white male or female of European descent, at least 18 years of age. (we do verify age)

2. You must be a Protestant able to profess faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior

3. You must not be married to or date people of other races, nor have mixed race dependants, this includes adopted children.

4. You must agree to conform to the rules of this order, and be willing to swear you will NOT conspire to commit any crime while an associate.

5. You must not join us with mercenary intent, or under secret evasion of any sort.

6. Under NO circumstances will we accept for associate ship: homosexuals, atheists, or those who have been found mentally insane. We will not accept candidates that have been convicted of treason, or espionage against the United States of America.

7. You must be a U.S. citizen and have a U.S. address. we do not accept foreign nationals, or have foreign associates.

8. You must not be on probation or parole. (Those on probation or parole are NOT free men).

Source: http://kukluxklan.bz/how-to-join.html

On being a Hate Group, the site states:

It is a common misconception that we are a so called “hate” group, no member of the Ku Klux Klan, LLC. mindlessly hates other races.

It goes on to say:

We are basically Biblically correct separatists, we believe that God intended all races to be separate, we believe this is a Biblical Principal. We believe no non-white, or any person of any other race; should ever have been brought to these shores for any reason, and conversely no white man should ever have so much as darkened Africa with his shadow. We are unapologetic about slavery in early America, no relative of mine in the memory of our history ever owned a slave, I owe the non-white peoples nothing.

 

And their Biblical support for separation is the following verses:

30 Biblical Reasons for Seperatism

1. God wills all races to be as He made them. Any violation of God’s original purpose manifests insubordination to Him. (Acts 17:26, Rom. 9:19-24)
2. God made everything to reproduce “after his own kind” (Gen 1:11-12, 6:20, 7:14). Kind means type and color. He would have kept them all alike to begin with had he intended equality.
3. God originally determined the bounds of the habitations of nations, so they would be saved. (17:26, Gen.10:5,32, 11:8, Dt. 32:8)
4. Miscongenation means the mixture of the races, especially the black and white races, or those of outstanding type, or color. The Bible even goes farther than this. It is against different branches of the same stock intermarrying such as Jews marrying other descendants of Abraham ( Ezra 9-10, Neh. 9-13, Jer 50:37, Ezek 30:5)
5. Abraham forbade Eliezer to take a wife for Isaac of canaanites ( Gen. 24:1-4). God was so pleased with this that He directed whom to get ( Gen. 24:7, 12-67)
6. Isaac forbade Jacob to take a wife of the canaanites ( Gen. 27:46-28:7)
7. Abraham sent all his sons of the concubines, and even of his second wife, far away from Isaac so their descendants would not mix (Gen. 25:1-6)
8. Esau disobeying this law brought the final break between him and his father after lifelong companionship with him ( Gen 25:28, 26:34-35, 27:46, 28:8-9)
9. The two branches of Isaac remained segregated forever ( Gen 36, 46:8-26)
10. Ishmael and Isaac’s descendants remained seperated forever ( Gen 25:12-23, 1 Chr 1:29)
11. Jacobs sons destroyed a whole city to maintain seperated (Gen 34)
12. God forbad intermarraige between Israel and all other nations ( Ex 34:12-16, Dt 7:3-6)
13. Joshua forbad the same thing on sentance of death ( Josh 23:12-13)
14. God cursed angels for leaving their own “first estate” and “their own habitation” to marry the daughters of men (Gen 6:1-4, 2 Pet 2:4, Jude 6,7)
15. Miscogenation caused Israel to be cursed ( Judges 3:6-7, Num 25:1-8). Note that Phinehas’ act was righteous ( Ps 106:30)
16. This was Solomon’s sin ( 1 King 11)
17. This was the sin of Judahites returning from Babylon ( Ezra 9:1-10:2, 10-18, 44, Neh. 13:1-30)
18. God commanded Israel to be seperated ( Lev 20:24, Num 23:9, 1 King 8:53)
19. Israelites recognized as a seperate people in all ages because of God’s choice and command ( Matt 10:6, John 1:11). Equal rights in the gospel gives no right to break this eternal law
20. Seperation between Israelites and all other nations to remain in all eternity ( Is 2:2-4,Ezek 37, 47:13-48, Zech 14:16-21, Matt 19:28, Lk 1:32-33, Rev 7:1-8, 14:1-5)
21. All nations will remain seperated from one another in their own parts of the earth forever ( Acts 17:26, Gen 10:5, 32, 11:8-9, Dt 32:8, Dan 7:13-14, Rev 11:15, 21:24)
22. Certain people in Israel were not even to worship with others ( Dt 23:1-3, Ezra 10:8, Neh 9:2, 10:28, 13:3)
23. Even in heaven certain groups will not be allowed to worship together ( Rev 7:7-17, 14:1-5, 15:2-5)
24. Seperation in the O.T. was so strong that an ox and an ass could not be worked together ( Dt 22:10)
25. Miscogenation caused disunity among God’s people ( Num 12)
26. Stock was forbidden to be bred with other kinds ( Lev 19:19)
27. Sowing mixed seed in the same field was unlawful ( Lev 19:19)
28. Different seeds were forbidden to be planted in the same vineyards ( Dt 22:9)
29. Wearing garments of mixed fabrics forbidden ( Dt 22:11, Lev 19:19)
30. Christians and certain other people of a like race are to be seperated based upon behavior ( Mt 18:15-17, 1 Cor 5:9-13, 6:15, 2 Cor 6:14-18, Eph 5:11, 2 Thess 3:6-16, 1 Tim 6:5, 2 Tim 3:5)

For full FAQ go here: http://kukluxklan.bz/faq.html#non-white

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