Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hypothetical story

It's been several months since I've joined them. I know they've been observing me. But I've been used to that all my life. I've been looking for opportunities to prove myself, and I think I've been doing pretty well. A few days ago, one of the senior members who knows who I am asked me to come for a meeting today. I think they noticed my hard work. Looks like I'll have a chance to go on to bigger projects, and move one step closer to my dream.

These were my thoughts as I opened the door of the meeting room. And behind the door, was he. His greatness himself. Seated comfortably on the sofa chair, he turned to look at me. With the slightest hint of a smile, he said "come sit down, son". Barely able to compose myself, I struggled to hide my nervousness, and sat down in the seat opposite of the great man.

He looked me in the eye. The wrinkles around his eye seem to make his gaze look more authoritative. "This discussion we're about to have is considered closed-door. You're a smart kid, you know what that means right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Son, can you tell me, what is the most important principle of governance?"

"Um...keeping the people happy?"

His mouth showed a trace of a grin. "It's survival", he said. "If your people are not alive, or if there is no land for your people to live, then they cannot possibly be happy can't they?"

"Yes....I agree, sir"

"Let me tell you how we govern, son. Let me remind you, this is very sensitive information. It's sensitive not because we're doing something wrong and we have something to hide, but rather it's sensitive because the people, are not able to handle such information, and should they know about it, they will only bring harm to themselves."

I nodded, and kept quiet. I didn't speak again the rest of the meeting.

"We are a small nation. With no natural resources. With neighbours who aren't always friendly. But in politics, there is no such thing as "always friendly" anyways. You heard all of this before. It's all true. Not only that. We're doing good now. But what about the future, when our neighbours start to step up the competition? How about we look further up north beyond other immediate neighbours? The future is uncertain, son. Our survival, is not something you can take for granted."

"Look at all the nations around you. With all their natural resources, why do you think that they are behind us? The answer is simple. From the very start, we've focused on survival, and we didn't let ourselves to be distracted by anything else. While others are bickering with each other about fairness, justice and freedom, we focused on what are the ways we can develop and plan for the future, so that we continue to survive."

"But time has passed. People seem to have forgotten the past where the possibility of not surviving was real to everyone. Now, people take our survival for granted. They just assume we will be there, and the future is bright just because it has always been so. They become complacent. But son, the threat of not surviving has never left. We have managed to keep ahead, but for how long? When our neighbours become more powerful, what will happen to us? Survival is still on the foremost on our minds."

"The people don't realize this. They think, they have a roof over their heads now, some money in their pockets now, they take it for granted. They assume it will be there tomorrow. Then, they want liberties. They want the freedom to make more decisions. They want us to do this, do that, for them. They think they deserve it. They think by virtue of some theory of morality or justice, such and such liberties should and must be granted unto them."

"But we see it differently. We do what is necessary for them to survive. Their theories of morality and justice cannot guarantee that somebody will not invade us tomorrow, that there will still be a roof over our heads tomorrow, but our careful planning and decision making can prevent that from happening. Maybe even we can't prevent that from happening. Can you deny that the careful planning and decision making by the top thinkers and talents in the nation is the best bet we have?"

"And that is the way things are now. A young man like you, might criticize that we seem to be robbing people of certain rights. We might be taking away some freedom which is their right. But you see, you say that because you believe in some theory of right and wrong. That it is right to provide freedom and liberty for the people, it is wrong to deny them that freedom. However, unlike more powerful nations, we do not have the luxury to be concerned with survival as well as ideology. You think people agree with the ideals of powerful nations because they are morally correct, or the because the nation is powerful? Might truly makes right. There is only one theory for us: 'Do what it takes to survive'. Every nation for itself. That's a sad fact of life, but it's a true fact."

"And because it's true, you need leaders who are capable do such careful planning and make such calculated decisions. The worst thing that can happen to this nation, is for someone with the inappropriate ideals, with personal ideologies to fulfill, to take control of this nation. So we need a system, where the very best of our people, the brightest and most capable, become the leaders. And that each and every leader understand very carefully what we do."

"You do see why we have to keep this behind closed doors. If the people know that we are intentionally keeping liberties from them, they will be unhappy. They will forget all the careful planning and decision making it takes to keep a small, resource scare nation alive. They will think that we deceived them because we want to hold on to power. That we are corrupt. They will revolt, and someone who promises them liberties will take over. Then what happens? Will we then survive in the global arena in such uncertain times?"

"Many will criticize what we do. But what we do is really for the nation's survival. And there is nothing of greater concern to the nation than survival. And therefore, the people's best interest is the nation's best interest, which is survival. Even when the people themselves don't think so. And that, my son, is the mark of a real leader. He may not always do what is popular, but he does what is required. For a young man like you, you may think that I am asking you to sacrifice your ideals, but think it not as a sacrifice, think it as a greater calling. You are choosing to let go of your personal ideals, to serve the people, for the purpose of the survival of the nation. What could be more noble than that?"

Long after the conversation ended. I thought long and hard about what he said, trying to sort out my mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt like something was robbed of me. Disillusionment. This was turning out to be something not quite I expected. I realized I was naive. Yet, I couldn't stop thinking about what he said about sacrifices, and a greater calling. I'm among the best at what I do. I know it. They know it, that's why they picked me out. Maybe it is my calling after all. Maybe I'm meant to sacrifice my dreams and ideals. Maybe it's been replaced with a far greater responsibility. A far greater challenge. And perhaps, like he said, something far more....noble.

ok, end of story. first things first ah. in case you cannot read the post title, this story is HYPOTHETICAL. it is 100% fictional, and all characters mentioned in this story, if resembles anybody in real life is 100% coincidental. also ah, i assure you hor, me is not (god forbid) pro-MIW. (don't flame me!!!) just some food for thought only lah.

Monday, October 30, 2006

did me mention than me is noob? (blue)

The thing about being new to the blogosphere (other than all the technical mishaps) is that so much has happened already (in the blogosphere) which I don't know about. I spend a good many hours browsing through blog archives, and the result was nothing short of a most enlightening experience.

I admit (with much shame) that I was someone whom was never really interested in current affairs, even though the major events I kept myself updated with MSM. In fact, it was only a chance remark about WSM that brought my attention to the blogosphere. If not, I may have been ignorant for years more about the amount and nature of discussion which happens here. I thought I had some idea of what the blogosphere was like but (this turns out to be quite the repeating theme) I was wrong.

For someone who was only exposed to MSM for information, I did not realize how great the extent of information and variety of views which I have never been exposed to before, found here in the blogosphere. I also realized, that so many people have blogged about so many issues, that it is truly hard to come up with an opinion or an idea so original that nobody have not blogged something similar before.

My journey of discovery into the blogosphere was very much a humbling experience. I previously had thought myself to be an intelligent individual, but when confronted with my own ignorance, I could not help but feel a fool. When I read in greater detail what has transpired on important events in the blogosphere, such as that of the AcidFlask affair, I felt guilty about hastily publishing my previous post, which now appears to me to be trite and insensitive.

I've decided that if I want to blog seriously and people were to read my posts, I owe nothing less to my readers that I've done my homework and thought carefully about what I want to say. So I've decided to go into a semi-recluse for a while, not blogging on current issues, and during this time I continue to read through the blog archives as well as hit the books on topics such as Singapore history and politics.

I do have a few questions which I hope people can help enlighten me about:

1)After the AcidFlask affair, apparently you guys convened at some nightclub for some convention to talk about legalese and stuff. Are the contents of that convention published?

2)Have there been any intelligent voice/representation from elites/scholar-types (other than AcidFlask that is), or those sympathetic to the men in white, in the blogosphere?

In the meantime, before I re-emerge, I may post philosophical topics which I think might be useful to think about, but not entrenched in any specific social-political issues.


did me mention than me is noob? (purple)

firstly ah, sorry for those two cool dudes who left me comments on my first post. i was trying to migrate my blog over to blogger beta then the comments kena deleted. sorry dudes. i was like having so much porblems trying to publish using the non-beta blogger. what can i say, i noob mah.

and then before i successfully migrated my blog ah, i tried to use wordpress. then dunno what happen when i was using wordpress lah, but i accidentally left my post on ben's blog as a comment. [eh, sorry lah ben] wah lau. me simple thing like blog also cannot do. html also dunno, dun even know what is this "tagging" thing also.

anyway, i said in my previous post, "anything is more interesting than what can be said about WSM". aiyah, turns out me wrong again. i stumble unto a post by The Void Deck, and i think its really cool. and the first two comments by ted and KTM classic lah.

right now on technorathi ah, WSM still no.1, and her father is like no. 3. i didn't know the WSM-effect so long lasting one ah. that's probably why my first blog got hits mah. was tammy like that also? long time after pple stop talking about her, pple still technorati her because they looking for juicy updates?

aiyah, really dunno wat to say about our blogosphere man.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Internet is powderful yes, but big blooder lagi more powerderful (purple)

woah dude. i set up my first blog, i go to sleep, then next day find that i got comments liao. not just that, ben mentions me in his latest post. wah lau, damn lot of pressure leh. (macham as stless as those top-jc pple mugging for A level now. dun get straight A then cannot join the elitist gang) lidat now i must start producing serious stuff or i look damn poser. anyways, if you came here via ben's blog, you probably have read kitana's post on the voice of internet, which according to kitana is like macham cult status liao. way cool, kitana. if u read the post like sometime ago, read again. the her own comments below very helpful, but got like this weird argument with some weird dude called darkness.

anyway, what me want to talk about is about the relationship between the blogosphere and the garmen. i never read George Orwell's 1984 before, (but i got read his Animal Farm lah) but i know its about this "big blooder" who is always watching you. some pple say, singapore is lidat too. we all hear horror stories about ISD lah, wah 4 pple play mahjong can also be charged with unlawful assembly. anyway, kitana make very good observation that yes the garmen is reading our blogs. you think ISD won't employ its own people to monitor our blogosphere meh? actually, not bad job ah. get civil servant's pay, and your job is to read blogs. and you probably have to check on high traffic blogs many times once a day, and that could also mean that gayle goh is the most highly monitored 18 year old by the garmen.

but i dunno if kitana is being too optimistic about the garmen monitoring our blogs because they interested in what we think. [maybe that's possible lah, me dun be so cynical and say garmen not so nice one.] but i think lah, probably the people hired to monitor blogs and forums are small fish lah. and like when garmen hire small fish to do jobs, they give them very specific things to watch out for. things like any racial insults not? any serious anti-garmen post not? any post which shows evidence of criminal activity? any MP's daughter say some stupid thing and need the MP to make public apology? any MP make public apology liao but not very smart in his wording, so now lagi worse?

i think, quite unlikely lah, part of the job of the small fish is to answer to the big fish the question "so, after reading all these interesting opinions about our fellow citizens, what can you tell me about their needs and wants as an important part of the singapore population, and how do you think we can best help meet these needs?"

but one thing kitana say is right lah. you look at the singapore blogosphere now, i think the garmen sure think no threat one lah, somemore like so little pple blog only. they sure think "these singaporeans only use the internet to talk cock, insult other people, gossip, download sex videos. lucky then dun realize how powderful the internet can be as a medium to transfer ideas and infomation." maybe they already downsize the blog-monitoring squad liao, for all we know. imagine you kena retrenched because singapore blogs not political enough. sway hor. bud then, civil servants don't get retrenched.

i dunno abt you lah, but i dunno whether to pity or envy the guy who gets paid to monitor xiaxue's blog.


Internet is powderful yes, but big blooder lagi more powerderful (blue)

I refer to kitana's post on the voice of the internet. And surely, this topic is by far more interesting than anything else that can possibly be said about WSM.

Our blogs are monitored. How thoroughly monitored, only the folks in ISD will know I guess. But definitely they are monitored enough for a CEO of stat boards to know that certain scholars are "defaming" him on his blogs; that someone was blogging racist comments sufficient to warrant an arrest; and an MP is getting his name tarnished because his daughter's rants caused an online uproar. If you think its the public who actually tips the CEOs/MPs off, you should probably think again.

Kitana says being monitored is a good thing. Now they know what we feel, and we can possibly influence change. Whether or not that is an overly optimistic assertion aside, I have to wonder, why are we so concerned in causing change? I understand that by virtue of the fact that we discuss serious issues on the blogosphere, we are bound to have a certain kind of liberal streak in us, and its important to have a sense that we should never be completely satisfied with the status quo, and hence be vocal about our views. What I wonder is, should the hope that we can influence change (in government policy, say) be the rationale why we blog? Or rather, IS that why we blog?

I believe the answer to be in the negative (although I am new to the blogosphere, so I cannot be certain). I'm sure the reasons why we blog vary from person to person, but I really doubt any of us, even the most politically minded, blog because we hope that blogging will influence change in government policies.

Perhaps I am a little too Aristotelian in my thinking, but I really believe that the mutual sharing or ideas and information has great intrinsic value. [And the venting of frustrations and dissatisfaction also has much theraputic value] Of course there is much extrinsic value too, such as I would not have known about FEER if not for the blogosphere, and such knowledge has implications politically if enough people know about it. But of course, at the current maturity of the singaporean blogosphere, not enough people are interested in it to make a difference.

My point is, so what if that's true? So what if the majority of us are not interested (sufficiently matured?) in using the internet as a voice? So what if big brother looms so big and powerful over us that he squashes anything which he deems potentially damaging? For those of us that do engage in intellectual discourse with each other, are we not greater enlightened because we share our views, we think critically and we discuss? Does this not shape our own views and the way we think, which we carry over to our daily offline lives? Does this not affect the way we talk to and influence people in real life, or the way we teach our kids?

I think the internet is plenty powerful, as long as we don't harp on trying to influence the masses or the government.


me blog! (purple)

me is noob blogger. one day someone tell me "eh, you got hear about Wee Shu Min not? latest controversy in the blogosphere" and then i say "no leh", then he tell me about this char bor. then i very interested. all along i always interested in stories about elitism one. why leh? next time then i tell you. anyways, so i went to look up different blogs on technorati. then i like, "wah, blogs so interesting one ah", then i started to wonder...maybe i should blog too? i think about the idea long long, but don't know what to say on my blog. the WSM issue so many pple blog abt liao, i sure cannot say anything original one. then ah, i saw something which made me very scared to blog. in singabloodypore got like this post which they say they found another WSM. so of course i curious mah, so i go that blog loh. what i saw really scarded me loh. got so many pple flame him lah, scold him bad word lah, so scary. i so scared this kind of thing happen to me. then i decided maybe don't want to blog liao.

but i still interested in reading blogs lah. so many information you don't know until you read blogs. like about the far eastern review thing. wah lau, how come newspaper don't report this kind of news? sigh. lucky for me, i managed to find a group of bloggers who seem to write blogs which a little more cheem one. then i read this post by kitana. wah kao, zai post right? of course after reading the comments i agree with the comments more than kitana. but still ah, i suddenly feel like very inspired to blog liao. me think, never mind if blog cannot change gahmen or do anything to change the way singapore and singaporeans are. if people read my blog, and i make them think; or if i can exchange ideas with these zai bloggers out there and have a discussion purely based on just wanting to discuss these kind of issues. that's like so cool right?

of course, i still dunno wat to blog about. or how to blog. i noob mah. at first i draft one long long post about elitism and meritocracy, then after 4 hours i read my own writing. wah lau, talking in circles. so i throw that away. then today ah. i got like this damn smart idea. why don't i blog as two separate personalities? this way, i can talk cock and give tongue-in-cheek posts in one persona, then i can give serious serious and cheem cheem posts in the other persona. but i will post both in the same blog. so like readers will find it very schizophrenic. but lidat also cool what. or i think its cool lah. hahaha.

so now this is me first blog post. me is noob, so maybe will do many wrong things. if you got advice or comments for me, i surely very grateful one. but of course, i dun think i'll get many readers lah. i'll wait and see loh.


me blog! (blue)

I believe in rhetoric-free civil discourse. I believe in the respectful debate of opposing views and the sharing of ideas. I believe in mutually agreeing to disagree when both sides fail to convince the other.

I also believe that it is impossible for the majority of the singapore blogosphere to adopt such beliefs.

However, my very recent foray into the singapore blogosphere revealed to me that there are such bloggers, who are more interested in talking critically and intelligentally about issues than flaming junvenille elitists, downloading home-made sex videos, or just whining about their daily lives. [Not that whining about daily lives is bad, just that its not quite what I want to debate with others and spend my free time thinking about] Of course it'll be really cool if I can one day be part of the "serious blogging" blogosphere, but whether I get a high readership matters not to me. (In fact, high readership is actually kinda scary. You need to be so much more careful about what you say)

At the end of the day, I blog because I hope my views are useful enough to warrant the 2 minutes or so spent by whoever reads it on his/her computer monitor. As Ben puts it in this post about WSM (or one of his points anyway), is that the blogosphere is for us to connect with each other. Share ideas, discuss and debate issues. And it matters not if that happens between only 2 people, or if 10,000 people read your views. I believe there is inherent value in intellectual discourse, no matter what the scale. That is why I blog. And hopefully, that is why you are reading this.