of blogs and more

It’s really nice to have spirited discussions. Especially spirited discussions that, unexpectedly, will get recorded in the blogs that float around cyberspace. I’ve too many liabilities floating around in cyberspace (think petition). Maybe I had it coming but here goes, the extended discussion about IMF/WB in ad verbatim no less by dionysian:

The views of Singaporeans

Singaporeans, good trusty ol’ meritocracy-thumping, scholarship system approving Singaporeans, are confounded why do anyone in the right mind take to the streets? And so I imagine a conversation between Humanoid Interface (HI), and a liberal (L);

L, “What do you think about the IMF/World Bank meeting in Singapore?”

HI, “I like the flowers. They are so pretty. The government pulled out all the stops on this one, bending over backwards, so eager to please. But of course, that’s not the point, the point is how Singapore is treating those activists. We banned them.”

L, “So, you think that’s a good thing? That we banned them? These civil activists.”

HI, “Why do we have to bow down so much to them. We’ve already planted flowers. Anyway, why do these people have to take to the streets? “Why? Why? Who are they representing? Who ask them to represent them? Are those people here?”

L, “But surely we must allow for greater freedom if we truly want to be a global city. I mean, to attract more economic investments.”

HI, “You really think global corporations will care. I think they prefer we do not have any protests.”

L, “What about our freedoms? Surely people have the right to speech?”

HI, “Yes, but why can’t they have a roundtable, a discussion. Sit down have an intelligent reasoned conversation. What do you think can be achieved with protests in the streets? This is just lots of angst. And who do you think they are representing?”

L, “Who do you think will sit down with them and pay attention to their concerns? Many are marginalized because they do not have a voice. It is up to concerned global citizens to speak for them at world events like these. NGOs have an important role to play.” 

HI, “Do they really have anything new to say? I mean really. Every year it’s the same thing against globalisation. Tell me what new. And the quality of this speech. You are telling me they can make a reasonable argument on placards?” 

L, “Why should the quality of the speech make any difference to their right to speech? Surely you are not advocating that only important speech is allowed. Who is anyone to say what is important? And more importantly, even the IMF and World Bank agree we have been too autocratic.”

HI, “I think they understand that Singapore will also do more than what is required. And that by choosing Singapore, the activists and the World Bank can actually have a common ground/goal or enemy– Singapore. Thus uniting them when they can never be united. This will then distract them from the issues at hand, be it destroying Starbucks and MacDonald’s outlets. I think it’ll be very shrewd and cunning of them.”


And that was my conspiracy theory that was linked in http://thevoiddeck.org/. Yay. 😉Hmm, and that’s the gist of the conversations that the UBC trio has when they go out for late night suppers. And it continued into an analysis of that conversation:  

Despite being logical, HI is not going to see the perspective of L anytime soon. We are not brought up this way. When Jamie Han Li Chou spoke to MM Lee Kuan Yew, the debate that ensued in the ST was not whether Jamie Han made sense; the debate was, as I remember it, whether Jamie Han was rude. The argument was that MM Lee Kuan Yew is a great man and no small fry like Jamie Han should talk to him like that.

Well at least, I was deemed logical. This was more or less the conversation that transpired and conspiracy theories aside, I really do not see the point of allowing people to protest in the streets when other Singaporeans are not allowed to do so. The authorities are obviously in a bind. If they allow the demonstrations to take place, they are almost surely violating the unlawful assembly law. This is the same law that police charge Singaporeans under who want to demonstrate on other occasions, be it for anti-war campaigns and better lunch meat in the cafeterias. One cannot have double standards. So unless the law against unlawful assembly is lifted, it makes sense to me at least why demonstrations should not be allowed be it for IMF/WB or other international events. There doesn’t seem to be a distinction between assembly and demonstrations. Of course, there is the issue of administration, since one can’t possibly arrest all the demonstrators if the demonstration is on a large enough scale. That does not make it less legal in any sense, does it? 

So why not scrape the law? It’s dumb after all, isn’t it?  

I’m all for scraping that law, but come on, to scrape that law just to allow the NGOs to protest in the streets makes a mockery of sovereignty. Those are our laws, Singapore’s laws. And if they want to come to Singapore, then they have to adhere to Singapore’s standard of censorship which through democratic representation symbolizes the society’s standards of censorship. Every society has a qualified freedom of speech. Absolute freedom is theoretical. So by all means, scrape that law, through a law commission who has decided that Singaporeans should have those freedoms, but not because of international pressure.

7 Responses to “of blogs and more”
  1. Kitana says:

    Hello babe.

    In the spirit of discussion, I think you might be missing the point of the argument. Yes, we concede that Singapore has these laws and we ought to abide by them, and if Singapore wanted to do something about them, they should have changed them in the first place. But that is not the point.

    The point is this: one of the cruxes of the agreement between IMF/WB and Singapore is that Singapore allow for their accredited civil activisits to come in and to allow for outdoor protests. This is supposed to be a fundamental tenet of the agreement and to the IMF/WB, goes to the root of the argument. Even if you argue that maybe, our government was ignorant and didn’t realise the cultural differences, they should have made it a point to KNOW during the making of that agreement.

    Remember in this case, Singapore is the service provider and IMF/WB is the guest. IMF/WB did not HAVE to host its meetings in Singapore. Singapore bidded for this so-called privilege from 33 other countries, and by this, you are showing that you WANT to host the IMF/WB meetings, and you have to fulfil your terms of the agreement.

    If you felt that you couldn’t fulfil all the terms of the agreement due to concerns such as security or your country’s laws, then it’s too bad. You should not even have made that agreement in the first place. It wouldn’t have cost you anything, IMF/WB would just have found another country to host them easily, and you wouldn’t even have to argue on issues of sovereignty.

    Coz this isn’t a sovereignty issue. Singapore is not blind or dumb. They know of the security risks from previous countries. Yet they chose to undertake this assignment. They had incredibly tight security, and yet they didn’t allow the accredited protesters in or gave due respect to those who did come in. Sovereignity is 1 thing. But I have an issue with how our government thinks it can treat other people just because their actions are incongruent with our laws.

  2. Yoz!

    Actually, I’m not exactly sure what Singapore agreed to when they won the ‘bid’ to host the IMF/WB meetings. Was the agreement to allow outdoor protests specifically? Or was it simply protests? Since there is space for people to protest within Suntec Convention Centre itself, with air-conditioning no less. Granted, that space may be a little limited and to be honest, it does somewhat make a mockery of protesting. Singapore just wants to control the crowd, hence they confine it indoors. So the space should be bigger, but I don’t think the idea of wanting to control such protests within certain boundaries is wrong. It does have its own citizens to look after at the end of the day.

    But yeah, shouldn’t ban them la. That’s just bad publicity.

  3. shiuan says:

    better lunch meat in cafeterias, eh?


  4. Nick says:

    Before I forget, ‘Mooo’

  5. Yay, you’re the only one who’ll get the reference! Wahahaha 😉

    And nick’s enigmatic one liners continue 😀

  6. ted says:

    Nice, authoritarian loving potential lawyers. Now I really want to get out of Singapore.

  7. Hi ted,

    I wasn’t subscribing to authoritarianism, merely trying to discuss the issues at hand. I personally think discussion is better than generalisations.

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