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Friday, 15 January 2016


The one thing that stood out in yesterday's Presidential Address was the remarks about possible changes to Singapore's political system.
As I have argued before, whilst the PAP still has its 2/3 majority, it needs to implement constitutional changes to safeguard the future of Singapore, and ensure we avoid the degeneration that Western political systems (and those who have adopted them) have seen.
Our own system is also largely based on the Westminster system, although we have important aspects that now differ. For example, LKY changed our system to prevent elected members from changing parties and still retaining their seats. More now needs to be done to ensure that we improve on our system even more to ensure the stability of our system.
Some changes I would like to see:
1) Elected Presidency - As I have argued, the elected presidency has become a proxy for partisan politics. Short of scrapping it, at the very least the bar needs to be raised to prevent unqualified populists from degrading the office of the Presidency.
2) Upper House? - Some academics have suggested an Upper House. I think this may be an overkill for a small country like Singapore. It is however worth discussing.
I think better to more deeply entrench the NMP system by increasing the numbers and making their term the same as elected MPs, instead of the half-terms currently. NMPs of the second session always see their terms cut short. The last cohort only served for a year as elections were called early.
Both an Upper House and the NMP scheme functions on the same principle - non-elected voices are needed to check populism and politicking amongst professional politicians.
As lessons from the West has shown, countries with unelected legislators like the UK are less likely to go down the populist route as it acts as a brake on demagoguery.
3) Age of Voting - I would like to see the age of voting increased to 25.
I believe that older citizens are more likely to have an economic stake in the future of the country. It is also with age that experience tempers the naive idealism of youth.
The Scottish National Party for example has proposed a lowering of voting age to 16 in the same vein of reasoning. They cynically believed that young kids with fanciful dreams and a tenuous grasp on reality was more likely to vote for an Independent Scotland, even if that dooms the country to financial ruin. The grassroots movements for Independence were mostly run by kids.
The kids in HK who took to the streets in Occupy Central are another example of youthful idealism gone wrong.
4) President Tan specifically mentioned that our system prevents narrow minority interests from gaining a foothold in our legislature.
This is why also the supporters of these interests have always clamoured for Proportional Representation.
In a country like Singapore where race and religion are important, PR would be a recipe for disunity.
Western-puppets in Singapore have also been pushing their rights-based agendas lately. Social media has amplified their voices, but fortunately they are still in the minority. We need to make sure they will always be.
PR and any form of PR should be constitutionally excluded permanently in Singapore.
Singapore has done well partly because our Founding Fathers were willing to move beyond the political system we inherited from the British. The West tries to propagate the lie that their political systems are universal truths that 'less developed' nations must adopt. This has been proven false in recent years. In order to safeguard our future, we must not trod down the same paths they have taken.
Most importantly, we need stability in order to constantly improve the lives of the people. Bread and Butter issues must ALWAYS come first. Not hifalutin ideals.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Final Thoughts On My Post on ISIS

This will be my final thoughts on the 'killing children of terrorists' matter and then I will let the matter rest.

It is ironic that when I decided that I would slow down posting about Singapore and Singaporean affairs that I would present an opportunity for the usual gang of TOC, TRE and individuals like Kirsten Han, Andrew Loh etc to attack me.

When I posted on Devadas's page, I had just read an article on CNN about ISIS grooming a whole generation of children as terrorists. I started with a provocative comment, hoping to tease out a philosophical discussion about the killing of children (and women) terrorists, a moral issue that we find hard to deal with. Some Republican presidential candidates for example  have asserted that the US has more of a chance to win the war against ISIS if they dropped their zero collateral damage policy. I also blogged about it here :

But before I could wait for the responses and start the debate, Kirsten Han screencapped my initial comment and shared it. Over the next few days, there was a concerted campaign to have me removed from the MLC. Kirsten posted about this, and her colleague Jolene Tan and her friends kept writing to the MLC Chairman to lodge complaints. So did Andrew Loh, the founder of TOC.

They all accused me of hate speech.

To cut a long story short, the MLC agreed with me that I did not engage in hate speech, but that as an MLC member I must practice higher standards of sensitivity than private citizens. I should not have started off with that comment and opened myself up for attack by people waiting for the opportunity to do me in.

I agree.

It is indeed ironic that I presented this opportunity on a non Singapore politics-related affair, when I have been taking this group on politically for the last 5 years.

But such is life.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to my fellow MLC members, the MDA and my supporters for not having been more careful as a public figure who has made many enemies online in these 5 years.

We all live and learn, and this has also been a learning episode for me.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Killing Children

Killing Children

That’s as stark as a title gets.

A few days ago, I wrote on a thread about liberalism and security that Devadas Krishnadas started on his page. He asked provocatively  “Where have all the liberals gone?”. A few liberals, including the Singapore Democratic Party-linked ` journalist’ Kirsten Han went to his page and started talking about amongst other things, the death penalty.

I waded in and said, “The terrorists are not common criminals, it's not about crime punishment and deterrence. They are a mortal enemy intent on killing and destroying. So you kill them before they kill you. And their children too in case they grow up to take revenge. It's as simple as that. Please don't complicate matters.”

People familiar with the discussions I start on Facebook, especially when I see a more intellectual demographic (which Devadas’s readers are), would know that often I would lead with a seemingly provocative and outrageous statement, that on cooler analysis, actually represents a deeper argument that is founded on logic, if sometimes uncomfortable logic.

This is one time. 

I went on to explain what I meant, but not before Kirsten Han reacted by screenshotting my comment and pasted it on her facebook.

This has I am told, led to outrage in some quarters – funnily enough, although it has been shared, it did not appear on my newsfeed and a grand total of 3 of my personal friends, out of the thousands I have on my personal account, asked me what it was about.

Shows how social media functions in echo chambers.

However, for those interested, here is a re-hash and an elaboration of the things I then PROCEEDED to say after Kirsten Han screenshot the comment.

Firstly, on the issue of killing children per se, one may react to it with revulsion but it is a complex moral question. A moral absolutist may say one may not kill children ever, just as moral absolutists believe that even the State should not take lives through capital punishment since killing is wrong, but this is not a moral stance that would hold water with everyone.

Take self-defense. If a child is holding a rifle and is about to shoot at you, do you have the right to kill him?

Most would.

A more morally complex issue is enemies using children as shields – this is a real issue faced by the Israelis in their conflict with the Palestinians, and an issue now with ISIS.

And this brings us to the current problem of ISIS grooming their children (as well as the children living in their ‘state’), as combatants. 

CNN has covered this extensively.

See this article especially, which calls them ‘cubs of the Caliphate’ -

From the standpoint of self-defense, I think few would argue that one does nothing when confronted with children (and women) trained and intent to kill.

This already moves the majority away from the morally absolute belief that one should never kill children.

However, the problem is even more complex than that, and asks even more uncomfortable moral questions.

An analyst in the article above notes “The war won't end as quickly if ISIS can readily replace its fallen soldiers with brainwashed children “. "It will be a matter of generations," he said of how using child soldiers will affect the Middle East. "It will take maybe 20 years, 30 years. It's a long, long process and it's very dangerous."

This is important. An entire generation of children under ISIS including their own, have been ‘brainwashed’ to see anyone not subscribing to their ideology as enemies, and should be killed.  They fight like adults and replace the adults when they are KIA.  This leads to a 20 to 30 year problem, especially since “It takes a significant amount of time and money to rehabilitate child soldiers, experts say”.

Moral absolutism and rights are not the only moral paradigms available to us. 

Moral absolutism, as I have argued, is untenable for most people, who would claim a moral right of self -defense when faced with an armed child intent on killing.

There is however another familiar moral theory many of our laws are based on: Utilitarianism. It says that the morally right outcome is the one that maximizes the welfare of everyone. 

A thought experiment that students of philosophy are often asked to think about is this:  imagine you are stuck in a cave with 50 other people. The only entrance is blocked because a fat man who tried to climb out is stuck in it. You are quickly running out of air. The only way to escape is to blow up the fat man to clear the entrance. Kill one person to save 50 including yourself. Would you do it?

Many of modern society’s laws are already utilitarian. This is no surprise as it is one of the oldest moral creeds.

Therefore, given a problem of a whole generation of children that are already trained to kill, and given that rehabilitation is difficult, and given that this will lead to 20 to 30 years more of strife and suffering for many, many more human beings, what is the utilitarian thing to do?

Kill some to save many?

Would you do it?

That’s my point. 

So rather than accusing me of all sorts of wicked and evil things, perhaps it is better for us all to think properly about this complex and real issue.

Your conclusion may well be uncomfortable even to you.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

An Act of War

President Hollande has finally called the Paris attacks what they really are - an act of war.

It is inane to characterise these and similar attacks as mere acts of terror or the acts of religious extremists. ISIS has grown into a state that both operates within a physical, geographical domain in the Middle East, but also through the aid of the internet, a warped Caliphate whose tentacles reach around the world.

We should not dismiss ISIS as a mere terrorist organisation.

Whilst it may be comforting to paint this war in purely Manichean terms - ISIS is evil and thus its enemy must be good - like in all wars, things are rarely morally black and white. 

The US, Europe and their allies have been in denial that their foreign policy in the Middle East have spun out of control. Aiding and abetting the destabilisation of the Middle East during the ‘Arab Spring’, the invasion of Iraq, and the toppling of the Middle Eastern strongmen they called dictators have not ushered in an era of peaceful, liberated democracy that Western naive ideologues believe it would. 

Instead, what has filled the void has been something far worse.

It is also terribly naive for the Western powers to believe that airstrikes and drone attacks are all they need to do to destroy ISIS. 

Today, this has been driven home in the most terrible of ways that whilst air strikes may reduce casualties amongst Western soldiers, war can also be brought into the heart of their own cities.

What do you expect in war? You bomb their cities, their people, and they are not going to find a way to exact vengeance on you?

That is the nature of war - it is cruel, vindictive and innocents suffer for the power games that their rulers play.

If the Western Allies have finally woken up to the fact that they are not merely fighting a terrorist organisation but fighting a war, then they have two options. 

One, surrender and stop their half baked and failed interventions in the Middle East. 

Two, stop pussying around, quieten the soft, liberal segments that plague all Western democracies and end what they helped start by committing resources and unfortunately, the lives of their soldiers to destroying their enemy. 

An enemy that has shown today that they will do whatever is in their means to fight back.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world has also been dragged into this war and Singapore is no exception.

There are a few things that we must do, things that Western societies, hogtied by naive liberal ideas have shied away from doing.

Firstly, freedom of speech must not be extended to hate speech.

During the Charlie Hebdo attacks I saw that some Singaporeans, whose brains have been befuddled by the same disease that Western liberals suffer from, expressed solidarity with the comic book authors who spread hate speech.

In Singapore, we must stand fast and unwavering in banning extremist speech that exploit religious, racial and foreigner-local fault lines. 

Those that do not listen must be punished harshly, and jailed with no compunction.

Secondly, we must not in the misbeliefs of human rights activists shy away from detaining without trial those that want to commit violence against us, and those that want to join our enemies. 

Real freedom is founded on the security for the majority, and if the freedom of our enemies and those that want to do us harm must be taken away, and the keys thrown away forever, so be it.

In the coming days, we will hear people asking for understanding, and serving us platitudes about values, freedom and culture. 

In war, there is only one value. Either you survive, or your enemy survives. 

And in order to survive, in order to protect the lives of Singaporeans, our Government must be ruthlessly strong, and mercilessly tough.

And we the citizens of Singapore, must stand shoulder to shoulder and support our Government in this.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Final Chapter

In the last few days, the reality is finally setting in that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is entering the final moments of his life. When the news began to filter to me on Wednesday that the media were gathering at the Singapore General Hospital, and there were sightings of next-of-kin arriving, I too thought that the time had finally come, and a wave of sadness overwhelmed me; knowing that he didn't actually pass that day has not helped because I think deep in the hearts of many, we know that even if the final chapter of the life of our Founding Father has not closed, we are certainly on the last few pages.

Many have been moved to write down their thoughts about the man who has left such a large imprint on modern Singapore, and for those born after Independence, we have never lived in a Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew. Much has already been said, and more will be said in the coming days of the gargantuan achievements of Mr. Lee. It is not the purpose of this piece to repeat these things. Some have also been writing to criticise Mr. Lee; I have also no intention of refuting them or arguing with these critics because even at the peak of his power, a good quarter of voters never voted for Mr. Lee. Also, it is my belief that any person who has actually stood for something and has done great things in his life would always make enemies - and that is why Mr. Lee in life or death can never be the kind of universally-loved figure like Nelson Mandela, who unfortunately spent most of his active years in prison.

What has struck me more than the outpouring of emotions of Singaporeans is that the entire world seems to be holding its breath when news of the critically-ill Mr. Lee was announced. All over the world, media was constantly updating on the news on Mr. Lee's condition, with even the ill-judged hoax of his death erroneously reported on the American CNN and the Chinese CCTV. The irony was not lost on me that the main broadcaster of the two most powerful nations on this planet were so gripped by the news of Mr. Lee that they both simultaneously reported the same (false) news.With all the navel-gazing that has been afflicting our country in recent years, especially amongst our young, I wonder whether they realise how significant it is that even the hoaxed death of Mr. Lee was reported on both CNN and CCTV.

We are a nation of 5 million people.

5 million.

A small-red dot whose population is not even that of a district of Beijing, or even a small town in America.

And the whole world is writing articles about the passing of our first Prime Minister! In the last few days, commentaries about Lee Kuan Yew has been published in the leading newspapers of the US, China, Britain, Indonesia, Hong Kong and many more.

Hilary Clinton once said that there are few countries that punch as far above their weight as Singapore, and it will do us well to remember that.

And there is nothing that will remind us more of that, and WHY we do, then when the final chapter finally closes on the man that led this nation for the first 25 years as an independent country.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Deadly Serious Election

PM Lee has said that the next General Election will be 'deadly serious' as each constituency would be fought on national issues, not local issues. Each constituency will fight a National Election and not a By-Election.

In my humble opinion, PM Lee is by and large correct. Singapore is so uniformly run that we cannot say that the residents of East Coast GRC have overwhelmingly distinct and different issues from the residents of West Coast GRC. Local issues will not win and lose elections in PAP wards - as Aljunied GRC found to their dismay in 2011. They fought a local election (laying down municipal plans for residents) whilst the WP fought on a national slogan ("First World Parliament").

The WP will do the same again in 2011 - telling residents of Aljunied GRC that if they lose, the PAP will again be in control of all GRCs and the historic gains of 2011 will be lost. They will emotionally appeal to the residents of Aljunied to keep the fires of democracy burning. They will repeat the same in other constituencies, again telling voters that they are not ready to be an alternative Government, but please give them another GRC so they have a stronger mandate to 'check' the PAP in Parliament.

Ironically, the PAP's best strategy in Aljunied is to employ their losing tactic in 2011. I am surprised the WP has made such a hash out of managing the Town Council.

The PAP should ask the residents of Aljunied, and other residents this: even if Western-style democracy is an ideal, are they willing to continue paying the price so other Singaporeans - those that vote the PAP - can enjoy a 'check-and-balance', whilst they continue to suffer from terrible town council administration? Are they willing to be guinea pigs so that other Singaporeans can have their cake and eat it as well?

These are the issues that will decide the next GE.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Let The Vanquished Tell Their Tales

Every Singaporean should agree with the MCI Minister Yaacob Ibrahim that it was fortunate that the Communists lost the battle for Singapore in the early days of our state; as it turned out Communism proved to be a fatally flawed political system that eventually collapsed. Even China is now only nominally communist, having adopted capitalist reforms that have brought it prosperity that communism could not. Cuba and North Korea are mere dictatorships operating under the facade of communism, and are all but failed pariah states.

The victory of Capitalism over Communism is so utter and so final that it is hard to imagine a communist revolution taking place anywhere in the world today; as a beacon of capitalist success, Singapore is no different. A bourgeois nation such as Singapore is hardly fertile ground for the communist provocateur. It is thus extremely strange that the Government would ban the documentary 'To Singapore, With Love' on the grounds of national security concerns.

Comintern, the organisation tasked with spreading communism in the world can now only be found in history books; young Singaporeans are unlikely to have even heard of it. The Communist Party of Malaya, an armed revolutionary group was no doubt guilty of many deaths in its decades-long insurrection - but with it's surrender to the Malaysian government in the 1980's, they are also a relic of history.

Many of the exiles from the 60s are also octogenarians in the twilight of their lives; unlike the detainees of Operation Spectrum of the '80s, they have little or no hope of making a comeback.

The argument of the government however is that some of the interviewees have distorted the truth by denying that they were ever communists.

I fail to see how this matters. Even if they were not communists, there is no doubt that most were left-leaning activists whose vision for post-colonial Singapore was a at least a socialist one; however, no post-colonial country which adopted left-leaning, socialist policies has prospered. Every of the 4 Asian tigers, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have developed first-world states by embracing capitalist, market-economies. Socialism, on the other hand, proved to be a bankrupt ideology for poor, new nations that had nothing to re-distribute.

Whether they were communist revolutionaries or socialist radicals, everything they have stood for has been proven wrong by the passage of time.

Throughout history, at the birth of every nation, there is always a gigantic struggle between competing ideologies and their adherents. Often, blood is shed. In Singapore's case, the losers were exiled and the victors, the PAP government have cemented their victory with fifty years of prosperity, taking its people from third world to first.
The triumph of its vision versus those of the exiles could not be any more absolute.

It is precisely because of this that I feel that the Government should be secure enough for the stories of those it long-ago vanquished to be told. Almost 50, Singapore is no longer a new nation and understanding what-could-have-been, if things turned out differently half a century ago, may well help a new generation of Singaporeans better appreciate the achievements of the PAP government.