12 Feb 2005

Democracy is not a tea party

If you haven't read it yet, read it now.

The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted is absurd. So too is the notion that people should have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted. A fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other’s positions. (But they don’t shoot.)Salman Rushdie

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just out of interest, Steve, how much do you know about Singapore?

Its progression from third world to first, its economy, it's liberal trading regime and the obstacles it has faced?

I clicked on your earlier entries in 2003, and saw that in quite a few of your entries, you referred to us rather condescendingly as a "Little Nation". You exhibited a LOT of preoccupation with our diminutive size, and the lack of freedom etc, but I do not see in your entries any allusion to the vision the Singapore government has displayed in formulating policies that show that we are a very open country. Open to foreign influences and trade. You keep harping on the fact that we have one station, not mentioning that anyone can subscribe to american news channels on cable. Nearly all youths in Singapore have access to the Internet, and even if they can't afford it there are government schemes to help them get access to a PC.

You harp on the high salaries of our politicians, and even harbour thoughts that you are as capable as them, yet you have not ever structured a particularly satisfying response to the differing views of some of your readers. You show us articles that make me realise that having a hundred independent newspapers does not guarantee unbiased reporting. Your blog title clearly means "Bloody Singapore", and us natives have told you that it seems rude, yet you think such disrespect is justified just because the majority of "votes" say that it is not.

So, how much do you really know about Singapore?

Anonymous said...

i agree with the above comment. i wish he/she had put down his/her email so i may APPLAUD him/her personally.

reading your entries give me a chance to laugh. i mean, since we Singaporeans are oppressed and whatnot by the govt it must be really depressing for us eh.

who the heck are you to insult Singapore? you're not even a citizen. people that complain about singapore are mainly those who have been politically disenfranchaised. or so they claimed. and those main complainants are your friends from the SDP who do nothing much but take potshots at the government.and shout in public about an imaginary $17million.

WHY NOT DO SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY PROVES THAT YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO INSULT SINGAPORE IN ANYWAY?

you know, start some charity drive and raise billions to feed the less fortunate in singapore. build HDB flats for elderly people to stay in. when you do that, i'll agree with you and everything you say.

so what if you're a damn lecturer? sorry for the harsh language but you really make me disgusted since you are educated. because only the empty headed people make noise.

noise pollution, i call it.

we in singapore have much to be proud of. from a pathetic kampong-like country to a developed country who tops the world in Maths and Science.

even USA wants to take a leaf from our math textbooks.

those who complain about how the govt simply don't know wtf they already enjoy courtesy of PAP.

free education up to secondary school, welfare for the poor, job fairs for the unemployed, homes for the disabled and elderly,scholarships for the talented,MPs who help whenever asked to by citizens in their constituency,safe environment*...

speaking 0f a safe environment, is it even possible to walk around in britain at 12am without getting mugged/raped/killed by some lunatic? what are the chances of it happening in singapore?

our high salaries for our politicians are justified.
if you pay peanuts,you get bloody monkeys anyway. all of them are highly qualified individuals that could easily take your job as a lecturer. and our politicians are known for tact and having brains. not following USA's lead on terrorism like your PM Tony Blair. how he managed to stay in office is a wonder i never cease to be amazed at. he agrees with everything Bush says. spineless critter.

how dare you call us Bloody Singapore. only rude people with no modicum of respect within themselves would approve of such a blog title.

i hope you're no longer in Singapore since your stay in here has been so miserable it prompted you to start this blog ranting against singapore. if you still are, or are intending to come back, i suggest you

SOD OFF AND BALIK KAMPONG YOU BLOODY BASTARD.

ruddy brillant, my language.


Lulu
email me at princesskhoo@gmail.com
i would love to hear from you

soci said...

so you are offended, so what.As for constantly having to defend my opinion. I am one person not an entire research department.

Anonymous said...

"Your blog title clearly means "Bloody Singapore", and us natives have told you that it seems rude, yet you think such disrespect is justified just because the majority of "votes" say that it is not."

So, anonymous, how much do you really know about democracy? Even if you know the definition of democracy, this DOES NOT mean that you understand what it means. That's OK, this might be because no such thing exists in Singapore. Your obliviousness is forgiven.

Just as you have the right to critise Steve's blog and praise Singapore, Steve also have the right to criticise Singapore. I personally think that criticism is needed to improve for the better.

soci said...

Singapore is little, it has a population of 4 million.

I know the history of Singapore, I studied it for about five years. Read all about the Merlion, myth. And Harry Lee and the communists and the British and the Japanese.

I know all about how Singapore invited MNC's and I read daily about how great Singapore is in the national media.

I know that in Singapore there is a lot of access to the internet.

Yes we are all as capable as 'them'. "The men in white".

Yes you do seem to be insulted, thats good. Seems like I am touching a very raw nerve.

Oh if you are so offended you can always stop reading this blog. Like BW.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous 1

I could understand that being a Singaporean, you certainly would like to hear anyone praises his/her own country. However, one also has to be more open-minded and not be so defensive. In the Buddha's teachings, we are taught to always to try to accept criticisms as something good, which could help us to look within us and reflect upon ourselves (ie in this case, to reflect upon our own country's policies, etc). In this way, we could then be able to see in another perspective and strive to improve for the better. Otherwise, I would suggest that you could simply ignore whatever comments that have been made and stay away from these unhappinesss -a better choice to take. I wish you well and happy! May Buddha bless you always.

Anonymous said...

I also wish anonymous 2 (if it's not the same person as anonymous 1 above) well and happy always! Best regards from anonymous 3

Anonymous said...

sorry - above comments is from anonymous 4 instead of 3. my apologies. Goodnite!

Anonymous said...

Hi, It's anonymous 1 here.

To lulu, your reply also makes me happy, it shows me that Singaporeans can think, and not subscribe to everything the westerners say. Yes, there are sites which provide unbiased arguments on Singapore, but this isn't one of them. Click on his earlier entries... and see if he really has good intentions.

To the anon who mentioned Buddhist teachings, these are wise words. However, I was not angry, but curious. I'm quite used to people criticising Singapore, though I mentally tell them to stuff it, I want to hear and evaluate their reasons. And I think any self-respecting person should have a shred of patriotism. (Try to insult America in front of an American and see what he/she says)

Steve's reply gave is exactly what I mean about his using emotional and biased statements to bash Singapore. No, I do not want to hear praises about my country. I just want to know why you're so infuriated with us and what makes you think that we have no human rights.

I don't expect a thesis from you, just a response I can chew on.

I wrote the above comment because I was in the midst of researching for a project, and read a description of Singapore by an American source (yes, I know it's very important to you, Steve, that I not quote any info from the state-owned ST), that said a lot of interesting things about this small country. Apparently, the MRT, Buildings and flats which we take for granted are infrastructure which rival that of developed countries. We have also one of the most liberalized trade regimes.

And Steve, an expatriate like you comes surely not because you want to do good here, but because at some point in your life you thought that Singapore had something to offer.

The Government, in adopting the approach of inviting foreigners with open arms, must have known that sooner or later people would start spouting that Singapore has no human rights, and that we rank below Bhutan in terms of press freedom. It obviously trusts that its model can withstand scrutiny, else there wouldn't be such a free flow of information between us and the rest of the world.

It's alright that Singapore is small, it's the tone you take. And the way you try to paint us as phony and creepy. That is something I don't understand.

You bow to Jamie Han. He is the one who's saying we have stability. The government has been telling us, Not everything is fine here! We're held together by a fragile unity, and we have to work hard to keep our crime rate and drug abuse rate down. Cause and effect are what we believe in, not high ended theoretical debates which even your countrymen don't subscribe to (ie, legalising drugs).

You made One comment which makes sense--- if you don't like something, leave. And you have.

Mock Turtle said...

Anonymous 1,

You refer to America and how Americans react when criticisms are made of America; when things are said that are purportedly "anti-American".

This is really not something anyone should be seeking to emulate. For many Americans who take umbrage at criticisms of their nation, what they display is not patriotism but nationalism.

Cicero was famed for his patriotism and the harshness of his criticisms of Rome were legend.

True patriotism is not jingoistic rah-rah flag-waving; it's not taking offence when someone talks about your country disparagingly or dismissively. It's wanting the best for your nation.

And if your vision of what is good for the nation includes things like greater freedom, less government control, a less narrow-minded society, and more humane compassion for a diversity of ways of being and thinking and doing, then in Singapore a true patriot may well be the one who criticises the most.

Anonymous said...

Parkaboy: Yes, I do want the best for S'pore.

But this blog's owner has a tone of contempt when talking about Singapore. And he uses the most ridiculous news articles to illustrate issues about Singapore. How can these benefit Singapore?

People say that we are primitive in terms of our social development, but you're comparing our society with civilisations which had thousands of years to develop. And we have progressed comparatively faster as a society than others. My grandma was of the opinion that women should get married. Two generations later, S'poreans are actually okay with the idea of not getting married! How long did this idea take to take root in others' societies?

Our government gives us bitter medicine rather than tries to smooth things over, for which I am grateful. It invites brilliant Chinese students to keep us on our toes at all levels from pri to uni. It has made us learn CL as a first language. If this government had bended to majority rule, we would now still be speaking hokkien.

I want a government with a vision, and which is brave enough to make unpopular decisions like cutting wages to keep us competitive, and sacking pilots who try to exploit the airlines.

I also want to say that in terms of human rights, we have a much better record than Britain. We are tiny, and an army which you think is uselsss, but we at least we didn't gain all this by colonising anyone. The British are so proud, but somehow Singaporeans aren't allowed to have talk about their country with pride because we're brainwashed?

By the way, it is also thanks to the British that we're a tiny artificially nation with insufficient water. We owe our size and our water woes to the British. Steve, what say you about the "divide and rule" method? This is what other so-called democratic countries have done...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide_and_rule

Come on, no one would get riled if you actually make sense when criticising. It's when you assume that all your detractors are brainwashed fools that people realise that you don't have good intentions, and you're not all that knowledgeable.

redrown said...

Freedom of expressing one's views does not extend to belittling or mocking other's viewpoints, rather it is to offer an alternative viewpoint.

Salman Rushdie is a bigot who poked fun and mocked Islam in his book The Satanic Verses - the content which had offered insulting depictions of Islam and had no constructive content. (Ok but perhaps the death warrant against him is...harsh). Not the most credible person to talk about democracy then.

Indeed, 'Democracy is not a tea party', but 'Democracy is not a Flame War' either.

I suggest that this blog is a source for alternative articles not available thru conventional mediums. The reader then sifts thru the material offered and discerns constructive articles from trash (especially low-blow trash-talk).

Reading thru conventional sources and alternate sources and then arriving at a balanced viewpoint, so as to forge a picture of SG (and the world) from one's perspective.

Anonymous said...

coolness Anonymous 1!

i am in no way Anonymous 2 because i did put my name down.

do email me. you sound as though you actually possess a brain,something which i am unable to ascertain for the author of this blog.

oh, Mr Mc Dermott, i am a nationalist. i won't go as far to claim that i am a patriot but i don't go as far as to set up a blog that insults another country.

BrIDIOTain?

even if you wanted to insult Singapore, i would have suggested you done it in a manner less appalling. calling Singapore bloody isn't exactly what i would call cultured in the first place.

i apologize for my earlier comment because my outburst has indeed perhaps made you angry but also somewhat satisfied that you managed to invoke such feelings about your blog.

you stand for controversy and bringing down a nation of 4 million.

i thank whatever god up there that you are not Singaporean, because if you were,perhaps you would be oppressed like the rest of us and have no courage to set up a blog dedicated to insulting a country that most of her citizens adore.

reading about a nation's history is not akin to being a true blue citizen of it.

i could also study Britain's history but i cannot claim that i know it well enough to say that the country sucks.

this is my last comment because i know full well if i say anymore you would probably jump for joy at my persistance.

regards,
Lulu
princesskhoo@gmail.com

PS: i did mean it when i said that i never want you to come back to singapore. cheerio!

Anonymous said...

How about "idiotburgh"?

Agagooga said...

I wouldn't say the articles here are always fair, balanced and enlightening but by and large I do usually come away from here with something.

Those who take umbrage should bear in mind that criticism is not the same as attack. And even if it is, one should not simply dismiss valid criticisms; look at the content of the idea, rather than the source.

That said, Singapore may have its faults but is not the most miserable place in the world, and I hope that Steve recognises this point.


redrown: Re Salman Rushdie: Do you actually know what the Satanic Verses was about?!

Anonymous said...

I find it your site somewhat amusing, with its elementary observances of society. (Out of interest did you ever study sociology at primary school level?). Having living in many of Europe's so called "great" societies, I find Singapore efforts a refreshing experience. I would almost suggest that it is a model of what future societies need to be in order to do well in 21st Century. Not perfect, but what is one person's dream is another's nightmare.
I would suggest that you exercise your right to leave this country, and reside elsewhere, if it is truly as bad as you seem to lamely make out. No doubt you would go off a tell people, drunk enough to listen, how bad living in Singapore was for you.

Anonymous said...

Reading through your blog articles I would agree, to some extent, if these comments were aiming at trhe countries in Europe, or North America, but about Singapore! C'mon, this is Asia, and Asia is Asia, not Europe/North America. The ideals and values of society here are totally different to those liberal ideals that are wrecking Europe, USA, & Canada. You can't apply your western educated ideology and theoretical doctrines to societies that do not place their current social systems in these, at best, unworkable Western systems. I would suggest you go live in any European state (the UK is not a European state because it believes in never knowing where it should be), and experience the social failures for yourself, then create a blog about Eurobloodypeans and how things really are in liberal nations that are heading towards failure because they have listened to, and acted upon advice given by, ideological academics, like yourself. I for one are happy to be here after living, and studying in a variety of European nations over the last 30 years or so, and witnessing the degredation of liberal society.

redrown said...

agagooga: I read it quite a few years back and its purports to parody Islamic characters and the Koran in a novel way but it is clearly intent on insulting the beliefs of Islam.

'The Satanic Verses' is named after paragraphs of verses found in the Koran where Muhammed was forced to acknowledge a false god and which is the subject of much controversy and SR exploits that in his book as well.

If you have a look at the recurring theme of SR's work; you will perhaps be lead to conclude that perhaps he is xenophobic (or rather, Islamaphobic) rather than an objective liberalist proclaiming freedom of expression.

soci said...

And the question is , does he have a right to offend Islam?

Agagooga said...

What is wrong with insult, I ask?

The Satanic Verses proposes that some parts of the Koran were inspired by Satan instead of Allah. From what little I know, that is not an unreasonable theory, given the grounds of most religious belief.

The unexamined belief is not worth holding.

Agagooga said...

Labelling all criticism of Islam Islamophobia is just a ploy to silence criticism of Islam.

If they have nothing to fear, I don't see why they have to try to censor people on the grounds of "Islamophobia".

redrown said...

McDermott: i guess SR has the right to say whatever he wants, but he has to bear the consequences and reprisals of doing so.

Agagooga: Indeed there are certain parts of the Koran are 'highly open to question' but SR's approach is to mow sacred beliefs down with his Islamaphobic lawn mower. Ie, his criticism is perhaps more derogatory than constructive.

Definitely, total censorship is overboard but when you are discussing topics founded on a person's fundamental reason for existence, belief system and world, it is perhaps better to exercise some tact.

Anonymous said...

"Eurobloodypeans"? Brilliant~

Mock Turtle said...

"i guess SR has the right to say whatever he wants, but he has to bear the consequences and reprisals of doing so."

This is what is known as the 'heckler's veto' - if opponents shout something down loud enough, then they win, regardless of the intrinsic merit of their belief, or the belief that is being shouted down.

A right's not a right if you don't protect its effective exercise. And there is no point in "freedom of speech" to protect mainstream orthodoxy - those with the majority on their side hardly need a right to safeguard their voice. It's the unpopular, the marginalised, the rebels, that need to be protected.

Anonymous said...

But the thing is that western nations don't seem to know when to draw the line. They use their military muscle to wage wars on countries in the name of democracy. (Vietnam and Iraq)

And seeing as how some people can't justify hanging drug smugglers, I think nothing justifies showering a country with Napalm.

I think this goes against the very principle of democracy, which is that everyone has a right to be stupid, if they want to, but the use of force to shove one's beliefs down another's throats is never justified.

Given the way that the west administers its brand of "democracy", it is no wonder that others are wary.

True Flight said...

I am a Singaporean and I happen to rather like this blog, actually.

It provides interesting perspectives which are rarely found in mainstream local media.

If you just want to read nice, pleasant things about Singapore, why don't you just visit the government websites? There are dozens out there and all of them sing their own praises loudly.

The really unfortunate thing about Singabloodypore, as I see it, is that it happens to be run by a foreign white man who is no longer residing in Singapore.

This is unfortunate, because it tends to distract certain, not-so-intelligent readers into irrelevant lines of thought such as:

"Oh, how can the West impose this on us?"

"Singapore's values are different from the UK's!"

"This evil McDermott foreigner is seeking to bring down our beloved nation!"

If only Steve was a local Chinese man living in a HDB flat, spouting Singlish and drinking kopi-o.

I think instantly, more Singaporean readers would be more inclined to keep an open mind and think critically about the points raised here on Singabloodypore.

To their surprise, they would then discover that most of Steven's criticisms of Singapore's policies are quite valid, quite substantiated, and in fact not even original.

The criticisms do not have the nature of a "West vs East" debate; or a "Gweilo vs Singaporean" vendetta.

Instead, the criticisms are simply in the nature of "Where Singapore is Going Wrong".

That is the first step that our minds must go, before we can ever get to the next step -

"How can Singapore improve?"

Of course, if pride and bigotry prevent many of us from taking the first step; if we choose to foolishly believe that everything in Singapore is just lovely and perfect -

well, we'll never get to the second step.

So much for Steven's efforts.

No wonder so many smart Singaporeans are leaving the nation. "Brain drain", as the PAP calls it.

True Flight said...

I am a Singaporean and I happen to rather like this blog, actually.

It provides interesting perspectives which are rarely found in mainstream local media.

If you just want to read nice, pleasant things about Singapore, why don't you just visit the government websites? There are dozens out there and all of them sing their own praises loudly.

The really unfortunate thing about Singabloodypore, as I see it, is that it happens to be run by a foreign white man who is no longer residing in Singapore.

This is unfortunate, because it tends to distract certain, not-so-intelligent readers into irrelevant lines of thought such as:

"Oh, how can the West impose this on us?"

"Singapore's values are different from the UK's!"

"This evil McDermott foreigner is seeking to bring down our beloved nation!"

If only Steve was a local Chinese man living in a HDB flat, spouting Singlish and drinking kopi-o.

I think instantly, more Singaporean readers would be more inclined to keep an open mind and think critically about the points raised here on Singabloodypore.

To their surprise, they would then discover that most of Steven's criticisms of Singapore's policies are quite valid, quite substantiated, and in fact not even original.

The criticisms do not have the nature of a "West vs East" debate; or a "Gweilo vs Singaporean" vendetta.

Instead, the criticisms are simply in the nature of "Where Singapore is Going Wrong".

That is the first step that our minds must go, before we can ever get to the next step -

"How can Singapore improve?"

Of course, if pride and bigotry prevent many of us from taking the first step; if we choose to foolishly believe that everything in Singapore is just lovely and perfect -

well, we'll never get to the second step.

So much for Steven's efforts.

No wonder so many smart Singaporeans are leaving the nation. "Brain drain", as the PAP calls it.

Anonymous said...

GK please re-read my first post. I do not want to hear "nice" things about Singapore. I just think a supporter of democracy like Steve Mcbloodydermott should provide articles which do not use such biased emotional language. So you think GLCs like Singtel and Starhub are cheating customers. Then talk about how corporations need to have more public awareness, and how consumer rights groups like CASE should have taken this up, instead of labelling it an "atrocity" (Atrocity is Rape of Nanking, not misleading advertising ok?)

Lest u get on your "we want a pretty picture of singapore and we want to hide our heads in the ground like ostriches" high horse again, please re-read the very valid points that many posters have put forward and mcbloodydermott has NOT addressed.

True Flight said...

I'd be happy to reread your first post, if I knew which one that is. Too many people go around here calling themselves "Anonymous".

I'm amused by your suggestion that if one supports democracy, one should not use biased or emotional language. Where did you get that idea? Democracy = politeness?

Tea parties, tea parties.

The Singtel and Starhub issue does not really interest me. My not being a broadband user probably has something to do with that. On the other hand, I admit I'm somewhat amused by your suggestion that:

(1) Singtel/Starhub should not be castigated for cheating customers (your phrase);

(2) instead little old Case should be castigated for not taking up Singtel/Starhub for cheating customers.

Of course some posters here have valid points. Of course Steven may not be right about everything. Who is? Must one be right about everything before one is permitted to express a view?

On a separate point, it's interesting to note that the people who would persecute Salman never even read his book and therefore do not know what's in it. Then again, they are Muslims. They are not SUPPOSED to read the book.

Anonymous said...

GK: I was the one who wrote the very first post, (and many more after that) In any case, read all the posts which are saying that Steve is providing a skewed version of Singapore.

"I'm amused by your suggestion that if one supports democracy, one should not use biased or emotional language. Where did you get that idea? Democracy = politeness?"

I am amused (and dismayed)that a lawyer would think that) the opposite of biased is "polite". Wrong. The opposite is "unbiased, non-misleading, non deceptive, fair". I would have thought that democracy would support justice. The points many have raised are not anti-democracy, and should not be construed as such. They are a protest against the way westerners are going to places like China, Korea, Singapore, HK, places which they once abused, and telling us how to be democratic. Hypocritical isn't it??

I believe "Practice what u preach" is a universal concept, so I'm not proposing a "western conspiracy" theory.

And it would be alright if the individuals base their stands on unarguable facts, but is wildly exaggerating and misrepresenting a fact part of democracy or just shoddy journalism? Our brand of democracy is not democracy? Did you read what Russia said? "Democracy is not a potato you can transplant from one kitchen garden to another"

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050213/3/3qjmd.html

Like Russia, Singapore should not only have to give answers, but ask some questions too.

All I know about SR is that he has a death order on his head and he has a young wife. (See, I could have used the label paedophile, but instead I have laid down the facts for people to draw their own conclusion). But his definition clearly states that people don't shoot. Hence I think the way democracy is being administered is a slap in the face of the original proponents of democracy.

Democracy should not be tainted with hypocrisy.

I trust that if one truly has a case against S'pore, one can lay out the bare facts and the argument would still hold.

Since when is the appeal for unbiased information an appeal for politeness? Fervent discussion is good, but it should be based on facts rather than start off on a skewed biased piece of reporting. There you go again, assuming that I am trying to smooth things over. If Melanie Hewitt truly believes that S'pore is flouting all human rights principles she wouldn't have to dress it in flowery language.

My post on Singtel is not to defend them (no, God NO), but to propose that it should be a discussion on how monopolistic companies should treat their customers fairly, rather than another opportunity to bash Singapore. The issue of deceptive advertising permeates all industries and is present in all countries. Did you not read my first sentence, "how corporations need to have more public awareness,"?

True Flight said...

Actually, I was using the word "politeness" in contradistinction to your phrase "emotional language" -

which ties in quite nicely with Steven's earlier point about tea parties. In a democracy, people do get offended with each other and it is quite impossible to have it any other way.

As for the idea of "biased", I still cannot understand why Steven is not permitted to be "biased". Democracy is not a GP essay question, you know. On a wide range of topics, many of us do have genuinely strong views one way or the other - it does not mean that we are deliberately being mischevious or that we harbour evil intentions.

Balance does have its virtues, none of which are necessarily connected to democracy. For instance, one big virtue of balance is that it demonstrates an awareness of other points of view; and therefore the opiner seems more likely to be expressing a more informed opinion, and in turn we are more likely to be persuaded.

But again, persuasiveness is not a necessary condition for democracy. And while you may not be persuaded by Steven's comments, it does sound quite peculiar for you to say things like:

"... a supporter of democracy like Steve Mcbloodydermott should provide articles which do not use such biased emotional language ..."

I pretty much like balance myself. That is why I like this blog. Taken together with the local mainstream media that most of us overdose on, Singabloodypore does help to provide a healthier balance of views.

You might possibly be interested to note that there are many points on which I personally disagree with Steven (or with what I think Steven means to say). See for example my comments in "Traditional Role of Family"; "Lee-wise Democracy"; and an earlier post about supposedly uncreative, unthinking Singaporean students.

These do not detract from my view that this blog is a good thing.

Finally, you seem so defensive that I must urge you to relax and loosen up. Let's take a look at some of your comments:

"The points many have raised are not anti-democracy, and should not be construed as such."

But who construed them as such? Are you defending these points from imaginary attacks?

"They are a protest against the way westerners are going to places like China, Korea, Singapore, HK, places which they once abused, and telling us how to be democratic."

As I said, it's pretty unfortunate that Steven does not happen to be a local Singaporean, because certain people like you seem to get so easily distracted.

Why do you care where Steven came from; the colour of his skin; the country of his birth; his citizenship, and so on?

Are Steven's comments about anything any less valid just because once upon a time, some Western country exploited some non-Western country?

Why can you not just focus on Steven's points?

Why do you try so hard to characterise everything as an East vs West issue?

Or to put everything under an umbrella of democracy-related arguments?

To take a simple obvious example, from the first post that you claim is yours - there you said:

"You harp on the high salaries of our politicians,, and even harbour thoughts that you are as capable as them, yet you have not ever structured a particularly satisfying response to the differing views of some of your readers...."

Ministerial salaries certainly is an issue worthy of national concern - even the PAP itself would not think otherwise, considering that they felt it worthy of a White Paper before Parliament -

but at the same time, it is entirely possible to have a comprehensive and thorough discussion of the ministerial salaries issue,

without ever using the word "democracy";

or the word "West";

and certainly without your strange comment about Steven not structuring responses to his readers.

What is the connection?

Agagooga said...

I find it amusing how many people like to talk about THE WEST as if it were some monolithic entity, when they really are referring to a small swathe of Americans.


Oh yes I believe Khomeini, though he issued the death fatwa, never even read the damn thing.

Anonymous said...

GK:

You repeatedly say that my points about the west are irrelevant. Once upon a time? The American and British view (and certainly not just a handful) has always been that democracy entitles them to wage war. If I'm not wrong Iraq took place in 2001. Vietnam didn't happen "once upon a long time" ago, it happened in my parents' lifetime. And that is still the tack that proponents of democracy are taking.

By no means am I trying to stifle Steve's right to discuss Singaporean politics, but surely a good argument is based on solid facts we can chew upon? I have said that I want to assess and evaluate the reasons people criticise Singapore.

If Steve has a right to use the demeaning tone he has in his earlier entries, then why don't I have a right to say that he's being hypocritical?

To Steve, everything IS about the lack of democracy in Singapore.

The topic of ministerial salaries is a big topic for singaporeans, and i'm sure there's more to it than looking at the salaries of other ministers. But did Steve attempt to defend his position when people tell him about corruption, capability etc?

By the way, since when has the owner of this blog participated in a "comprehensive and thorough discussion of the ministerial salaries issue," (or any issue)? It always starts with him making some stand like "We are a disneyland with a death penalty for hanging smugglers", then when we ask him about how to deter drugs in singapore, he disappears after a parting shot about democracy and humanity.

Agagooga: It's really not just a "small swathe of Americans". Many blogs by westerners criticise their human rights records but love to say that what the west has done happened eons ago. Does the passing of time mean anything when no one has shown any remorse for their actions?

Anonymous said...

GK, interesting that after you tell me that I am asking for a tea party, which democracy isn't, and I showed that you were wrong in saying I am asking for a tea party , you say that I am chooosing to link everything under an umbrella of democracy related arguments?

And Steve's race isn't a factor here, so stop painting me to be some kind of bigot.

It's what he stands for that irks me. A person who comes from another country who has come here for a job offer, set up a site and starts posting stilted articles, but doesn't really justify his stand against the country with concrete arguments. It always boils down to democracy. A person who obviously is criticising without good intent. He doesn't even want us to propagate!

soci said...

I am not the only writer here. Even anonymous' comments appear as well as others. I am not the only person writing on this blog. I put something up and others agree, disagree or remain indifferent. Anonymous plays a vital role.

This is not a newspaper, or research department. Anon is constantly demanding 'facts', would you like to get into a philosophical argument on the nature of reality?

Anonymous also seems to argue that he or she alone understands what I am doing here. Anonymous is playing the role of the 'nemisis'.

And as for the argument about detering drugs, I argued for the legalisation of drugs.

Ministerial salaries, corruption, freedom of the press, the areas that my blog covers are numerous and vast. I want to know how Singaporeans feel about these issues. Agree, disagree or in-different.

Anonymous, look at the title of my chosen career, 'Sociologist', what do sociologists do? Do you know. Well to put it simply 'We study people'. We get information, opinions, views, ideas, through various methods, like interviews, participant observation, covert participant observation.

This blog is for me to hear what Singaporeans think about these issues.

Anonymous said...

Asking for more justification of your views has nothing to do with my perception of reality. This is exactly what you want the ST to do—To not skew things. You can take an opposite view even if you don’t use flowery language. If you watch 20/20 they are able to conduct penetrative analyses on issues just by arguing upon the facts alone. That’s why it’s viewed as a credible source. If you choose to take the position that you have the right to not justify anything, fine, but u have a comments box and I am allowed to comment about it.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, look at the title of my chosen career, 'Sociologist', what do sociologists do? Do you know. Well to put it simply 'We study people'. We get information, opinions, views, ideas, through various methods, like interviews, participant observation, covert participant observation."

- Is a person who has lectured on sociology for 3 years a sociologist?

- I'm asking purely because I'm curious, because a person who lectures on Accountancy cannot be said to an accountant if he has never practised as one.

- Even if we are subjects in your study, it doesn't mean you shouldn't participate in the discussions you generate. You are more of a political commentator, offering an insight into S'pore.

Incidentally, I did ask you about the REMM theory to describe the behaviour of drug smugglers.

soci said...

Anonymous, Almost every single one of these articles on this blog have not been written by me, but copied and pasted from sites such as Reuters, Reporters Without Borders, AP, James Gomez, Open Democracy, The US State Department the list goes on and on. Are you seriously claiming that each and every single one of those sources lacks credibility?

All I have done is locate these articles on one site.

Asking for more justification of your views has nothing to do with my perception of reality. Yes it does its called the ontological issue and the epistemological problem. The criteria that you wish my evidence or observations to meet is known as your epistemology. There are many epistemologies. You ask for facts, this makes me inclinded to argue that you are a positivist as opposed to an interpretivist or realist. This is exactly what you want the ST to do—To not skew things. The are a national newspaper owned and controlled by the PAP. The ST is not a free press, according to the Reporters Without Borders 2004 report.You can take an opposite view even if you don’t use flowery language. Flowery language, like 'repressive, despot, nepotism, fascist', which one do YOU think best describes Singapore?, 'democratic state, Strict Capitalism'.If you watch 20/20 they are able to conduct penetrative analyses on issues just by arguing upon the facts alone. They, I am one man, one man, one person. Why doesn't Singaporean media do the same. Where is the investigative journalism in Singapore?That’s why it’s viewed as a credible source. By you as a credible source If you choose to take the position that you have the right to not justify anything, fine, but u have a comments box and I am allowed to comment about it. Yes you are, unlike the Singaporean cntrolled press in Singapore. The comments section in this blog is there because I put it there to hear what you have to say.I want to get you focsed on the actual issues. I am commenting now, because I feel that your latest criticism is relevant and not just flaming.

OldMcDonald said...

This will never end. What GK says about Steven being a foreigner may be true for SOME Singaporeans, not all. Like what Redrown and GK said earlier, this site when not being a news aggregator, simply does not have much original content or proper arguments. Those of you who read books about Singapore will hear the same arguments about Singapore violating one hundred and one core principles of democracy.The books do have better titles though. They do come from real academics or famous people who cannot afford to use "foul language" (that is what the OED says). If you all like the Singapore Review then subscribe to it. The Straits Jacket is terrible. That is why you should supplement it with google. But, if you don't like what Steven is doing then just keep the criticisms rolling because on the internet we have some semblance of a democracy and Steven will not censor your words since he believes in free speech. We (Steven and myself) believe in free speech so if you're not happy with what he writes, just tell him over here.

Aga is right to say that criticism is not the same as attack. Some Singaporeans may regard the entire work-in-progress by Mr Steven as an attack.Am I stating the obvious? I have to join him in saying that I too leave this blog with something even though it is not balanced and fair ( who can blame him? Everything is unfair in Singapore so get used to it). One researcher said he once found a quote by a very famous philosopher on a site by a racist group. One can take away something positive even in rubbish like that. Why can't people appreciate the beauty of a blog like this which is mild by comparison?

I'm sure those of you living or studying in the UK would have heard of the serious gagging of the press last year. Such a pity that countries like the UK still have room for improvement.

soci said...

Who says a lecturer of accountancy cannot call him or herself and account, if they have passed all relevant exminations and are registered as an accountant? If not then what are they doing lecturing on accountancy? Identity is not fixed throughout all contexts that the individual may move in. Shouldn't an individual define his or herself?

Would that be your opinion on 'social identity' and personal careers in the 21st Century.

You see me as a political commentator. Fine.

You are anonymous, why is that? Just curious.

OldMcDonald said...

Although he does not qualify as a real academic, it's not nice and not necessary to point that out. You can't deny that people who call themselves political scientists, economist, sociologist,physicists and mathematicians usually have doctorates but who cares what people say?

"just think a supporter of democracy like Steve Mcbloodydermott should provide articles which do not use such biased emotional language."

I feel uncomfortable when I see the word "Mcbloodydermott". It is true that Steve does not find the word offensive and will not be angry simply because you're copying from him but I still don't like it. I would feel bad if other Singaporeans start calling him Mcbloodydermott even if he doesn't mind.

Anonymous said...

Have I now touched a raw nerve? Touching raw nerves still falls within Salman Rushie's definition.

Precisely, Accountants have to have practical experience. You pointed out that I hadn't looked at your occupation description, so I replied by saying that I have, and it says "sociology lecturer".

Old MacDonald:

1. I am also uncomfortable with calling someone "bloody", but I feel more uncomfortable with I see the word inserted into my country's name. This shows that when something is close to one's heart one minds being called "bloody", even if the common culture condones it.

2. "Although he does not qualify as a real academic, it's not nice and not necessary to point that out. You can't deny that people who call themselves political scientists, economist, sociologist,physicists and mathematicians usually have doctorates but who cares what people say? "

I didn't say he doesn't qualify as a "real academic", I'm just curious to know if the term sociologist is technically right because for professions such as law, medicine, accountancy, the terms are more specific.

Anonymous said...

Steve, No, I am not targeting your articles by Reuters. Many articles by Melanie Hewitt are guilty of being what I said in my many earlier observations.

Your repeated emphasis that you are one man while others constitute a research department is irrelevant. I am not asking for more information, I am saying that facts can be conveyed in a neutral manner. That has nothing to do with one's resources.

My very first post was to ask why you have never made any allusion to Singapore's achievements, but you took that as an demand for a view through rose-tinted glasses. My point is that such news contradicts the articles you collect here.

U: Justification = asking for a positivist view

I am not being postivist when I ask you on your views on how Singapore's apparent wealth and high standard of living may contradict your stand that corruption takes place on a rampant scale in the higher governmental levels, considering that in many democratic Asian countries (which singapore ranks below in press freedom), widespread poverty is evident despite the abundance of natural resources available. Poverty is a symptom of corruption in governments, so when I ask for your view on the subject, I don't see how I am being positive, or how our versions of reality affect the correlation between corruption and poverty.

The ST is not a free press. That is a fact. So what has that got to do with my observation that free press does not guarantee an unskewed version of events? If both free press and government press should be allowed to twist and turn events to some agenda , then what's the difference? One key feature of the ST is that it selects reports which benefit its agenda. One feature of many of your articles is that it also selects events which benefit its agenda, but uses very suggestive language.

soci said...

Sociology is not that well known or highly regarded in Singapore. It was something I encountered a lot from my students. In fact my first lecture was titled. "What the hell is sociology?" A title I got from a sociologists, with a PhD working at the London School of Economics.

Anon would have probably got up at that stage and walked out.

redrown said...

I would also like to state again that I treat McDermott's site as one of many sources of articles relating to current affairs, among others such as The Straits Times and google.com, and a place to engage in informative debates and discourses.

Reading from various sources (each biased in their aspects), I digest the articles I think worthy of being digested and what is rubbish. I then reach a balanced conclusion and my own reasoned opinion of affairs because I can discern for myself what is right from wrong. Don't need mommy or pappy govt to tell me which article is biased or trashy. I can read and decide for myself.

And for the record I don't think McDermott is in anyway insulting or condescending for that matter. If one can find such language and innuendo offensive then I worry for the brickbats he will face in the real world.

[WARNING STRONG LANGUAGE LOOK AWAY NOW OR FOREVER BE MORTALLY OFFENDED]
About SR and his book- Whimsical writing, even worse than Dan Brown's attempt at discrediting a particular religion. At least Dan Brown knows how to make a book interesting. The TSV reads just like a 'Christian' story which goes along the lines of

"Jesus Christ is a Gay Wanker with mommy Mary the Prostitute they went to Satan because Satan was his illegitimate father."

Yeah, thats why I don't recommend anyone to read TSV. because its trash and undermines the serious efforts of more credible sources investigating the real identity of Islam. (my opinion of course)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I fully agree with redrown has said. No use arguing and challenging over "sensitive words or phrases" - there's no end to it.
It truly defeats the purpose of constructing debate!

I believe we are mature enough to discern what is right and wrong.

If those "petty singaporeans" are not open-minded and can't accept criticisms, then protect your mind and be more happy not to visit this blog!

Princess

redrown said...

I would also like to apologise for my rude language but it is to illustrate The Satanic Verses for what it is to pple who have not read it but have heard of its effect on the world of Islam. It is a purported novel featuring parodies of Islamic characters not a critical analysis on Islamic beliefs.

soci said...

You don't ask for my views, you ask me for the facts.

The notion that I should be providing unbiased, value free, objective knowledge. Is an argument at the heart of a particular type of sociology.

Can there ever be, or can we ever claim unbiased objective knowledge, like the facts, or universal laws uncovered by physics and the natural sciences. The answer is NO.

The reason I am so interested in Singapore is because of its economic success. I am trying to understand how that happened and did it have to be at the expence of 'civil liberties'.

I say very little here because I want to hear what Singaporeans think about the issues in the articles that I copy and paste. My 'very suggestive' language is an attempt to provoke a discussion. Think of this site, as acting 'for me' as a survey of opinions on important matters like the death penalty in Singapore, the nature of the press in Singapore, and what Singaporeans think about these issues.

Singaporeans can and do think about these issues. Singaporeans are interested in politics and democracy.

So when I read in the ST that Singaporeans are not interested in politics and more interested in bread and butter issues or the 5C's I believe they are interested in politics.

Anonymous said...

My good recommendation - please read "Open Heart, Open Mind" by Venerable Chodron. After which, perphaps everyone can have a broader perspective in life!

Princess

Anonymous said...

Thanks, your last comment does clarify a lot of things. If your intent is to provoke discussion, then those articles are more understandable. In my first post, I did wonder why you exhibited such a loathing for us. If your stand is that your articles are meant to provoke discussion, then this clarifies the doubts raised in my first post.

But as to your comment that there can never be "unbiased objective knowledge" in areas other than the sciences, I would beg to differ. There are some fundamental truths. For eg, Are there corruption in the Singapore government? There is only one answer, which is the truth, which we may never know. However, we can derive our version of the truth based on evidence and comparisons. If standard of living and poverty are symptoms of corruption, then it would lead us to the conclusion that there is no corruption. ( Or very low levels, since one can never be 100% accurate)

In the field of Research Methodology, isn't hypothes testing used?

soci said...

Yes something similar is used in psychology and the pseudo sciences. I see myself as testing theories against each. Like does 'Rational Choice Theory' help us to understand an issue better than the Culturalist or Structuralist perspective. So I am trying to test theories.

IF we can't get access to the empirical evidence to see if there is corruption, that is a pity. But we can ask Singaporeans if they think there is corruption.

Agagooga said...

In Britain, at least, most people were against the Iraq war. And in the US, I'm not sure of the current polls, but no overwhelming majority supports the Iraw war. As for Vietnam, the US was defending a state against invasion - what does this have to do with democracy?

Sociology is an academic discipline. Sociologists are academics.

I don't recommend that anyway read the Satanic Verses. Why? Because it's helluva boring, that's why! I tried to read it to find out what the fuss was about and fell asleep. But the commentary I read about it, about some verses being excised because it was inspired by Satan, sounds plausible enough.

We can never be totally unbiased, but that's no excuse not to try, no? It's like saying: "One can't live forever. So we should kill ourselves now."

soci said...

yes it is ajourney towards objectivity, but how can we tell if we have arrived?

soci said...

and you appear to have stumbled upon the existentialist meaning of life.

The answer that you provide when you ask yourself why you shouldn't kill yourself now, is the meaning of your life!

OldMcDonald said...

Anon
"1. I am also uncomfortable with calling someone "bloody", but I feel more uncomfortable with I see the word inserted into my country's name. This shows that when something is close to one's heart one minds being called "bloody", even if the common culture condones it."

I feel the same way. But on the bright side, McDermott doesn't seem to mind being called Mcbloodydermott at all.


"I didn't say he doesn't qualify as a "real academic", I'm just curious to know if the term sociologist is technically right because for professions such as law, medicine, accountancy, the terms are more specific."

I was just trying to clarify what you said. Nowadays people who call themselves political scientists, economist, psychologists and physicists usually have doctorates and engage in academic research. I thought you were referring to that phenomenon. I wasn't aware of a profession called sociologist so that is why I wasn't thinking along the lines of doctor, lawyer and accountant.

Redrown
"And for the record I don't think McDermott is in anyway insulting or condescending for that matter. If one can find such language and innuendo offensive then I worry for the brickbats he will face in the real world."

I agree. The title is unfortunate and provokes people in the wrong way. This is what Steven says he intends to do in one of the comments. Personally I don't think it's effective. People who stay here long enough are those who already buy some of your ideas. You lose a substantial number of people who think he's being a jerk or as anonymous says a "mcbloodydermott"

Aga
If you think that the war is not supported by most people, isn't it a violation of democratic principles. I know you can't agree to everything even in a democracy but war seems to no small matter.

I'm interested to hear about what you all have to say about the incident last year when the royal family gagged the press since Steven resides in the UK and some of you are familiar with these matters.

lee hsien tau said...

Those uncomfortable with the word 'bloody' should avoid going down under to the Land of Oz. They use it like some here puntuate every sentence with 'nar-bei-chee-bye'.

And who says accountants can't identify themselves as such without relevant practice. It is certain bodies they cannot associate themselves with and a certain threshold beyond which they cannot pen their signatures.

And who says lawyers cannot identify themselves as such without relevant practice. You have Yong Pung How who was sourly in need of practice when he was appointed Chief Justice.

And then there are ministers who are appointed to ministries who do not have an inkling of what the fuck is going on within those ministries.

And then there is aung san suu kyi. Why should she be disqualified from calling herself prime minister just because she was prevented from assuming her position?