18 Oct 2005

The Role of Civil Disobedience in Democracy

"Civil Disobedience is the act of disobeying a law on grounds of moral or political principle. It is an attempt to influence society to accept a dissenting point of view. Although it usually uses tactics of nonviolence, it is more than mere passive resistance since it often takes active forms such as illegal street demonstrations or peaceful occupations of premises. "

Something to ponder about. Singaporeans have to be convinced that lawbreaking on the grounds of moral principle is not necessarily evil. Almost all laws are rooted in some moral justification. Those that do not meet any moral justification can ignored as legitimate laws. What is wrong with someone protesting peacefully in Singapore on the streets as long as they pose no disruption and annoyance to the majority public? There should not be a law against that. If there is one it becomes an illegitimate law. But what did the Angeloean regime in the opening scene of Act II in the recent spate of budding harmless but constructive civil disobedience in Singapore say in defence of their actions?

We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.

Where do we go from here?

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