8 Jul 2006

Happy-Face Fascism!!!!

[See it as you will but you have got to at least recognise the reality of your situation, Singapore is a 'totalitarian state'.] You would not know freedom if it kissed your god damn arse.

Yes I know it was first published in 1995 by 'Ann Tellman'[not a real name of course] and I know how much you like things to be all 'shiny and new'. But the following is so good I had to draw your attention to it. Has Singapore changed since 1995?

In a past article I posed the question, 'Is Singapore Fascist?' and of course was told off in a later comment for doing so. Very few agreed or even discussed it via the comments section. Well it looks like I might have been on to something...

It's not Big Brother but the Parent State that presides over official family values in Singapore, the technocrat's Utopia. Sue Ann Tellman reports on a place where no-one is supposed to grow up.

The caning for vandalism last year of the American teenager, Michael Fay, by the Singapore Government brought strong protests from the West. The punishment may have been cruel and inappropriate but the protests reeked of hypocrisy a high-profile diplomatic and media defence of one American teenager accompanied by the usual silence on the numerous world situations where every day millions face death, torture, hunger and forced migration.

The Singapore Government made much of this hypocrisy, helped by individual law-and-order Americans who praised Singapore for its harsh response to teenage vandalism. But the Fay caning represents just one element of a good metaphor for Singapore as a whole: parental authority institutionalized in a nation-state.

The rules sound familiar from childhood and adolescence: flush the toilet (public toilets are monitored and non-flushers fined); no gum allowed (it clogs the subway doors); cross at the stoplight (jaywalkers are resolutely fined); cut your hair (backpackers stay away); no sex (eroticism not encouraged unless it produces marriages between university graduates who will improve the stock); no drugs (mandatory death penalty, non-negotiable); above all, don't disagree with your parent (a one-party state, a controlled press, import of foreign publications restricted).

The punishments are typical of a dysfunctional family: beatings (the bamboo cane); large fines (for infractions of small rules); isolation (imprisonment of political dissidents); expulsion (for those who won’t live by the rules); and, in extreme situations, death.

However, this is also a very rich parent, one of the richest in Asia. It is a parent whose primary purpose seems to be to make money, the more the better. BMWs and Mercedes Benzes abound. Anything shabby has been torn down and replaced so far upscale that only the wealthy can enter. Economic growth is a matter of national security. In 1993 three economists were put on trial under Singapore’s Official Secrets Act for revealing the country’s economic growth rate in advance of the Government’s official announcement.

Rich families are often not happy families and Singapore is no exception. All the control makes for boredom, cultural sterility and a certain infantilism. Want to see good theatre or go to an exciting rock concert? Want to read incisive political satire or even a good Singapore novel? Want to have a stimulating discussion on culture, politics, economics, psychology or sociology? Forget it not in Singapore. Quite seriously, conversations are more open and stimulating in Rangoon or Pyongyang the capitals of notorious dictatorships. In Singapore idle chat could lead towards either of the Government’s two big enemie ‘communist conspiracy’ or 'Western liberalism'.

Instead, the Government promotes 'family value' to provide the social stability needed for continued economic growth. In the Singaporean context this means complete subservience to the state and its social dictates. And despite all the Government’s preaching of 'family values'social alienation and boredom increase with rising rates of divorce, teenage crime, single-parent families and drug abuse. One crucial element in addressing these developments a recognition of responsible human freedom is missing, identified as it is with 'Western liberalism'. Instead, the Government keeps lecturing away on family values while increasing the social control, denying unmarried mothers access to government housing as this would confer 'respectability' on them. And, of course, more canings and more executions.

One way the Singapore Government has tried to address its people's unhappiness has been, in the best fascist tradition, to impose happiness on them. A shiny Disneyland atmosphere abounds spotless fast-food and entertainment franchises (McDonalds, KFC, Hard Rock Café); theme parks (one of which is in a building that until recently housed a political prisoner for 26 years surely one of the most creative 'cruel and unusual punishments' ever devised); mini-rainforest eco-parks (next to weapons-testing ranges); controlled areas for stalls of traditional Chinese, Malay and Indian food; and shops, boutiques and shopping malls galore. Happiness is making money, spending it and helping Singapore flourish.

But the Disneyland atmosphere with its money and its happiness-message does not seem to produce very happy people. While family life continues to flourish among the poorer, less-educated minorities (the Indians and Malays who are not really a part of ‘the official family’), the next generation of leaders – the money-making young Chinese professionals – show remarkably little interest in sex, marriage and family life. With the best parental concern the Government has developed its own dating service for unmarried university graduates, the Social Development Unit, housed in the Ministry of Finance. State television has gone on a family-life-is-fun campaign with commercials showing a happy family playing together and singing "Fun, fun, fun, fun... Families are fun, fun, fun, fun."

Part of the problem is that with all this attention to money, many people do not know much about sex. Any public expression of it is commonly connected with demonic 'Western liberalism'. Singapore gynaecologists routinely report women coming to them complaining of barrenness only to be told they are virgins. Reports one doctor: 'So many just do'’t know where to put what'. For many men masturbation by a masseuse at the health centre in the shopping mall or a visit to the sex clubs of Bangkok is enough to keep the moneymaking juices flowing.

The growth of Christianity in Singapore, especially among Chinese professionals, can be seen as another sign of people’s unhappiness. Unhappy with simply making money, many Singaporeans seek transcendent meaning. The Christianity that develops is evangelical, charismatic or fundamentalist, providing ecstatic experience but also sanctifying the making of money. The names of a few of the churches give a sense of the otherworldly spirituality of Christianity in Singapore: Glory Joy Christian Church, Pearly Gates Christian Fellowship, Singapore Charismatic Church, World Revival Prayer Fellowship, Harvester Baptist Church, Praise Evangelical Church – the list goes on and on. The gospel of prosperity is common – if you are a faithful Christian, God will reward you with prosperity. The Government is uncomfortable with the notion that there may be a higher power than itself and has instituted a Religious Harmony Act which prohibits any preaching on social or political issues.

The patriarch of this large dysfunctional family, where free and autonomous adulthood is so elusive, is Lee Kuan Yew, leader of the People’s Action Party. Lee was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990 and is now Senior Minister advising Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Interviews with Lee portray an authoritarian, eccentric and, at times, quite angry Confucian patriarch laying down in minute detail family stability for the whole nation.

Singapore is keen to spread its brand of happiness elsewhere. In dealing with regimes in the region even more repressive than itself – like Burma – Singapore is an advocate of ‘constructive engagement’. Singapore companies continue to invest and make money while governments support one another. Recently a group of Singapore companies including Singapore Airlines set up the Singapore-Myanmar International Leisure Enterprise (SMILE an appropriate Singapore acronym), a consortium to develop tourism in Burma. Singapore, loaded with capital and management expertise but short on natural resources, is a prime candidate for the role of economic colonizer in the region.

It is easy enough from the outside to argue that people should be braver and openly criticize Singapore’s repressive policies. But the fear is all-pervasive. Even one political joke told in the wrong place can ruin a career. One Singaporean’s comments explain much: Boundaries have been drawn on our lives, governing everything from how to live our private lives to how extensively we can participate in the political arena. Through local newspapers, radio, television, the community centres, resident committees, People's Association and the People's Action Party itself, we have been told to have unquestioning faith in our leaders. Even if we don't, many of us will not dare to say so publicly. Those who have challenged the Government have faced imprisonment, torture, loss of all political rights or exile.

Singapore faces a clear choice of futures: continued control by an authoritarian parent producing citizens lacking autonomy and freedom but materially richer and richer or, if everything collapses, poorer and poorer. Or, in the context of continued economic planning and development, a new liberation in which free expression of human reason, faith and imagination becomes possible.
Sue Ann Tellman is the pseudonym for a writer who would still like to be able to get through Singapore immigration



23 comments:

soci said...

mr brown's sin was to allude to the word 'class'.

the unspoken by any journalist was so obvioious was all about income inequality.

CLASS CLASS

the sedition act covers race and class, the unspoken word is class.

the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I will see you on the dark side of the moon.

Come the revolution!!!

soci said...

I will see you on the dark side of the moon.

if we can not discuss 'fascism' how would we know if we are live under it.

Anonymous said...

I see and so do others, your nation is tarred by the actions that you sit and watch.

we will never forget that you are singaporean.

if we ever meet on the international stage 'I know who and what you are'.

LuckySingaporean said...

Why do you have something against happiness? Happiness in any form is still happineess, as long as the PAP can produce large quantities of it - its alright.

They make sure that information that makes you unhappy ...you just don't get to read.

In your own interest and for your happiness, Mr. Brown is silenced. It is for your own good.

http://singaporemind.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

there is too much barking up wrong tree

Matilah_Singapura said...

"There can be no liberty without economic liberty."—Margaret Thatcher.

It is sad that many writers like Sue Ann Tellman do not consider the economic side of the argument for personal liberty.

Man, in his natural state, is not "free". He increases his "freedom" because of an increase in wealth—and the most effective way to do this is through a free market economy. BTW, Singapore is not a totally free market economy—it is, like most economies a MIXED economy—but on the global scale, economic freedom in Singapore is No. 2 in the world, next to Hong Kong in first place.

I am a property rights based libertarian at heart, and my libertarian compass tells me that (judging relatively, not absolutely) Singapore ain't as bad as what many folks make it out to be.

As far as "social welfare" goes, for example, Singapore is light-years ahead of the western welfare-state democracies. In Singapore, people are encouraged to help each other thru private welfare and not rely on the state to "solve everything".

Not having state-controlled welfare has been a boon to the lives of the average Singaporean—savings rate is high, and thus provides the capital base for a vibrant economy.

Unfortunately, the lack of individual vigilance, and too much obedience to charismatic politicians and the lack of crital thinking and active citizenry have allowed the PAP govt (incumbent for 40 years) to increase its power and influence.

However, it behooves me to remind writers like Ms Tellman that the people get the govt they deserve. As long as individual vigilance is not part of the social meme, you can forget about changing the social meme from dependence to self-reliance.

I also disagree with the notion that these controls affect "creativity". Creativity like all uses of mind and body, is a personal choice. Those who complain that "it is hard to be creative in Singapore" have simply quit their reason and critical thinking, because, IMO, it is easier to be a victim and a loser than it is to be different, and walk the path of one's choice.

Singapore has a great future as a libertarian society—a society founded on private property, self ownership and voluntary association.

But, that can be messed up if the wrong ideas take root. On the upside, most Singaporeans still like to "make money" and although criticised for being "too materialistic" never bother giving countenance to such bull-crap. They like "nice things" and damn anyone who would presume to get in the way.

That, folks, is where the hope for better and sustained prosperous future lies, and a rejection of the bad ideas of the collectivist liberals who unfortunately pervade the "mature democracies" in the west.

soci said...

Matilah

Did you live in Thatcher's Britain? Something tells me you didn't.

Sounds great on paper, but try growing up in it from a working class background, with no rich daddy to give you cash to start your own business, and become a 'self-made' man.

Singapore is a backward 'authoritarian' state compared to European countries like Sweden and Norway.

The more Singapore undermines the 'Class compromise' that is social welfare the further it slips into 'authoritarianism' until one day you wake up in a fascist state.

Anonymous said...

A) The inutility of speaking truth unto power

B) Income inequality widens markedly

http://ybsampler1.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

"Singapore is a facist state. Do you agree?" Come on, post your agument.

sei-ji rakugaki said...

singapore is obviously not a facist state, but a soft parental/authoritism/nanny state.....anything but facist lah and this particular writer'sarticle is too extreme and biased...the part of writing that "public toilet being monitored"..is malicious , not to say the least.

Anonymous said...

When I notice singaporeans push in ques at Heathrow airport, I warn them to get back to their own country.When I see them attempting to jump the queue in London's hotel I warn them they must get back to their own country, they are not welcome in the UK.
So as a Londoner singaporeans beware, you are not welcome in my capital city.

clyde said...

A more approropriate term would be 'neo-fascism' which distinguishes itself from more of the extremes of Nazi era Fascism, such as the persecution or cleansing of a race. Facism is generally typified as a system of government marked by centralisation of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

From a website Old American Century, there is an insightful article which mentions a Laurence Britt, author of "Fascism Anyone?", who compared regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and Pinochet and indentified 14 characteristics common to those fascist regimes. ( http://www.oldamericancentury.org/14pts.htm )

Wikipedia lists 9 (but not limited to) identifying points of fascism:

- a militarist, nationalist and xenophobic ideology (many of the squadristi were WWI veterans, and the Marinetti's futurist movement also was a source of it; irredentism was also fundamental in Italian fascism)
- Anti-communism
- Economic Corporatism
- Attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic.
- The fascist state regulates and controls (as opposed to nationalizing) the means of production.
- Fascism exalts the nation, state (statolatry), or race as superior to the individuals, institutions, or groups composing it.
- Fascism uses explicit populist rhetoric and propaganda techniques applicated from crowd psychology; calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness;
- Demands loyalty to a single leader, often to the point of a cult of personality. Charismatic authority of the leader may be invoked.
- A powerful, dictatorial leader or ruling cadre who portrays the nation, state, or collective as superior to the individuals or groups composing it.

The question is not whether Lee's Singapore fits the profile of past fascist states, but the possibility of sharing significant elements allowing us to participate in a diverse form of neo-fascism.

Anonymous said...

whether it is fascism, communism, totalitarism or authoritarianism - none is good and favourable

Anonymous said...

leninist, not fascist

Elvadrieng said...

the article is a bit outdated and slightly biased. Sadly though, most of it is still rings true.

Anonymous said...

Actually, what is a singaporean? I will explain to the uneducated.

They live in a state either communist or facist, but Leeist.
physically they are a weak breed, who live off medical certificates, suffer daily from gastric problems because of the diet. Breed puny little boys so small they have to wear girls clothing.

Could he highly intelligent if their government cut the nanny state strings.

And oh yes claim because they are so pressurised there is no time for common courtesy, as they continue to treat fellow singaporeans like a piece of dog shit.

Matilah_Singapura said...

soci— Classical liberalism has always been about freedom. Even if one is poor, if one has the gumption to do what it takes to "win" on one's own merits—that kind of spirit, the individual spirit, has always been championed by classical liberals; like Maggie Thatcher. She didn't get it "all right", but she sure did make a difference—in a positive way. And that's my opinion.

Social democrats want everyone to be "equal"—in fact they dump down anyone who has the chuzpah and rugged individualism to rub against the "social fabric" and pursue their own happiness based on their own self-interest. Social democrats have always had a problem with individual 'selfishness'. To them, 'society' has been more important than the individual, and using the process of 'social democracy' they can FORCE 'stubborn' individuals (like me!) to comply with their far-out egalitarian, utopian and collectivist ideals.

It is important to remember that both fascism and communism are forms of SOCIALISM, which is based on statist controls for statist ends. The fascists support the owners of capital, the communists support the workers.

And Singapore, like most countries, has both communist (or left-wing socialism) and fascist elements in the political controls. Singapore, like most other modern states, also has a degree of 'market anarchy' or laissez faire about it.

In other words there is private property, and public property, there's regulated markets and free markets, there's democracy, and self-interest motivated individual pursuits, there's egalitarianism, and there's elitism, there's religion and there's secularism...etc etc..

The word used to describe such a mixed bag of contradictions in the modern political economy/social organisation of today's states is [b]The Mixed Economy[/b]

What distinguishes S'pore from the rest of the developed world is the degree and pervasiveness of statism.

For e.g.: Singapore's tax rates are low, and taxation is territorial. Aust, US, UK, Canada's taxes are higher and extra-territorial (based on residency and citizenship of those states)

US, UK, Canada, Aust—freedom of speech and free expression are less controlled. In Singapore there is more control.

US, UK etc: degree of private property protection is high—depending on how eminent domain is exercised. In Singapore, eminent domain is exercised constantly—which is why the LTA can take land anytime it likes and pay whateve 'compensation' it chooses—and cannot be SUED, unlike other mature democratic states.

Statism is EVERYWHERE in EVERY state. It just depends on the degree, that's all.

Whilst I disagree with all the statism imposed by the PAP, I don't and will never consider myself a 'victim' of their oppression or authoritarianism. Singapore's borders are always close by, and one's 'freedom' is as short as a taxi or mrt ride to Changi airport.

It is possible to be a 'free spirit', even in Singapore!

Anonymous said...

people do too much ranting; somehow singapore affects some that way

Anonymous said...

ok singapore does not have a welfare society, however, the monies collected via the CPF have been wasted by the government, and the singaporeans themselves by buying property at the top of the market which has now collapsed in value and will contine to drop.

Incidentially, the CPF was designed by the British as a retirement fund. The government suddenly allowed th stupid people to buy property with their hard earned cpf to buy overpriced HDB apartments.

The whole fund is beginning to disappear, the old folks are penniless and eventually Singapore will revert to the prewar shop house days with fifty people living in one small home.

economists have already fortold this terrible problem as the population becomes older and older, and the younfgsters decided to leave the Island because their future is so bleek. .

Anonymous said...

HYPOCRISY is our own byword:

Without healthy exchange of ideas in the mainstream papers (with the exception of the Internet), we will continue to fool ourselves ----- TILL everyone becomes savvy with the Internet and look to this increasingly popular medium for alterntative views and truth.

I stop buying the Straits Times and the other Chinese papers for more than a year ago. I heard of many others who do not need to buy these papers anymore.

I am able to get more informative news from the various blogs and websites.

Our main problem today is that we are to be blamed for what is happening here. No use blaming others. Do not blame even the govt.
It is all of us who made them !

Didn't more than half of us voted for the PAP for some upgrading promises ?
Did we give a chance for some good and promising opposition members to serve our country in Parliament against all odds - which is still more effective than the Internet and our complaints here ?
Did we allow ourselves to be fooled by the biased press in spite of true feedback received from so many people and friends who attended those rallies ?
Didn't SM Goh admit that the bigger GRCs are meant to allow new and unproven PAP candidates an easy route to Parliament ?

Many of the new breed of MPs have NEVER spontaneously serve the country for MANY years. They TELL us NOW that they are here to 'pay back to society'. So contrite and fake !
Why now after being nominated as a candidate for the party?
They are being INsincere. They are many more unsung heroes who have served our country with no espectations in return.

SO, to my fellow Singaporeans, one trait we should not forget is our own hyprocrisy besides our other traits as mentioned above in other comments - craseness, rudenss, kiasuism, arrogance,pettiness (probably of being 'small' ourselves).

The amusing thing is that many who complained about the system are the ones who did NOT vote with their own conscience for alternative representations or even did not bother to go to the polling stations when their own areas had contests.Or even some who deliberately spoilt their votes, some of whom I got to know later personally.

Anonymous said...

Then, make sure in the next GE, oppo parties to contest all 84 seats.

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon said: "ok singapore does not have a welfare society, however, the monies collected via the CPF have been wasted by the government,"

Actually Singapore is almost a carbon copy of Otto von Bismarck's welfare state, which in a nutshell works something like this:

1 Keep the workers in-line by making them dependent on the state. Do this by outlawing many of the freedoms and choices. Thus S'pore has CPF (a tax) which can be used to buy (or rather LEASE) property from who? The government.

2 Keep the capitalists in line by promissing them "protection" i.e. create a merchantilist class of state-favoured cartels. In S'pore this is done by forming GLCs and "privatising" the telco, media, energy, transport etc etc sectors.

The business man is happiest when he can keep competition out by govt legal oppression. For that he pays "protection money" (TAX) to the govt.

This the govt gets bigger and more powerful because ALL OF ITS RELATIONSHIPS are based on DEPENDENCE.

Hitler's Germany prospered during the war because Adolf embraced Bismarck's political model.

beepbeepitsme said...

The Fascism Scale
http://www.anesi.com/fscale.htm