15 Sep 2006
Like the much older "bartop dancing promotes creativity!", the statement in the title is based on hope rather than logic. However, it is not entirely stupid either.
Democracy means people decide; in Singapore, people have mostly kept quiet and given the government freedom to make social and economic policies, except that every 5 years or so an election is held to re-affirm the state of affairs and provide the government with a "mark", i.e., the vote % - this is how the people decide.
How to stop a government becoming incompetent or corrupt? In the standard western model, opposition parties and mass media are supposed to monitor government performance, but this assumes that there are sufficient economic opportunities outside government control so that opposition politicians and journalists do not fear being deprived. If this is not the case the model is not applicable, and the public is required to rely on the government's own self-discipline, both in maintaining standards, and in seeking out critical views so that it may constantly try to correct errors and improve performance.
Sit-ins, demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience are a particular form of critical view, from a numerically small group that holds qualitatively strong views. Whether to allow these acts to take place is actually less important than knowing what motivates them, how widely the same motivations are shared, and whether it is necessary to do something to de-motivate them. Currently, to quite different degrees, Taiwan and Singapore are both looking at this issue.
Posted by yuen at 9/15/2006 12:13:00 pm