12 Jan 2007

Calibrated Coercion in Singapore

From here...Cherian George and Yee Yeong Chong (Mykel)

Hello & Welcome
This site aims to provide a comprehensive database of Singapore government interventions in internet communication. The government introduced internet content regulations in 1996, assuring internet users that these would be implemented with a “light touch”. Ten years on, it is useful to take stock of what the government’s position has meant in practice.

The immediate, practical benefit of this database is that it helps to shed light on Singapore’s regulatory terrain. Many internet users either ignore real political risks or exaggerate them. We believe both pitfalls are equally unhealthy for the development of an active and mature online community.

The more academic roots of this database are in an on-going research project that examines the nature of PAP dominance. Contrary to the widely held view that the PAP is just like other dictatorships, our theory of “calibrated coercion” argues that the PAP’s longevity can be explained in part by a deliberate restraint in its use of repression. While the PAP does not pretend to be liberal, it has grown increasingly adept at using just the right amount of coercion to neutralise dissent without inviting a massive backlash that would hasten its demise (as has happened to many other authoritarian states).

The database in this site will be used to assess to what extent calibrated coercion has been a feature of the PAP’s management of internet discourse.

The database is a work in progress. We are making it public as a way to tap the inside knowledge of the online community. We welcome readers’ input, either to add to existing case files, or to share with us any personal experiences that may not have been reported in the mass media.


>>>View the case files>>>


2 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

> While the PAP does not pretend to be liberal, it has grown increasingly adept at using just the right amount of coercion to neutralise dissent without inviting a massive backlash that would hasten its demise (as has happened to many other authoritarian states). <

I have to admit—that strategy is a stroke of genius. And its constant execution, with surgical precision almost—outstanding!

If this is used in a culture where it is rare for individuals to stand up for themselves and openly defy authority, this kind of "calibrated coercion" is likely to be successful in its objectives by scaring the shit out (most) people so they "obey" the "authorities".

Put another way Individual Freedom, and the idea of the "rugged individual" is not part of the Singapore culture. "Defiance" and "anti-authoritarian behaviour" is discouraged from birth. That's the "cultural" aspect in a nutshell.

Add to that the state's love-affair with "Confucian Values" (at least in the early years of S'pore history), and you now have the mighty hand of the state enforcing "conformity" "uniformity" and "blind obedience under the threat of violence", and voila...

...you have an easily coerced population.

Seniors in the Singapore government are very proud of the "achievements" of their organisation (fuck me, I nearly said "god"...I'll try to stay objective...)—an organisation they reckon is solely responsible for S'pore economic success.

In general, S'poreans aren't politically savvy. This is liek a "free kick" to the state. Most dictators would sacrifice a testicle in exchange for a politically naive citizenry. Man, oh, with a population like that, you as a dictator/king/high priest/baron can essentially do whatever you like to achieve nay "social goal" you choose, including SOCIAL ENGINEERING. You could act on your WHIM, and get away with it—at least in the short-term.

You could actually con We, The People in relinquishing individuality for the "common good" (appears in the Lexicon of political gobbledegook), and "unite" everyone to dance to the beat of your drum. Ah... this is pure ART...bravo!

So far so good though. No one has plundered the country. Yet. I say "yet" because The System is bereft of adequate checks and balances. Woe behold anyone getting caught pilfering the state's coffers though. Lee Kuan Yew will cut their balls off, then throw them into Changi as a eunach...oh the tragedy!). I happen to believe Lee Snr when he says he'll whack anyone caught for corruption.

So, it seems to "work". But, who is watching the watchman?

Having state power concentrated centrally is a bad, bad idea.

Why?

Because it gives The State ALL the power, and the people-sweet fuck all.

And every 5 years, We, The People hand over the keys to ==> OUR <== country, to a bunch of people—from the same stock as us—to be "trustees" of the people and the land they inhabit. The State, and The Government are not the country. They are structures created to GOVERN the country for We The People.

They are, in fact supposed to PROTECT freedom, not ususrp it.

cheers!

Anonymous said...

first, coersion is not by itself bad; for example, without it people would probably litter more

second, successful, carefully calibrated coersion can still fail in the broader sense, if the problem is merely suppressed rather than solved