Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sharing Nugget #65

#65: Someone has to fight the injustice. Why not me?

Today is the day I stood up to the government-bashers in my class. I felt that their bashing was an injustice. And I took them on.

I have been bashed (because I am apparently a symbol of oppression because of my employment status) by socialists since year 1. Then, all I could do was to swallow the bashing. Now, after 4 years of education where I have build strong convictions of our politics, I was ready to take them on.

Thus, when the prof asked, “is Singapore democratic?” all hell broke lose. It was a passionate discussion with proponents on both sides. I was the main person trying to get the government critics to see that it is not just about whether a government is democratic, rather, it is primarily about good governance. If we use the yardstick of what a government is responsible to the people for – like giving them a better life, better prospects, equal opportunity, no poverty, meritocracy, peace, stability, security, by a clean an efficient administration where our leaders advance the interests of the people and not of themselves.. – I think our government did well.

Again, there are things I am not happy about. But give credit where credit is due. Come on.

I have a friend who was saying, “But we don’t have freedom of speech!” Ok. While I agree that we do not have the freest press in the world, I do believe that there are space for intellectual discussion, and even dissent. Irresponsible discriminatory remarks are a no-no. Upon reflection, I should have asked her, “Where would freedom of speech lead us to?” US style of opinionated journalism? Danish cartoons? Well, maybe we will become a Taiwan. Can we afford that? We should channel our focus on how to find a balance. The class talked about how freedom should be handed over gradually. I applaud that.

There is this one guy who criticizes every government policy. Yes, he might have raised some problems faced by a section of society, but we political science student should know better that policy issues are extremely complex and require a pluralistic solution – which can be very difficult to achieve. As such, instead of just criticizing, the focus should be on how to improve it and remove the blindspots. His shortcoming is that he can only keep saying this or that is bad, but he never provide alternatives. Many times I wanted to ask him, “So how would you do it better?” but didn’t as he will carry on the argument from his entrenched position and waste everybody’s time.

This time, he said that it is a bad idea to build Singapore’s national identity on common economic goals as our economic situation may worsen in the future and we will be in trouble. Come on. Upon reflection, I should have asked him, “So what would you do? How will you do it better?” I want to hear what he says.

What really irks me is a person who discards a larger picture, choose a smaller issue, blows it up, thereby discrediting all the other good work that was ever done. To me, if you cannot hold a proper debate where credit due is not credit given, and the arguments go into narrow, narrow channels, you are wasting everybody’s time. You are dragging everyone to one side of the spectrum, arguing from a narrow perspective, from where the only way out is to argue from the other spectrum.

As the saying goes, if you are not a socialist when you are 25, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist if you are 35, you have no brain. If you cannot see how much the government has done for us, you are really blind. We Singaporeans, as a people, have seen one of the most dramatic rises in our standard of living probably in the history of mankind. What are you so angry about? Yes, they are not perfect, but they do not deserve the bashing. This is injustice.

I sincerely hope that these privileged, well-educated, eloquent, and smart young men and women government –bashers can channel their energy to actually do something to improve the lives of their countrymen or even their fellow men in the future. Words should come after action. Then you earn my respect and my ears. If you really think things are bad and need improvement, come out, stand up, and dive in to do something about it! Fight for your ideas. It is so easy to complain. I hope that they can see that we are not so bad after all, but we need to work together to make the place even better. I hope they do not just talk talk talk. That is the easy way out. Do, do, do.

Today is the day I walked into the line of fire from government -bashers. It was tough. I was whacked like nobody’s business. But I hold proud.

In 4 weeks, I am going to do my part in the government service. I am going to serve. I know I may miss my graduation ceremony because I have to do my part at the NDP rehearsals. I am sad. But so be it.

Today is the day I stood up to the government-bashers in my class. I felt that their bashing was an injustice. Somebody has to carry the tough fight to them to restore some justice. So I took them on. I thank the Grace who has given me the courage to do so.