repost from Samantha De Silva‘ blog on May 21, 2014 – Link -> Wow! Such Gorblok. Much Stupids. Many Protests. Very Anyhowly. So Libel
Then There Is Super Gorblok Until Cannot Tahan
This is the solution? This is what all that grandiose sentiment was about? A protest at Hong Lim Park and a petition? Please tell me that was ironic and clever and … something. Anything but an actual protest at Hong Lim Park and an online petition. Honey child, let’s not fool ourselves. The government does not care if you go to the government-appointed public speech areas to protest the CPF system and demand to have your CPF money returned. Nor does it care if you collect 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 signatures online. There are far more effective ways to engender change.
Like encouraging citizens to be proactive and discerning when seeking information about how this country is run and the policies that affect it, instead of feeding them misinformation that is sloppily cobbled together with poor logic. The way to get people to start taking ownership of their lives and their children’s future does not lie at the MRT exit to Hong Lim Park. It will not be found in lazy reporting and misinformation from either camp. It requires people to first understand why they need to pay attention to the policies and decisions that affect us all, and after that, people need to be empowered to seek and process information about how the country is run so that they can make more informed decisions once in every 4 years.
For all his impassioned exhortations rallying Singaporeans to step up and make a change, Roy is simply dressing up the notion of “cry mother cry father” in plumage of a different hue. That was the old way, the only way we knew. Not happy with policies, complain, feel vindicated, but then the policies are still there, at the end of the day. The only difference is that we feel we achieved something, because we went for the rally and signed the petition and even changed our Facebook profile picture for a week.
No. Feeling vindicated in your mind is not going to create change.
The new way to get things done if you’re not happy about specific policies affecting your life is not at all like the old way. It’s new and strange to us, because we’re only just getting used to a … gentler political ecosystem. The new way is first, to seek the information yourself. Question everything. We have been taught not to question, not to speak up, since we were old enough to string a sentence together on paper. The natural human inclination towards curiosity has been crushed out of us by the monolith that is the education system here. But it’s never too late to start asking questions.
If the media tells you A is true, and your favourite online blog tells you B is true, what do you do? Believe neither? Believe the source that aligns with your political views and what you want to believe? Or do you question both and seek the answers yourself? If you know both A and B cannot be true at the same time, then either the media or the blog has misinformed you. There is also the possibility that both are untrue, and C is true. Let’s say you dig up all the info you need, and you find that both A and B are untrue, and you have some facts suggesting that C is true, but not enough to prove it. What then? Do you forget about exploring the possibility that C is true and force yourself to believe either A or B is true, although you’ve found evidence to the contrary? Of course not. If you’re human, you’re curious. If you’re curious, you would keep searching for the truth.
The new way is not easy, nor is it comfortable. It requires action. And not the temporary hey-let’s-go-protest-at-Speakers-Corner kind of action, either. Keep asking questions. Isn’t it better to be wrong and get closer to the truth as a result than to keep quiet and assume everything that gels with what you want to believe is 100% correct? Debate and discuss with your friends, your family. Debate can birth ideas and spur people into action. Why? Because it gets people thinking. Commiserating and rehashing the same grievances in a group, whether it is 5 of your friends or 500 protesters, does not achieve anything. It is fantastic that this country is coming of age and finding its voice in the form of protests. But in any fight, the victors are the ones who fight smart, not necessarily the ones who punch the hardest.
Isn’t it better to stop wasting your time and energy on protests and petitions when you could be informing and empowering yourself? The truth – the factual truth, not Roy’s sort of truth – is liberating, and it is galvanizing. Yes, not everyone is cut out to be in politics. However, a well-informed, rational citizen who thinks critically is the basic building block of a more empowered electorate. A certain percentage may go on to enter politics, but no one is going to get anything done if all you do is sign online petitions, go to Hong Lim Park, and change your Facebook profile picture. One week later, the storm has died down, nothing has changed, and the closest you are to political change is watching Game Of Thrones on your tablet.
The protest against the population white paper, for example. Of those who attended the protest, how many read the entire population white paper? Or read the hansards of the Budget and COS debates in Parliament? What is the point of doing things that will not spur the government to change in a million years when the real catalysts for change – information and an empowered, discerning electorate – are not being used? There is no point fighting for your rights if you are holding a rubber sword that only elicits amusement from your enemies.
This is why self-anointed martyrs like Roy and opportunistic wannabe politicians championing any Gahmen-is-evil narrative that avails itself – no matter how untrue or morally abhorrent – worry me. They are no better than the gatekeepers that lie on the other side of the camp. By distorting the truth and amplifying half-truths for their own motives, be it ego, a personal vendetta, or to score points with the electorate, for example, they make it more difficult for a newly awakening electorate to find their voice, and more importantly, the instinct for critical truth-seeking and debate that will grow as their voice comes of age. It is this instinct that the country needs at this juncture of our history, not another protest in Hong Lim Park organized by “heroes” with motivations as muddied as the ground beneath the protesters’ feet.