I wrote the comment below in response to a posting I made on my Facebook and thought to share it here.
Too many times, we forget that it is the PAP that has clamped down on the freedom of speech and prevented well-meaning Singaporeans from questioning the policies and even coming out with solutions, which mind you, many academics etc have been proposing for the past 10, 20 years but which have all fallen on deaf ears.
Amos could have made a “proper” video – whatever that might mean – but who would listen? The PAP wouldn’t. Those who side with the PAP, wouldn’t. Many Singaporeans who have spoken up have been shut off and prosecuted. We want to speak “properly” but is the PAP willing to listen? Do we believe the anger among Singaporeans today has happened because Singaporeans are naturally angry people, or because their voices have been shut off and repressed, and thus the anger?
It is too lofty for us to believe in idealised notions of free speech or governance and to believe blindly in the PAP, when the fact of the matter is that many have voiced out, spoken up and tried to change things in ways we consider as “proper” but where even with “proper” means we are ignored and when individuals like Amos make videos which we deem not “proper”, we criticise them.
But who have thought to criticise the government for not listening in the first place? It is too convenient to blame individuals like Amos and many other well-meaning Singaporeans and choose to ignore the real problem – the PAP’s unwillingness and ignorance, and then continue to hold idealised and fantastical notions of the PAP without understanding the realities that have caused what has happened today.
Some speak of protesting outside parliament if we disagree with the PAP’s policies but what naivety our comments if we ignore how the PAP government has made it illegal to congregate in even more than 5 people or just one person to hold a placard, that if people could, do you think they would not? Perhaps a naive defence of the PAP would suffice only as weak an argument, if only we see through the veil we have been brought up to believe and recognise the difficult and oppressive realities that Singaporeans function in.
Singapore has very low levels of the freedom of speech. Singapore is ranked 153rd in the Press Freedom Rankings, behind Russia and Myanmar. The government has arrested several hundreds, or more than a thousand opposition politicians, labour unionists, student activists and news editors from the 1960s to 1980s, opposition politicians and international media were sued for defamation from the 1980s to 2000s, Singaporeans have been charged with defamation, contempt of court and sedition just for speaking up over the last few years, and where the government would not wait to arrest and charge Amos, several PAP MPs have also said similarly racist remarks but their cases have been silently brushed under the carpet – the law is biased, in favour of the PAP.
The arrest and charges against Amos is political and to pretend otherwise is well, either naivety or ignorance. The PAP has never played fair and has used all sorts of ways to prosecute Singaporeans. Sure, some argue that we can have lesser freedom of speech in exchange for economic development but yet it is precisely because many of these people who were prosecuted spoke up about labour rights etc, which got them arrested, imprisoned and some sued. Sure, we can choose to have lesser freedom of speech, which explains why Singapore has an estimated 30% of Singaporeans living in poverty, why wages for Singaporeans are one of the lowest among the developed countries and why Singapore has the widest rich-poor gap while the PAP pays themselves the highest salaries in the world. Sure, let’s have lesser freedom of speech so that Singaporeans can also sacrifice their socioeconomic livelihoods, why don’t we.
Because Singapore is the most unequal country among the developed countries, we also have the lowest levels of trust, highest prisoner rate after America and one of the lowest social mobilities. In short, the lack of the freedom of speech and prosecution and the consequent inequality has resulted in clear social problems.
A study funded by NASA has also shown that all unequal societies in history have all collapsed. It is precisely because of the lack of the freedom of speech, and the consequent social effects that will lead to instability in Singapore, and consequent collapse.
It is ironic that as some Singaporeans fear that a change of government will result in instability and collapse, that they do not realise that it is exactly by continuing under the PAP, and the drastic inequality, that will be what will cause Singapore to be unstable and collapse.
There is a limit that we can buy into the PAP’s propaganda and disallow ourselves from recognising what research and history tells us. We don’t even have to look far. Many academics in Singapore have warned over the past 10, 20 years about the possible effects and how policies need to change but all of what they have said have fallen onto deaf ears, while the PAP continue to enact policies that widen the income inequality in Singapore, and potentially lead to instability in Singapore.
It is highly hypocritical for the PAP that in their own pursuit for their own wealth, fearmonger among Singaporeans to scare Singaporeans into voting for them, by threatening instability when it is the PAP’s very action that will lead to instability.