On Freedom of Speech and Inequality in Singapore

Free Amos Yee 2

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.

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45 comments

  1. bah chor mee

    Peaceful protestors arrested in Singapore after authoritarian Lee Kuan Yew’s death

    For selfish self preservation reasons, the Lees have disallowed all forms of protests anywhere in the island.

    Unfortunately for Lee Kuan Yew’s son, in recent times, these so far isolated incidents of protest are becoming increasingly more frequent. And this latest protest could not have come at a more unfortunate moment for him.

    These protests would undoubtedly cause a little instability to the island, but this is a price worth paying because it will lead to a more democratic, stable and enduring political system. What you are doing is good for Singapore island, even though it is not good for the Lee Kuan Yew family.

    PAPer dogs, you can bark at us, but we can see that you are leashed

      • mao

        @Buzz off, i think you are also making people difficult to breathe in Singapore. You get out will make breathing easier! 😀

      • gentleaura

        Never man! I take pleasure in torturing the PAP until its demise. Its you who find the torturing difficult to breath? I see. There is only one way out. Change. Real change. Not cosmetic tweaking. Either it comes from within PAP out outside.

      • PAPer Tiger

        @Buzz, this website is meant for civilized discussion. If your half-operated peanut brain cannot take the facts, remove yourself from this website.

        Its not a place meant for PAPer dogs to whine

  2. Singapore Citizen Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)

    Subtle Denial of Medical Treatment by the Singapore Government for Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)

  3. serene

    I am neither an opposition supporter or huge fan of the government.
    Just would like to point out one thing, the minute the grammar in your writing is not correct, the strength of your argument is weakened.
    For example : But who have thought to criticise the government for not listening in the first place?
    This sentence doesn’t make much sense. Do you mean ” But who would have thought to critcise the government for not listening in the first place?”

    Another example is : what naivety our comments
    It should be how naive our comments are

  4. yts

    Saymongers get out! you are not the poor of Singapore. So pls keep your mouth shut! You are not qualified to speak about the poor. U stay at you location typing these useless message. Go and help the poor instead. Help them to raise funds rather than raise funds for yourself who got hands and feets and using your fingers on keyboard.

    • PAPer Tiger

      The moment PAP return them their CPF monies, a lot of their problems will be solved, and you’ll see less protests 🙂

      This website is meant for civilized discussion. If your half-operated peanut brain cannot take the facts, remove yourself from this website.

      Its not a place meant for PAPer dogs to whine

      • sadlyfe

        “a lot of their problems will be solved, and you’ll see less protests”

        How can you, an online netizen, believe that this will happen, when PAP loses the next general election? How would you know that the opposition party is any better than PAP?

        Do you have any solid facts? Civilized discussion is not blatantly spitting out things that you think are true.

        Moreover you are criticizing others for their own opinion. Aren’t you operating on a ‘peanut brain’ as well?

  5. End of PAP Era

    PAP’s era is approaching its final stages. Protests are a sign that underlying issues are brewing within. They can capture 2 or 5 or 10 or 100 or even 1000 and throw them into prison. But are the prisons in this scarce city adequate to accommodate 500000 people that throng the streets and block the entrances of major establishments? Will LHL bring out the army, like what his father suggested? Given that Singapore, a small city state, is highly dependent, if not solely dependent on the economy, the out-bringing of the army will only crumble the state to nothingness. It is better for PAP to vacate than for them to engage in an army-people battle. I doubt LHL will ever call for a martial law in this city.

    • You asked for it

      That’s assuming got enough dissidents lah hahaha you say dreaming you just look at the recent event you will know lah hahaha even Roy will say to you wishful thinking lah hahaha some kind of random daydreaming

    • PAPer Tiger

      @End of PAP Era is correct.

      If my reservist buddies and I are told by PAPpies to cull the rightful protesters, we shall sabotage PAP and SAF from their kah-chen.

      里应外合 🙂 (B/c LKY promotes chinese; even though he is too daft to learn it well)

  6. PAP End Game

    PAP’s era is approaching its final stages. Protests are a sign that underlying issues are brewing within. They can capture 2 or 5 or 10 or 100 or even 1000 and throw them into prison. But are the prisons in this scarce city adequate to accommodate 500000 people that throng the streets and block the entrances of major establishments? Will LHL bring out the army, like what his father suggested? Given that Singapore, a small city state, is highly dependent, if not solely dependent on the economy, the out-bringing of the army will only crumble the state to nothingness. It is better for PAP to vacate than for them to engage in an army-people battle. I doubt LHL will ever call for a martial law in this city.

    • You asked for it

      You go and find the 500,000 lah hahahha even want to find 500 also hard lah hahaha why you think Han hui hui suffering now and feeling so insecure herself? Because she also is aware now how little and limited and tiny her supporters are lah hahaha always the same few tired looking people anyway. And you really think majority of singaporeans identify with that Maniyo Kalyani and that Goh Aik Huat guy or the foul mouthed ranting Ivan Koh? Don’t dream lah hahaha

  7. We have a choice

    The state police can arrest 5, 50 or even 500 peaceful Singaporeans protesters. How about when everyone unite as one like those in Taiwan and HK? 5000…or even 50,000? Are they going to arrest all of them? I seriously doubt so they hv the capacity to do it and furthermore it will set the rest of the other 3M Citizens thinking.

  8. Reform & Transform Little Red Dot

    Thank U Amos & Roy for having e Fire, Balls & Morale Courage to highlight the obvious and speaking up for the Silent Obedient & Suffering Majority:( God Bless U Botj

  9. R

    Roy good news for you on the NASA study. We are not going to collapse.

    “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.”

    1. It is not a study sponsored by NASA.

    “On March 20, NASA publicly denied that it had “solicited, directed or reviewed” the paper, calling it “an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity.”
    “NASA Statement on Sustainability Study.” March 20, 2014.

    The paper is signed by three U.S. academics. Lead author Safa Motesharrei is a PhD candidate in mathematics and public policy at the University of Maryland; his co-authors, Eugenia Kalnay and Jorge Rivas, are professors at the University of Maryland and the University of Minnesota, respectively. The only connection to NASA anyone has identified is a general research grant NASA gave to Professor Kalnay’s department.”

    2. A review should there is no evidence for this study

    “If hundreds of newspaper and online reports are to be believed, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Agency have proven that western civilization will collapse unless we radically reduce inequality and shift to renewable resources.

    That would be important news if it were true. Is it?
    Their much quoted statement, that for an unequal society, “collapse is very difficult to avoid and requires major policy changes, including major reductions in inequality and population growth rates,” isn’t a political or sociological judgment, it’s a mathematical abstraction.

    One of the most surprising features of the “Human and Nature Dynamics” paper is the absence of empirical data. That’s right – a paper that some say proves the imminent collapse of western civilization contains no evidence at all. It fails to show that any past society collapsed from overpopulation and mass or elite consumption, let alone that those are the causes of the environmental crises of the 21st century.”

    So not to worry, Roy and Singaporeans alarmed by Roy.

    • R

      Correction
      Sorry it should a review shows that there is no evidence for this non-sponsored, official study by NASA.

  10. R

    The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook.
    The latest (2013) edition of it finds (p. 146) that in the U.S., 75.4% of all wealth is owned by the richest 10% of the people.

    The comparable figures for the other developed countries are:
    Denmark 72.2%
    Switzerland 71.5%
    Sweden 71.1%
    Israel 68.9%
    Norway 65.9%
    Germany 61.7%
    Singapore 61.1%

    Other countries
    Australia 50.3%, Canada 57.4%, , Finland 44.9%, France 51.8%, , Ireland 58.4%,, Italy 49.8%, Japan 49.1%, Netherlands 54.6%, New Zealand 57.6%, Spain 54.0%, and U.K. 53.3%.

    – see comparison between Sweden, Norway Denmark (Nordic) with Singapore

    • lea xian loon

      Do you mind pulling out some REAL data comparing Gini coefficient, s’pore pap minister’s “salary” across developed countries?

    • @ R ( Jim )

      Referring to Wikipedia, Singapore ranking ahead of Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark…… ranked the third richest nation in the world

      Singapore:
      GDP (PPP) 2013, estimate
      – Total Int$425.251 billion
      – Per capita $78,762 ( 3rd)

      Norway:
      GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
      – Total $353.230 billion
      – Per capita $67,619 (4th)

      Switzerland:
      GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
      – Total $444.702 billion
      – Per capita $55,237(8th)

      Sweden:
      GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
      – Total $454.320 billion
      – Per capita $46,386 (14th)

      Germany:
      GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
      – Total $3.621 trillion
      – Per capita $44,741 (17th)

      Denmark:
      GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
      – Total $248.683 billion
      – Per capita $44,325 (19th)

      In the end, such rich wealth flow into to who’s bank account ? please go to Chinatown Hawker Centre have a look, A lot of people do not have socks, no decent clothes .

      70 years old taxi driver entreat PM for permission, they can not stop driving until they die, otherwise, they will starve to death ?

      why 85 years old still working in Changi airport ?

      since Singapore is so super rich country , you must take a good care of your nationals, let their life better than Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. fully refund their CPF !!!

      • @ R ( Jim )

        I want to explain that Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark these countries Per capita income in the report is true, are real people’s average income per year ( included their elderly, cleaner, and their ministers , MP….students, children ). but Singapore’s report is Not real money to get into hands on everyone. no included their elderly, no included cleaner, workers , childend, or students , So Singapore made a dishonest report.

        They must be modified, the first world country Singapore only covered 30% of the nationals, the rest are poor .

      • @ R ( Jim )

        btw, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark these countries Per capita income figure even covered unemployed nationals also got the monthly living cost.

        an question ” Why 85 still working at Changi airport? What has he done with his life the last 84 years? ”

        they might be sick or lost father or mother, if LHL lost father in his young time , he might and the elderly cleaners the same fate.

      • R

        That why we have the Pioneer Generation Package. Important that such scheme do not burden the future generation. They are also Singaporeans to be taken for not just only us. Anyway, the Pioneer Generation work very hard , they build the reserves for us right, so you want to spend the reserves they build up.
        We should encourage people like Roy or Amos to work hard for their rice bowls.
        Do you sincerely believe the “85 Changi airport worker or 70 yr taxi driver ” still have CPF to be returned??

      • @ R ( Jim )

        when after 9pm, I come home from shop, a Malay little girl standing in the bus station, her eyes looked at me and said,can you give me 2 dollars for dinner ?

        the second day , she was still there and waiting. I felt pain …. Good talent leaders have to know how to take care of your people. or give others a chance to serve this country.

  11. R

    A nation can be made up of equally poor people and would fare much better in the Gini rankings. Perhaps more important than official Gini coefficients are trends and attitudes as to whether or not things are getting better and for whom.
    For the Southeast Asia nations for which data is available, the rankings in order of most unequal to least unequal distribution of family income are: Thailand (12th most unequal); Singapore (29th), Malaysia (33rd), Philippines (36th), Cambodia (45th), Vietnam (73rd), Indonesia (78th) and Laos (70th).

    Singapore must remain relevant to the world and attracts the best people.
    No use grumbling and make full use of the opportunities to help ourselves.

    • @ R ( Jim )

      Do you think the ruler really like foreign talent (FT) and foreign workers ?
      impossible !

      they even are indifferent attitude to deal with their own nationals
      they –
      1) only care themselves.
      2) only counting money, how many foreign workers x how much labor levy per month = how much wealth in their pocket
      how many foreign talent x how much CPF money they got per month = how much wealth in their hands

      they announced they ranking of the richest countries in the world, On the other hand show that Singapore is a country very short of money.

  12. @ R ( Jim )

    First solve the Chairman of GIC, the Prime Minister , the CEO of Temasek cannot come from a family

    • lolz

      why not? if they are really the most capable, why limit their options based on who their family is? that isn’t meritocratic either.

  13. Roy is mental too

    Amos is a mentally disturbed child who needs medical treatment at the mental institute..

    It’s no wonder Roy is on Amos’s side. He’s similar to Amos in some ways.

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