Until the front page news splashed over all papers on 26th August 2008, I never fully understood the meaning of condescension and insult. Indeed, I have never felt so insulted before in my life.
Indeed throughout my 34 years. I have been bullied, punished, criticised, ridiculed, arrested, charged, soon to be jailed, maybe in time to serve extended detention in some alleged conspiracy and maybe to face the gallows for some trumped up charges in time to come. But i have never felt so insulted before.
His Excellency, the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has shown what it is like for him to behave like a ruler.
He has LIBERALISED Singapore allowing outdoor demonstrations at Hong Lim Park.
NOTE: Only at Hong Lim Park.
Prior to that was a flurry of requests from reporters as a prelude to that announcement over the weekend. And what faces me now is a stark contrast of fiction and reality.
Here i am. On on hand, running helter-skelter, left-right-centre defending multiple actions necessitated by the actions of the Singapore Police Force against the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, on the other hand, Lee Hsien Loong cleverly protrays himself as an open, all magnanimous and all progressive leader in throwing the door open for demonstrations and protests in ….. Hong Lim Park.
Little do people know that on one side, we have this facade of openness. On the other side activists are getting charged for doing things which in other democracies would not have even raised an eyebrow. Over here we have almost a picture of an entire machinery galvanised to arrest and charge democracy groups in Court.
To-date, we have a total of more than 22 activists charged for at least 3 separate protest incidents stretching back to September 2006. It is likely that more charges are coming in even at this moment ludicrously. All of which are aimed at the opposition that provides the most sting – the Singapore Democratic Party.
The Prime Minister’s father, his Excellency, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had ruled Singapore by a series of well placed and timed and handled ISD detentions, ColdStore 1, Coldstore 2, detentions in the 70s (someone tell me the codename if any) and Operation Spectrum.
LKY’s style was that of a heavy hand, an iron fist which often left his opponents, or should i say perceived opponents, with a broken ribcage, coughing out blood, passing out and never really returning for a fight in a second round.
His Excellency, the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong has now done the honours in escalating the humiliation. Lee Hsien Loong has carried the superiority of his position and that of his minions and his establishment to an even higher level.
In a rare master stroke of ingenuity, he has sidestepped true obligations of a leader who has promised political openness, yet strengthened his position protraying himself as an open minded leader who understood the changing times and need for progress to demonstrated political correctness and wit in allowing demonstrations and delegating the control of Hong Lim Park from the Singapore Police Force to the National Parks Board.
The National Parks Board deals with plants and shrubs. And only mindless vegetation should be on the radar scope of the National Parks Board. As such, i have little wonder what our Prime Minister is actually trying to say.
As an activist, ex-politician and soon to be jailed lawyer involved in so many dissident actions, the press naturally hounded me for my opinion on what those concessions meant to me. As there were so many queries, i could not answer them all given the number of court actions i need to give my attention to.
I do recall now forgetting to answer the email request from Imelda Saad, i hereby apologise for that. I also recall stating quite abit of my unrestrained opinion to a reporter from FM95.8 a Ms Fengqin, Ms Esther Ng from Today, Ms Sue-Ann Chia from Straits Times just to name a few.
As far as I am aware, Today carried my comments. I had stated to Esther “this is an attempt to retain control over what the government is unable to control.” but i was quoted as saying that ‘this is an attempt to “return” control…’ which essentially does not make sense.
I also made it clear that such pseudo-openness does not measure up to the openness of true democracies in developed countries.
I also stated that “it is akin to someone taking away all of your money and throwing 10 dollars back onto your face and expecting you to express gratitude for the return of the 10 dollars.”
My most stinging statements never made it to print. Faced with such media blitz glorifying the establishment on their move for openness, this is what i have to say with regards to the FACADE, HYPOCRISY, and CONDESCENSION of the administration (PAP, AG-C, SPF, and NPB included) involved.
Alex Au described it too meekly as he not wanting to dignify “tokenism”
I say this move is nothing more than an insult to activists’ and citizens’ intelligence.
Here we are getting charged left right centre by one arm of the government, yet the other arm of government has to cheek to seek self-glorification and praise for returning a mere pittance of what was robbed from a people in the first place.
Here we are expected to be immensely grateful to the Ruling party for its little scraps thrown at us with little dignity and in the midst of it having to face the iron fist of the machinery. Is that possible?
Imagine a rebellious peasant, one leg broken by the soldiers standing nearby, and forced into a kneeling position before the King. He would have expected the executioner’s sabre to cut his head off with a swift stroke. But that did not happen.
Instead, the ruler rises from his throne and approaches the kneeling peasant. Slaps the peasant with a swift and deft stroke by the back of his palm, followed by a spitting onto his face. To top it all, the orders the grimacing peasant to salute the king, praise his greatness and express his gratitude.
The ruler expects the peasant to be contented henceforth.
The peasant instead views the episode as an insult both to dignity and intelligence – a fate worse than death.
The peasant will remember this episode and he promises himself that the ruler and his soldiers will pay for this in time to come.