HK chaos: LKY got it right

HK chaos: LKY got it right

Fanny Law, a senior advisor to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, made an interesting observation this week. No, I am not referring to her throwaway remarks on a radio show that a 14-year-old Hong Kong girl had offered sex to protestors as part of her contribution to the “revolution”. Law, yes, interestingly that’s her surname, said Hong Kong laws have not been updated enough to deal with riots and violent chaos.

Well, let me tell you what else they have not updated. Take a leaf from your old favourite punching bag – Mr Lee Kuan Yew. If he had been alive, our late Mr Lee would have lectured them “I told you so.’’ For decades, Hong Kong pro-Western media and establishment had slammed our strongman for his iron-fisted approach towards governance and civil obedience. They frown upon strong government as if it must always be a bad thing.

A bit of history. As a young man, Lee had watched how brutal but effective the Japanese were in bringing their conquered subjects in line during the Japanese Occupation. He also had first-hand experience on how the communists used sabotage operations during the strikes and communal violence in the 50s and 60s.

Mr Lee had that all figured out more than five decades ago when he sought, through social engineering and socialist economic policies, to bring about stability. You want development and progress, you need political and social stability to get things done. Here’s a look at what Lee had amended to get it going.

 

Land Acquisition Act

One of the triggers for this summer of discontent in Hong Kong had been the widening income inequality, and its most widely cited symptom, the housing crisis.

Today, a private flat in Hong Kong of a size of 284 sq ft is reported to have fetched over HK$4 million or around HK$15,000-$16,000 psf. In Singapore, that amount would have fetched you the biggest new HDB flat with much to spare for renovation and a housewarming party. On a per sq ft basis, we are talking about Orchard Road district. 91 percent of Singaporeans own their own homes, of which the smallest is nearly 3 times that size. Only half of Hongkongers own their own homes. About one third are in public rentals, which have a waiting time of about five years!

How did Singapore arrive here? The Land Acquisition Act. Lee was a socialist. He grabbed land from the private owners and then redistributed them as affordable public homes and business premises to provide livelihoods. A year after independence in 1966, Lee knew he had to quickly acquire land to meet the pressing need for industrialisation, jobs and mass housing. He passed the Land Acquisition Act to help the Government make compulsory acquisition and control land costs. He gave it back to the people through cheap housing and industrial land. In many other countries, it ends up in their leaders’ and cronies’ pockets.

Almost everything we could see from Changi to Jurong was once owned by someone else before the government grabbed and re-released them for development. In the process, he delivered housing and industrialisation. LKY understood that home ownership gave the people a stake in the country, made them want to protect it. And he extended home ownership through the CPF scheme which makes quality homes affordable from an early age. He ensured even the poorest are not going to be living in cages or on the streets without dignity like the Hongkongers.

For decades, Hong Kong had no guts to institute land reforms. Housing had pretty much been outsourced to the self-interested tycoons who controlled supply and prices. Clearly, it is time for a major overhaul of its land and housing policies, from extending infrastructure to unusable land to a new distribution model on private/public housing. Mind you, Hong Kong is bigger than Singapore landwise. Either the Government grabs the land back from the tycoons, or they set up their own HDB to build and sell public flats at subsidized rates. Or a combination of both. Ironically while Hongkongers kept up their attacks on Beijing in the last few decades, the solutions to most of their problems are socialist or communist in nature. Which brings me to the next point.

 

EDB and GLCs

For decades, Singapore had been slammed for government’s visible hand in business. Critics in Hong Kong loved to pronounce the death of the Singapore model as the Government jumpstarted many of its industries in the early years to provide key public services such as airline, port, shipping, food, utilities, transport and others. EDB had been criticised for its role in picking winners and wooing and co-investing in industries to spur growth. But they did provide quality jobs and livelihood.

In Hong Kong, those services had been taken up by the rich developers. They enriched themselves at the expense of the majority. Hong Kong had tried the EDB route but they were reluctant to go for full-fledged direct investment and promotion, other than information sharing. Again, if Hong Kong is bold enough, they may want to consider Government-led intervention, some state-owned enterprises (read: Fairprice, GLCs) to compete with the private sector on pricing and, at the same time, provide opportunities for SMEs and jobs for the restless young. That would take a strong leader in the class of Deng Xiaoping and LKY to go against conventional belief to tell Hongkongers to take that non-market route. Again, another socialist move.

Vandalism and caning

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Burning of an MTR entrance.

It was no coincidence that Singapore’s strong laws on vandalism also came about during its early days of development. LKY saw how the communists had used anti-social acts and hooliganism to disrupt public peace. He had no time for vandals and mass protests when he needed stability to get Singapore working.

LKY said it well when he introduced the Vandalism Act. “We have a society which, unfortunately, I think, understands only two things – the incentive and the deterrent. We intend to use both, the carrot and the stick. … A fine will not deter the type of criminal we are facing here. He is quite prepared to go to gaol, having defaced public buildings with red paint. Flaunting the values of his ideology, he is quite prepared to make a martyr of himself and go to gaol. He will not pay the fine and make a demonstration of his martyrdom. But if he knows he is going to get three of the best, I think he will lose a great deal of enthusiasm, because there is little glory attached to the rather humiliating experience of having to be caned.’’

So anyone who want to go out there and destroy public property would think twice. Even after superpower USA pleaded for leniency for vandalising teen Michael Fay, we still gave three of the best, literally. Today, Hong Kong rioters who burned MTR entrance, damaged turnstiles and vending machines, threw rocks onto rails, tore down lamp posts, vandalised police stations and airport knew they would be arrested and re-released with no bodily harm. Sometimes, you really need to kill a few chickens to scare the monkey.

 

ISA

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Singapore during the Hock Lee riots.

LKY didn’t invent the Internal Security Act. It was a legacy of the British who had to deal with the Emergency, the race and communal riots in the 1950s. But LKY continued to put it to good use to enforce preventive detention, tackle subversion, suppress organised violence against people and property. It had been effective and received overwhelming support of the people. Sure, ISA has risks of political abuse. But in the last 30 years or so, the republic has only used it only against those who promoted terror, violence or disrupt racial and religious harmony. Man, what would Carrie Lam give to have the Act used to arrest and lock up the trouble makers without trial. The current revolving door process is never going to deter even a 14-year-old kid – you destroy public property, hurt police, you get arrested, you get re-released and you even ask for amnesty as part of your demands!

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Hong Kong protestors throwing something at the police.

LKY introduced tough laws on strikes. Anyone who wants to instigate illegal strikes would be harshly dealt with. Think ISD and deportation. It is no accident that our number of strikes fell from hundreds to almost nil in the last few decades. When the SIA pilots tried to play punk with him, he threatened to sack them all and restart all over again.

 

National education, integration and patriotism

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Protestors waving the UK flag.

LKY understood the importance of nation building. In 1965, Singapore was largely a community of immigrants from China, India, Malaysia with little affiliation to the nation. He introduced the pledge, national education, promoted the Singapore identity to break away from their colonist power and their countries of origin. He united the different Chinese dialect groups with Mandarin. He started National Service to promote nationhood, ownership and social integration.

In Hong Kong, the British did enough in the dying years of colonialism to do the reverse on China, egging and brainwashing the media, the intellectuals, teachers and subsequently the children from seeing China as their own country. The Hong Kong government couldn’t even control what is taught in the textbooks. In fact, the youth now pretty much saw China as the enemy, the butchers of Tiananmen massacre who must be stopped at all costs. The extradition bill was just an excuse. It could have been any other bill. The fact is they never saw China as their motherland. There is enough evidence to support that: witness the USA/UK flags and national anthem being sung during the protests. Incidentally, you fly a foreign flag and sing their national anthem in public here, Police would have moved in. For that matter, if the kids had invaded the US Congress or UK Parliament, they would have been shot before they could go past the door. Don’t believe it? Try climbing the White House fence.

 

Media laws

I know this will be unpopular. But LKY decided from day one the media is not going to be the Fourth Estate. He disliked the foreign media who want to influence politics without having to win the vote. For the past 50 years, he clamped down harshly on foreign media and reminded them in no uncertain terms who runs this country. He closed foreign-influenced newspapers. He arrested subversive editors. He cut circulation. He revoked correspondents’ work permits. No questions asked.

The Hong Kong coverage so far by many foreign correspondents had been biased. To the extent that the foreign correspondent of a major American network could actually contradict herself to suit her anti-Police narrative within the same soundbite. You may not agree with me. But the media running amok filming the protestors has actually encouraged them to stage their spectacle for the cameras. It made the Police’s job difficult.

Accountability, legitimacy and Opposition

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Personally, I think the biggest problem with One Country Two Systems is legitimacy. Not only the current generation failed to accept Chinese rule, they saw no legitimacy and accountability in the Hong Kong Government.

A Chief Executive selected by a small group of pro-establishment college presents little legitimacy and accountability. If the Chief Executive had been selected by the biggest political party in Legislative Council, there would have been some semblance of recognition of representation.

LKY knew the importance of accountability and governance. He put his programmes to the people. He delivered on them. When necessary, he used Draconian measures to get what he wanted for the greater good. At the end of five years, we all go to the polls and we decide if we still want him. In short, we have a say. And in one of the shrewdest political manoeuvres ever, he introduced the NCMP and NMP schemes to parliament. Which means even if there is a clean sweep by the ruling party, there would still be dissenting voices in Parliament to check on the Government. We are probably the only country in the world which guaranteed Opposition representation in the Constitution. This allows for a strong Government and mandate to carry out all the necessary policies needed swiftly. LKY would later introduce the GRC system which ensures there would always be minority representation in Parliament, so all races feel they have a say.

Hong Kong and China would now need to find a quick solution to deal with the issue of legitimacy and accountability. Governance by a self-selected head of government with no parliament representation is not working. Worse, the current system is equivalent to a parliament that is technically made up entirely of opposition ready to object to any policies by the Government. After all, the chief executive doesn’t belong to the majority party of parliament  and doesn’t get elected directly by the people. The Chief Executive counts her support solely by virtue of some parties being pro-Beijing.

A strong leadership is needed to go up to Beijing to revisit the Basic Law and introduce legitimacy and accountability to governance. In that light, universal suffrage may not be a bad idea after all. So that when a democrat eventually wins and still can’t solve all their social and economic woes, Hongkongers will have no one to blame but only themselves.

 

 

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HK revolution? Grow up!

HK revolution? Grow up!

I have liked Hongkongers for their wit, resilience and ability to stand up for themselves. They are smart people. They work fast. They look after themselves well. But increasingly I am beginning to think I was mistaken. Those positive attributes should be heavily qualified. They apply only to the people I have met and known back in the 1990s. People of my generation. Meaning the younger ones are dumber than I thought.

Sample this piece of news. A group of students from the University of Science and Technology, presumably their smartest people in the territory, has called for the independence of Hong Kong from China. They call themselves “ProgressUST’’. Sure, go ahead, declare independence. If you can go on your own without water, food, money, defence, and, more important, the Chinese consumer, tourist and labour markets which had been solely responsible for your economic survival and prosperity for the last 40 years.

As if that’s not enough, here’s what else they are calling for. That Hong Kong should cut ties with China on China’s National Day. And repatriate all mainlanders in Hong Kong, revoking of licences of Chinese enterprises operating in the city and, get this, building a physical border between the city and mainland to cut off the Chinese. A Trump wall.

Where do we even begin? For a start, I certainly hope this extreme, if not dumb, position, does not reflect the views of the majority of the students. For obviously these are from students who have not been schooled in basic economics, politics and history. Talk about cutting off your own limbs to threaten someone else. Reminds me of a bratty toddler throwing tantrums at the parents not knowing that without its parents, it would be dead in a week. Except in this case, Xi Jinping can literally throw the baby down the river if things do get nasty for him up north. Any show of weakness in the brutal Communist Party system would spell the end of the political career of the leader.

That said, such radical demands pretty much sum up the sad and unfortunate state of political awareness of the Hong Kong youth, and their tragic self-destruction. One convenient argument that keeps popping up to explain away their reckless, irresponsible actions is this – the youth have no choice because they have no future and nothing to lose, therefore they rather self-destruct, or as they say in Cantonese, “hug and die together’’.

Nothing to lose? This perhaps explains why these kids need to stop the protesting and go back to class and complete their basic education. What they don’t seem to understand is they do have much to lose, in fact, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of public and private assets which belong to them. Ironically, it has become a self-fulfilling campaign. The way things are going, they will really end up with nothing. They conveniently forget that the billions of Government dollars now used to handle the unproductive protests belong to them, the taxpayers, their parents and forefathers who worked hard to save up for them. Who do they think paid for hospitals, universities, high schools, trains, rail tracks and airports? Their parents and their parents’ parents paid for them. It’s theirs to lose, not the Government’s. And certainly not Xi Jinping’s.

Not forgetting the foreign currency reserves worth US$445 billion, painstakingly built up by generations of hardworking Hongkongers, their parents and forefathers. All meant to provide financial and economic stability for the city. In fact, no one other than the youth stands to gain more from their use. Likewise, no one other than the youth stands to lose more from their losses. Instead, what the kids are trying to do now is disrupt economic activities and even derail the financial system by calling for a run on banks, basic infrastructure and businesses. Guess where the Government has to turn to if they need to shore up confidence in the territory’s currency and financial position. And if the complaint is really about the lack of housing and an economic future, where do you think the money has to come from to provide them? The Government’s coffers. Now, the chances of a George Soros coming in to attack the Hong Kong currency to break the exchange peg has become more likely, thanks to the students’ own destabilising acts. The central bank would have to deplete the reserves to fend off such an attack in the currency and equity markets, depriving them of other productive uses meant for the youth.

Now some political reality check. And history lessons. First, waving American and British flags thinking that the West are supporting their independence movement. Sure, it will annoy Beijing. But it only serves the selfish interests of the Americans and the West in this geopolitical manoeuvre against China’s rise. It becomes convenient for the Americans. Free chip, godsend. Why not? But if things do turn ugly and the Chinese tanks roll in, America and Europe are not going to shed a drop of blood for them. In the geopolitical chess game, Hong Kong is nothing. Hongkongers should learn from the Ukraine crisis in Crimea. The West egged the Ukrainians to push their luck. When Russia brutally went in and took over, everyone in the West ran for cover. Crimea remained occupied today and forgotten. In 1982, Deng Xiaoping declared he was taking back Hong Kong and warned sovereignty is non-negotiable. No one in UK or USA dared to block it. Almost 40 years later with a much stronger Chinese military and economy in place, the chances of any help coming from the West is literally nil. So go ahead, be a pawn for the West. But go in with eyes open. No one will come to your rescue.

Hongkongers have to understand the psyche of the Communist leaders and the Chinese people. Since the days of Mao, Deng and later Jiang and others, they know they are arriving at a good place in history. The naïve Hong Kong kids are planning sabotages for the next hour, the next day. The Communists take a view of a few hundred years. The Chinese revolution to find its place in the sun that began since the Opium war in the 1840s have not ended. They are continuing that struggle to stand up for their place in the world. They went through brutal times during the unfair foreign treaties in the 1900s, warlord years after the fall of the China dynasty, Japanese Occupation, Civil War, Cold War isolation, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution. They now know they are finally on the right track. They have succeeded in building a strong nation that can stand proud and bully others into submission when necessary. They are not going to let a smallish former British colony get in their way in this historic moment.

So what the Hongkongers have miscalculated is not just how insignificant they are, but the resolve of that brutal Communist leadership to stand firm against foreign pressure. More important, the genuine support that they are getting from their own people, including the PRC youth and elite. The Chinese people have lived through the bloody struggle and know they are on the right track too. The nationalism card used to shore up the legitimacy of the CCP has largely worked. The Chinese people really think they “have stood up’’.

It didn’t help that for decades Hongkongers have been misbehaving themselves by acting arrogantly, discriminating against their poorer Chinese neighbours and visitors. They called them derogatory names and publicly looked down on them. As luck would have it, that poor cousin has now built up his muscles, struck rich, become better educated and even, yes, better spoken. Hongkongers would do well not to underestimate the support Beijing is getting from their own people. The tables have turned. And very soon, Hongkongers are going to learn it the hard way. Always remember this: 30 years ago when the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square, everyone fled and no one came in to save the poor souls. No widespread revolution happened. It certainly is not going to happen today.

So what should they do now? Much of the economic woes in Hong Kong today are not solely the fault of China. The oligarchy that made the tycoons so rich is a legacy of the British patronage system. Don’t blame China for it. The economic disruption and income inequality is a result of WTO agreement, globalisation and technological advances all driven by the West. The failure of the Hong Kong youth to recognise the legitimacy of Chinese sovereignty is a result of the decades of political poison planted by the West through the biased media onto the mind-set of the people. Most of these socioeconomic issues are global in nature. All of us face them, whether it’s mighty USA, UK or China or tiny Singapore and yes, Hong Kong. So stop being a brat. Sit down together and go solve them. Like an adult.

I am a friend of Hong Kong. I sincerely hope they would stop these senseless violent protests sooner than later. Increasingly, I have come to believe the only way to stop the current protest is a spectacular Big Bang headlined by a massive loss of human lives. Already, with all the endless disruptions and distractions at major transport hubs, they have reached a point where they are just a train or an airplane crash away from a real disaster. Not to mention more fatal clashes between the security forces and protestors as they up the ante each with deadlier weapons. That massive loss of lives would truly be sad and unnecessary.

What a contrast last weekend

What a contrast last weekend

What a contrast last weekend.

Hong Kong was protesting over a bill that’s long been withdrawn. But in Singapore, we were talking about dealing with climate change over the next 50 to 100 years. You get the picture.

Indeed, the challenges ahead are huge. Climate change, keeping people employed amidst automation, taking care of our seniors, ensuring social mobility, all these are challenges that threaten a society’s very existence. This is no time to be fighting over old problems and worse, basing the fight on fake narratives.

In Hong Kong, they’ve been slamming us for decades, saying Singapore is too government-controlled and will never be as creative and vibrant as them. But now when push comes to shove, they want their government to intervene in the market, perhaps institute land reforms, provide fairly-priced public housing and create jobs for the young. And break up the tycoons’ oligarchy. Basically, what we’ve been doing since the 60s.

That in itself is fine. But at the same time, they want to keep protesting a dead bill, supporting those politicians who disrupt government work, and attacking the police and civil service with fake news! And violence. How do they expect the government to deliver, when they are undermining its ability to deliver?

And don’t even get me started on trying to cause a bank run. When they’re selling HK dollars, who do they think is buying them? China is simply gaining more leverage over their economy- at a bargain.

In Singapore, there are also people still trotting out tired narratives and half-truths.

The SDP’s response (represented by Paul Tambyah) is that they want to nationalise preschool, abolish standardised exams and somehow stop people from using private childcare and tuition. Sounds suspiciously like Communism! No mention of how the human instinct to do better will be channelled. Under Communism, people channelled it by competing who was more loyal to the ruling Party, and of course nepotism. The SDP needs a compelling answer to this fundamental question.

Blogger Bertha Henson interpreted the National Day Rally as, “we have to send our kids to school earlier and we have to work longer, but we’ll have a better environment to live, work and play in.” The first part is completely untrue. You can still take your CPF at 55, so if you have planned your saving and spending properly, just take your CPF and quit lah. The changes are mainly to make sure that for those who want to keep working, employers don’t just pay them half the wage for the same job.

And how out of touch is she? Parents are already sending their kids to childcare. But when government meets demand and massively lowers prices, that’s wrong? I shared this with my wife and she replied, “Who does Henson think is doing the work when children go to school later in life? She wants mums and grandmums to keep strapping babies to their backs? No thanks! Wait, she doesn’t have kids, does she?”

Henson also said, she hasn’t thought much about long-term plans to deal with rising sea levels, “but a government that’s too clever by half will result in a weak people that will turn to it for every need.” So you want government to wait for your lead before building dams? We would be six feet under (water) by then!

Whether in HK, SG or anywhere, we need robust criticism. But we deserve criticism based on facts and consistent principles. Not just half-baked soundbites that would be disastrous if really applied. Without infrastructure, schools, homes and healthcare, all the intangibles critics talk about become meaningless. Try having a debate on freedom of speech underwater.

I am just glad the Singapore Government is able to stay focused on the big picture, the long term future. And disregard people who don’t have the slightest inkling how to run a country. People like Henson and Tambyah who ironically benefited enormously from our pragmatic approach that has delivered. Just ask them where they are living and working today.

Singapore doesn’t get what’s happening in HK?

Singapore doesn’t get what’s happening in HK?
(top image: Protestors tied up a Chinese journalist)

I have always liked Hong Kong. I almost got a gig there as a young medical practitioner when a Singapore chain opened its first branch there in the 90s. I admire their people’s resilience, self- reliance and self-righteousness. They work fast. They talk fast. And within that high-octane society lies a lot of kindness too. It is therefore with much sadness that I write this piece.

Now with the city imploding, thanks to the increasingly violent protests, many Singaporeans have understandably expressed concerns and disgust at what they have seen. Many have correctly called for better socio-economic solutions to address the political stalemate. Others have made comments that upset the Hongkongers. These have made many Hongkongers unhappy about our supposed smugness. It is not surprising that our very own usual liberal detractors have joined in their chorus to attack Singapore for not supporting the violent protestors. They seem all too keen to see a similar outbreak happening to Singapore.

But increasingly I am seeing one argument coming from the territory that is pissing me off – that Singaporeans are such a sheltered and cowardly bunch of useless citizens that they don’t understand what the wild kids in Hong Kong are trying to achieve. We, sedate and gutless Singaporeans, have been oppressed so much that we don’t know how to protest and stand up for ourselves. In short, these poor Singaporeans – they don’t understand freedom and democracy. The usual fly-in foreign correspondents’ narrative. If I may add, the usual misconception by many Hongkongers of Singaporeans.

Nothing is further from the truth. Critics of Singapore forget how this little country with no natural resources surrounded by hostile neighbours arrived at where she is today. Unlike the youth protesting in Hong Kong – many who are prepared to hold their own countrymen hostage for their own reckless acts and do not have to deal with communal violence and real threats from their neighbours, Singapore has gone through her own bloody revolution and soul searching.

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Ordinary residents and shopkeepers yelling at the protestors to get off the streets.

In our struggle towards nationhood, we have been through it all.  We do not know riots and protests? We paid with real lives lost, from the student, union and communist riots of the 50s and 60s to the racial riots of the 60s. We know what it was like to try to invent our nation, and at the same time to hold our people together when our less-than-friendly neighbours planted bombs and tried to divide our races. And another from up north constantly trying to cut our lifeline, including occasionally threatening our water supply. Those threats continue until today. These are life and death matters. But many sheltered Hongkongers still do not have the breadth and depth to understand such regional and communal politics. Thanks to a homogenous insular population backed by a big brother hinterland that has been responsible for their success in the last 40 years. Thanks partly too to the fact that they do not have to spend a cent on defence and foreign affairs.

Like many other developing countries, our struggle for freedom and democracy didn’t come easy. We fought hard, we made mistakes, we lost lives and livelihoods. The pain and the prejudice among the races remain very much in the psyche of our people today, save the younger generation who have only benefited from the fruits of their parents’ struggle. Yes, we understood far too well what is it like to protest, to fight in the streets, to kill each other and to live in an unsafe society where the major races do not trust each other. It takes decades, generations to recover from them. We have been there and back. So please save your lecture about freedom, democracy and revolution.

And my dear Hongkong brothers and sisters, we do know what it is like to start a successful revolution and run a country. (And perhaps you need to take a leaf from our book – a former British colony who broke away from colonialism and stood up to a bigger bully up north to build a successful nation.)

And here’s another tip for you. A successful revolution is one that is by the people, of the people and for the people.  But when your revolution is about bullying and hurting  the old, the children, the women and the poor, you have simply lost it. You take down the dictatorship by winning the hearts and minds of the people. You seem to be doing the opposite. Very smart, heckling and physically hitting an old man in the airport. Preventing sick women and children from boarding planes and trains. Preventing struggling small businesses and taxis from doing business – people who have to feed their families. You are no longer working for the people. That was the first principle of politics Singapore learned – you don’t bring benefit to the masses, you are finished.

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Protestors smashing the Legislative Council building. (all images not mine)

And a little gratitude would be welcome. Singapore has been amazingly gracious and helpful towards Hong Kong all these months. Capital flight has already begun. People are beginning to abandon the special administrative region for elsewhere. The Singapore government has notably been careful with their public statements and highly responsible in not capitalising on the misfortune of her rival up north.  I am not so sure Hong Kong would react likewise if we are in trouble.

So get this – we have reacted the way we did because we have been through turbulent times and know what is important. We understand what is it like to lose personal freedom when people sabotage public properties and threaten us with bombs. When race and class divide threaten our livelihood and personal safety. Get the cause and effect right. We are not going out to the streets to protest and fight for freedom because we have, by a large margin, gotten our socio-economic policies right. We delivered.

More importantly, we understand politics is about having clear leadership and working out trade-offs, compromises with the different stakeholders – the government and the people. The Hong Kong liberals have protested for three decades in Hong Kong and gone nowhere because they do not understand the politics of the possible and compromise. They will not get anywhere with China with where they are going. The rich and the foreign passport holders will be fine, as they have one foot safely out of the door. The youth ironically would be one who will suffer the most. Today, China relies less and less on Hong Kong for its trade with the outside world. With the economy crippled further by the violent protests, Hongkongers’ bargaining power has gone further south. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

 

When liberals no longer can tell what is right or wrong

When liberals no longer can tell what is right or wrong

As the title of this blog suggests, I usually do not offer my views unless “I can’t tahan you’’ anymore. And I haven’t been riled up so much for a while. Which explains why I have not been writing. But the stupidity of the liberals defending the offensive, racist rap video!

Every now and then, I do get irritated by portrayals of a certain race or even professions in movies or TV shows, like us heartless medical doctors. Or Hollywood movies portraying Asian characters with bucked teeth, wearing kimonos with Indian background music. But they do not necessarily mean racism or offensive material. I put them down more to cultural ignorance. Or just plain stupidity. Certainly not criminal as there is no law against stupidity.

So when the clowns at the ad agency came up with Dennis Chew portraying characters of different races, including Chinese, Malay and Indian, my first reaction – another dumb creative director who thinks cross dressing and acting as another race is funny. The fact is they tried to portray all the four races, which means they were not targeting maliciously at any particular one. Funnily, I haven’t seen many in the Malay community as well as women complaining about it being offensive against their communities. It is just not clever, some say distasteful but it doesn’t cross the line, as our government officials declared.

But the rap video. It is offensive, racist and toxic. It leaves no ground for subtlety. To put it crudely, the siblings basically F-ed up the entire Chinese community. Even a kid would know it is wrong. In their coordinated attack, yes, coordinated because they were using same sentences and intros, liberals and those who have left their brains behind came up with three justifications to defend it. First, they didn’t start it. The cause of it is the distasteful ad, they argued. Second, they are only targeting some racist Chinese, not the entire Chinese community. Third, no lah, it is just a joke and why can’t you Chinese take a joke.

Wrong on all three counts.

First, to say that it is not their fault because they didn’t cause it – it is like saying I went out to commit a serious violent crime against someone because I didn’t like what the person was acting as in a movie. It is his fault, not mine. Or flying planes into World Trade Center to kill thousands of innocent people and blaming Israel as the cause. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. That is no mitigation.  You are responsible for your own offence. A crime is a crime. There are legal avenues for you if you think someone committed an offence. Ironically, the video actually said two wrongs do not make a right and went on to do exactly that. To make it worse, it is now revealed that long before even this Dennis Chew ad came out, Preeti had released an offensive video where she dressed as a Chinese with two hair buns and mocked Chinese and Chinese New Year. Of all people, she would be the least qualified to scold another race about dressing up as another race in an offensive ad. While Dennis Chew ad was meant to promote a campaign with no malicious intent, her CNY video was in-the-face offensive and racist. What was she thinking?

Second, the justification that they are only targeting some racist Chinese, and not all. Yet the lyrics say “Chinese people always out there f*cking it up”. If someone had said “Indian people always out there f*cking it up”, certainly these people will not accept that it only refers to a few racist ones. The message was simple, you all Chinese are *&$#*&.  I am F—ing you all up. No buts. Pardon my French ( Sorry am I allowed to say French? Will the French mock me in a video?)

Third, it is just a joke, according to the likes of our usual liberal idiotic cheerleaders like Kirsten Han. Miss Han says why you Chinese can’t take a joke? I was wondering why she didn’t ask the same question – why can’t the Indians take a joke over the Dennis Chew ad. Clearly, because she knows the Indian community won’t take it as a joke if she goes out in public and question them over why they are unhappy with the “brownface’’ ad. She will get hammered. Or even get threatened. How is the rap video a joke? You use the F word, you show the middle finger against an entire race and you pass it off as a joke? The easiest way to understand this is to reverse the race. If I, as a Chinese, put out there a rap song and sing “F you all Malays, you all always F it up as a race,’’ I can bet to my last dollar that no one in the Malay community will take it as a joke. Or as a Muslim, I put out a video that raps “F you all Hindus, you guys always mess it up and go back to India’’, no one in the Indian community is going to say it is just a joke. Don’t believe me, Miss Han, I challenge you to do that on your blog. Test out with two such ”jokes’’ against the Malays and Indians and make it public.

Let’s not get our heads all muddled. Call a spade a spade. We have reached a sad state of politics where people can’t tell the basic right from wrong because they allow their disdain for the ruling party to cloud their moral judgement. There are many things in life where even a child knows it is wrong. Let’s face it. Miss Preeti and company messed it up big time. Their video was racist, offensive to Chinese. Period. If we do not want Chinese privilege, we certainly do not want Indian privilege as well where they can get away with murder while the others can’t.  A frightening thought- what if the majority decides ‘enough is enough of all these minority protection and privilege, it’s time for the majority to claim back what should be dictated only by the majority’ – just like in other countries? (Look up north). Then things will really get nasty.

 

 

The Baeying Mob

The Baeying Mob

It’s been a while since I blogged. And usually it has to be something that really pissed me off. And yes, it’s the social media justice mob again. And again, they want to convict by petition. They want to see blood because they are angered by fake news and their own sheer lack of understanding of how the law works.

First things first. I think this Nicholas Lim fellow should be given a harsher punishment. There’s nothing more disgusting than filming women in the shower. Even more so when there’s an expectation of security within the university campus. NUS absolutely needs to get its house in order. There have been too many incidents of such a nature and punishments have been too light. These include Nicholas case.

And no, I don’t think he got light punishment because of status. That’s rubbish. If he had “powerful parents”, he wouldn’t be working as an insurance agent. I had a feeling his parents are probably blue collar workers who have now been dragged through the mud through his actions. And I was right! The police statement said that his father is a driver and his mother is a housewife.

The awful people in the mob claiming that he is connected, have no qualms hurting innocent people like Nicholas’s parents in order to push their agenda. I recall the last time the same mob were involved in a molest case, they were taking the opposite action.

If I remember correctly, a young student was caught red handed molesting a 12 year old girl. Because the boy couldn’t take the pressure after being caught, he jumped to his death even though the police had no intention of charging him. That time, the mob went after the victim, unfairly claiming police brutality and said the police and the school should have just let the boy off.

And the social mob went after the molest victim, again falsely claiming, what’s new, that the girl’s parents must be well connected to the ruling party. None of the well known influencers and commentators spoke up for the molest victim then.

Singaporeans are too quick to believe rumors, and now,  this NUS boy’s family, who are innocent of any crime, have been doxxed and CSI’ed and sent hate mail and threatening comments on social media. Even his girlfriend has been named.

The laws are such, and if we want there to be more severe punishments for such acts of sexual assault, then yes, let’s start now. In fact, anyone looking closely, would know that laws combating sexual violence in Singapore have been massively strengthened in the last few years.

But we cannot re-prosecute Nicholas Lim. Not based on who the netizens like or dislike. Not based on what the victim alleges on social media. That is not justice.

What worries me now is not the police exercising their discretion. It’s that we are letting the baeying mob dictate punishments.

Prosecutorial discretion is there for a good reason. Would the heaviest punishment suit the crime? Would it be good for society?

Take for example, jaywalking. Do we institute the heaviest punishment for a jaywalker, which is a jail term of 3 months? Of course not! But the mob is demanding that lawyers and judges and policemen should NOT be allowed to exercise their discretion. Does the police have to charge everyone caught with theft or molest, regardless of the circumstances leading to the offence, criminal record, rehabilitation potential, youth, maturity of mind and other compassionate reasons.

If we are agreed on that, let’s change the law. But chances are the police will be charging everyone without compassion and wasting public resources and destroying young lives. Would that be real justice, or just to satisfy the thirst for blood of netizens. The usual liberal suspects. Do we also retroactively change punishment every time someone launches a petition?

That is not rule of law. That is mob justice.

And this is where listening to the baying mob is a bad idea. Emotions run high, rumors are spread and widely believed, and the demand for blood runs rampant. There are good reasons why we have judges and prosecutors who are specialists in their field, not use the jury system.

The mob’s attention will be gone by Thursday. The law stays on in perpetuity.

 

The Real Reason Watain Got Cancelled

I seldom blog about race and religion. It’s a sensitive topic. I do not know if our people, or our conservative government, is ready to discuss it openly.

On the one hand, people tell me we need to desensitize our people to such volatile topics. We need to open up public discourse to discuss, debate our differences, tensions and insecurities. On the other hand, any discussion on race and religion inadvertently, always, leads to the consequences that we all try to avoid. We are not as matured as we think.

So there I was talking to my associates on Phar-East Festival when a young man walked in with a Nazi symbol on his jacket. He looked more like he was an aide at a metal rock concert than a delegate visiting Pharm and Biotech Festival. Now all the talk in the newspapers about Watain begins to make even more sense to me.

Death metal has a big problem. It’s a Nazi-sized problem, pardon the pun. And there’s no point ignoring it any further. I decided to blog it.

[Read: https://music.avclub.com/metal-music-still-has-an-unaddressed-nazi-problem-1798258676%5D

If you have been visiting Mars and not read the papers, Watain is a Swedish death metal band. Our dear Government just pulled the plug on them hours before the concert.

Who are these people? They call themselves a Satanic band. Yet, they also subscribe to philosophies like Odinism and Wotanism, that celebrate old Norse gods.

But there is a darker side. These are the same philosophies attracting Neo-Nazis, far-right fascists and white supremacists in Europe and America. Metal bands in America like Skrewdriver and RaHoWa have been leading white supremacist groups for decades. (RaHoWa, by the way, is an acronym for Racial Holy War). Any self-righteous politically correct activist worth their salt should start with these people first.

Now, some metal fans and musicians might say that adopting Nazi imagery is purely an aesthetic choice. But this is the world of Trump. This is a world where fascists no longer care about subtlety. When people lie about a restaurant running a paedophile ring, real people do go out and shoot people.

Since Watain sings “Fuck your Jewish God!”. Since they have abused animals and used their blood and organs as props on stage. Since their lead singer has openly celebrated the oppression of Christianity. Worse, they glorify and sing about death and suicide to their young impressionable audience. As a medical personnel, let me assure you these are not trivial matters to be ignored. Watain has to be taken at their word.

Their lead singer agrees that “I think criminal activities and metal are naturally connected.” (https://www.revolvermag.com/music/watains-erik-danielsson-theres-never-been-any-line-weve-been-afraid-cross).

Their guitarist has been photographed giving the Nazi salute (http://www.metalsucks.net/2018/03/27/watain-photo-of-guitarist-giving-the-nazi-salute-surfaces-online/ )

Their lyrics and behaviour have to be taken at face value.

Back to our friend I met the other day. He wears a leather jacket with a red Nazi swastika on the back. What race do you think the man was? I don’t want to sound racist. But you would probably get it right.

There is a very strange obsession amongst them with Nazi symbols. Whether it is a mindless attempt at anti-establishment behaviour, or some kind of aesthetic choice, or just their fashionable hatred of Jewish people, it is still appalling to celebrate an ideology that murdered millions of innocent people. Try wearing a shirt with Pol Pot face in Cambodia.

The crazy thing is that many of these young men would themselves be targets in Europe by the Islamophobia being vehemently stoked by Metal bands and their fascist fan base.

I wonder how would they feel about the lyrics from Orkan, a song from another Norwegian metal band, Taake. It goes:

“Til Helvete med Muhammed og Muhammedanerne/
Utilgivelige skikker
To hell with Muhammad and Muslims/
Unforgivable customs”

I didn’t say that. Another metal band did.

Would it be ok if we allow a Christian metal band to perform “Oppress Muslims, Kill all Palestinian and Arabs’’? Or a Chinese singer singing about “Kill all Malays, Kill all Indians?’’ A big “No’’ for me, for sure. For those with the middle fingers, hope you get the drift.

If we all agree that a band or a preacher expousing anti-Islam content should be banned, but that explicit anti-Christian lyrics should be allowed, then what you’re really saying, is that Muslims cannot handle religious insults but Christians can. That’s quite racist. And that’s the real reason why Watain was banned. It is just good policy. Nothing to do with being secular or not.

I am just disappointed that IMDA didn’t do it earlier in the first place.