Agitated? Use of arbitrary power is the S’pore way leh!

In Political governance on 14/06/2013 at 5:28 am

Blogger Ravi Philemon addressed the rally: “The Media Development Authority should take its hands off the online world because it is the most open public space Singaporeans have right now,” he said. “The regulation will only give the government unlimited power to act arbitrarily against the interests of Singaporeans.”*

The other speakers also spoke along the same lines and the crowd there on 8 June cheered them on.

It’s precisely because the cyberspace is the most open public space Singaporeans have right now that the govt wants unlimited power over it, though the govt would disagree that it wants the power to act arbitrarily against the interests of Singaporeans: it would argue that it wants the power to protect us.

In the political sphere, there has been no open space since 1959: Nothing has changed. Opposition leader and secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party Chee Soon Juan expressed concerns that the government was trying to stifle political opponents online and said that there was a danger that the government could be seen as “trying to regulate the opposition’s means of communicating with voters before the next elections”.*

In the field of public social behaviour, S’pore has had “NO” spitting, littering, smoking and other such campaigns. While these attempts to curb uncivil and unhygienic public behaviour (a plus), they are the use of  arbitrary power.

There there have been the various social engineering projects (birth control, “graduate she-rabbits”, “Breed for S’pore”, “Speak Mandarin”, “Foreign Trash Talents Welcome”, the destruction of Chinese language education system etc etc) that are premised on the use of arbitrary power.

In S’pore, even nature is not allowed to run its course, land use is too precious to allow that. All our streams are improved with the addition of concrete banks to prevent soil erosion and ensure that they flow straight into the sea. There are sea walls all around the island to protect vulnerable spots from erosion.

The speakers and their audience may not realise it, but their call for “open public space” and the end to the use of arbitrary power is a challenge to the very foundations of the way S’pore has been governed since its founding, and especially since 1959.

It is akin to:

— the anti-colonial, anti-capitalist agitation of the communists and allies;

— Tan Wah Piow’s efforts; or

— the “Marxists’ conspiracy”.

In the days when one Harry was sheriff, judge and jury, the speakers and audience would be in “Cold Store”, and denounced publicly as subversives, running dogs and stooges of  fat capitalist cat Yahoo!

While the curbing of “public space” and the use of arbitrary power is still par for the course, Harry’s Law isn’t used nowadays. Some things have changed, and for the better.

Another example of change for the better is that the internet regulations are not imposed on the likes of TOC, TRE, yet. In the olden days, Harry wouldn’t want to waste a good law on juz Yahoo!


  1. […] Thoughts of a Cynical Investor : Agitated? Use of arbitrary power is the S’pore way leh! – Happy ArtFood: Online platform is a Great Media for Leaders (If They Bother to Listen to […]

  2. Hard to figure out what your point is all about..

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