Sunday, October 07, 2007

How exactly NOT to answer a question.

Our beloved leader, man of the people, father of our nation, question dodger.

How interesting that when you look at his rhetoric and really examine what he's saying, it's all towing the line and hammering the querier with the same thing over and over until they're blue in the face and then you claim a victory. Case in point:

THE forum had just ended when spirited literature major Michelle Chiang, 21, wanted to ask a final question on the arts.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew paused briefly, decided to stay on to tackle her question - and a lively back-and-forth between her and the leader began to play out spontaneously.

Miss Chiang's burning question: 'Do you see a natural contradiction in censorship codes and Singapore's efforts to promote artistic expression?'

Mr Lee questioned his questioner, and the essence of their exchange, which moved from censorship to homosexuality, follows:

Mr Lee: 'What is the problem you see?'

Miss Chiang: 'For example, at the Singapore Arts Festival, there have been films that were censored to such an extent that the artists decided to withdraw their films from the festival.

So in this case, Singaporeans did not get exposed enough to artistic works, within Singapore.'

Mr Lee: I don't see that as a great deprivation.'

Miss Chiang: 'The thing is we can travel out of Singapore...'

Mr Lee: 'No, no, you don't have to travel out. They will come. You can see it on the Internet...'

Miss Chiang: 'Yes, but with regard to local artists' creations, there have been impediments because of the censorship code so there's a limit to what we can produce.'

Mr Lee: 'I just find it unbelievable that your artistic being suppressed because of the censorship code. It cannot be. What is it you want to say, do, draw, paint?'

Miss Chiang: 'OK, I'm not saying that pornography, for example, will help in artistic expression...Films relating to politics and explicit art are limited.'

Mr Lee: 'What is explicit art?'

Miss Chiang: 'As in maybe films that depict homosexual roles.'

Mr Lee: 'Surely you can find expression through many other areas...

The movement is towards a globalised world culture. But we have to retain certain values of our own...Eventually, if that becomes the mainstream, with homosexual acceptance in China, in Taiwan, in Hong Kong, it will come to us. But we will go at a speed which makes our people comfortable. At the moment, if you move in this direction, you're going to make a lot of people unhappy and it's not necessary. Let's treat this in an adult way... If you're born homosexual, then so be it, but must you parade it and must you go out of your way to antagonise, embarrass or defy people with more conventional views? I think it is not necessary.'

Notice that the question asked was not the question answered. Watch how he dodges and slides from point to point, all the while throwing the questioner off by going on the offensive and hijacking the thread and twisting it so that you end up talking about what he wants to talk about.

More interestingly enough was the question that popped into my head as I read the article. "Hasn't progress in many fronts occurred because people asked questions that made society uncomfortable?" Let's see...Women's rights, racial equality, independence, scientific revolutions. All these occurred because someone was willing, no, daring enough to bring the topics up in the general public and yell it from the rooftops no matter who was embarrassed by it. Perhaps that's what Singapore needs a good dose of.

But back to my point. If you take a look at the points raised by our dear EmperorMinister Mentor, you'll realise that he doesn't really address the idea of censorship and creativity and instead goes on an offensive to force the questioner to eventually ask a question that he has an official stand on. Which is a little worrying for our nation's future. This is indicative of the government we have. With every report on the news about Myanmar (and the associated corruption etc...) we seem to just quote from the government phrasebook of approved political stands. Yes, we do admonish Myanmar. No, it's not in our place to tell them what to do. Yes, we do have businesses in Myanmar. No, we are incorruptible so all the deals with have with Myanmar are above board and legal. Yes, we do treat corrupt government officials but there is the Hippocratic oath. (Which Singapore as a country NEVER took)

The same goes for questions about the CPF. Why can't we get higher returns? Well...We're investing in safe government bonds for you. Singapore Inc. will never fold and therefore, we can give you money. Bull frikkin' crap. I get higher returns on fixed deposits (which the CPF is) and said fixed D's guarantee me a higher return over a shorter period of time. That said, realise that if we're buying into a company, it means that the company profits as well. If we are buying into government bonds, then the government profits. Where is all the profit going to? If Singapore Inc. really is growing at that substantial rate, why are its investors getting such a low return? And where do the profits really go when all is said and done? What does happen if we the citizens actually take our money out of CPF and invest it ourselves? And don't you give me any of that crap that says that I'll blow it all and end up poor and destitute. Is the government's concern more about me or about the fact that suddenly, they've got a whole lot less money to invest in failing enterprises?

Hey. We pay you guys ludicrous amounts of money. We did NOT pay for robots with preprogrammed responses. If the PAPgovernment wants us to be a thinking nation, howsabout you lead the charge? Can the canned responses and actually answer our questions for a change? We've been fed the same crap for way too long and I think it's time that we got the answers to the questions that we asked, instead of the questions that you want to answer.

And let's do this straight, shall we?


Anonymous The Singapore Daily said...

Hi Packrat, you've been featured in The Singapore Daily []. Keep blogging!

Tue Oct 09, 11:39:00 am 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He know that whatever he said will be printed and used as a precedent for the government. The question was to the point and he went around the bushes. Remember, keep the laws, but do not enforce them. WTH!

Tue Oct 16, 11:38:00 am 2007  

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