Monthly Archives: April 2008

Mas Selamat Part Deux

Okay I guess I blogged without really thinking about the issue. I’ve read the dozens of pages of reports and the followups in ST and I’ve followed some, not all, of the discussions on the blogosphere.

I think PM played a politically shrewd move. I had myself asked the question, should Mr Wong Can’t Sing resign? Of course, it was a question that was asked in passing, knowing full well that it would not happen. Did I want it to? Maybe not entirely and that is, I think, why Low Thia Khiang also hesitated when asked point blank by PM.

No, it was a shrewd move to focus entirely on the extreme measure of the sack and argue that its ridiculous, thereby deflecting the necessary need for censure.

The Online Citizen wrote that it wanted at least the offer of resignation. That it was not just the incompetence that let him out in the first place, but how it handled the entire situation. From the slow leaking of information, to the reluctance to acknowledge that it was at fault, to the opaqueness of the COI report and to its arrogance to the final end. And of course, that the PM himself has refused to censure his trusted DPM.

Therein lies the problem. A ahem confluence of factors has really created this cauldron of boiling sentiment. It’s not just Mas Selamat, who I think we have to thank for for the raising of such hackles, but everything else that is wrong with this government. It’s sitting in the clouds, insisting that it has the monopoly of information and wisdom by surrounding with people scoring 4 As. It refuses to open itself up to criticism, taking any jibe at its leaders as a personal affront to the PM. It is the hegemon, writhing and squirming against a rising tide of opposition, pushing back and ceding none except for a few steps.

By focusing on the sack and the ludicrousness of the suggestion, PM has done it again. What we, I at least, really want is to see someone being taken to task. Surely, a low level failure is connected to something higher. As a sergeant in the army, I am always always questioned if my men does something wrong, in camp or outfield. Even if its a minor thing, much less a major thing. If the squadmate, say, lets loose a spare round without being told to do so, it’s a major incident and everyone down the line from the CO will be questioned, interrogated and, if needed, censured. Where was this process of discipline? For a government which prides itself on integrity, this is sorely lacking.

So instead of calling for the sack, which everyone knows is not going to happen, let’s settle for something less. A demotion to Parliamentary Secretary. At that level, he is able to clean up the ISD’s act without having to worry about SDP’s antics on the road and maybe learn some humility in the process.

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Singapore Idol: Mas Selamat

All’s been said has been said. Ridicule, sacarsm, shock, even calls for resignation.

All I want to say is incompetence deserves censure. What censure has there been?

One wonders

I was privileged to have attended a roundtable discussion on the Impact of ICT on the Malaysian Elections: Lessons for Singapore conducted the Institute of Policy Studies in NUS.

Of course, everyone in Singapore by now would have read about the great political tsunami in the recent Malaysian elections when the opposition, led by former Malaysian Deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim, toppled Barisan Nasional off their 2/3 majority in Parliament. Much had been said about the impact of the new media, when bloggers like Jeff Ooi actually made it to Parliament. Much had also been said about news websites such as Malaysiakini, Malaysia Today , the videos of Hindraf, VK Lingam, photos of the Bersih rally and Badawi sleeping and how they changed the way Malaysians received their news and thus formed their opinions

Today I got to hear these main actors first hand and I heard about their stories and what they experienced. It was inspiring. I mean, to be able to have real political competition, choice – that is something I’ve never had and hope fervently that I will.

I am not supposed to blog about the seminar because it was a closed-door session but suffice to say I just want to reflect upon the points raised in that seminar

Did Internet play a crucial role?

The feelings were mixed on this one. Internet definitely allowed voices to be heard where the mainstream press did not previously allow. It allowed ideas to float, issues to be surface: it set the agenda, an agenda that came from the bottom. Witness the Lingam video, Hindraf etc. It united people across the country, it gave a voice to the voiceless.

But is that enough? Probably not. The panelists all agreed that stepping out of cyberspace into the real world is what really mattered. That people were willing to get off the butts and off the keyboard to do what matters, mattered. So instead os just writing about MPs and wanting freedom of speech, they went out to encourage people, to empower them, to get them to walk the streets, to even be arrested.

Does an independent media make a difference?

Yes. Without Malaysiakini , without Raja Petra, would the people have known about what really went on? Would scandals have been exposed? Would there be enough to talk about? Given that MSM in Malaysia is controlled directly, owned by the political parties – a big fat no.

So, will PAP suffer the same fate as BN?

Again, no one is a fortune teller and it is hard to say. But as Yawning Bread pointed out, even if PAP lost as many votes as BN, no way would they lose as many seats. 66.6 per cent to get 82 out of 84 seats.

Three words: GRC.

We could go into a long discussion about GRCs, but better men and women have already discussed the issued to its logical end, which is that it is illogical and serves only to protect the incumbent party.

That said, PAP would do well to learn from BN, but the costs of change are high. Are they willing to pay it? Or will democracy evolve?

I am well pleased.