Todd Crowell, Speaking Freely:
People are upset? It must be about the economy. The solution is to find ways to give them more prosperity. If people are busy making money they will be happy and not agitate for political reforms.
Economic security in exchange for personal freedoms and democratic reforms. Give up any rights to speak out, demonstrate, gather, organise, and they’ll make sure you prosper. Sounds familiar? Sounds historical?
As the author says, this approach cannot last forever; “… inevitably it will lead to further blow-ups.”
(I’m clearly not talking about China.)
I find myself torn.
One the one hand, the time is long overdue for my government (and I use the term loosely) to give power back to the people. They say we’re a democracy. We’ve got good infrastructure, a well-run (I think) financial system, lots of players in the market, a noisy and relatively fun social scene – all in all, hallmarks of a modern country. Many young Singaporeans are chafing at the bit to do more, to strike out on our own and be independent minded, both in thought and action¹. Government-mandated initiatives in ‘innovation’ pen us in, it’s their way or the highway, since they’ve decided that this is the path to further economic prosperity.
On the other hand, I’m not sure Singaporeans are ready for any real power. We’ve been nannied (what’s the masculine term, Lee’d?) by the state for so long that I reckon most of us either can’t remember or have no knowledge of what life was like before the all-powerful PAP ruled the roost. Even if completely free and fair elections were to be held next week, with no difficulties faced by opposition parties, I doubt any superstars of the Singapore scene would quickly join up with [insert name of opposition party here], and so they will not field any new, household name candidates. Voters would then go with the ‘safe’ bet.
(You know, this might actually be a good strategy for the PAP.)
It would be wonderful if the Registry of Societies relaxed, if the National Trades Union Congress was broken up into unions that were independent, if libel suits were decided by a panel of international judges, if I actually had to vote at the next general election because my constituency didn’t get redistricted yet again to ensure the safe political retention of an important neighbourhood.
¹ I don’t know this for sure, but certain individuals I have become acquainted with recently (online, so about as acquainted as I can be in that respect) inspire a lot of hope that Singaporeans are not doomed to just seek out monetary wealth.