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As I walked down by the river tonight after Rojak, it dawned on me to wonder: Is it worth it, to be able to walk alone after midnight in downtown Singapore and not have to worry about being harassed or attacked --- in exchange for not being able to blog about elections or the countless OB (out-of-bounds) markers about talking about race or religion or sex or the real politics of this country?

Is it?


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At 3/10/2006 1:58 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

No... and the two are unrelated. I think there's other places in the world where people walk alone after midnight, quite safe, and have a lot less human rights issues with their government. For shame!

At 3/11/2006 2:05 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

False dichotomy.

"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

At 3/11/2006 9:50 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same reply I will give anyone who gives me the starving-child-in-rwanda sequence: name 2. 2 places where safety is as assured (because whatever else is wrong with SG, we do have this; not 100%, but close) and where the gahmen isn't so anal.

Yeah that quote is oft-used, and yeah de facto isn't de jure, but she's asking about de facto -- and sadly, that's all we have to work with here.

I also thought at one time that I'd get the beep out of this place as soon as I could. But the prospect of raising a family does things to one's psyche. Makes one a lot more willing to compromise, for one thing.

*shrug* I dunno. What is home? Home isn't a country, home isn't a place that necessarily can be named. I think I'll choose to live here because it's a lot safer than other places, and because I know this place. Do I call Singapore my home, then, if I don't have that special warm fuzzy feeling in my heart that tells me "This is home, truly/Where I know I must be"? *rolls eyes slightly to show I am not serious*

At 3/11/2006 1:01 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

according to Rawls and his theories of justice, a just society/government is (1) where every individual is able to enjoy maximum rights and liberties without impinging upon another, and (2) even where there are inequalities, the least well off are in the best position they could be.

however, (1) is lexically prior to (2), and (1) must always be assured, no matter what. assuming that harassment and attacks on persons arise out of inequal economic distribution, this means that no amount of economic increases (and therefore stability and safety) can justify the limitation of rights and liberties.

and, more importantly, a society/government that attempts to limit rights and liberties using the excuse of greater economic good is unjust.

At 3/11/2006 10:49 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

fell bat - Helsinki and Toronto. Ok.. don't walk in the big parks at night, but that goes for all cities, including Singapore. I come from Paris and I often walk home alone at night, of course avoiding Stalingrad and Strasbourg-Saint Denis, but I have no shortage of quibbles with the government here as well. Singaporeans often think their safety is what makes their repression worthwhile.

Of course, you might not feel repressed if you fit well into the mold, the same way you have no idea how your views are being formed if you don't research outside of the given media. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to just be oblivious and ignorant after all... the Brave New World. ooops... another tangent... sorry Tym.

At 3/12/2006 10:55 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Toronto!

Canada's definitely a thing I'm keeping in mind. But I'll have to wait and see.

"assuming that harassment and attacks on persons arise out of inequal economic distribution, this means that no amount of economic increases (and therefore stability and safety) can justify the limitation of rights and liberties."

I'm sorry, could you explain this? We have the premise that the maximization of individual rights and liberties without impinging on others is the prime ideal. But even with this premise, how do you arrive at most of the impinging deriving from economic inequality? And from there, how do you jump to saying that this proves your last statement?

Anyways, the "greater economic good" isn't even the primary excuse for us folks. The "greater moral good" and the "greater social good" rear their butt-ugly heads too.

At 3/12/2006 3:25 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think what i'm getting at is the freedom to think. and to express oneself.

is safety and comfort enough justification for the curtailment of independent thought and the expression of those thoughts? and is the economic well-being of society enough justification for the limitation of an individual's right to the freedom of thought and expression?

if your safety and comfort is compromised, you can prepare yourself for it and take precautionary measures. can you ever prepare yourself for repression and suppression of thought?

At 3/12/2006 9:22 pm , Blogger tcn afen said...

I walk along the streets of new york past midnight all the time and never get harrassed or attacked.
doesn't mean that a democratic place=less safe

At 3/13/2006 7:06 am , Blogger NARDAC said...

Taliesin - I think you took a lot of space to say things nobody here can understand. Keep in mind a lot of us here are not in your field, taking your seminar, being beaten up by drunks of bikes wielding rubber knives, throwing pans of hot water around at 9 in the morning... or god knows what else.

What I do hear is your frustration over what seems to be a form of racism. If that's how you feel democracy is being compromised, well, there's room in there for that argument. England is hardly the place I would choose as representative of a democracy. And you're in a micro-community with University, and probably a place that's preserved a lot of its old and eccentric rules because "that's the way it's always been and that's the way it is." The truly wicked will find ways to subvert every rule they feel constrictive and I believe the English place great weight in ingenuity.

Anyways, I don't think that democracy equals more or less safety because the two things are quite unrelated. Let's end this train of thinking right now. Tym, this really is your fault, though you pointed out yet another disturbing aspect of the Singaporean identity.

At 3/13/2006 12:03 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And THAT is true enough! Our gahmen has managed to conflate these two separate issues through social engineering.

By *right*, they should never be related. By *left*, or rather, as things are presented, it's the sort of choice we are unhappily facing. Again, de facto is not de jure.

Lish, why're you even comparing the UK and SG in the first place? What's all this starving child in Rwanda business? Sure, UK is bad. Why should we then like SG? Getting hit by a bus is worse than getting hit by a car, but that doesn't mean getting hit by a car is fun.

At 3/13/2006 8:01 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberty is not idealistic, really. There are certain rights and freedoms that are central to being human: ie, being respected as a person and having your views respected as much as the next person wearing the white uniform.

In fact, the view that once free speech is accorded, people will ultimately resort to extremism is a scary bedtime story our talented politicians have been feeding us for ages.Sure, there may be some extremist views (blowing up people for the sake of some greater ideal) being heard but at the end of the day, AT LEAST, there is frank discussion. and the idea that no single authority can adjudicate what thought or expression is worthy to be expressed can be a good thing. right now, the excuse of "protecting the people from dangerous deviant thoughts" reeks of thought monopoly.

i say let all the thoughts, dangerous or otherwise, be surfaced. at least then we can deal with these thoughts instead of kidding ourselves that we live in happy candyland. we have adequate legal recourse to deal with dangerous behaviour like plotting to plant bombs[attempted murder,etc], yet we have few safety nets for people to speak their minds.

At 3/14/2006 12:37 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

I live in Paris. Those riots weren't race riots, as the media were so quick to jump on. The riots were about a serious class and generational schism, which is why the government here immediately put forth a new law, resulting from the riots, creating new work policies for youth. The suburbs is full of minorities, but it was also young white kids in the mix. The common denominators were age (under 17), male, and poor.

However, the situation is so complex and I am doing it no justice in this small comment box, which is a major problem but it's not my blog.

Just because we don't live in a utopia doesn't mean we shouldn't have ideals, nor hope. I bet all those medieval people not wearing underpants never imagined that one day they'd be a world where Japanese schoolgirl's underpants were being sold in a vending machine.

Anyways, take a chill pill taliesin. You don't know the truth about the universe anymore than we do.


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