The Internet vis-a-vis Their Citizens
In an interview with The Australian (21 Aug), a day after US reporter James Foley’s beheading video appeared, President Yudhoyono admitted “Our citizens here in Indonesia are picking up recruitment messages from ISIS containing extremist ideas”. He “called on all Indonesians to reject ISIS and to stop the spread of its radical ideology. My government and security agencies have taken decisive steps to curtail the spread of ISIS in Indonesia, including by prohibiting Indonesians to join ISIS or to fight for ISIS, and also by blocking Internet sites that promote this idea.” <http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-president-says/1322874.html>
Whilst Singaporeans may argue the merits or otherwise of ‘blocking Internet sites’, it is interesting to compare the actions of PM Lee and his ministers on similar matters of ‘ideas’ that do not sit easily with them.
Last April, Singaporeans rose to strongly object the planned Philippines Independent Day celebrations highlighting “two nations” and “interdependence” in posters for the event that appeared to compromise Singapore’s sovereignty. Mistakenly or not, citizens were acting spontaneously from a sense of patriotism.
Minister Tan Chuan-Jin rewarded them by swiftly condemning those citizens as ‘bigots’. PM Lee chimed in, calling their patriotic outbursts ‘a disgrace to Singapore’.
A year earlier, Minister Ibrahim Yaacob said on BBC News, “it is important for us to ensure that they [ordinary Singaporeans] read the RIGHT thing…” after announcing rules to curb the free flow views of Singaporeans on the Internet.
Whilst we can disagree on the need to block websites, we can surely agree the case with Singapore is nothing of the ISIS sort. Singaporeans and extremism do not sit together – except when it comes to condemning citizens who disagree and except, perhaps, in the Singapore PAP Govt’s deliberate & accelerated hollowing out of the Singapore core in its ‘radical ideology’ to insanely grow GDP at all cost. Will it be too late for true Singaporeans who do not have the option of migrating when that day cometh?
Perhaps, we deserve the government we elect.
Their Own Personal View of the Internet
At the 22 Aug Indian Institutes of Management (IIMPACT) dialogue, PM Lee revealingly said, “My personal view is that human society was not designed with the internet age in mind, in the sense that the way it has always worked – you have lags, information disseminates over a period of time, you have time to think it over, (let it) sink in, discuss it, understand it, and gradually form what we hope is a wise consensus. But today, all of that is telescope and the splash goes out tonight and tomorrow morning, everybody knows the answer, which may be the wrong answer. In fact, far from having a faster circuit, you have a short circuit collectively…”
“…It makes your margin of stability much narrower and you have to be able to navigate that and have bumps and spills along the way. It’s inevitable,” he added.
Now, contrast that with President Yudhoyono’s view, spoken a week later at the UN Alliance of Civilizations 6th Global Forum, Bali, 29 Aug.
“As to the Internet, there is no arguing that it is effective in quickly and widely disseminating basic data. It can also be a ruthless agent for the viral spread of prejudice and advocacy of violence. Many a terrorist has been recruited through social media. At the very least, therefore, advocates of a reasonable dialogue between cultures and faiths should make optimal use of the Internet, particularly social media.”
Unlike the PAP’s choice approach to ‘fix’ whoever is considered by them – and them alone – to be opposing their creed and doctrine, President Yudhoyono takes the true leadership mettle to counsel his audience,
“The point cannot be missed : tolerance, open-mindedness, respect for others, do not happen by itself. They must be taught, trained and instilled in our people…We must therefore never tire to open up our children’s minds, and inculcate in them the values of diversity and unity.” (instead of a quick fix?)
“To open up minds, (we) must also seek to raise the quality of dialogue between civilizations, cultures, faiths and ideologies and then to advance it beyond words and into the realm of effective action.” (instead of just ‘read the RIGHT thing’)
All views should be brought into the dialogue—even radical ones. For if moderates talked only with moderates, there will be no change. The voices of the moderates should be strengthened, but it is equally important that the grievances of those who have been alienated and who feel left out should be given a hearing. Their grievances should be addressed, with patience and determination.” Read more < http://presidenri.go.id/index.php/eng/pidato/2014/08/29/2427.html >
Lesson in Leadership
The cynical will say that the President has the luxury of speaking as one stepping down from responsibility in 2 months time. Whereas PM Lee is straddled with a man-made nation that faces existential threats from all quarters and at all times. (Yeah, but he can always step down, right?)
However, the threat to his beloved Indonesia is no less. They suffered the Bali and Marriot Hotel bombings with resilience. Whilst Singapore has no more than faced the Mat Selamat escape. Ironically, a terrorist handed over to us by the Indonesian authorities – albeit with inputs by our own Intelligence forces. Still, let’s honestly acknowledge the disasters thwarted by our security forces.
Back to Leaders and Leadership.
In a brave new world with the Internet and Social Media, Leaders lead. Losers lament.
Losers lament for the days of old when they monopolize control of the sheep with Straits Times and Radio Television Singapore (RTS) or Singapore Broadcasting Corp (SBC).
Losers lie that the Internet was meant to cause ‘a great convergence of universal truth’ when it’s no more than the latest, ever-evolving construct for faster communication.
Losers leech on the negatives of the Internet to feed the fears of the sheep in order to continue their politics of power.
Leaders, well, leaders lead. To ‘open up minds…raise the quality of dialogue…(with) all views…brought into the dialogue – even radical ones. For if moderates talked only with moderates, there will be no change. The voices of the moderates should be strengthened, but it is equally important that the grievances of those who have been alienated and who feel left out should be given a hearing. Their grievances should be addressed, with patience and determination.”
Contrast that with our own leaders, including our own 35.20%-elected president. If our leaders pale in comparison with President Yudhoyono’s calibre, then Change we Must!
Note that President Yudhoyono’s call to lead applies equally to all sides. Any one side cannot aim to ‘seize the narrative’. Each side must engage ‘all views’ to achieve a majority agreement on a compromised narrative if Singapore is to move forward.
Doing anything less will be replicating the PAP’s ‘our way or the highway’ road to polarization and then disunity.
Forget the lie that Singapore will be kaput if it’s not the PAP way. Singapore was thriving long before PAP arrived and will still be here – albeit differently configured either with 6.9 mil or less.
But Change our lame, lamenting leaders we Must.
End PAP’s dominance or else PAP dominance will end us.