anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

Rights and values.

I've been desperately trawling the Nation Building IVLE forum for posts to respond to in order to up my class participation grade, and I must say that I continue to be amazed by how little some of us care about our rights. The discussion on the Public Order Act, for instance, wasted 30 minutes of my time because I just had to respond to some silly post that seems to believe achieving stability "at all costs" can be done without the "unncessary" violations of civil liberties.

Pardon my French, but...WHAT. THE. FUCK.

At times like these, I'm so glad I chose the law school route, and I'm SO glad I chose all the fluffy HUMAN RIGHTS RULES! LONG LIVE LIBERAL DEMOCRACY! modules that I chose. I honestly can't imagine myself advancing a rights-based argument, or arguing against rights, without understanding what rights are. The guy said something about how Singaporeans have a "right to a safe working environment" or whatever, which TOTALLY begs the question: where the fuck is this "right" contained, and how the fuck can a non-existent "right" trump a right that is protected under our freaking CONSTITUTION? I mean, fine, I get that not everyone knows about the Constitution, which is another alarming truth that I won't talk about. But don't purport to know the first thing about rights and assert that fundamental rights can be violated in the interests of another one that you think exists, but actually doesn't, if you don't know anything. This same person seemed to labour under the illusion that the Western liberal rights discourse gives a shit about the "collective good", and I'm just like, WHERE THE HELL DID THAT EVEN COME FROM?

One thing that seriously bugs me about this country is the multitude of...PEOPLE that defend the government's illiberal legislations without knowing the first damn thing about what it is they're saying. If you don't actually know anything, please shut the fuck up. And all these imbecilic arguments about how individual rights have to be curtailed for the common good for society because if they're not Singapore will UTTERLY COLLAPSE didn't you know?! piss the living crap out of me. They get me so annoyed and angry because I just don't see any intellectual process in these kind of arguments. Where is the proof that rights leads to the collapse of countries, that there is an actual causal relationship between the two? Show me the proof, if not shut the hell up and stop talking shit.

The most laughable part? This guy said something about how he's afraid to say bad things about the government just in case he gets sued for "libel" and then goes on to say how stability is absolutely crucial blah blah. The fact that he doesn't even seem to realise what he just wrote? I just, I'm so speechless, I don't even know what to say. Implicitly he already demonstrated the dangers inherent in the "stability via any means necessary" shit that he spewed, and he didn't even realise it?

Or maybe people like that are content with living comfortably, yet having their right to free speech violated. In which case, all I can say is, I want none of this shit. NONE. V for Vendetta is a shit movie, but at least that shit movie got one thing right: People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Government should be afraid of the people. (Paraphrased)


A related thing I want to say is this. I've been trying not to collapse in sheer annoyance reading the stuff on education and ethnicity (I'm spotting questions, yes, because I can't be bothered reading everything), and it struck me, hard, how hilarious this country is. There's all this crap about how the education system should impart "traditional" values, and how Singaporeans should learn their mother tongues (I hate this phrase) to keep in touch with their cultural values, so as to stem the tide of modernisation and the influx of presumably undesirable "Western" values. Yet, on the other hand, Singapore was so starved for economic progress that it bent over backwards trying to attract MNCs - which, newsflash, are from these very bad "Western" countries with really undesirable "Western" values that Singapore supposedly did not want.

Basically, in the process of trying to have it both ways - economic progress and investments from Western MNCs, and the retention of "traditional Asian values", whatever the hell that means - we produced people like me. Utterly convinced of the intrinsic goodness of these undesirable "Western" values, and utterly convinced that this East/West dichotomy is shit. Sure, you can try to stem the tide all you want, but don't act surprised when some of your citizens actually want the kind of normative values that came with these foreign investors. Worse still, don't act all heartbroken and betrayed when these citizens leave the country in pursuit of greener pastures that will allow them the range of rights to which they are FULLY entitled.

Also, I'm Chinese so I'm allowed to say this: All the emphasis given to the Chinese community, the leeway, the SAP school crap, actually giving a damn when the Chinese community whined about the government trying to undermine their identity - I'm sorry, we're not a Mini China. We're Singapore. There is really no justification for preserving the Chinese tradition (whatever that is) in these elite SAP schools and leaving the other races out of the picture. It says a hell lot that the first time I SPOKE to non-Chinese people meaningfully was when I got the hell out of that SAP school and went to a neighbourhood JC. I am all for preserving Chineseness (assuming I know what that means, which I don't), and I struggled with that for the longest time. I'm still struggling, but it's less of an issue with me now, but it doesn't mean I'm resigned to the "Westernised" monster I've become.

But it doesn't mean I start demanding that Singapore becomes a Mini China. It's just not fair for the government to pay so much attention to the Chinese community just because they're in the majority and therefore are political heavyweights, and not give the same amount of attention to the other ethnic communities. This Speak Mandarin campaign - I've never been comfortable with it. I don't see why it can't be a Speak Your Mother Tongue campaign...oh, right, because China speaks Mandarin. I forgot. My bad.

I could go on - I could really go on forever. But I don't have the luxury of time and I think I'm done ranting for now anyway. All I can say at this point is: I'll be SO DAMN HAPPY tomorrow when this module is done for good. I don't even care anymore if I end up with a B. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised; I've never done well in modules I didn't like anyway.

Tags: human rights, law school, rant, singapore

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