“We want a Responsible Media, Reasonable Discussion” – DPM Teo

The scene at GE2016, when the PAP suffers a significant blow in the polls, perhaps losing their super-dominance.

“So, DPM Teo… what do you think?”
“Well, what do you…”

Jokes aside, the tone of DPM Teo’s voice in addressing those students revolts me. He’s practically mocking them. I’m starting to understand where the “Fuck you, sir” came from. It’s not about what he said- it’s about how he said it.

You can ask people for their perspectives in a way that communicates sincere concern, interest and a desire to serve. To me though- and I may be biased- DPM Teo sounds almost condescending- complacent and self-important.

(The 17 year old kid might be a 17 year old kid, yes- but kids are far more capable than you think when it comes to interpreting adult behaviour. By that I mean to say that kids know when you aren’t really interested in something- their opinions and perspectives, for instance. Sure, the boy could have been more respectful.But it doesn’t change the fact that he was upset, and that many others related to that. No smoke without fire.)

I will do everything in my power to convince as many people as possible to vote in a manner that shifts the balance away from PAP super-dominance. (I’d still like to see a PAP majority government, but I’d like at least 20-40% of Parliament to be made up of non-PAP members.)

This is not because I think the Opposition will be better at handling things than the PAP- this is because diversity is the only ‘guaranteed’ survival strategy. (Refer to Chan Chun Sing.) Don’t be a sucker, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Nothing lasts forever, why will the PAP?

If there is no change in the results in the 2016 elections- and we have less than around 15 opposition members in parliament, then I will take that as a signal that what I want for myself and for my community is inconsistent with what most other Singaporeans want.

I’m not sure what that means, or what I might have to do as a consequence of that. I’m not sure I want to think about that now.

DPM Teo talks about how lousy the free media is in other countries, and how lousy the social media is in Singapore, but neglects to discuss the elephant in the room- Singaporean mainstream media.

“What we want to have in Singapore is a responsible media- reasonable discussion amongst Singaporeans.” That’s what DPM said at the end of the video.

Well, is this what we have? I personally don’t think so!

Who gets to decide or define what “responsible” is? Hiding things from the public, sugarcoating this, obfuscating that- is that responsible?

I’m not saying that it’s necessarily irresponsible, by the way. I can see how it might be responsible.

For example, should a newspaper report suicides, if studies have shown that reporting suicides inspires copycat suicides? I personally think they shouldn’t, because then they’d indirectly be encouraging the suicides. But you might disagree, you might have a different opinion. I’d like to hear your opinion, and I think we’d both be better off from a healthy exchange of ideas. And perhaps we may find a healthy compromise.

What is “reasonable”? Do the people in power get to decide? Do Singaporeans have a say in what responsible or reasonable means?

I don’t mean to say that we should model ourselves after any other country in the world. Singapore is a unique country, we have unique circumstances, we have to do things our own way. Absolutely. The question is, who is “we”, and what is “our own way”?

I put it to you that “our own way” will mean progressively opening up the can of worms. Progressively addressing the hard questions. The pragmatic thing to do is to educate and empower (in the real sense, not the industrial-education-complex sense) Singaporeans to chart their own course, to define their own future.

Our economy has thrived so far because of the efficacy of our automatons. Now we need autonomy instead. And cherry-picked autonomy, like cherry-picked justice or liberty, is no autonomy at all.

(That said, absolute autonomy is a myth, an ideal and an impossibility. Cherry-picking is an agreeable way to start. In this paradigm, I argue that Singaporeans should be encouraged to engage their teachers and superiors in genuine criticism and discussion. No, not the “for show” kind. I mean things like- oh god, I can’t even list them out. I have to end here. (My girlfriend has many gorgeous anecdotes that ought to go here.)

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9 Responses to “We want a Responsible Media, Reasonable Discussion” – DPM Teo

  1. Stevem says:

    Anyone remember the Singapore Super elite girl whose ex-MP father remark in defence of her “Get out of my elite uncaring face” ?
    See the following similarity.

    … I think if you cut through the insensitivity of the language, her basic point is reasonable, that is, that a well-educated university graduate who works for a multinational company should not be bemoaning about the Government and get on with the challenges in life.

    Nonetheless, I have counseled her to learn from it. Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it…


    It is exactly PAP cannot take brutal truth and that sort of language, so perhaps why the boy has ought to learn from it ?

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 12 June 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  3. g says:

    agreed. the issue of being rude/no respect for elders is just a side show…. the key issue is: why is reuben wong so upset?? and i believe the answer can be found in the video at 2:02 to 2:03…

  4. anon says:

    Precisely, you have a new beginning without first letting it all hang out. This is generally known as a ‘reconciliation’ as in post Apartheid South Africa. You cannot build the new over the old swept under the carpet. Plastering over the rot can only delay but not prevent it from oozing out in some future time. But I would seriously doubt the hope of such a reconciliation process any time soon since as it is the perspective of the PAP at this point that it is at its weakest – the coming to an end of the LKY ‘era’ .

    Look, they wouldn’t even discuss the ‘Marxist conspiracy’ which is without doubt a Machiavellian construct of LKY to remove a perceived obstacles to his plans. What hope is there of more substantive issues like the current and the future. The have to make very sure that their position is consolidated which fortunately or unfortunately the son is far far from being equal to the task to date. If anything, I suspect they would go on two fronts – the soft and the hard, the former to curry votes from the lower and lowest segment and the latter against the awakening or frustrated middle income, the ‘intelligentsia’, and young adults in general. Things can be expected to definitely spill over AD LKY. This is what they are anticipating and working hard if not feverishly to stall and contain. It would be difficult as it would be akin to throwing off the shackles for the disadvantaged masses.
    They are afraid.

  5. Jack says:

    ‘I’d still like to see a PAP majority government, but I’d like at least 20-40% of Parliament to be made up of non-PAP members.’
    Actually your hope should have been achieved in the last general elections. In a proportional representation system, PAP would have lost their two third majority.
    Nowhere else where a Party having won just 60% of the votes control more than 90% of the parliamentary seats. They have craftily tweaked the first past the post system
    to their advantage with The GRCs
    We keep hearing Govt ministers and their sycophants beating their breasts about how different political systems should suit different nations and this suits us best .
    If it’s so brilliant, how come no other country is copying us whens it’s been around for more than 2 decades ?
    Fortunately, there is Aljunied .
    But I believe if oppostions were to win more GRCs in the next or subsequent GEs, they
    will ditch it and come up with a equally disingenuous system.

    • visa says:

      Haha, you’re right! I hadn’t thought about it that way.

      There’s an interesting thing that happens when you “craftily tweak” complex systems- it’s kind of like using drugs or overclocking- you might appear to have an advantage in the short run, but if you’re not careful you might seriously hurt yourself/overheat and not even realize it. By then, the damage might be irreversible. (That said, I don’t believe that the PAP is going to get slaughtered by a freak result- at most they’ll just lose their dominance. That’s my opinion.)

      If they “ditch it and come up with an equally disingenuous system”, I think their credibility will take a huge hit, and they’ll just keep losing supporters. As the anon commenter said, “plastering over the rot can only delay but not prevent it from oozing out in some future time.”

      The PAP’s downfall is inevitable; it’s just a matter of how long. Cause nothing lasts forever, even cold november rain~~~

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