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The Definition of Democracy - The Debate

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  • nirma12003
    Editor s Word: Singapore Review would like to thank Teo Wei Min Kelvin, Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, and Ho Cheow Seng for their regular articles. For the sake of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 11, 2003
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      Editor's Word:

      Singapore Review would like to thank Teo Wei Min Kelvin, Zulfikar Mohamad
      Shariff, and Ho Cheow Seng for their regular articles.

      For the sake of brevity (and to avoid flooding e-mails of other readers), we
      are consolidating latest replies of Teo Wei Min Kelvin and Zulfikar Mohamad
      Shariff in this news letter.

      Interested readers can also follow the full thread of the debate included below
      in chronological order (begining with the original article at the bottom).

      The main object of Singapore Review is to provide a forum and environment for
      frank, open and honest discussion. This News Group maintains a neutral and
      impartial position on this on-going debate.

      --------------------FIFTH (AND LATEST) REPLY MESSAGE ---------------------------

      From: Teo Wei Min, Kelvin
      Date: 11 July 2003

      A note to the editor: Since Mr Ho Cheow Seng is anticipating my
      reply; I sincerely hope you will publish this reply letter for the
      sake of intellectual discussion.

      Dear Mr. Ho:

      Judging from your reply, you have a wealth of experience from
      witnessing Singapore's development in its formative years after its
      independence. I respect the fact that you have gone through thick
      and thin as you weathered the ups and downs throughout Singapore's
      history. You have gained valuable insights and experience, and I
      respect you for that. However, the nature of our world is such that
      it is ever changing and suffice to say, we have to adapt to the
      stipulations required of us at the current moment, perhaps to the
      extent of even releasing the vestiges of our past.

      You mentioned an important point about the responsibilities
      involved in a democracy. I have long realized this essential aspect
      but have omitted this in my article "The definition of democracy -
      form and substance" on the caveat that the length of my articles
      should be kept short enough to ensure its readability. Another
      reason for my omission is that I have went to great lengths to
      discuss about responsibilities involved in a democratic society in
      my previous articles.

      I have discussed in great details the essential qualities of a
      good and able politician in my article "Qualities of a Good & Able
      politician"(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/275),
      the responsibilities and attitudes that the leaders and the people
      must adopt in my article "Can we have have the 'Asian' version of
      democracy (Musyawarrah)"
      (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/286)
      and the process of cultivating citizens to embrace greater
      responsibilities in the democratization process of a society
      in "When will Singaporeans be allowed to embrace greater
      democracy?"(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/304).

      If you have noticed, the timing of my article "The definition of
      democracy" comes right after the above-mentioned articles, an
      illustration of my emphasis on the responsibilities involved.
      Hence, in my opinion, you will also have to take my previous
      articles into consideration to ascertain my views on democracy.

      In your reply to me, you have highlighted one point "Democracy
      certainly does not confer on one the right to do the wrong." Well,
      in my article on "The definition of democracy", I have highlighted
      an important sustaining factor to the substance of a democracy -
      laws and constitution that supercede every single individual in the
      society, and a judiciary to uphold them. Hence, the purpose of
      having a set of laws, with a judiciary aided by policing authorities
      to uphold them, is to deter any would-be offender attempting to
      breach them and bring wrongdoers, regardless of their social
      position, to justice.

      You have highlighted a point about irresponsible politicians who
      were behind one of the tumultuous moments in our history. First, I
      would like to clarify and emphasize the point I made about
      politicians in "The Definition of democracy". You might have
      remembered I made this particular statement "Even in politics, a
      level-playing field should be promoted to allow politicians, who
      possess the necessary merits, to lead the people, regardless of the
      political parties they are affiliated to." When I mention of
      merits, it is taken to mean politicians, who possess the necessary
      qualities, bringing benefits to the people and country, speaking
      volumes about the responsibilities they are willing to take on. You
      might want to revisit my article on "Qualities of a Good & Able
      politician" for further details on the qualities that typifies a
      model politician.

      Interestingly, you supported your case with a lucid description
      of the civil strifes in the 50s and 60s. Due to my intention to
      minimize the length of the article, I have left out one aspect,
      which is the context and domain within which my views of democracy
      would be applicable. Your elucidation of the situation in the 50s
      and 60s highlighted one fact - Singapore has just been freed from
      the throes of colonialism and was at the infancy stages of its
      development. Upon its independence, its armed forces, law
      enforcement agencies and judiciary were at their prelimary stages of
      development. Hence, they would be less prepared to deal with such
      rogue politicians as compared to now. These rogue politicians as
      you have mentioned, if allowed to go scot-free, will undoubtedly
      threaten the fledging social fabric of Singapore. Hence, I have no
      qualms about Singapore's leaders adopting a more autocratic style of
      governance during the 50s and 60s in exchange for stability.

      However, the context and domain with which I believe that my
      views of democracy can apply is in the 90s and beyond when Singapore
      is at the apex of its development and progress. By then, our
      judiciary, armed forces and law enforcement agencies would have been
      fully developed by then. They can respond swiftly to anyone who
      attempts to breach the laws, bringing the wrongdoer to immediate
      justice. Therefore, it will be difficult for rogue elements to
      thrive under such conditions. I agree that the kind of democracy I
      advocate can encourage rogue individuals to subvert the laws, but
      the presence of a fully developed internal defense force will
      suffice to deter them. With the defense agencies and judiciary
      upholding Singapore laws, I do not believe that history will repeat
      itself.

      Responsibility is undoubtedly a quintessential aspect of a
      democratic polity. To cultivate responsibilities among citizens,
      they must be allocated with smaller responsibilities and allowed to
      exercised their capacity. Gradually, as they mature, they will be
      able to take on larger responsibilities. Currently, our society is
      paternalistic in nature. Our leaders, out of concern for the
      people, have made most of the decisions for us. Instances like
      helping us to select the most appropriate material for us to see,
      read and hear via our censorship boards, to advising us on how many
      children we should have and helping us to find our better half
      through the Social Development Unit are illuminating examples of the
      concerns our leaders have for us, just like the concern a parent
      will feel towards his/her child. The downside of this is that
      Singaporeans lose their sense of self-reliance, turning to the
      leaders for handouts in times of desperation, like a child running
      to its parents for help.

      I was quite shocked by the government's decision some time ago
      to ban mirrors during elections on the caveat that the electorate
      will be swayed by the herd mentality induced by the mirrors on
      Polling Day. In my opinion, I feel that our voters are far more
      responsible and given the minimum age of an eligible voter, they are
      beyond the teenage years where they tend to be more impressionable.
      Voters will support candidates who suit their interests best at the
      balloting box. Although the results of the Gallup's Poll, which can
      be seen as a mirror, was in favour of the opposition, the results on
      Polling Day during the 2001 elections proved otherwise. Apparently,
      the herd mentality did not boil over to Polling Day. This goes to
      show that the people are capable of being responsible for their
      decisions and even if mirrors were not banned, they would have no
      bearing on the final outcome.

      Hence, on the issue of responsibility, I would like to see our
      leaders discharging more responsibilities to the people and the
      people more willing to embrace them. Our leaders must have more
      faith in the people fulfilling their responsibilities and the people
      more faith in themselves fulfilling them. I mentioned about the
      ever-changing nature of the world in my introduction. Our Free
      Trade Agreement with US bears interesting prospects. Already, our
      American counterparts are lobbying for the relaxation of Chewing gum
      laws and there are signs that our side is trying to placate the
      Americans in that aspect. Who knows, this FTA serves as a window of
      opportunity for our leaders to discharge more responsibilities to
      the people. The "child" in Singaporeans initially incapable of
      responsibilities must be cultivated to take on more responsibilities
      as it matures, if not it will be like Peter Pan forever stuck in
      Neverland.

      Yours sincerely,
      Teo Wei Min, Kelvin


      -----------------FOURTH REPLY MESSAGE-------------------------------------------

      From: "zulfikar71" <zulfikar@...>
      Date: Fri Jul 11, 2003 1:23pm
      Subject: Re: The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance

      Dear Editor

      I thank Singapore Review for allowing my previous post and Ho's
      response to be published. In the pursuit of democracy and its
      associated freedoms, it is necessary that these issues be allowed to
      be debated openly and freely.

      However, it should be noted that Ho's response had nothing to do with
      the discussion, but a personal attack on me. It is amusing that he
      then, tries to claim, that my responses to his email was "to launch
      personal attacks on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew." If Ho disagrees with personal
      attacks, it bears some response, to determine how he judge his
      subsequent email about me. Surely, someone who disagrees with
      personal attacks will not write about "Zulfikar has a personal agenda
      on this occasion" or "Zulfikar and people of his ilk should be denied
      a forum" or "Democracy would not be served by blind bigotry and
      fanaticism".

      It is also amusing how Ho was able to determine the position and
      perception of other readers when he claimed "This is very obvious to
      anyone who had read Zulfikar's supposed comments on my response to
      Kelvin." Unless Ho has made a factual study of the perception to my
      responses, it can only be concluded that he is trying to claim
      something he is unable to substantiate.

      However, that is not my main response to Ho. It is just a reflection
      of his position. Let me discuss the essence of his email.

      According to Ho, I did not refute, challenge or criticise his stand.
      He is wrong. From his email, I deduced that Ho was stating a commonly
      held view that with freedom comes responsibility. That is acceptable.
      However, when he took the high ground by claiming experience and that
      there were those who abused democracy, that claim has to be put to the
      test.

      Ho claimed that "Their speeches were inflammatory, filled with hatred
      and bias and calculated to incite the people to violence." I agree
      with him.

      However, in understanding Singapore democracy, we need to look beyond
      the problem and analyse our response. What have we done to those who
      practiced what Ho criticised? In the case of Lee Kuan yew, we have
      rewarded him by putting him in power.

      Instead of taking another moral high ground, Ho should have refuted my
      statements. If he disagrees with me, he should have stated it. I
      would then show him, purely through Lee Kuan Yew's own words, in his
      autobiography, how that is correct. Does Ho believe that Lee Kuan Yew
      has no part, or even plays a minor role in the hatred, bias and
      violence that took place in Singapore in the 60s?

      Does he dispute the statements I made about how Lee Kuan Yew
      collaborated with the Japanese occupiers? And how he made his money
      from the work he did for them?

      What did he do when he faced political opposition in the 60s? Instead
      of getting involved "in a healthy contest of ideas to win over the
      hearts and minds of the people [he] sought to serve", he arrested his
      opponents. And he then used national machinery to discredit them.

      And ironically, in which part of Singapore political history does it
      imply that Lee Kuan Yew sought to serve us (the people). From my
      understanding of Singapore politics, we elect the PAP to govern us. I
      hope Ho is able to understand the difference.

      Do inform me, in which part of my response to your earlier email, was
      I wrong.

      To ease your reponse, let me summarise my email. If you prefer the
      full version, feel free to use it.

      1. Lee Kuan Yew is manipulative
      2. His condemnation of UMNO and Jaffar Albar as the reason for the
      riot and his denial of the existence of bottles from the flats were
      insufficient. The bottles did fly.
      3. Lee Kuan Yew was involved in most of the riots, violence and
      strifes in the 50s and 60s.
      4. Lee Kuan Yew claimed that violence were propagated by the
      communists. He claimed that Lim Chin Siong was pro-communist. Lee
      Kuan Yew "knew" that Lim Chin Siong was communist (though this is in
      dispute) the first time they met.
      5. Lee Kuan Yew criticised those who cooperated with the Japanese
      during occupation. He worked for the Japanese propaganda service and
      was involved in construction with the Japanese.
      6. He funded his education at Cambridge from the work he did for the
      Japanese.
      7. The PAP admitted the need to raise Ministerial salary to encourage
      credible individuals to join them. Those who joined the opposition
      and are seen as threat to the PAP will be targeted.
      8. Those who joined PAP have the cushion of high allowance/ salary
      while credible individuals who joined the opposition will lose all
      semblance of normal life.

      The questions needs to be raised. Have we done right by democracy, as
      what Ho proposed? What have we done to those who manipulate the
      system?

      What was our response? If Ho desires to discuss "self-serving
      demagogues (who) could well exploit and manipulate the masses through
      cleverly-crafted speeches to win votes, gain power and then rule the
      country only to serve their own selfish goals", then a discussion of
      Lee Kuan Yew is not only appropriate, it is required.

      Here is a man who fits the description Ho used. And Ho refuses to
      discuss him? Why is that so?

      Ho said "Certainly the best interest of Democracy would not be served
      by blind bigotry and fanaticism." I hope this is not the case here.

      Best regards
      Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff

      ---------------THIRD REPLY MESSAGE----------------------------------------------

      From: "HO CS" <ehocs777@...>
      Date: Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:24 pm
      Subject: The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance

      We have acceeded to below request from a regular reader.

      As this newsgroup receives a huge amount of daily feedback and articles, we
      request for your understanding if your articles or feedback have not been
      posted/published.

      For the sake of clarity, Sg Review strives to maintain an objective and neutral
      position on political debates.

      From: Ho Cheow Seng.
      Date: 10 July 2003

      Dear Editor,

      You posted on this website Zulfikar's comments on my response to Kelvin's
      article on "The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance". I hope in the
      true spirit of the democratic process you would also accede to my request to
      have my reply to Zulfikar' comments posted on the same website. I'd like to
      believe it is not the policy of Sg Review to discriminate between its
      subscribers/contributors.

      In my response to Kelvin's article -- which upon subsequent review I've
      found to be balanced and fair albeit academic/theoretical -- I took issue
      with him on one fundamental point which I will discuss in greater detail
      when Kelvin has replied to my response upon his return from leave. Zulfikar
      instead of joining issue with me on my response (i.e. refute, challenge or
      criticise my stand) had turned the discussion on Democracy into an occasion
      for him to launch personal attacks on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. This is very obvious
      to anyone who had read Zulfikar's supposed comments on my response to
      Kelvin.

      It is clear as daylight that Zulfikar has a personal agenda on this
      occasion. And I do not wish to be associated in any way with his personal
      agenda or, to provide him with more opportunities to further that agenda.
      This being so I'd like him to know that any further exchange of
      correspondence with him would be purposeless on my part and be of no benefit
      to interested readers of this website in general. In fact Zulfikar and
      people of his ilk should be denied a forum,wherever, as his behaviour and
      what he stands for run counter to the spirit of the democratic process.
      Certainly the best interest of Democracy would not be served by blind
      bigotry and fanaticism. Thank You!

      Ho Cheow Seng. ehocs777@...


      -------------------------SECOND REPLY MESSAGE-------------------------------

      From; Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff
      2 July 2003

      I read Ho Cheow Seng's reply to Kevin's article (attached below) with amusement.

      Ho is correct to say that self serving politicians can use the social and
      political structure to inflame hatred and achieve their selfish goals.

      And Ho is also right that history bears ample testimony to this.

      The amusement however, is centred in what Ho did not state. That in
      Singapore, we have rewarded some of these politicians by placing them in
      power.

      Let us admit that no politician, in Singapore's recent history is as
      manipulative as Lee Kuan Yew. Kuan Yew was at the centre of several riots
      and strifes in Singapore in the 50s and 60s. The only one that I remember
      him not being involved in directly was in the Maria Herthog/ Nadra case.
      But then, those involved were not politicians either.

      Kuan Yew claimed that the riot during the Prophet Muhammad's birthday
      celebration was caused solely by UMNO and Jafaar Albar. He claimed that the
      Malays were incited by Jafaar Albar's speeches and that was the reason they
      rioted. But as someone who is doing primary research on Singapore politics
      and history, I have met with those who were part of the riot. And they
      testified that the riots started when they were hit by bottles thrown from
      apartments. Those I spoke to were recipients of the bottles that Kuan Yew
      claimed did not exist.

      Most of the riots and social stifes were credited to the communists and Kuan
      Yew had a lot to say about this. He claimed that the primary mover was Lim
      Chin Siong. And yet, while Kuan Yew criticised David Marshall for being
      inconsistent, Kuan Yew proved the same. He admitted knowing Chin Siong was
      a communist the first time they met. (Though other commentators rejected
      the claim that Chin Siong was communist). And yet, he helped pushed forward
      Chin Siong and Fong. Kuan Yew played the agenda of these "pro-communists"
      when it was convenient.

      The above statements are verifiable in the piece of fiction known as Lee
      Kuan Yew: The Singapore Story.

      I went through his book and at last count, there were more than 30
      questionable and contradictory quotes. I intend to elaborate on this in
      future articles, but lets look at one issue he discussed.

      According to Kuan Yew, the 3 1/2 of Japanese occupation provided the
      greatest influence on his views. He claimed that the end of the occupation
      did not bring justice as those who had collaborated with the Japanese were
      not taken to task. He lamented the lack of documents to prosecute the evil
      doers and for justice to prevail.

      And yet, several pages before he made these statements, Kuan Yew admitted to
      working for the propaganda service of the Japanese occupiers. His role was
      to go through and edit the English news as received from the Reuters, AP
      etc. Kuan Yew made a subtle criticism of the young men who learned Japanese
      during the occupation to collaborate with them and yet, he learrned the
      language and worked for the propaganda service.

      He claimed that those who did well were those who used the situation to
      their benefit. And he did that. He claimed that those who were best
      favoured during the occupation were those who were involved in construction
      for the Japanese occupiers. And amazingly, he admitted that he was involved
      in that too.

      While reading that section of his book, I thought about his education. How
      much of the education he received at Cambridge, the funds that he used, was
      based on the sufferings he wrought on Singaporeans and his collaboration
      with the occupiers?

      Was his education funded primarily from his collaboration? It seems clear
      from his autobiography, fictitious as it may be, that he funded his studies
      from the work he did for the Japanese.

      Kuan Yew has little concern for his actions and its impact on others. He is
      as self serving as the next manipulative politician.

      Which brings about another point of amusement. In Singapore politics, those
      who run under the PAP ticket are touted as working for the interest of the
      country. Their interests are played up by the media. But those who are in
      opposition are self serving, interested politicians who are chavinistic and
      trying to promote their cause.

      But the irony of Singapore politics is that those who are with the
      opposition and recognised as potential threat to the PAP will face the whole
      propaganda machinery and lose the lives they knew. Chee Soon Juan, Tang
      Liang Hong, JB Jeyaratnam are flogged by the whole machinery and lose all
      semblance of normal life. In order to bring forward their concerns, they
      needed to sacrifice so much.

      And Chok Tong admitted that the only way to get credible individuals to join
      the PAP, was to pay Ministers with salary that commensurate with the market
      (though whether it really reflects market rates is also debatable). This
      admission states that those who joined the PAP are not necessarily doing it
      for the nation's benefit. They had to be persuaded with sufficient salary.
      In fact, I have a journalist friend who admitted that he is trying to be a
      PAP MP because the salary is good.

      Self serving politicians are promoted as working for the nation and those
      who are really working are discredited. That is Kuan Yew's legacy.

      If Ho is concerned about self serving politicians, then the first step is to
      look at Kuan Yew and determine the ways to make sure that such characters do
      not come to power again.

      Democracy needs to prevail. Not propaganda and self interested politicians.

      Best regards
      Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff


      The definition of irony: "In order that no opposition can arise, the
      communist party in government must have a machine, the secret police and all
      its ancillary organs to ensure the continuity of the communist regime. In
      practice this makes for the controlled, drab conformity in organised praise
      or condemnation which are hallmarks of these countries. The democratic
      socialist concede the right of opposition to challenge his values and
      therefore the right of the other parties in displacing a democratic
      socialist in office." Lee Kuan Yew (claiming to be a democratic socialist)
      1969.


      --------------- FIRST REPLY MESSAGE BELOW --------------------------------------

      Below is a reply to Kelvin Teo's article "The Definition of Democracy" in the
      29 June 2003 issue of Singapore Review.

      From: Ho Cheow Seng
      1 July 2003

      Dear Kelvin,

      Your views on Democracy are somewhat simplistic, I regret to say. Democracy
      certainly does not confer on one the right to do the wrong. This implies
      that Democracy comes with grave responsibilities. You did not dwell on those
      resposibilities, unfortunately.

      I suspect you are among those born in the years of peace and prosperity under
      the current party in power, i.e. in theboom years beginning in the mid-
      seventies. So you did not go through therough and tumble of the fifties and the
      sixties.

      You might have read in passing about the racial riots and the violent inter-
      party political conflicts and violence. But you did not live through those
      times.Let meassure you, as one who had lived through those turbulent years,
      that those were frightening times. The flames of violent civil strifes and
      racial conflicts were set off by irresponsible politicians who had no regard for
      the interest or survival of the people at large.

      Their pre-occupation was in winning the general election and come into power.
      Their speeches were inflammatory, filled with hatred and bias and calculated to
      incite the people to violence. As a result many innocent citizens were hurt and
      many innocent lives lost. Those speeches had nothing to do with rational cogent
      arguments to set out the case for a cause. Those irresponsible politicians
      certainly did not believe in a healthy contest of ideas to win over the
      hearts and minds of the people they sought to serve.

      Ideally Democracy means' a government of the people' elected by the majority of
      the people for the good of all the people. In this context it may serve us well
      to remember that self-serving demagogues could well exploit and manipulate the
      masses through cleverly-crafted speeches to win votes, gain power and then rule
      the country only to serve their own selfish goals. History bears ample testimony
      to this.

      What do you say, Kelvin, to this?

      From: Ho Cheow Seng (ehocs777@...)


      ------------------------ ORIGINAL MESSAGE BELOW --------------------------------

      From: "nirma12003" <yangkevin336@...>
      To: <Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 2:30 AM
      Subject: [Sg_Review] The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance


      >Editor's Word; Is Singapore a democracy only in form, but not in substance?
      >
      > Does the government observe the true spirit of a written constitution?
      >
      > Or is the constitution reduced to a mere rubber stamp to give a cloak of
      > legitmacy?
      >
      > Read on as our frequest writer, Kelvin Teo, discusses the issue in depth.
      >
      > By: Teo Wei Min, Kelvin
      > 29 June 2003
      >
      > Every single entity possesses two attributes - form and
      > substance. The form is a characteristic that can be perceived
      > tangibly. The substance is what lies within. A democratic society
      > is no exception.
      >
      > Where do the form and substance of a democratic society lie?
      > Allow me to broach on the formalistic aspect of a democratic society
      > first. Parliamentary democracy constitutes the essence of the form
      > of a democratic society. What do I mean by parliamentary
      > democracy? It simply means that the people can partake in the
      > selection of their ideal leaders through the election process or
      > participate in referendum in times when the public consensus is
      > required for the implementation of a decision, measure or policy.
      >
      > How can the form of a democratic society be sustained? An
      > independent and neutral body under the ambit of the society's laws
      > is the key. The statutes of laws are above everyone, regardless of
      > the individual's societal status or stature. This neutral body will
      > ensure that elections are carried in the fairest manner and the
      > playing field is level as far as all potential candidates for
      > leadership roles are concerned.
      >
      > What constitutes the substance of a democratic society? Simple,
      > the nature of such a society. The nature of a democratic society
      > lies in everyone's attitudes, from the leaders to the citizens,
      > towards democracy. If everyone were to embrace democracy and
      > respect each other's democratic rights, such a society will be
      > teeming with the spirit of democracy. The people will not hesitate
      > to voice their views even on the issue of politics.
      >
      > Perhaps, critics will be quick to point out that giving people
      > the freedom to comment on political issues, which is sensitive, and
      > might lead to serious repercussions. I believe that this is an
      > overkill as regards to the critics' perception towards the possible
      > implications. In democratic countries such as Australia, the
      > citizens have the courage to write in to the newsprint media,
      > venting their frustrations due to their irate at a particular
      > politician(s). Such articles, which serves to slam a certain
      > politician, eventually reaches the entire readership. No social
      > upheaval occured as a result of that. The only fathomable
      > implication is that the targeted politician suffered a major public
      > embarrassment.
      >
      > Likewise, the case in Singapore is similar. Internet forums
      > serve as a popular channel for Singaporeans to express their views.
      > I have witnessed polemic responses from Singaporeans in these
      > forums. Vilification of politicians from the vituperative
      > calumninators, or just an irate Singaporean, is a common sight in
      > such forums. Yet, so far, no incident threatening the very social
      > fabric of Singapore ever occured, considering the fact that these
      > forums have a substantial following in Singapore.
      >
      > Hence, my answer to the critics is that the only possible
      > negative implication from allowing the freedom of political
      > expression is that the targetted politician suffers an
      > embarrassment.
      >
      > The media also plays a role as one of the constituents of the
      > substance of a democratic society. The press should be seen as the
      > people's voice, albeit on a larger scale. I recalled a friend of
      > mine ,who is currently studying at an Australian university, telling
      > me about how the Aussie newsprint media drew satirical comical
      > strips featuring John Howard amidst the unhappiness expressed by the
      > Aussie public regarding some of his policies.
      >
      > Meritocracy should be practised regardless of one's views. Even
      > in politics, a level-playing field should be promoted to allow
      > politicians, who possess the necessary merits, to lead the people,
      > regardless of the political parties they are affilated to.
      >
      > So far, I have touched on aspects relating to the citizens and
      > political arena within a democratic society. The other important
      > aspect I would like to touch on is pertaining to the attitudes of
      > the leaders. Rightly, the main responsibilities of a leader is to
      > serve the people. In Australia, according to my friend, ministers
      > are no different from civil servants. To the ministers, it's an
      > honour for them to win the people's mandate to serve them. With
      > such a responsibility in mind comes a high level of transparency on
      > the leaders' part.
      >
      > Such a leader, who is aware of his responsibilites and his
      > position as being answerable to the public, will naturally withstand
      > even the vilest insults hurled by the public. After all, his/her
      > job is to provide a service to the public, and that makes the public
      > his/her customer. The customer has every right to scold the service
      > provider if he/she is unsatisfied with the service.
      >
      > In order to sustain the substance of a democratic society,
      > constitutions and laws that protect the democratic rights of the
      > people must exist. These constitutions and laws are above every
      > single rank and file in the society. A fully independent judiciary
      > free from political or apolitical control will be required to uphold
      > the laws and constitutions, acting according to the dictums of the
      > latter.
      >
      > The form and substance of a democratic society is akin to the
      > mind and body of a living being. If either one of them stops
      > functioning, death awaits the being called "Democracy".
      >
      > Disclaimer: This extract is based PURELY ON my views regarding
      > democracy after exploring other democratic societies in the world.

      ----------------------------THE END------------------------------------
    • HO CS
      Editor s Word; Below are Ho Cheow Seng s replies to previous letters of Teo Wei Min, Kelvin and Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff. For the benefit of our other readers,
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 13, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        Editor's Word;

        Below are Ho Cheow Seng's replies to previous letters of Teo Wei Min, Kelvin
        and Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff.

        For the benefit of our other readers, we recommend that debates and replies are
        not overly lengthy as the thread of the original discussion may defficult to
        follow across to many letters. To avoid this, background should preferably be
        provided as a prelude to political discussions.



        From: Ho Cheow Seng

        Dear Editor,
        Below is my reply to Kevin's response on my earlier comments on his article,"
        The Definition of Democracy -- Form and Substance". I would be greatly obliged
        if you would publish it on your site. Thank You!

        Dear Kelvin,

        Thank you for your reply to my comments on your article re. "A Definition of
        Democracy -- Form and Substance". Thank you too for providing me with the links
        to all the articles you have written prior to the latest one on Democracy. I
        will certainly read them in due course. I am a relatively recent subscriber to
        Sg_Review and am unable to recall having come across any of the articles you
        had previously written.

        In this response I would like to engage you on your stand that it is 'an
        overkill' to state that 'giving people the freedom to comment on political
        issues, which is sensitive, might lead to serious repercussions'. To support
        your stand you cited Australia as an example of a democratic country where
        citizens could express their views, sensitive or otherwise, frustrations and
        anger freely in the press without causing any social upheaval. You forget, on
        this occasion, that Singapore is not Australia, that the Singapore society has
        not attained to the level of a civil/civilised society that Australia already
        has. With due respect to all Singaporeans, I regret to say that there are many
        among us whose level of civic-mindedness leaves much to be desired, let alone
        their political maturity. And there are also those who are incapacitated by
        their creed or ethnic-related bigotry to be able to see beyond the interest of
        their own provincial domain to that of others around them. Democracy, and here
        I'm repeating what I've said in my earlier response to you, does not equate
        only with the individual's right to act. It has also as much to do, if not
        more, with the rights of others around us and of society in general. And this
        is where I fear some sections of Singaporeans, in exercising their rights,
        might not be able to see beyond their own parochial interest, whether as an
        individual or as a group. To support my position I referred to the social
        turbulence and the racial riots of the 1950's and the ' 60's as examples.

        My next point follows from what I have said in the above. Democracy is a
        process, and a process entails time and effort. People need to be educated with
        regard to the democratic process. To be more mindful of the rights and
        interests of others than one's own, to understand the need for restraints and
        constraints in exercising one's rights and subsequently to act responsibly, are
        attributes of the democratic process that take time to cultivate and nurture.
        In short, a democratic state cannot be instituted overnight. Trying to do so
        would lead to Anarchy, not Democracy, taking over the reigns. A democratic
        state has to evolve with time. In Singapore's case the problem is further
        compounded by its multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-
        lingual composition with each ethnic/religious component having its own agenda
        concerning the kind of society their followers would like to see evolve.
        Clearly these are obstacles in the way of nationhood. So we are not yet even a
        nation; an accidental amalgamation of a motley populace maybe, state-flag,
        state-pledge and the national anthem notwithstanding.

        Then again, of late ominous rumblings can be heard in the region around us.
        They come from people who insist on looking to their past to build the future,
        yours and mine included. And these people are prepared even to resort to
        violence and terror to achieve their ends.If these people succeeded in
        achieving even only a measure of their goal, we might end up having to contend
        with "one country, two judicial systems." I'm not being totally pessimistic
        here nor am I playing the devil's advocate. I sang "God Save the King",
        then "God Save the Queen" in the primary school. Then in the secondary school I
        sang "Majullah Singapura". As a young adult and for a very short while I learnt
        to sing "Negara-Ku" before reverting happily to "Majullah Singapura". I know
        what Democracy meant as a British Subject and what it subsequently underwent in
        the throes of the struggle for Independence and the attempt at nationhood.
        Democracy would not have survived even if the British were to continue to
        govern Singapore. Given the nationalist fervour and ferment of the mid-1940's
        to the early 1960's, Democracy, as the British understood it, would have been
        subverted by the democratic system itself. And this brings me full-circle back
        to my intended point, which is, that we must beware that the 'freedom of
        rights' that people demand for do not become the very instrument of Freedom's
        own demise. This is not the voice of a reactionary. This is the voice of
        passion tempered by an awareness of the harsh realities of our particular
        situation.

        Finally, despite the marked tone of caution in the foregoing paragraphs, I
        would like you to know Kevin, that I stand shoulder to shoulder with you in
        your believe that Democracy is the way to go for Singapore and in your hope
        that Singapore will evolve to become a full-fledged Democracy, eventually. I
        also look forward to your joining me in my hope that even as Singapore evolves
        along the path of Democracy, it will continue to be a secular state. Mistake me
        not, here. An atheist I certainly am not.

        Sincerely,
        Ho Cheow Seng

        -----------------------------------------------------------------------

        Dear Editor,
        I would be much obliged if you would kindly post this reply to Zulfikar's
        latest reaction to my earlier response to him in regard to Kevin's article
        on Democracy.

        If Zulfikar had read closely Kevin's article and my response to it, he would

        have noted that neither Kevin nor I made reference to the name/names of any particular individual/individuals in our writings. Premises were made and
        arguments developed in support of those premises, leading to conclusions
        drawn at the end of such a process. References were invariably made to
        situations, circumstances and events in the context of the subject of our
        discussion. No names of individuals were mentioned because it would have
        been unnecessary and irrelevant and not in accordance with the etiquette of
        an objective, intellectual discussion. People and names of leading figures
        associated with situations and events specifically mentioned in both our
        discussions ( Kevin's and mine ), subsume in the events and situations
        referred to. If Zulfikar, as an academic researcher which he has said he is,
        finds this point too subtle for him to grasp, then need we say more?
        I would also like to add that I have derived absolutely no satisfaction in
        terms of knowledge gained or of mental stimulation in my interraction with
        Zulfikar. This being so I see no purpose in engaging him in any further
        discussion on any issue. Henceforth I would disregard any attempt that he
        might subsequently initiate to have me engaged with him on some further
        issues on his agenda. I do not believe in expending myself on any issue that
        would in reality turn out to be an exercise in futiliy.

        Thank you!
        Sincerely

        Ho Cheow Seng






        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "nirma12003" <yangkevin336@...>
        To: <Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, July 11, 2003 9:43 PM
        Subject: [Sg_Review] The Definition of Democracy - The Debate


        > Editor's Word:
        >
        > Singapore Review would like to thank Teo Wei Min Kelvin, Zulfikar Mohamad
        > Shariff, and Ho Cheow Seng for their regular articles.
        >
        > For the sake of brevity (and to avoid flooding e-mails of other readers),
        we
        > are consolidating latest replies of Teo Wei Min Kelvin and Zulfikar
        Mohamad
        > Shariff in this news letter.
        >
        > Interested readers can also follow the full thread of the debate included
        below
        > in chronological order (begining with the original article at the bottom).
        >
        > The main object of Singapore Review is to provide a forum and environment
        for
        > frank, open and honest discussion. This News Group maintains a neutral and
        > impartial position on this on-going debate.
        >
        > --------------------FIFTH (AND LATEST) REPLY
        MESSAGE ---------------------------
        >
        > From: Teo Wei Min, Kelvin
        > Date: 11 July 2003
        >
        > A note to the editor: Since Mr Ho Cheow Seng is anticipating my
        > reply; I sincerely hope you will publish this reply letter for the
        > sake of intellectual discussion.
        >
        > Dear Mr. Ho:
        >
        > Judging from your reply, you have a wealth of experience from
        > witnessing Singapore's development in its formative years after its
        > independence. I respect the fact that you have gone through thick
        > and thin as you weathered the ups and downs throughout Singapore's
        > history. You have gained valuable insights and experience, and I
        > respect you for that. However, the nature of our world is such that
        > it is ever changing and suffice to say, we have to adapt to the
        > stipulations required of us at the current moment, perhaps to the
        > extent of even releasing the vestiges of our past.
        >
        > You mentioned an important point about the responsibilities
        > involved in a democracy. I have long realized this essential aspect
        > but have omitted this in my article "The definition of democracy -
        > form and substance" on the caveat that the length of my articles
        > should be kept short enough to ensure its readability. Another
        > reason for my omission is that I have went to great lengths to
        > discuss about responsibilities involved in a democratic society in
        > my previous articles.
        >
        > I have discussed in great details the essential qualities of a
        > good and able politician in my article "Qualities of a Good & Able
        > politician"(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/275),
        > the responsibilities and attitudes that the leaders and the people
        > must adopt in my article "Can we have have the 'Asian' version of
        > democracy (Musyawarrah)"
        > (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/286)
        > and the process of cultivating citizens to embrace greater
        > responsibilities in the democratization process of a society
        > in "When will Singaporeans be allowed to embrace greater
        > democracy?"(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/304).
        >
        > If you have noticed, the timing of my article "The definition of
        > democracy" comes right after the above-mentioned articles, an
        > illustration of my emphasis on the responsibilities involved.
        > Hence, in my opinion, you will also have to take my previous
        > articles into consideration to ascertain my views on democracy.
        >
        > In your reply to me, you have highlighted one point "Democracy
        > certainly does not confer on one the right to do the wrong." Well,
        > in my article on "The definition of democracy", I have highlighted
        > an important sustaining factor to the substance of a democracy -
        > laws and constitution that supercede every single individual in the
        > society, and a judiciary to uphold them. Hence, the purpose of
        > having a set of laws, with a judiciary aided by policing authorities
        > to uphold them, is to deter any would-be offender attempting to
        > breach them and bring wrongdoers, regardless of their social
        > position, to justice.
        >
        > You have highlighted a point about irresponsible politicians who
        > were behind one of the tumultuous moments in our history. First, I
        > would like to clarify and emphasize the point I made about
        > politicians in "The Definition of democracy". You might have
        > remembered I made this particular statement "Even in politics, a
        > level-playing field should be promoted to allow politicians, who
        > possess the necessary merits, to lead the people, regardless of the
        > political parties they are affiliated to." When I mention of
        > merits, it is taken to mean politicians, who possess the necessary
        > qualities, bringing benefits to the people and country, speaking
        > volumes about the responsibilities they are willing to take on. You
        > might want to revisit my article on "Qualities of a Good & Able
        > politician" for further details on the qualities that typifies a
        > model politician.
        >
        > Interestingly, you supported your case with a lucid description
        > of the civil strifes in the 50s and 60s. Due to my intention to
        > minimize the length of the article, I have left out one aspect,
        > which is the context and domain within which my views of democracy
        > would be applicable. Your elucidation of the situation in the 50s
        > and 60s highlighted one fact - Singapore has just been freed from
        > the throes of colonialism and was at the infancy stages of its
        > development. Upon its independence, its armed forces, law
        > enforcement agencies and judiciary were at their prelimary stages of
        > development. Hence, they would be less prepared to deal with such
        > rogue politicians as compared to now. These rogue politicians as
        > you have mentioned, if allowed to go scot-free, will undoubtedly
        > threaten the fledging social fabric of Singapore. Hence, I have no
        > qualms about Singapore's leaders adopting a more autocratic style of
        > governance during the 50s and 60s in exchange for stability.
        >
        > However, the context and domain with which I believe that my
        > views of democracy can apply is in the 90s and beyond when Singapore
        > is at the apex of its development and progress. By then, our
        > judiciary, armed forces and law enforcement agencies would have been
        > fully developed by then. They can respond swiftly to anyone who
        > attempts to breach the laws, bringing the wrongdoer to immediate
        > justice. Therefore, it will be difficult for rogue elements to
        > thrive under such conditions. I agree that the kind of democracy I
        > advocate can encourage rogue individuals to subvert the laws, but
        > the presence of a fully developed internal defense force will
        > suffice to deter them. With the defense agencies and judiciary
        > upholding Singapore laws, I do not believe that history will repeat
        > itself.
        >
        > Responsibility is undoubtedly a quintessential aspect of a
        > democratic polity. To cultivate responsibilities among citizens,
        > they must be allocated with smaller responsibilities and allowed to
        > exercised their capacity. Gradually, as they mature, they will be
        > able to take on larger responsibilities. Currently, our society is
        > paternalistic in nature. Our leaders, out of concern for the
        > people, have made most of the decisions for us. Instances like
        > helping us to select the most appropriate material for us to see,
        > read and hear via our censorship boards, to advising us on how many
        > children we should have and helping us to find our better half
        > through the Social Development Unit are illuminating examples of the
        > concerns our leaders have for us, just like the concern a parent
        > will feel towards his/her child. The downside of this is that
        > Singaporeans lose their sense of self-reliance, turning to the
        > leaders for handouts in times of desperation, like a child running
        > to its parents for help.
        >
        > I was quite shocked by the government's decision some time ago
        > to ban mirrors during elections on the caveat that the electorate
        > will be swayed by the herd mentality induced by the mirrors on
        > Polling Day. In my opinion, I feel that our voters are far more
        > responsible and given the minimum age of an eligible voter, they are
        > beyond the teenage years where they tend to be more impressionable.
        > Voters will support candidates who suit their interests best at the
        > balloting box. Although the results of the Gallup's Poll, which can
        > be seen as a mirror, was in favour of the opposition, the results on
        > Polling Day during the 2001 elections proved otherwise. Apparently,
        > the herd mentality did not boil over to Polling Day. This goes to
        > show that the people are capable of being responsible for their
        > decisions and even if mirrors were not banned, they would have no
        > bearing on the final outcome.
        >
        > Hence, on the issue of responsibility, I would like to see our
        > leaders discharging more responsibilities to the people and the
        > people more willing to embrace them. Our leaders must have more
        > faith in the people fulfilling their responsibilities and the people
        > more faith in themselves fulfilling them. I mentioned about the
        > ever-changing nature of the world in my introduction. Our Free
        > Trade Agreement with US bears interesting prospects. Already, our
        > American counterparts are lobbying for the relaxation of Chewing gum
        > laws and there are signs that our side is trying to placate the
        > Americans in that aspect. Who knows, this FTA serves as a window of
        > opportunity for our leaders to discharge more responsibilities to
        > the people. The "child" in Singaporeans initially incapable of
        > responsibilities must be cultivated to take on more responsibilities
        > as it matures, if not it will be like Peter Pan forever stuck in
        > Neverland.
        >
        > Yours sincerely,
        > Teo Wei Min, Kelvin
        >
        >
        > -----------------FOURTH REPLY
        MESSAGE-------------------------------------------
        >
        > From: "zulfikar71" <zulfikar@...>
        > Date: Fri Jul 11, 2003 1:23pm
        > Subject: Re: The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance
        >
        > Dear Editor
        >
        > I thank Singapore Review for allowing my previous post and Ho's
        > response to be published. In the pursuit of democracy and its
        > associated freedoms, it is necessary that these issues be allowed to
        > be debated openly and freely.
        >
        > However, it should be noted that Ho's response had nothing to do with
        > the discussion, but a personal attack on me. It is amusing that he
        > then, tries to claim, that my responses to his email was "to launch
        > personal attacks on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew." If Ho disagrees with personal
        > attacks, it bears some response, to determine how he judge his
        > subsequent email about me. Surely, someone who disagrees with
        > personal attacks will not write about "Zulfikar has a personal agenda
        > on this occasion" or "Zulfikar and people of his ilk should be denied
        > a forum" or "Democracy would not be served by blind bigotry and
        > fanaticism".
        >
        > It is also amusing how Ho was able to determine the position and
        > perception of other readers when he claimed "This is very obvious to
        > anyone who had read Zulfikar's supposed comments on my response to
        > Kelvin." Unless Ho has made a factual study of the perception to my
        > responses, it can only be concluded that he is trying to claim
        > something he is unable to substantiate.
        >
        > However, that is not my main response to Ho. It is just a reflection
        > of his position. Let me discuss the essence of his email.
        >
        > According to Ho, I did not refute, challenge or criticise his stand.
        > He is wrong. From his email, I deduced that Ho was stating a commonly
        > held view that with freedom comes responsibility. That is acceptable.
        > However, when he took the high ground by claiming experience and that
        > there were those who abused democracy, that claim has to be put to the
        > test.
        >
        > Ho claimed that "Their speeches were inflammatory, filled with hatred
        > and bias and calculated to incite the people to violence." I agree
        > with him.
        >
        > However, in understanding Singapore democracy, we need to look beyond
        > the problem and analyse our response. What have we done to those who
        > practiced what Ho criticised? In the case of Lee Kuan yew, we have
        > rewarded him by putting him in power.
        >
        > Instead of taking another moral high ground, Ho should have refuted my
        > statements. If he disagrees with me, he should have stated it. I
        > would then show him, purely through Lee Kuan Yew's own words, in his
        > autobiography, how that is correct. Does Ho believe that Lee Kuan Yew
        > has no part, or even plays a minor role in the hatred, bias and
        > violence that took place in Singapore in the 60s?
        >
        > Does he dispute the statements I made about how Lee Kuan Yew
        > collaborated with the Japanese occupiers? And how he made his money
        > from the work he did for them?
        >
        > What did he do when he faced political opposition in the 60s? Instead
        > of getting involved "in a healthy contest of ideas to win over the
        > hearts and minds of the people [he] sought to serve", he arrested his
        > opponents. And he then used national machinery to discredit them.
        >
        > And ironically, in which part of Singapore political history does it
        > imply that Lee Kuan Yew sought to serve us (the people). From my
        > understanding of Singapore politics, we elect the PAP to govern us. I
        > hope Ho is able to understand the difference.
        >
        > Do inform me, in which part of my response to your earlier email, was
        > I wrong.
        >
        > To ease your reponse, let me summarise my email. If you prefer the
        > full version, feel free to use it.
        >
        > 1. Lee Kuan Yew is manipulative
        > 2. His condemnation of UMNO and Jaffar Albar as the reason for the
        > riot and his denial of the existence of bottles from the flats were
        > insufficient. The bottles did fly.
        > 3. Lee Kuan Yew was involved in most of the riots, violence and
        > strifes in the 50s and 60s.
        > 4. Lee Kuan Yew claimed that violence were propagated by the
        > communists. He claimed that Lim Chin Siong was pro-communist. Lee
        > Kuan Yew "knew" that Lim Chin Siong was communist (though this is in
        > dispute) the first time they met.
        > 5. Lee Kuan Yew criticised those who cooperated with the Japanese
        > during occupation. He worked for the Japanese propaganda service and
        > was involved in construction with the Japanese.
        > 6. He funded his education at Cambridge from the work he did for the
        > Japanese.
        > 7. The PAP admitted the need to raise Ministerial salary to encourage
        > credible individuals to join them. Those who joined the opposition
        > and are seen as threat to the PAP will be targeted.
        > 8. Those who joined PAP have the cushion of high allowance/ salary
        > while credible individuals who joined the opposition will lose all
        > semblance of normal life.
        >
        > The questions needs to be raised. Have we done right by democracy, as
        > what Ho proposed? What have we done to those who manipulate the
        > system?
        >
        > What was our response? If Ho desires to discuss "self-serving
        > demagogues (who) could well exploit and manipulate the masses through
        > cleverly-crafted speeches to win votes, gain power and then rule the
        > country only to serve their own selfish goals", then a discussion of
        > Lee Kuan Yew is not only appropriate, it is required.
        >
        > Here is a man who fits the description Ho used. And Ho refuses to
        > discuss him? Why is that so?
        >
        > Ho said "Certainly the best interest of Democracy would not be served
        > by blind bigotry and fanaticism." I hope this is not the case here.
        >
        > Best regards
        > Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff
        >
        > ---------------THIRD REPLY
        MESSAGE----------------------------------------------
        >
        > From: "HO CS" <ehocs777@...>
        > Date: Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:24 pm
        > Subject: The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance
        >
        > We have acceeded to below request from a regular reader.
        >
        > As this newsgroup receives a huge amount of daily feedback and articles,
        we
        > request for your understanding if your articles or feedback have not been
        > posted/published.
        >
        > For the sake of clarity, Sg Review strives to maintain an objective and
        neutral
        > position on political debates.
        >
        > From: Ho Cheow Seng.
        > Date: 10 July 2003
        >
        > Dear Editor,
        >
        > You posted on this website Zulfikar's comments on my response to Kelvin's
        > article on "The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance". I hope in
        the
        > true spirit of the democratic process you would also accede to my request
        to
        > have my reply to Zulfikar' comments posted on the same website. I'd like
        to
        > believe it is not the policy of Sg Review to discriminate between its
        > subscribers/contributors.
        >
        > In my response to Kelvin's article -- which upon subsequent review I've
        > found to be balanced and fair albeit academic/theoretical -- I took issue
        > with him on one fundamental point which I will discuss in greater detail
        > when Kelvin has replied to my response upon his return from leave.
        Zulfikar
        > instead of joining issue with me on my response (i.e. refute, challenge or
        > criticise my stand) had turned the discussion on Democracy into an
        occasion
        > for him to launch personal attacks on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. This is very
        obvious
        > to anyone who had read Zulfikar's supposed comments on my response to
        > Kelvin.
        >
        > It is clear as daylight that Zulfikar has a personal agenda on this
        > occasion. And I do not wish to be associated in any way with his personal
        > agenda or, to provide him with more opportunities to further that agenda.
        > This being so I'd like him to know that any further exchange of
        > correspondence with him would be purposeless on my part and be of no
        benefit
        > to interested readers of this website in general. In fact Zulfikar and
        > people of his ilk should be denied a forum,wherever, as his behaviour and
        > what he stands for run counter to the spirit of the democratic process.
        > Certainly the best interest of Democracy would not be served by blind
        > bigotry and fanaticism. Thank You!
        >
        > Ho Cheow Seng. ehocs777@...
        >
        >
        > -------------------------SECOND REPLY
        MESSAGE-------------------------------
        >
        > From; Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff
        > 2 July 2003
        >
        > I read Ho Cheow Seng's reply to Kevin's article (attached below) with
        amusement.
        >
        > Ho is correct to say that self serving politicians can use the social and
        > political structure to inflame hatred and achieve their selfish goals.
        >
        > And Ho is also right that history bears ample testimony to this.
        >
        > The amusement however, is centred in what Ho did not state. That in
        > Singapore, we have rewarded some of these politicians by placing them in
        > power.
        >
        > Let us admit that no politician, in Singapore's recent history is as
        > manipulative as Lee Kuan Yew. Kuan Yew was at the centre of several riots
        > and strifes in Singapore in the 50s and 60s. The only one that I remember
        > him not being involved in directly was in the Maria Herthog/ Nadra case.
        > But then, those involved were not politicians either.
        >
        > Kuan Yew claimed that the riot during the Prophet Muhammad's birthday
        > celebration was caused solely by UMNO and Jafaar Albar. He claimed that
        the
        > Malays were incited by Jafaar Albar's speeches and that was the reason
        they
        > rioted. But as someone who is doing primary research on Singapore politics
        > and history, I have met with those who were part of the riot. And they
        > testified that the riots started when they were hit by bottles thrown from
        > apartments. Those I spoke to were recipients of the bottles that Kuan Yew
        > claimed did not exist.
        >
        > Most of the riots and social stifes were credited to the communists and
        Kuan
        > Yew had a lot to say about this. He claimed that the primary mover was Lim
        > Chin Siong. And yet, while Kuan Yew criticised David Marshall for being
        > inconsistent, Kuan Yew proved the same. He admitted knowing Chin Siong was
        > a communist the first time they met. (Though other commentators rejected
        > the claim that Chin Siong was communist). And yet, he helped pushed
        forward
        > Chin Siong and Fong. Kuan Yew played the agenda of these "pro-communists"
        > when it was convenient.
        >
        > The above statements are verifiable in the piece of fiction known as Lee
        > Kuan Yew: The Singapore Story.
        >
        > I went through his book and at last count, there were more than 30
        > questionable and contradictory quotes. I intend to elaborate on this in
        > future articles, but lets look at one issue he discussed.
        >
        > According to Kuan Yew, the 3 1/2 of Japanese occupation provided the
        > greatest influence on his views. He claimed that the end of the occupation
        > did not bring justice as those who had collaborated with the Japanese were
        > not taken to task. He lamented the lack of documents to prosecute the evil
        > doers and for justice to prevail.
        >
        > And yet, several pages before he made these statements, Kuan Yew admitted
        to
        > working for the propaganda service of the Japanese occupiers. His role was
        > to go through and edit the English news as received from the Reuters, AP
        > etc. Kuan Yew made a subtle criticism of the young men who learned
        Japanese
        > during the occupation to collaborate with them and yet, he learrned the
        > language and worked for the propaganda service.
        >
        > He claimed that those who did well were those who used the situation to
        > their benefit. And he did that. He claimed that those who were best
        > favoured during the occupation were those who were involved in
        construction
        > for the Japanese occupiers. And amazingly, he admitted that he was
        involved
        > in that too.
        >
        > While reading that section of his book, I thought about his education. How
        > much of the education he received at Cambridge, the funds that he used,
        was
        > based on the sufferings he wrought on Singaporeans and his collaboration
        > with the occupiers?
        >
        > Was his education funded primarily from his collaboration? It seems clear
        > from his autobiography, fictitious as it may be, that he funded his
        studies
        > from the work he did for the Japanese.
        >
        > Kuan Yew has little concern for his actions and its impact on others. He
        is
        > as self serving as the next manipulative politician.
        >
        > Which brings about another point of amusement. In Singapore politics,
        those
        > who run under the PAP ticket are touted as working for the interest of the
        > country. Their interests are played up by the media. But those who are in
        > opposition are self serving, interested politicians who are chavinistic
        and
        > trying to promote their cause.
        >
        > But the irony of Singapore politics is that those who are with the
        > opposition and recognised as potential threat to the PAP will face the
        whole
        > propaganda machinery and lose the lives they knew. Chee Soon Juan, Tang
        > Liang Hong, JB Jeyaratnam are flogged by the whole machinery and lose all
        > semblance of normal life. In order to bring forward their concerns, they
        > needed to sacrifice so much.
        >
        > And Chok Tong admitted that the only way to get credible individuals to
        join
        > the PAP, was to pay Ministers with salary that commensurate with the
        market
        > (though whether it really reflects market rates is also debatable). This
        > admission states that those who joined the PAP are not necessarily doing
        it
        > for the nation's benefit. They had to be persuaded with sufficient salary.
        > In fact, I have a journalist friend who admitted that he is trying to be a
        > PAP MP because the salary is good.
        >
        > Self serving politicians are promoted as working for the nation and those
        > who are really working are discredited. That is Kuan Yew's legacy.
        >
        > If Ho is concerned about self serving politicians, then the first step is
        to
        > look at Kuan Yew and determine the ways to make sure that such characters
        do
        > not come to power again.
        >
        > Democracy needs to prevail. Not propaganda and self interested
        politicians.
        >
        > Best regards
        > Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff
        >
        >
        > The definition of irony: "In order that no opposition can arise, the
        > communist party in government must have a machine, the secret police and
        all
        > its ancillary organs to ensure the continuity of the communist regime. In
        > practice this makes for the controlled, drab conformity in organised
        praise
        > or condemnation which are hallmarks of these countries. The democratic
        > socialist concede the right of opposition to challenge his values and
        > therefore the right of the other parties in displacing a democratic
        > socialist in office." Lee Kuan Yew (claiming to be a democratic socialist)
        > 1969.
        >
        >
        > --------------- FIRST REPLY MESSAGE
        BELOW --------------------------------------
        >
        > Below is a reply to Kelvin Teo's article "The Definition of Democracy" in
        the
        > 29 June 2003 issue of Singapore Review.
        >
        > From: Ho Cheow Seng
        > 1 July 2003
        >
        > Dear Kelvin,
        >
        > Your views on Democracy are somewhat simplistic, I regret to say.
        Democracy
        > certainly does not confer on one the right to do the wrong. This implies
        > that Democracy comes with grave responsibilities. You did not dwell on
        those
        > resposibilities, unfortunately.
        >
        > I suspect you are among those born in the years of peace and prosperity
        under
        > the current party in power, i.e. in theboom years beginning in the mid-
        > seventies. So you did not go through therough and tumble of the fifties
        and the
        > sixties.
        >
        > You might have read in passing about the racial riots and the violent
        inter-
        > party political conflicts and violence. But you did not live through those
        > times.Let meassure you, as one who had lived through those turbulent
        years,
        > that those were frightening times. The flames of violent civil strifes and
        > racial conflicts were set off by irresponsible politicians who had no
        regard for
        > the interest or survival of the people at large.
        >
        > Their pre-occupation was in winning the general election and come into
        power.
        > Their speeches were inflammatory, filled with hatred and bias and
        calculated to
        > incite the people to violence. As a result many innocent citizens were
        hurt and
        > many innocent lives lost. Those speeches had nothing to do with rational
        cogent
        > arguments to set out the case for a cause. Those irresponsible politicians
        > certainly did not believe in a healthy contest of ideas to win over the
        > hearts and minds of the people they sought to serve.
        >
        > Ideally Democracy means' a government of the people' elected by the
        majority of
        > the people for the good of all the people. In this context it may serve us
        well
        > to remember that self-serving demagogues could well exploit and manipulate
        the
        > masses through cleverly-crafted speeches to win votes, gain power and then
        rule
        > the country only to serve their own selfish goals. History bears ample
        testimony
        > to this.
        >
        > What do you say, Kelvin, to this?
        >
        > From: Ho Cheow Seng (ehocs777@...)
        >
        >
        > ------------------------ ORIGINAL MESSAGE
        BELOW --------------------------------
        >
        > From: "nirma12003" <yangkevin336@...>
        > To: <Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com>
        > Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 2:30 AM
        > Subject: [Sg_Review] The Definition of Democracy - Form and Substance
        >
        >
        > >Editor's Word; Is Singapore a democracy only in form, but not in
        substance?
        > >
        > > Does the government observe the true spirit of a written constitution?
        > >
        > > Or is the constitution reduced to a mere rubber stamp to give a cloak of
        > > legitmacy?
        > >
        > > Read on as our frequest writer, Kelvin Teo, discusses the issue in
        depth.
        > >
        > > By: Teo Wei Min, Kelvin
        > > 29 June 2003
        > >
        > > Every single entity possesses two attributes - form and
        > > substance. The form is a characteristic that can be perceived
        > > tangibly. The substance is what lies within. A democratic society
        > > is no exception.
        > >
        > > Where do the form and substance of a democratic society lie?
        > > Allow me to broach on the formalistic aspect of a democratic society
        > > first. Parliamentary democracy constitutes the essence of the form
        > > of a democratic society. What do I mean by parliamentary
        > > democracy? It simply means that the people can partake in the
        > > selection of their ideal leaders through the election process or
        > > participate in referendum in times when the public consensus is
        > > required for the implementation of a decision, measure or policy.
        > >
        > > How can the form of a democratic society be sustained? An
        > > independent and neutral body under the ambit of the society's laws
        > > is the key. The statutes of laws are above everyone, regardless of
        > > the individual's societal status or stature. This neutral body will
        > > ensure that elections are carried in the fairest manner and the
        > > playing field is level as far as all potential candidates for
        > > leadership roles are concerned.
        > >
        > > What constitutes the substance of a democratic society? Simple,
        > > the nature of such a society. The nature of a democratic society
        > > lies in everyone's attitudes, from the leaders to the citizens,
        > > towards democracy. If everyone were to embrace democracy and
        > > respect each other's democratic rights, such a society will be
        > > teeming with the spirit of democracy. The people will not hesitate
        > > to voice their views even on the issue of politics.
        > >
        > > Perhaps, critics will be quick to point out that giving people
        > > the freedom to comment on political issues, which is sensitive, and
        > > might lead to serious repercussions. I believe that this is an
        > > overkill as regards to the critics' perception towards the possible
        > > implications. In democratic countries such as Australia, the
        > > citizens have the courage to write in to the newsprint media,
        > > venting their frustrations due to their irate at a particular
        > > politician(s). Such articles, which serves to slam a certain
        > > politician, eventually reaches the entire readership. No social
        > > upheaval occured as a result of that. The only fathomable
        > > implication is that the targeted politician suffered a major public
        > > embarrassment.
        > >
        > > Likewise, the case in Singapore is similar. Internet forums
        > > serve as a popular channel for Singaporeans to express their views.
        > > I have witnessed polemic responses from Singaporeans in these
        > > forums. Vilification of politicians from the vituperative
        > > calumninators, or just an irate Singaporean, is a common sight in
        > > such forums. Yet, so far, no incident threatening the very social
        > > fabric of Singapore ever occured, considering the fact that these
        > > forums have a substantial following in Singapore.
        > >
        > > Hence, my answer to the critics is that the only possible
        > > negative implication from allowing the freedom of political
        > > expression is that the targetted politician suffers an
        > > embarrassment.
        > >
        > > The media also plays a role as one of the constituents of the
        > > substance of a democratic society. The press should be seen as the
        > > people's voice, albeit on a larger scale. I recalled a friend of
        > > mine ,who is currently studying at an Australian university, telling
        > > me about how the Aussie newsprint media drew satirical comical
        > > strips featuring John Howard amidst the unhappiness expressed by the
        > > Aussie public regarding some of his policies.
        > >
        > > Meritocracy should be practised regardless of one's views. Even
        > > in politics, a level-playing field should be promoted to allow
        > > politicians, who possess the necessary merits, to lead the people,
        > > regardless of the political parties they are affilated to.
        > >
        > > So far, I have touched on aspects relating to the citizens and
        > > political arena within a democratic society. The other important
        > > aspect I would like to touch on is pertaining to the attitudes of
        > > the leaders. Rightly, the main responsibilities of a leader is to
        > > serve the people. In Australia, according to my friend, ministers
        > > are no different from civil servants. To the ministers, it's an
        > > honour for them to win the people's mandate to serve them. With
        > > such a responsibility in mind comes a high level of transparency on
        > > the leaders' part.
        > >
        > > Such a leader, who is aware of his responsibilites and his
        > > position as being answerable to the public, will naturally withstand
        > > even the vilest insults hurled by the public. After all, his/her
        > > job is to provide a service to the public, and that makes the public
        > > his/her customer. The customer has every right to scold the service
        > > provider if he/she is unsatisfied with the service.
        > >
        > > In order to sustain the substance of a democratic society,
        > > constitutions and laws that protect the democratic rights of the
        > > people must exist. These constitutions and laws are above every
        > > single rank and file in the society. A fully independent judiciary
        > > free from political or apolitical control will be required to uphold
        > > the laws and constitutions, acting according to the dictums of the
        > > latter.
        > >
        > > The form and substance of a democratic society is akin to the
        > > mind and body of a living being. If either one of them stops
        > > functioning, death awaits the being called "Democracy".
        > >
        > > Disclaimer: This extract is based PURELY ON my views regarding
        > > democracy after exploring other democratic societies in the world.
        >
        > ----------------------------THE END------------------------------------
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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