Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"I'm at a loss for words to describe my feelings inside . . "

In the my last post, I linked a letter written by Peter Low (above) to ST, [read here]. Unfortunately, the particular letter is no longer there and neither is it at Singapore Law Watch when I googled here.

For those who missed and are keen to read what Peter wrote I hope the reproduction above helps.

Union Chief Lim Swee Say's loss for words in parliament recently speaks volume of how distant he is from us workers. With his time spent on checking his CPF statement in his ivory tower, he may be too busy to know Singaporeans' perception of PAP ministers. So are PAP ministers taking care of their own interests at the expense of the people? Swee Say asked. Was he 'at a loss for words' because he did not actually know the answer?

Gee, who would know the answer? Not me. I guess no one would know except the ministers themselves. Is it the inherent nature of human beings to brag about their self worth by harping on their sacrifices? Ever hear of the insurance agent who keeps harping and bragging about his selflessness. That he lives in this world to take care of your interests, not his!

I still love a particular insurance agent who when asked if he was selling insurance to take care of the interests of his clients or his own commission, said, "My dear client, it works both ways. If I do not sell any policy, I won't have money to pay my bills and take care of my wife and kids, to feed them, to house them, to send the kids to schools. If you buy an insurance policy, you are helping yourself to take care of your family should you not be able to do so due to disability or premature death. You pay a premium for the insurance and I get a commission off the premium to make a living, to take care of my family. If I serve you well and you are happy with what I do, I look forward to your continuing support and hope that you will recommend me to those who may need my service. Honestly, while taking care of your interests, I'm also taking care of mine. So whose interests come first? I guess it's mine because I'm the one who initiated this transaction," Blunt, direct but honest and respectable. If only PAP ministers were as humble, candid and honest as this insurance agent, PAP may not have lost to WP in Aljunied GRC!

Lim Swee Say claims that "cheaper, better & faster" was meant for 'products & services' and not for the 'workforce'. His exchange with Low Thia Khiang of WP here seems different from what's written here!

If only ministers did not pay themselves so excessively and make a mockery of national service and nation building, Swee Say would not have to be in such a pathetic state. "Let's put Singaporeans first," Swee Say said. Yes, but which Singaporeans? Ministers, elite PAP-connected Singaporeans? Or the real Singaporeans especially the ones who were denied upgrading of their flats because they did not vote PAP? Or the old and feeble whose days of
'cheaper, better and faster' went with the policemen who wore khaki shorts?

Singaporeans do not need politicians to worry for us. We need sincere and caring politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say . . . and do what they said they would do. We are sick and tired of having wools pulled over our eyes and treated like daft idiots with spurs stuck on our hide. Talk is cheap and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Apologies don't mean squat when arrogance comes back to bite after the objective of a 60% mandate is achieved. The disgrace of denying duly elected WP MPs from being invited to grassroots gathering leaves much to be desired. I'm 'at a loss for word' too for such lack of graciousness and ungentlemanly behaviour.

LKY tried to sell the 'greatness' and 'worth' of PAP ministers by scaring us that our mother, wife, daughter and granddaughter may have to go overseas to work as maids if the ministers did not get what they want - Obscene Salary! Now I get the feeling that Lim Swee Say is selling the "sincerity" of the ministers! Though PM Lee has finally woke up to the idea that their obscene salary is a huge bugbear that Singaporeans loathe, it may be a little too little and too late to set up a salary review committee headed by Gerard Ee. The damage is done! Whatever Gerard comes up with, he is not going to please anybody! Some will still complain that it is too excessive while others will bitch that it's too paltry and will lead to Singaporean womenfolk ending up as maids in other countries!

The slippery slope is getting more slippery for PAP and unless words and apologies are matched by honest actions and caring policies, the mudslide may end up in a tragedy!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dignity, Human Rights and ISA

Instead of my usual rest after a hectic physical class of rebounding, circular strength training and joint mobility exercise on an early Saturday morning, I took a quick bath and rushed down to Bras Basah Complex to learn more about ISA from the legal experts.

I arrived just before the proceedings started and I numbered 50 plus when I registered at the entrance of the meeting room. Fortunately, there was no notice to say that the meeting was cancelled like the previous forum I attended at the Verge [Link].

Jack Lee, the first speaker, brought us through the birth of ISA, subsequent amendments and what the future holds in ISA. I'm not going through the details that Jack shared but what caught my attention were the "pow chiak" changes that put the government in a sure-win position in dealing with detainees through the years.

Peter Low, the second speaker, shared with us his experience in defending detainees of ISA and his frustration of representing them at the Advisory Board review. It so flabbergasted him that, weeks earlier, he wrote a letter to ST [read here] which surprisingly was published and I'm sure will enlighten many.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the third speaker, Choo Zheng Xi could not make it. Ex-NMP Siew Kum Hong took his place and spoke to us instead.

In attending this forum, I've learned that Teo Chee Hean's version of ISA and why it must continue to be a sacred cow is just his and/or PAP's way of continuing the sure-win status quo.

What I found ironic is that ISA (in its technical details) is supposed to protect the integrity of freedom and human rights. It is a shame that it is used for other purposes.

For those who want to get nearer the truth about ISA, especially on the Marxist Conspiracy, the forum attendees struck gold with the presence of so-called "Marxist conspirators" Vincent Cheng and Teo Soh Lung. They shared with us the indignity they suffered under detention. When asked if he was tortured, Vincent said he did not have his genitals electrocuted nor his finger nails extracted by pliers. However, he was interrogated in a shivery cold room for many hours with sleep deprivation, was slapped, continuously struck on his chest and back by the forearm of his interrogator and also punched in his abdomen. Soh Lung, "Beyond the Blue Gate", said that apart from the cold room treatment, they took away her underwear and her glasses and she was also slapped by her interrogator. The way she described the warmth on her face when slapped sent a chill to my spine.

I understand that 'Maruah' in Malay means 'Dignity'. Though I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Vincent and Soh Lung, I did not have the chance to ask them if their dignity was negatively impacted by the atrocity inflicted upon them by ISA.

During the 60's under Operation Cold Store detainees like Lim Chin Siong, Chia Thye Poh, Dr Lim Hock Siew, etc. were tagged as 'communists'. During the 80's, detainees like Vincent Cheng and Teo Soh Lung were tagged as "Marxist Conspirators". Today, detainees like Mas Selamat Kastari and others are tagged as "terrorists" [Link].

With ISA where the PAP government can lock up anyone by tagging anyone as a 'security threat', can we blame Singaporeans for being fearful in not speaking up for justice, democracy and righteousness?

Fear may be the standard operating procedure used in Singapore to govern and browbeating helps make the job easier [Link]. ISA for what it is worth is an instrument that that serves this purpose. That is why we have:
  • Media reporting about Martyn See of SFD being called up by the police for organising a human rights forum [Link]
  • Media reporting about SDP being investigated for having a tele-forum with Francis Seow and Tang Fong Har[Link]
  • Police warning people not to be at Raffles Place on a certain Saturday afternoon [Link]
Though the above messages are intimidating, Siew Kum Hong said at the Maruah forum that he hasn't been arrested for speaking what he spoke and doing what he did. With that, I'm hopeful that we are arriving . . . to be a better Singapore!

Having personally met Vincent Cheng and Teo Soh Lung and hear them speak of their loss of freedom and rights, I've come to understand that it is the fear of the loss of power (kiasu?) that makes leader use ISA to create fear to enhance and ensure their overpowering despotic power. With the current revelation and challenges [Link] from living detainees, the sound of silence from those challenged will ultimately damage their reputation and integrity.

I salute detainees like Vincent Cheng, Teo Soh Lung, Said Zahari, Dr Lim Hock Siew and many others who have written and spoken of the atrocities committed against them through ISA. I salute Peter Low for his fortitude in sharing his experience with us. With such exposure, eventually, fear will diminish and truth will prevail.

On a lighter note, my attending the forum gave me the opportunity and thrill of rubbing Kum Hong's botak head. Based on what I wrote on 8 July 2009 [Link], I should have kissed the Botak Head :)