Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the spectacle of death: The first twelve hours on social media

27Mar15 edit: My thoughts on the viral hate here.

24Mar15 0345hrs GMT+1 edit:

Hi folks, I realize this post has circulated far more widely than I had anticipated, roused an extensive array of public sentiment, and been positioned in various ways to rally for different agendas or reflect different opinions. While all this publicity is gaining traction, I’d like to signpost a few things:

1) This mode of data archiving and tracing emergent sentiment in the vernacular is what I do in my job as an academic and media scholar. In particular, I have an academic interest in Instagram. Please feel free to browse through my similar work on #OccupyCentral, #CharlieHedbo, #JeSuisAhmedThe Instagram Purge, and Instagram’s Downtime.

2) I am an academic writing up an analysis on a phenomenon on social media in the space of an academic blog. The analytically clinical tone of the piece has stood out in the wake of much public grieving in which citizens are sharing personal stories, memories, and sentiments of the late Mr Lee, but this post is not a personal story. It is a summary of my personal scholarly observations, and was not deliberately framed to be disrespectful.

3) I am reporting on the early trends and tropes (first twelve hours) on social media among the populace in the vernacular, and some of the ways the coverage by mainstream media disseminated on their respective social media platforms may be shaping this public sentiment. What these popular trends, tropes, and reactions emerge to be or reflect are not within my control.

4) I collected these screen grabs in the first twelve hours following the announcement of the late Mr Lee’s death from Channel NewsAsia Singapore’s Facebook page, The New Paper’s Twitter account, and public Instagram tributes posted on hashtags #RIPLKY, #PrayforLKY, #ThankyouLKY, and #RememberingLKY.

5) I have adopted descriptors (i.e. ‘legend’, ‘draconian’) commonly utilized in the academic research and international press coverage about the late Mr Lee and Singapore. While I have not coined them, I believe the expressions adequately convey the themes I had coded and observed.

Yours,
Crystal

picstitch (1)

The first Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, passed away at 0318hrs on 23 March 2015 at the age of 91. His death at this time is especially significant as this year is to be Singapore’s 50th year of independence, memoralized as a yearlong national campaign, branded #SG50. The official tribute website for Mr Lee is Remembering Lee Kuan Yew.

Here are some personal observations on the spectacle surrounding the death of a political legend in the first twelve hours on social media. Screen grabs taken from Channel NewsAsia Singapore’s Facebook page, The New Paper’s Twitter account, and public Instagram tributes posted on hashtags #RIPLKY, #PrayforLKY, #ThankyouLKY, and #RememberingLKY.

Today on my social media:

a) International friends discovering Singapore’s draconian structures for the first time and exercising their messiah complex.

b) Local friends sharing excessively emotive write-ups attempting to humanize a great politician to shape public memories.

c) Suddenly, everyone has an opinion on Singapore.

1) Populist memory-making in progress.

2) Mobilizing collective effervescence.

3) Making a list. Checking it twice. Finding out who has demonstrated public diplomacy and who hasn’t. Race you.

Also, international political grieving feels like the adult version of writing in a high school year book.

4) Local politicians pay their respects.

Also, all the cyber-hugs to all my friends in journalism and media who are probably going be working non-stop for the next 72hrs.

5) An official discourse of a life history is organized and disseminated.

6) A draconian politician is humanized.

Also, all the cyber-hugs to all the educators rewriting social studies texts for next year.

7) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Lee’s living legacy and son, manages officious state duties and public grief.

Brainfart: I wonder how all the politicians’ children whom I went to school with will have to exercise public grief when their parents pass away. How are children of politicians schooled into public affectation? Is there an organization or mentoring programme of sorts?

8) Tributes from citizens at the fringes are highlighted.

Also pending, tributes from:
a) Ethnic minorities
b) The lower class
c) Fringed sexualities

9) Popular vernacular tributes are memetized.

10) All. The. Creative. Tribute. Art.

11) Despite his strict command as a hyper-masculine disciplinarian and founder of the state, Mr Lee has also managed to be remembered as a loving husband.

12) And as a counterpoint to his extreme paternalism, he is also fondly remembered by citizens as a doting father to his children.

13) SGAG, the local user-generated version of 9gag, is respectfully taking a break from their usually jabbing political satire.

14) Meanwhile, this is how the most prominent local Internet vigilante group, SMRT Ltd (Feedback), wants to memorialize a legend.

And this is how histories become selectively myopic,
sympathetic populism reigns,
collective effervescence kicks in,
and gods are made.

53 thoughts on “Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the spectacle of death: The first twelve hours on social media

  1. Hi Crystal! Ahmad from NUSWS here. I find your blog really insightful especially with me doing my MA in Media and Education now. Keep the good stuff coming!

    Like

    1. Hey Ahmad,

      Nice to hear from you again, and thanks for the kind words :) I hope you’re putting your Star Wars rudiments to good use with your students. Music is good for the brain, etc etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I cannot understand why you feel this way… I can see you have made your life successful… But to have snide titles and proclaiming the birth of a God seems rather beneath you.

    I can only assume that you have suffered before with bad experiences to draw on only.

    I hope one day you will heal, and come home for some nasi leak, mee rebus, and chicken rice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A man died today. You are completely entitled to your opinions, but if you’re going to be dissing him, do it another time.

    Basic human decency dictates that at least leave the badmouthing till after the funeral.

    You might be watching way too many American movies if you think that all politicians are black and white. They’re not. As it is with every decision you make in your every day life, it’s shades of grey.

    For the record, I do not like the man. I don’t agree with everything that he did. Nevertheless, I respect him, and the work he did, and am grateful that he made the tough decisions so that I don’t have to.

    That aside, a man died today. Leave the condemnation and the judgement for later, and respect the sentiments of the family and the people that grief for him, whoever he is. You owe him at least that much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. sentinall, i think you are missing the point of the article. it is not the person who died but the politicising of the event of death that is being evaluated.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Hey, this is a good read! Just a question: I wonder why the newspaper and social media have been featuring lee Hsien long and LKY’s daughter but no reports of the “grief” shown by the youngest son? anybody has insight to this?

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  5. I think most of us Singaporeans know how selectively myopic the local media can be (and not just on LKY’s death), yet we continue to reinforce similar views on social media, perhaps because this is the history we choose to remember. No Singaporean can deny the contributions and loyalty he had towards the nation and his family.

    I completely disagree with your choice of words when you say “A draconian politician is humanised.” He was harsh, yes, but his policies and leadership style were very much necessary then. Secondly, to say ‘humanised’ implies he was not humane. I find that to be ridiculous. Do you mean to say he was less humane than most? After all he did to build Singapore for her people?

    Also, tributes to LKY are simple acts of appreciation and respect (minus SMRT ltd thats 99% of the time full of shit and inaccurate. Case in point: LKY quit smoking decades ago).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This whole comment – word.

      LKY was in his time a very strong-willed and harsh politician but without him and his manner of work we would not have come so far.

      Like

  6. Very interesting read! As a person embedded in the collectives throes of social grieving, I think it is important for meta-opinion like your piece here. I think it does not in any way discount the respect/grief we have for Mr. Lee’s passing. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  7. Interesting read! But I have to respectfully disagree – history isn’t made myopic, simply because history isn’t determined by tributes and obituaries, but by the scholars and graduates and academics who, long after the moment of death has passed, long after sentimentality has passed, analyse every single action and turn of phrase down to its bones. Mr. Lee wasn’t afraid of that – he knew it, and would rather led his record speak for itself instead of sentiment. Yes, some people may be hypocritical, having criticised him for the longest time, and suddenly waxing poetic and spouting paragraphs of gratitude and respect when he is gone. And I agree that those who have long disagreed with him may feel uncomfortable with the overwhelming public sentiment right now. Yet I think that there is no harm, in this moment, in celebrating a life well-led, of a man who, for better or worse, made us to who we are today.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This article echoed my sentiments when news about his passing broke out.
    Friends in social media has shared news article excessively, wrote ‘weird’ posts that seemed to thank LKY for his draconian rule, etc.

    While it is true to an extent that LKY did play a crucial part in the formation of contemporary Singapore, never go ‘full retard’ and attribute everything as the deeds of an individual. He is not a god and will never be.

    Nevertheless, the death of an individual, famous or not, is always a sad event and with that in mind, I pay my tributes to LKY.

    Like

  9. Interesting read and I have to agree with Fena. This is the death of an important person and so naturally there will be this outpouring of grief. Like Ghandi’s death, Mandela’s death or Mother Teresa’s death what they have in common is the impact they made on people. So perhaps the scale and reach of social media with regards to LKY’s death is based on the impact he has made.

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  10. Hi, I am currently doing critical geopolitics on the nation-building of Singapore. Given the death, I am not looking forward to the inevitable turn in my dissertation, but your post made me laugh and coded themes that I would agree with :P thank you for sharing x

    Like

  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I have similar sentiments, though I might be hesitant about calling it a myopisation(?) of history. There definitely is a selection of histories happening, but towards a stabilization of historical narratives that I think would cohere a national/ cultural identity (something that we apparently “lack”, by lay discourses). My general intuition is that Singapore’s sense of history (based on what we are taught in school) is and has been quite myopic. What’s happening with the online discourse seems more like an embellishment — most notably with the creation of a political ‘hero’, or in your words, a ‘god’.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/jonny-otan/singapores-greatest-death/930200720345015?pnref=story

    Like

  12. LKY’s thoughts himself, from Hard Truths, On his legacy and public image:

    “I’m no longer in active politics. It’s irrelevant to me what young Singaporeans think of me. What they think of me after I’m dead and gone in one generation will be determined by reasearchers who do PhDs on me, right? So there will be a lot of revisionism. As people revised Stalin, Brezhnev and one day now Yeltsin, and later on Putin. I’ve lived long enough to know that you may be idealised in life and reviled after you’re dead.”

    Like

  13. I think what you are doing here, having a critical eye on what part we ourselves are playing at this defining moment in Singaporean history, is very important. How we remember our history is crucial in determining what kinds of values and ways of living future Singaporeans will come to endorse. Unfortunately, not enough people realise that we are all important actors in creating the current chapter in Singaporean history.

    That said, I do have a crucial question to your conclusion: Aren’t all histories myopic and selective in nature, because history (at least the actual practice of historical remembrance) is the organisation of the past into a coherent narrative by and for the current? My question is concerned not so much with whether or not what’s out there is a fair/correct reflection of the man, but rather how the varying social and discursive positions of Singaporeans problematise the very definition of an ‘objective fairness/correctness’. Please do correct me if I have wrongly accused you of judging as ‘incorrect’ the current reactions to his death, via use of terms like ‘myopic’.

    By the way, I wish you all the best for your PhD journey. I just started on mine here in Canberra, and it feels like a really daunting task. The writing stage still seems so far away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this article brings out some critical points, and we are looking at the making of a founding myth right now. All histories are selective, but not all are necessarily myopic, and what is important (for the making of a diverse, multicultural/ racial/ tolerant, empathetic society) is having the space for competing narratives and acknowledging differences and debates about how our history is made, used and abused. But in the case of Singapore, we have been living under ONE official version with zero tolerance for competing narratives, and this ONE narrative is being further concretised. This is very well if we want to continue to be the myopic society we are, but not if we are to become more progressive. Just look at the comments here and we can see that the intolerance for alternative memories/ reactions is pervasive in our society.

      Like

      1. Can’t agree more. We are in the process of making our founding myth now, and that at such a crucial juncture we should have a more inclusive space for competing narratives and acknowledging differences. Being aware and explicit of our own subjective experiences and beliefs in expressing these different understandings will be very important, I feel, in highlighting how and and from what perspectives we are making such statements.

        Like

  14. Was he a perfect man? Most definitely not. Did he make decisions that were questionable and maybe even overly severe? Probably.

    But I believe the reaction of the people and the way he is remembered is simply because there were things he envisioned and believed in that helped shape this nation. And in the end, while we mourn the loss of a founding father, surely it isn’t wrong to pay tributes to his merits rather than mock his mistakes.

    My point is, while his death may seem over celebrated, the people who do it, do it out of the feelings they feel and the sense of respect maybe some of them genuinely feel.

    As for your article, you do seem to attempt to be objective and scholarly as you would put it but there are parts that seem suspect of words that are very severly subjective. Where one would see it as draconian, another sees it as necessary.

    You might call it a scholarly piece but I would hope to see one of more objectivity.

    Even if you don’t appreciate his life, don’t mock his death.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. “The analytically clinical tone”
    “not deliberately framed to be disrespectful”

    Perhaps you are trying to be analytical, and perhaps you are not intentionally disrespectful. But you may have let some inbuilt biases creep in with the words you chose in writing your article.
    If you truly aim to be unbiased, scholarly, you may want to.. try harder.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. why type? perhaps it’s time to ask oneself if you have made any good changes and contributions to Singapore. to think something more of your reach, have you physically helped the elderly, children or the needy around you?

    what have you done that you can be compared to this man who made the difference?

    the difference is – he walked the talk and walked the walk. he stood up for Singapore and made it what it is today.

    you, on the other hand, just sit behind the screen and type away.

    nice.

    get a life.

    Like

  17. Welp. It’s called a -eu-logy for a reason. Most people do the family making a eulogy the favour of allowing selective myopia to slip by uncriticised*, thanking someone for only the best of that person coz he’s done his personal best for his loved ones. Leave the worst to the dredgers who we can be assured will pick at the bones for the worst of LKY nonetheless. I think LKY did his very best and deserves the title “father” in all senses of the word. Can’t we celebrate him for a week without that askance, eyelid lowering smirk from people “Who know exactly what’s going on here”?

    Of course there’s stuff being shoved down our throats as “truths” and “history”. Documentaries purporting to be more than mere opinion pieces. But good lord the man deserves it, and a sufficient majority Singaporeans are “educated” or cynical enough not to be brainwashed by it anyway, or do you worry millions of lesser minds than you will eat it hook line and sinker?

    *Yes I said criticized because I found the tone subtly, whimsically condescending. Goes a little beyond the purported “scholarliness ” of your tone. Mildly trivializes genuine emotion. Who’s to say LSL’s speech, for example, crafted weeks maybe months ago in preparation for the day, couldn’t have been met with a flood of spontaneous, genuine memories, admiration, and grief while it was being said in front of the camera?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. In a separate note, thank you truly for collecting and posting the online posts, and for allowing backlash comments to appear. Both are indeed testament to your professionalism and academic rigour.

    Like

  19. thank u for this post. it’s a very refreshing read from all those other post that has been flooding facebook. =)

    Like

  20. I do understand the context of this article, and I did find some aspects of it rather interesting (enjoyable even).

    though perhaps you might consider that is is somewhat pointless to objectify something that is by nature… anything but objective.

    love him, hate him, mourn for him, doesn’t really matter. most of the posts you encounter of facebook or other social media platforms will have been made by Singaporeans whom have never met him in person. it’s also safe to say that many have not lived in an era where his reputation as a politician was sculpted.

    you won’t find many claiming otherwise.

    doesn’t make them any less valid. and certainly shouldn’t be compartmentalized or belittled as ‘excessively emotive write-ups’. highly emotionally charged? perhaps. excessive? well, whether or not valid, perhaps you might consider the possibility that such posts may be heartfelt (for the most part. no doubt many posts are too contrived to suggest much sincerity).

    perhaps cynicism needs to take a step back here. perhaps the proverbial ‘benefit of the doubt’ is more relevant in this case. either way, if you espouse objectiveness, it’s best to not take a stance.

    not likely that Mr Lee cares, but objective appraisals will follow in due time. his works and his methods shall be dissected to death by academics and scholars more qualified than either you or I. let the nation grieve for now for it won’t get the chance afterwards.

    I suppose it’ll be more appropriate then for a write up on social media phenomenons (or whatever its called), with Mr Lee’s passing as your central case study.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the spectacle of attention seekers: The first twelve hours and this blog post comes up”

    Have some respect for the nation- you could have published your little study after the mourning period.

    Like

  22. A nicely poetic closing…

    And this is how histories become selectively myopic,
    sympathetic populism reigns,
    collective effervescence kicks in,
    and gods are made.

    Like

  23. Thanks for this interesting ( and unsurprising) survey of social media/print media responses to LKY’s passing. My surly personal opinions aside, I think we all anticipated, that as someone deeply identified with Singapore itself, his death was going to bring out a wave of reaction that was sincere, obligatory, revisionist, personal, etc all at once. This is probably the death that will have the biggest imprint in our history. I really appreciated your approach. I hope you can do an update at some point!

    Like

  24. You talk about it being an article written by an academic. But I can’t seem to wrap my head around a few things.

    Mind you, this is only my opinion, and my two-cents, not-even-educated-university opinion: this conclusion alone has struck your argument dead in the water.

    It is extremely apparent that you have, as you have said, “(wrote) up an analysis on a phenomenon on social media”, by categorizing different kinds of messages on social media and and described them.

    However, here are my misgivings,

    1) In your opening sentence you said, “Here are some personal observations on the spectacle surrounding the death of a political legend in the first twelve hours on social media.”

    But then, in your later clarification ,you said, “I am an academic writing up an analysis on a phenomenon on social media… but this post is not a personal story.”

    This is a flat contradiction: on one hand you said that you made personal observations in your article, which you did, but then you said that your post is “not a personal story”. Pardon me if I’m lost in the semantics, but that seems to say what it says.

    2) With regards to 1), your efforts to then explain how your opinions are “personal scholarly observations” doesn’t cut it for me. You made little effort to show how the dissemination and spread of such messaging “may be shaping this public sentiment”. By not even taking the littlest efforts to objectively dwell on this point that really put your descriptors of what you have deemed is the “a draconian politician, your “crystal ball” speculation on the pending tributes from “ethnic minorities, the lower class and fringed sexualities”, and not to forget, your conclusion, on the shaky ground of seeming to be not objective to begin with; not to mention how it would then invalidate your point I just quoted.

    3) If you were meaning to be objective in your article, what I have described above gives me big reasons to doubt your objectivity. However, if you were meaning to deliberately push your personal opinions, I find it quite interesting why you would then go to great lengths to do such an ordered analysis of media messages and not to say out at the very beginning, or better as a clear thesis statement, that your article IS an article on your own opinions. If so, then half-masquerading your opinion article with a spiel on how you were doing a “scholarly observation” and how you were using an “analytical clinical tone” seems to me to be a half-hearted attempt to push some form of agenda rather than being objective.

    And as a side point, I find your opening lines quite interesting (and somewhat amusing):

    4) “International friends… exercising their messiah complex.”. I would believe that many psychologists would take exception to you drawing a flat conclusion of a psychological phenomenon based on mere quotations.

    “Local friends… attempting to humanize a great politician to shape public memories”. I have plugged the word “humanize” into Askoxford.com and I do believe I get what the word “humanize” mean; with that said, I am very sure that Lee Kuan Yew is already a human and remains so even in death. Not that I doubt that he isn’t human in death in the sense that he is longer a “live” human, although it should be axiomatic to conclude that one doesn’t turn from being a human to another species even after being medically defined as dead. (science doesn’t seem to prove that either). Even if we take the metaphorical approach, I don’t think there is any need to further “humanize” someone who is known widely amongst Singaporeans and others of course. I do think I missed something here though.

    If the thesis statement of my comment isn’t clear by now, I apologise for that and state it immediately here: with the explanations and reasons I have given, I can’t take your article seriously as it just doesn’t seem to be written objectively. I understand that you said weren’t deliberately framed to disrespect anyone (although 1) that is still framing, thank you, and 2) I then have doubt whether you really weren’t being disrespectful). Although your image attachments seem useful to the extent of illustrating the kind of messaging that is taking/took place, I can’t seem to take much of what you have said seriously, especially your own opinions, as you have not even made the simple attempt to back your opinions up. In fact, I go as far as to say that your efforts to show factual proof to peddle what essentially are your personal opinion as sophistry.

    By the way, I did look at the links in your latest clarification to the other articles you have done, and you have certainly reused the same method of quoting messages on social media and other forms of information, but you have never given your personal opinions in the same way (or not even a single point of opinion in your linked articles for that matter).

    P. S. I do want to be wrong. Please tell me I’m wrong. You are a PhD holder and I’m just a lowly Diploma in Mass Communication holder with a GPA of just 2.0. I want to be wrong. I want to be DEAD wrong.

    P. P. S. I don’t wish to invite a discussion on philosophy, but I should state the axiom that an argument on fact should be objective.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi,

    This is James who just posted my comment. Just to say I admit that point 1) I made is incorrect. I admit that. Sorry.

    I stand by everything else I have said though.

    My request is that you don’t retain this message. But even if you do it doesn’t matter to me.

    Thank you.

    Like

  26. Standard boring spiel dressed up as “academic work” and flowery language. Would not pass as critical thinking nor thought provoking.

    Like

  27. Your piece made me laugh. Laugh at your self-proclaimed analytical scholarly analysis, when these standards are found sorely lacking in this article. Yes, Mr LKY might have been high handed in certain issues or policies (personally I do not like and agree with some of the things done. Oh wait, the government should have been better at “brain-washing” us as some of you so-called analytical scholars like to believe). But, to imply that Singaporeans see him as “a god” just because of the immense outpouring of genuine gratitude at the peace & opportunites he had indeed lead us to (yes, we know its not a one-man show, but he’s the one that had just passed on & our subject matter at hand), perhaps the myopic may just be the one who had penned this “analytical” article instead. I applaud you for your efforts, but like some had said, try much harder please.

    Like

  28. “And this is how histories become selectively myopic,
    sympathetic populism reigns,
    collective effervescence kicks in,
    and gods are made.”

    I was fine with your article, with how you observed things. Well most of it. Until you said that.

    Crystal, this is somebody’s death.
    When my own grandfather dies I would like everyone to remember him for all he has contributed and while admitting my own grandpa to be a super blunt man I would still be remembering him for all the joy he has brought to my life, and how he has impacted me. My aunties and uncle would come and share the good times and memories as well. What’s so different in this situation? Even for politicians, they’ve met him. My grandpa, if he still have friends alive, or acquaintances, and if they were to know, I doubt they’d run for acknowledging him and his life either. (and touch wood, he’s still alive)

    Social media, I won’t deny, can change how things work. But for me and my friends in Singapore we know how hard he has fought for our nation to be what it is today.

    He’s not a god. We know him for who he is, and he deserves our nation’s respect because we don’t know what we would become without LKY’s guidance – just a forgotten part of Malaysia? I don’t really want to know. He was our prime minister, and a founding father we will remember.

    Thank you for sharing with us your views on the social media in regards to Mr LKY but please don’t group us all as blind followers – I believe many of us, this I speak for the Singaporeans, truly do hold much fondness for this man because of what he has done for us. The process you can say was very rigorous, but we thank him.

    Well, this is just my opinion. Go on with your observations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The difference is that he’s a public figure – by choice, no less. Your grandfather is not. LKY certainly never believed that death absolved anyone from censure (or praise.)

      Like

  29. Brilliant observation. Rare to see young Singaporeans with untinted and righteous values despite a childhood of propaganda. :)

    Like

  30. you are a big fuck! how’s that for your media study and research! why am I saying that to you? pls do some research and think what I said that. I repeat you are a big fuck!!!

    Like

  31. The amount of misguided individuals spewing vitriol here is staggering. Amusing expositions all around.

    If you’re expecting to be spoon-fed a perfectly unbiased source, then there’s a good reason why you’ll never make it far in any competent tertiary institution.

    In other words, draw your own conclusion. Does this page change your view of the national mourning or what that has been printed on our highly-biased mainstream media?

    Like

  32. Some thoughts:

    Assume that I know multiple facets of the man (good and bad), but still admire and respect him (not just this week), and still grieve for his loss.

    Should I be mindful “how histories become selectively myopic” before posting anything on social media? How can I express my grief without being seen as part of the “collective effervescence”? Do you consider such implications whenever you post an article?

    My friends have also politely advised that we be mindful of the “brainwashing” this week. There are other posts on my Facebook Timeline, especially news stories from overseas, which do not fail to mention Lee Kuan Yew’s draconian ways or failed policies. Other posts preface/conclude with phrases like “put aside our differences temporarily” or “fight later”.

    Let me (perhaps naively) believe that the people of Singapore are more discerning than that; that we are choosing to ignore, not forget, his flaws but for the moment.

    Let me (again perhaps naively) believe in the sincerity of the people and the Singapore government at this time. Perhaps it was not your intention, but your conclusion belittles the grief of Singapore by saying our views have been shaped, that we are merely victims of “sympathetic populism”.

    Like

  33. I am intrigued by your critical analysis of this whole saga. I have many questions in my head and find that it can be tough to debate critically on controversial issues such as the effects of freedom of speech with the interplay of normative public behaviours. As a curious and concerned Singaporean, I wished to respectfully request for an objective debate about this issue.

    It is difficult and takes courage to even consider about alternative opinions that differs from popular and normative beliefs. As we attempt to form an opinion on controversial debates, perceptions might always be subjective and there will always be two sides to a coin. For example, a statement can be interpreted as genuine to its publicly expressed intent, but can also be accused for advocating to a specific agenda. What is viewed as a problem to some can also be perceived as no problem to others as well (for example, not everybody embraces total freedom of speech). While sacrificing some trade offs, Singapore has achieved economic success, gained international recognition for our successes, advanced to a first world nation, cleanliness, corruption free, peace and stability. These are all the things that we should be grateful about as a Singaporean. Although there are people who are unhappy with the current system, there are people who love the way things are today (either genuine or being brain-washed) as well. What I think we should ask ourselves is Singapore is already doing well, even if Singaporeans seems not to be more critical with our opinions (at least to the critics), does it still matter? If the majority of Singaporeans perceived that there are major pressing issues, a change will definitely be inevitable. However, if the majority of Singaporeans find no issue with the current system today, then there shouldn’t be any issues to argue about. Of course, from a pluralistic perspective, people will have differing interests, beliefs and motivations that shapes their opinions on how things “should be”. Thus, the next important question we should ask ourselves is why can’t we engage in a critical discussion to try and reach to a consensus without hate, vulgarities and insults?

    I feel that MOST of all these social media spamming of differing opinions means nothing more than an attempt to shape public opinions and behaviours. What I think really matters is for a fair platform for critical debates to take place and more importantly, our voting choice on the upcoming election.

    What do you think is the way forward for Singapore?

    Like

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