Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why the alternate views. P65ers blogsite and comments.

It happened during my honeymoon and maiden trip to Europe in 2000. Missus and I were traveling with the Contiki Tour to 10 European countries. Exhilarating fun!

During our rest in the hotel room in Paris (nearing the end of the journey), I switched on the television. As usual I liked to channel-skip. (Women swear they find it irritating. Men still do it anyhow.)

The news of the day was about a group of illegal Chinese migrants who were packed into a container tanker and shipped to France like cargos. Many of them died during the journey due to overcrowding, poor ventilation and sanitation and sicknesses. They were just anchored offshore, awaiting their fate.

Being a typical Singaporean, the initial thoughts going through my head were:
  1. They deserved it for being illegals. (I didn't know how blessed we were in Singapore)
  2. Nobody's fault. They knew the risks.
  3. Can't blame the French government if they refuse entry to the illegals.
  4. Surely you can't account for people dying? At least not of your own nationality. Thousands die everyday anyway, etc.

What surprised me while switching the different channels were the various alternative views/perceptions/reports of how the media portray the French government!

One channel showed the ministers backing the government with their laws (probably ruling party owned); another side showed the opposition claiming the migrant laws were not good enough (probably opposition owned).

Then you have the human-rights group bashing the government for not taking them in first so more would not have died; then you have the people protesting outside the government house; then...

You get the picture? Or pictures? Yeah just a simple event triggered a lot of activities, discussions, alternative views and no-holds-barred bashing of government.

Initial reaction was: Great, how can this be? Can't the government take action against these 'jokers'? This IS your government after all! How can you fault them in front of the world?

Yet I was thrilled, fascinated.

Only then I realised how backward and isolated my mindset was. Mental constipation. I was not thinking out-of-the-box and all these years, it was 'cooped' up to think ONLY what the main newspaper -The Straits Times told me. I was 'boxed up' to view the pictures the SG government want me to see, the stories they wanted me to hear.

So there you have it. Just a simple exposure triggered me to see issues from different angles, perspectives. Which let me to read into politics, speak about it, acknowledge it. And not fear it.

After all, we do have a choice, don't we?

An encouragement to my readers:

Do take a second look at the P65s-blogsite. Their maiden speeches are there. Comments have started to trickle in, and yes, the new MPs do respond.

Er, just ignore the blogsite theme. It's painful to look at. But do visit and at least read their speeches.

See some of the comments I've posted below. It's a start at least.

Zaqy Mohamad:

  1. November 15th, 2006 at 1:48 pm
    I've tried to publish the comments below but it failed somewhat yesterday. However, after knowing about the GST hike and also hearing some other speeches, I do not think our comments matter.

    Coz I didn’t think your speech (or any others made an impact). It was as if the die had been cast, the plot determined. I feel disappointed. Maybe sorry for you too and even more so for the general public/common man.

    Here were the initial comments:
    Nicely done, Zaqy. Been waiting in anticipation to hear what you will speak on. I’m glad you have brought up some ‘current’ issues, eg mrbrown, malay community, disquiet among S’preans, etc. Glad you did your research and groundwork.

    Let’s hope it wasn’t just a speech (I truly don’t, coming from you), where it will be minuted down with no real action items. Many new MPs come into PH, highlighting real issues, bringing ‘connection’ with the man on the street... more

Michael Palmer:

  1. October 12th, 2006 at 6:29 pm
    If you want to ‘connect’, sit in the stands during the Chingay with your family among the common people. Not in some VIP seats and also not surrounded by a whole lot of plainclothes policemen and reporters.

    Sit there and ENJOY as a COMMON S’porean. See the procession from a citizen point of view.

    Know what? The word will get around and will spread faster than a speeding bullet.

    That’s what I call ‘connect’... more

Hri Kumar:

  1. November 15th, 2006 at 4:26 pm
    “Singapore is a philosophy, a state of mind. It will not be fully appreciated unless we understand our past, what we are today and where we stand in relation to our neighbours and the world.”

    Kudos to you for bringing this out. Very thoughtful words. May I add “Not only our past, but our future too.”

    Currently, the state of mind on the ground ain’t good with the surprise GST hike (actually no surprise to me. I kinda expected it. It hasn’t changed all these years, has it?).

    A country’s identity, loyalty is a state of mind. The government has been trying to instill National Education to the citizens. I do not know what the success rate is (reports and newspaper can be skewed), but I am sure it was a failure, having talked to campmates, friends who are/were teachers, students. And that’s just my outer circle. Even I, myself, don’t quite believe in it... more

So there you have it. Give it a shot. Alternatively.

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