mollymeek (mollymeek) wrote,

Nobly Oppressive

The gahmen is probably unmatched in the world for making oppression sound noble whilst pretending that there is increasing openness. As if it is not enough to throttle you, it will gently inform you that it is loosening its grip while giving a pathetic excuse for continuing the strangulation, as if to further mock your helplessness.

But perhaps it is insecure, fearing that the moment it stops strangling you, it would be payback time.

If there is anything surprising about the gahmen’s decision of (not) liberalizing the Films Act and (not) allowing civil servants to comment on government policies, it is probably how little the gahmen is doing to seem progressive.

Yes, the Films Act is going to be liberalized. In phases, as suggested by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media (AIMS). And of course, party political films must be factual and objective. (But who dictates what facts are, whose history is authority and authoritative?)

It will amend the Films Act to allow for certain types of party political films, which means that political parties and their candidates will be able to use films for internet election advertising during an election. 

But party political films will have to be factual and objective and not dramatise or present a distorted picture. (

Try saying that the PAP has unscrupulously bankrupted opposition politicians through defamation suits. That’s probably not factual, not objective and distorting the truth.

But if the PAP smugly calls Chee Soon Juan a cheat and a liar, they are stating facts objectively.As has always been the case.

So what liberalization is there? Perhaps the gahmen wants to make use of film as an avenue for “reaching out” to strangle to the people who are nowadays becoming increasingly seditious, turning to online content for independent viewpoints expressed irresponsibly. But it wouldn’t be able to do so without breaking the law. So I suppose the law must change for the benefit of the gahmen.

It will still be perilous for any other people to make political films. For even if their films are not banned, they are liable for defamation and other charges. Come, criticize me. I let you do it.

Fake liberalization is merely an intensification of the oppressive climate but it also works to make people forget by rendering oppression invisible and deniable.

Yes, the gahmen can deny that it has anything to do with any ban on political films:

The government also agreed to set up an independent advisory panel which make up citizens of high standing and who are non-partisan. 

Oh yes. The Elected President of Singapore is also supposed to be a citizen of high standing and non-partisan. And what do we have?

As far as I can see, in Singapore “non-partisan” has always been roughly synonymous with a predisposition towards the PAP, a reflex of being paranoid about all that opposes it and a general acceptance of the dominant ideology.

In other words, no non-partisan citizen of high standing is really non-partisan. But how could we possibly say that? It’s totally irrational and irresponsible. And so, you are not denied oppression but oppression is denied.

In any case, what more is an advisory panel than serving an “advisory” function? Aren’t we already seeing before our very eyes NOW that the advisory entities testify, ultimately, to the strength of the power to accept or reject their advice? AIMS is an advisory council. And it has given advice. The gahmen chooses what it likes for its own benefit. And it tells us there is more and more openness. Well, perhaps arrested political development is trendy these days.

Not only does the gahmen has power, it also stands on the Mt Everest of morality. Its intentions are so noble and unquestionable that you can only grit your teeth hoping that your arteries do not burst in frustration because your oppression is denied and rendered utterly inarticulable. It is different from being trapped in Stalin’s Russia or Pol Pot’s killing fields where you can state your condition and gain international recognition. The acme of oppression is reached when your tears of angst flow inwards to flood your lungs and drown the heart throbbing with injustice. But no one will now hear the heartbeat. “Kill me,” you say. But you, and you alone, feel the tremors of your pulse.

The gahmen has decided that civil servants will continue to be gagged.

The gag stays: civil servants are still not allowed to publicly express their personal opinions on government policies.

Allowing them to do so would ‘compromise the performance of their duty by undermining discipline and trust within the civil service’, said the Government. (Straits Times, Gag stays for civil servants)

The Government with a capital G, not unlike God. Do I have to add that the above lines really means that civil servants are really not allowed to criticize the PAP’s policies or the PAP in general? I doubt they would get into any trouble or compromise any “discipline” if they voice their opinions of how wonderful the PAP’s policies are by writing to the ST Forum.

The fetishism of “discipline” that is peculiarly Singaporean aside, how would letting someone be a dignified human being undermine discipline and “trust”, especially if the particular policies they criticize have nothing to do with their work? In a way, the discipline would be compromised—if the rule is that civil servants cannot voice their opinions on the gahmne’s policies, but do so. But if the rule doesn’t exist, it wouldn’t be a disciplinary problem. Take me round in circles. I like it. Perhaps I will get so dizzy that I lose my consciousness and be relieved of the absurdity called Singapore that I have to live.

[T]he government on Friday said civil servants ‘already have many internal channels to make their views known’, including directly to the ministry or department concerned.

At the same time, they are privy to official and privileged information.

‘Use of such information should be safe-guarded,’ it added.’ (Straits Times)

Civil servants should not leak confidential information, of course. There should always be rules about what they are at liberty to divulge. But to impose a blanket rule disallowing civil servants to comment on a policy, something that everyone knows (because policies are public) is dubious. And if the matter if one of public concern, why should they just voice their opinion to the relevant ministry or department, even if we disregard the fact that such a statement is ridiculously paternalistic?

If you think Molly is screwed up, tell her. Don’t tell anyone else. Let her continue bluffing everyone else that she isn’t screwed up. Maybe, if it pleases her, she would try to be less screwed up.

Yes, civil servants have privy to certain information. Perhaps they know very well the difference between the official justification of the policy transmitted to the public and the actual intentions behind a policy. And this is precisely what the gahmen would be worried about.

On whether the Official Secrets Act (OSA) would have been a sufficient deterrent, Dr. Lee [Boon Yang] said it is a ‘post-facto legislation’, where leakage of confidential information had already happened and investigations had to be conducted.

The gag, on the other hand, provides ‘general guidance to all civil servants that in the public arena you should exercise some care because in the course of your work, you do come into contact with privileged and confidential information and you should not just freely go out there and articulate your personal views’, said the minister.

I’m sorry, but the existence of the OSA, even if you call it a post-facto legislation, already indicates to civil servants that they have to carefully handle information not in the public domain. There is neither a convincing reason to gag them or any reference to their right to comment on information that are clearly not confidential. Ludicrous justification. (What? A civil servant shouldn’t voice an opinion like “I think the GST hike affects the poor more than the rich” even if his work has got nothing to do with that policy?)

As if to attempt to show that the nonsense justification the gahmen is providing is not nonsensical, The ST resorts to its usual propaganda technique of quoting someone out there who supports the gahmen:

Mr Walter Lim, 38, directior [sic.] of corporate communications at the National Heritage Board, is one civil servant who blogs.

He writes mainly about his personal life, but also shares general views on marketing and public relations strategies. He is careful not to 'relate them back to what the NHB or civil service are doing'.

There is no need for the rule to be liberalised, he believes, as there are 'sufficient channels' for views to be expressed. [Views are not always meant to be expressed to the gahmen, you know? Views can also be addressed to the public who are affected by the policies.]

'Also, not all civil servants may be fully exposed to the full thinking behind the policies', which may lead to painting an incomplete picture in public, he added. (Straits Times)

Oh, not all civil servants are fully exposed to the “full thinking” behind the policies. Yes, the gahmen is wise and the people stupid, so the latter would irrationally criticize the gahmen even though the gahmen has a good reason for doing all that it does. Stupid civil peasants don’t know better while, well . . . the gahmen knows best. But hey, then why are non-civil servants 9presumably) not gagged?? They are exposed to even less of the full thinking (which, if it’s so convincing, should be publicized anyway).

But I thought that Mr. Lim isn’t supposed to voice his personal opinion because he is a civil servant. So why is he telling us that he believes there is no need for the rule to be liberalized? (And yes, this seems to confirm that personal opinions in support of the government’s policies are, in fact, allowed.) The Straits Times is either being plain bizarre or secretly self-reflexive.

Carry on, carry on with the daily rhetorical assault. Make this the killing fields where routine murder is carried out with an obnoxious air of nobility.


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