Daily SG: 18 Feb 2008

The Phantom Menace. PAP mole in the mist?
– e pur si muove: Let’s calm down, please
– The Wayang Party Club of Singapore: Public call for Andrew Loh and Remy Choo to apologize and step down from TOC

Singaporeans are fed, up with progress!
– Decay on Net: Pump price easy to go up, hard to come down
– My singapore News: Imported inflation or inflating prices?

CPF & Annuities
– Diary of A Singaporean Mind: I hope Refund-80 is enough for McDonald’s Happy Meals!

Human Rights
– The Online Citizen: A CASE of double standards?
– SG Review: Politically motivated law enforcement is exposed gain

Healthcare
– Angry Doctor: Live Long and Prosper

Freedom, Choice and a place for my Voice
– Singapore: New Media, Politics & the Law: “Give me freedom or… I’ll take it anyway”
– No political films please, we’re Singaporeans: Censorship under the PAP : 1959 – 2008
– BothSidesOfTheJohorStraits: If Malaysian politics is having an ‘erection’, Singaporean politics needs viagra…

Daily Discourse
– Mr Wang Says So: Lives of Dark & Quiet Desperation
– Singapore Life and Times: Down the drain
– A Partisan Guy: Political Poem
– Fauzi Rassull: Why Singapore Have To Be Bilingual? Isn’t It Stupid? [Thanks agnes]
– the(new)mediaslut: Fauzi Rassull got it wrong; Bilingualism is still important in today’s context!
– The Anti Neo-Democracy Theorist: Will politics here throw up an Obama?
– Hear Ye! Hear Ye!: Why I would leave Singapore
– Looking through the eyes of_ _: Gender Bias in Singapore Law
– Yawning Bread: Safety on Trial

Life, the universe and everything
– Random Thoughts Of A Free Thinker: Singapore 2030 Forum — Highlights
– The annotated budak: International Year of the Reef 2008: Birds of Singapore shores
– Alice Cheong in Wonderland: A personal peep into local art exhibits
– theory.isthereason: Made in Singapore: Comiqs, GaussianMath, SG Wiki, Rockumentary

Infoblogoramus
– Ah Boon.Net 阿文: Manned Cloud – The Flying Hotel

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35 Responses to Daily SG: 18 Feb 2008

  1. Darkness - [chronicler] says:

    This is Darkness reply to the following discussion in this thread located in the Singapore Angle / to Lee Ching Ching and Mei Ling Wartson.

    http://www.singaporeangle.com/2008/01/privacy_for_ah_kong_privacy_fo.html#comments

    “When we talk about the whole business of SWF’s, the tendency is to regard this as a purely economic exercise – I am not so sure confining it to such a corsetted ambit is wise. As I cannot think of a more lousy representation of reality, that’s a bit like saying the space race in the 60’s was a purely technical exercise, that’s certainly true if we elide wholesale the narrative of the period; the fits of xenophobia Sputnik provoked in America – how many perfectly well balanced folks scrambled to build nuclear fall out shelters along with the blight of McCarthyism that scissored through the US – these days when we read about these xenophobic accounts they appear comical, but make no mistake, the red menace was very real then and the parallels between nationalism, sense of belonging and even partisan beliefs are pretty well reflected even today in SWF’s, FDI’s and cross merger acquisitions, be it the Dubai port debacle – the Dutch protesting why Van Gogh’s sunflower should hang in down town Tokyo or even our private gripes about FT’s competing with Singaporeans. My point is this; the specter of foreigners gaining control over strategic assets predates even the whole debate abt SWF’s. So I cannot see what value it generates if these elements are only given perfunctory treatment, especially when one claims to be serious about the whole idea of cross border risk mitigation –of course, I can see how the whole idea of pigeon holing the elements which make up the debate into neat boxes goes a long way towards rendering clarity and even making amenable the whole idea of supplying reasons to phenomenon – for example; Mei Ling mentioned that information leakage was SOLELY responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union – is that true?

    What she conveniently elided mentioning, was the Polish Solidarity uprising, the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (incidentally that marked the military decline of the Soviet war machine), the economics of maintaining the prosecution of the cold war through military means, the uprising in the Balkan states, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that marked the first real decline in the infallibility of soviet technology etc – tell me; how did these events contribute to the demise of the Soviet oligarchy? Maybe it was the lousy cement mix used for constructing the Berlin wall? Hey I don’t know, but I know it cannot be just information and information alone that brought down the whole house of cards, if anything that’s a gross simplification and if it were really true North Korea would remain an untenable impossibility in every sense of the word – truth of the matter is these islands of contradictions do continue to persist (even today) despite Mei Ling insistence, “authoritarian regimes require a monopoly on information.” They don’t. And even it that were true, the west would have been no match for the Soviet Union in Mei Ling’s so called information war – the soviet mind control machinery was par excellence second to none; where the sine quo non of narrating and even blocking other narratives from forming and emerging has been elevated to a veritable science – so what really is she talking about? Unless of course she can prove to me Mickey Mouse or the wheel of fortune was some grand narrative of emancipation and enlightenment capable of mobilizing entire blocks of people to rise and throw off the yoke of communism? It cannot.

    This brings me to TOC. Question; how does TOC relate to the issue of SWF’s. The short answer is a lot; as ALL the set pieces we discussed above are there along with much more. Here we have a site that has taken equity in blogosphere, the difference may be lie in semantics, form and even structure, but bear in mind it’s not so different from let’s say Russians or Saudi Arabians taking an economic stake in Disneyland or a Mercantile bank. What we have here is nothing short of a protagonist that holds itself out to fight for new narratives of equality and human community, only in this case the context is in the net – subsequently with Jasper’s ‘revelation,’ that tale of emancipation is suddenly reversed. Many in blogosphere begin to question not only the intent and design of TOC. OK some may say, they cannot be counter insurgents as they don’t write per se in support of the government – then again how would you expect a counter insurgent to write? So again that’s a pariah dog argument, my point is the same set pieces that vex SWF’s are found in this miniature of the TOC maelstrom , albeit on a much smaller scale. That leads me to the next question; what really is it about Jasper’s revelation that many find so disturbing? This is where we can draw parallels with SWF’s and say a variety of things; one of them, if we are prepared to buy into both Mei Ling’s and Lee Chin Ching point is to say; countries embrace globalization because of the prosperity it makes possible. Now stop here; is there all there is to it? $. Think!

    Juxtapose this with what happening with TOC – what is blogging?

    Stay with me here, otherwise you will lose me – now go a few steps further and by the same corollary, you could say, BECAUSE globalization offers an expedient means for wealth creation, it ALSO offers countries such as China and India a strategic crow bar i.e the opportunity to challenge Western hegemony vis-à-vis as these countries become great economic powers they will be in position to demand recognition of their distinctive cultures and values, thereby allowing to reshape even international institutions to reflect the legitimacy of their ideal of what should constitute the world order – Western hegemony will be challenged – global balance of power will shift. Do you see why large shifts of capital or for that matter juggernaut governments projecting into blogosphere’s backyard will always remain contentious only because they have the capacity to move mountains – now the parallels between SWF’s and TOC bears out in a few ways (there are abt 6 ways they can pan out, I will only illustrate one way for brevity sake, otherwise even I will pengsan), if I had to point to one reason why TOC causes so much consternation amongst netizens is because what is stake is can be summed up in basically one word, “hegemony,” specifically the tussle to be able shape collective consciousness, just as SWF’s offers a way to influence the narration of culture altering it’s cultural attributes irrevocably, that means it throws out uncomfortable questions relating to imperialism.

    Perceptive readers of this article who are quick will note that I have linked hegemony with the capacity to influence i.e narration, narrative is crucial to my argument here, my basic point is when a site such as TOC continues to do what it does under a cover of allegations (real or imagined) what cannot be denied very much like SWF’s when they project into a countries industries, assets and mainstays, is simply this; stakeholders will ask i.e readers and bloggers alike; have they also become the method and apparatus to control people? Are they asserting their identity and the existence of their own history on an unassuming crowd?

    As you can see for yourself, these are contentious issues. Do you now see why transparency is key? OK this is my last day of the CNY break, it’s time to go cycling – Thank You Darkness 2008”

  2. KKP says:

    Sounds like an awful lot of thought went into it. I really cant see you figuring it all out. I believe this matter was probably discussed with Harphy boy, scholar boy etc. Some of you must have got together and talked about it / Why Bambi? Tell me was Jasper & Co in contact with the brotherhood before they launched their attack? How are you so certain they are really the counter insurgents?

    I believe this question is at the tip of everyone’s mind, only they may not feel comfortable to ask the question.

  3. Koala Bear says:

    Dear Bambi,

    Most interesting take on TOC and I do agree it will make a capital case study. However as much as I like to agree on all that you have said, I offer a few modifications namely upon character and circumstance as you described in the context of hegemony; for me, the chief thing to be learnt through this TOC / Jasper episode has been a certain views concerning how we often perceive situation. In one of your earlier post, you mentioned that while the whole idea of the oppositional writer has been around, the idea of the opppositional reader is yet to emerge as a distinctive class, that may hold one reason; what they are, and what we may legitimately hope that they will become. This view, if it is true, seems to afford a basis for political philosophy more capable of standing erect in a time of crisis than the philosophy of traditional Liberalism has shown itself to be.

    The TOC case certainly highlights the elasticity of the truth, and the true things which they disbelieve, are an index to their impulses, not necessarily to individual impulses in each case (since beliefs are contagious), but to the general impulses of the community. We all believe many things which we have no good ground for believing, our nature craves certain kinds of action which these beliefs would render reasonable if they were true. Unfounded beliefs are the homage which impulse pays to reason; and thus it is with the beliefs which, opposite but similar, make some people either support or turn away from TOC>

    My feel is this Bambi Darkness, the first thought which naturally occurs to one who accepts this view is that it would be well if men were more under the dominion of reason conflict, to those who see that it must necessarily do untold harm to all involved, seems like unbridled madness, a collective insanity even. If impulses were more controlled, if thought were less dominated by rumor mongering, men would guard their minds against stormig the winter palace – my feel is there is still a place for the MSM to play this level headed role. Don’t you agree? Thereby allowing disputes to be viewed in their rightful perspecitive. This thought very true, is not by itself sufficient. It is only those in whom the desire to think truly is itself a passion who will find this desire adequate to control the passions conflict. Only passion can control passion, and only a contrary impulse or desire can check impulse. Reason, as it is preached by traditional moralists, is too negative, too little living, to make a good life. It is not by reason alone that wars can be prevented, but by a positive life of impulses and passions antagonistic to those that lead to war.

    It is the life of impulse that needs to be changed, not only the life of conscious thought.

  4. Darkness - [chronicler] says:

    Written by Darkness / posted by the Chronicler.

    THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE WAR OF THE WORLDS AND THE INVASION OF THE PAP IN BLOGOSPHERE – A PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW.

    ‘You know Kokopops. Did you know one of my favorite alien vs mankind stories is H.G Wells War of the Worlds. Recent Spielberg made it into a movie and it was just great stuff, before that Orson Wells caused a stir during the 30’s by narrating the story as if an alien invasion actually happening in real time, again it was great stuff! One thing about War of the Worlds is, it’s actually one of those few books that plays out better in radio and movies than the black letter print – I am not saying Well’s was a lousy writer, sure his prose is eloquent, but at times, it can also read as dry as a washing machine instruction manual.

    Now Kokopops, I have always wondered why the War of the Worlds is so tied to it’s medium; that’s to say why can’t it transcend the limits of it’s medium in the way it’s able to do so, so dramatically in radio and in celluloid to enthrall and rivet the audience? Now you could just as well ask yourself the same; why are so many netizens are flustered with the whole idea of PAP infiltrating blogosphere using TOC (if that assertion is true?). Bear in mind, none of us have any hang up’s about PAP being in let’s say the TV, newspapers, magazines and regularly holding face to face sessions in the local CC, but when it comes to blogosphere – the reaction is reminiscent of the unfolding terror two minutes into the segment when the aliens are busy vaporizing everyone with their plasma guns?

    I suspect one reason accounting for why netizens have reacted in the way they have is largely a function of their expectations about a ‘free’ net being suddenly threatened; in a sense the War of the Worlds narrative supplies part of these missing links to explain the phenomenon; after the great disillusionment comes the age of permanent doubt? The net may not be such a free place after all – and just like War of World, mankind is compelled to reconcile himself with the futility of how even his ability to outwit the Martians or defeat them with firepower – is bound to be demolished at every turn.

    Here the psyche can be described in the following terms; any hint of the heroic invariably darkened, inverted, questioned and this is we pretty much experience vicariously first hand through Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) when he returns after narrowing escaping being powdered by the aliens – for a moment, we share his confusion when the placid world he has known all his life is suddenly thrown into utter chaos only to be replaced by the terror of a very expandable world – you could even say Kokopops, it conjures up a mood of dead ends and corridors leading to halls of mirrors, of life as a continual round of taunting where death might lurk in some dank corner of the shadows.

    I want you to grab hold of that imaginary that I have painted Kokopops and reflect deeply on whether perhaps these are exactly the same sentiments some netizens felt when they first heard about Jasper’s revelations? Although wells novel is shot through with satiric humor, where I believe it makes a clear connection with our psyche when we consider this against the backdrop the Jasper vs TOC episode is it’s capacity to recruit our profound anxieties when we feel that our preserve; blogosphere or playground has been violated – at it’s central core; you could even say netizens have even come to see themselves as citizens of the not-so-united-states of blogland – I can think of no other reason accounting for why; the fear of the PAP projecting into our blogosphere is so palpable to remain true. As recruits all the genre of fear associated with alien invasion; where you can even say it juxtaposes clearly the dichotomy between the conflict of uncomplicated fun and real world grief and the prospects that the former may even die and unnatural death – Kokopops, this theme is not new; alien invasion has been a better part of historical nostalgia; the world has seen before in the guise of 9/11 when people ran through the streets, handmade posters of loved one’s strewn across post boards, stunned bystanders wandering through airplane wreckages – here I believe is the real genius of Speilberg, he is able reproduce these fears with a high level of clarity and fidelity that manages to cut through the limits of Wells story by specifically leveraging on very real motifs that we can all associate with – just like the ongoing saga of the PAP projecting into blogosphere with their tendrils, because the story is so simple that it can be told in a single sentence, the necessary gloss the TOC vs Jasper episode introduces here goes beyond the mere description of men scuttling like ants before aliens – the fear seeping this time deeper into the very marrow of one’s bones even as the “great disillusionment” in either Jasper’s revelations or the alien invasion is described in terms of loss of innocence. You see I figured out that though many of us may be blogging or even reading blogs or just doing everything in between at the end of the day, we all have to be children of the age of innocence – that’s the condition of what it means to be born in the age of the internet in this generation at least, when it’s still wallowing in it’s primordial soup of baby vomit and urine as it struggles for identity, voice and place – it speaks of the overall tenuousness of human survival, the allegorical great escape even and the net with the promise of its boundless freedom offers all this and much more.

    My hope Kokopops remains a trite one, one that even borrows from the novel, the most rudimentary of narratives – yes, the Martians are smarter than we are; yes, they even have plasma guns that can punch holes in us sending us all the way back to the stone age; Yes, we are without question whipped and the prospects of being able to survive it all seems incomparably slim – but like the book, there’s always the promise of redemption; the lucky business of the bacteria or the phial of anti-serum as in Iam Legend – there is hope Kokopops and for that we will not only survive, but thrive and prosper blogosphere will – thank you. Darkness 2008’

    [This has been written by Darkness and posted in the Strangelands and beyond by the Chronicler of the Brotherhood -2008]

  5. Darkness says:

    Was Jasper in communication with us prior to launching his attack? Irrelevant. Even if he was, we would NOT be in a position to confirm or deny this. Just FYI we know how to play this game very well. I cannot answer this question without embellishing the situation for all parties concerned; all I can say is this was a highly coordinated attack with one agenda in mind, it failed miserably and if I was the head of the state the commander of this counter insurgency operation would be conferred the order of the lame duck and sent to Borneo to trace out the geneology of Ah Meng, hopefully a few head hunters will take an avid interest in him and he would end up as a head board or something – the net is 100%, they did not succeed, that is the ONLY thing that matters to me, the rest is irrelevant, they seriously need to go back to the drawing board and re-think their strategy and hopefully get people with real brains instead of shit for brains this time or hire us as sub-contractors to do the job for them – as I mentioned our fee is $2.2 million with waiver on all parking infringements and an undertaking that we can all ride our tricycles on pavements in perpetuity – it is a very small price to pay for controlling the internet.

    Meanwhile NO REGISTRATION and if it comes, you know what everyone is going to say. Don’t say I did not warn you! We are very happy with the way things are and no one here sees any reason to change the status quo ante – back to the drawing board.

    Try harder one day you will succeed – Darkness 2008

  6. Darkness says:

    As for TOC, they need to serious reflect on this episode.

    You leave you back door open – what did you expect? You leave fresh meat on the window sill – what do you expect?

    This time, we took sides only bc we are all sportsmen here, so most of us said cinchai lah – doing nothing is doing nothing – silence is silence – but we moved decisively – but let us be clear, there will NEVER be a next time. YOU SERIOUS NEED TO BEEF UP ON YOUR INTERNAL PROCESSES!

    That is cold comfort truth, if you can swallow it, you will go from strength to strength if u cannot your dai chi lah.

    Either way it matters little to us.

    Darkness 2008

  7. global gossip says:

    wah, so damn chim got so many ivy leagues stuff…!!

    how to understand??!

  8. Catherine says:

    Sir,

    Most interesting reading THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE WAR OF THE WORLDS AND THE INVASION OF THE PAP IN BLOGOSPHERE – A PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW. I quite taken in by your description of the not so united states of blogland. In a sense this is true as there is in all nationally defined cultures. At the same time, paradoxically, we have never been as awareas we now are of how oddly hybrid historical and cultural experiences actually are and still cont to remain, of even how they partake of many often contradictory experiences and domains, cross national boundaries, defying the simplicity of dogma.

    However tell me arent these nostalgically academic and theoretical questions. As much as I like to believe TOC incident represents good straw to make up a case study, dont you at least recognize they offer at best brief excursions and nothing else. Do have a very nice day Sir and Thank You.

  9. Catherine says:

    On a social and political note, one question that must be included in your case study is / why do so many netizens feel the need to support TOC? Why can’t they extent the same benefit of doubt that they are prepared to extent to TOC to Jasper? I wonder dont you consider this at least a fly in your ointment as it simply points to clear evidence the extent to which cultures are humanly made structure of both authority and participation and very little else at that.

  10. Darkness says:

    Catherine,

    Is it ‘good straw?’ It depends, Catherine. Not according to the derelict academic troupe perhaps, but then again one needs to be mindful they are often too preoccupied with structural and symmetrical decorum as to what constitutes worthy and unworthy of study. Personally, I have never been partial to that sort of flat headed review except to draw upon to illustrate the degree of their lack of imagination.

    On the contrary, the suitability of the type of ‘straw’ is relative to it’s usage, so I would have to say, yes, we can certainly learn many things from this TOC vs Jasper episode and you could even say it’s a suitable model to juxtapose even the whole idea of how SWF’s to show how complex it actually is.

    The dynamics of the ‘dread’ or ‘puih’ factor IMO is particularly worth noting and as you correctly pointed out, there is definitely a certain degree of hybridism that spills over in the discussion / I agree completely on this score – this may seem comical, but no more to suggest that it detracts from the serious; when one considers; why did street performances spring up in the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 6 hours after the Americans dropped the atomic bomb? I for one feel, that may really be the way people actually react to trauma. I am reminded soul music or even Jazz as a genre didn’t really develop as much as it spilled out first starting as lamentations of negro slaves, so there you may even consider this an attribution; IMO there will always be dichotomy between the serious and flippant, structural and even the amorphorous, smart and even dumb that accompanies either the TOC episode of whether X or Y country decides to invest in A or B country related businesses, some may say, there is nothing to learn from this, others will say perhaps like Lee Ching Ching this makes a good case study – only because, the conflict going on here seems to be a ‘war’ of sorts over where exactly the fun starts or stops – thank you Catherine, that was a very intelligent point you raised, I really had to think on that one – Darkness 2008

  11. Helen says:

    Hello Darkness,

    As always, it’s interesting, why am I not surprised that you have decided to bridge the TOC saga with the broader debate concerning Sovereign funds?

    Are there similarities? Lessons we can glean? Learn even? Of course.

    However, what I feel has not been well fleshed out in this TOC cum SWF debate is, the conditions which makes ideal, the process of negative speculation in either the case of TOC or perhaps in the case of Shin Corp in Thailand.

    Now in Western countries, the MSM would probably cover the on-goings in blogosphere, only bc as you said Darkness, “the two are considered one of the same reality.”

    However in Singapore, blogosphere and the MSM seems to be given the proverbial Dr Jackal and Hyde treatment / hence they are polarized to the point where the former can no longer effectively deal with caricature and sensation effectively, not even if it tries to be logical that I believe is one of the drawbacks of ignoring blogosphere by the establishment – they effectively cede all control and their ability to moderate and even influence the out come just drops to zero. That I feel may be one of the learning outcomes from this TOC saga.

    What strikes me as especially dangerous of course in this scenario which I have described is that it can also mobilize passion atavistically (I am sorry for using this big word, but I can find no other that best embraces what I need to say Darkness), throwing people regularly into a confused state.

    I believe that may well be the case with TOC even todate. Although on the surface it seems like it’s “business as usual,” many out there still remain undecided abt TOC. I happen to be one of them, so it is fair to assume there may well be many more who have simply decided to watch and see. This brings me to my second point, the tendency for self-definition or creating the truth is one of the activities practised by all cultures. I believe this may well be the bi-product of this TOC saga, people will just say “OK, TOC is linked to the govt, but they aggregate my articles, so it pays for me to support them.” Now the issue with that scenario is really how much support does TOC really have, given that most of it’s supporters seem to be also recepient of favors and this I might include also includes very much the brotherhood press.

    Regs.

    Helen Chow

  12. Darkness says:

    helene,

    You have asked a few pointed questions – unfortunately, I have reached the limits of my capacity to answer them (pls note; I am not skirting your questions). Only I feel alot of thought has gone into your supposition and it is important for me to be very forth right with you.

    However, I do know people like Memphisto, Vollariane and Cerebus are real experts on this subject. Not the bs nbl variety.

    You are in luck, I am going cycling with them this evening and I have printed out your list of questions and comments.

    I will discuss and revert back to you soonest. Sorry. Darkness 2008

  13. global gossip says:

    Stranger and stranger.

    For a time — quite long — when I read Darkness type “SWF” I thought of Shockwave.

  14. Darkness says:

    Dear Helen,

    I believe there are a few parts to your questions.

    The first part can be summarized in the following terms; you support an active, independent press; you do not agree with the current status quo and you believe one way to bridge the divide is for our govt to abandon its outdated insistence on maintaining a cripple press. In effect what you are actually saying is not all together so different from this fellow here invest in the credibility of the press.

    You know what? According to the ASDF (our strategic think tank) both you and this Cherian character are wrong. According to the ASDF the logic fails on two counts:

    a.The Flawed Assumption That There Can Only Be Two Possibilities.

    Helen the collapse of a regulated (closed) press according to the ASDF does not necessarily lead automatically to an emancipated (open) press (this is where Cherian needs to go back to school and hit the books again); there is a third possibility, all our intelligence suggest it may lead to the continuing collapse and disintegration. Thus a simple dichotomy between open and closed press remains incomplete, attribution; the elective theorarcy that is emeriging in much of post – Saddam Iraq is the result of democratic polity! As is the current regime in Iran; so is the Hamas govt in Palestine – democracy does not = freedom and a higher degree of rationality. Russia today under Putin is a more repressive society as evidenced by the intractable geo-political condition in Chenchnya. The dismantling of the KMT in Taiwan did not lead to a higher level of rationality or democracy in the Parliamentary process, it degenerated into a free for all melee.

    You can go and check all this up yourself; conclusion: collapse of closed does not necessarily lead to open, there is a third possibility of anarchy.

    (b) According to the ASDF (Vollariane said this) an open press will can only lead to higher level of openness, if there exist the ‘right’ attributions to effect the transition from ‘open’ to ‘closed.’ In the case of Singapore, it is precisely because the press has been hobbled, restricted and continually crippled that no such attribution i.e core competence / brain power can possibly exist to power the transition to the critical thinking stage to even seed anything near a ‘open’ press construct – they place the probability of this near 90% – according to Vollariane, “who in their right mind would choose journalism as a career move in Singapore?” That regrettably also means the crème de la crème of scholars will always shy away from choosing journalism, result; only dead beats aspire to be journalist in Singapore. Do you really believe these low quality rejects have the capacity of drive the transition from ‘closed’ to ‘open.’ You decide. In the words of the ASDF, “it will make the charge of the light brigade look like a sensible military enterprise…they do not have a hope in hell….not in our lifetime Darkness….the govt is right in not allowing the press from playing the role of the fourth estate…..because they know, it doesn’t have the capacity to play that role in the first instance! That role requires an inordinate quality and quantity of brain power that our press does NOT possess ONLY because absolutely no attempts have been made to either nurture or nourish it as a strategic asset! Something can never come out of nothing!”

    According to the ASDF it takes a minimum of 50 years to effectively transition from zero (closed society) to a large, eclectic pool of decently educated critical thinkers to effectively support the transition to an ‘open socieity.’ I asked the ASDF, “what is a correlation between population and free press” – they replied; “ A free press = a contrarian in the form of an oppositional writer like Karl Krauss, but an opposition writer also requires an oppositional readership – what if this readership doesn’t even exist? Chicken and egg situation, it took Europe that same period to create such a thing as a free press. The stipulation of 50 years could well be 100 years for us!

    Answer to your final assertion that we receive benefits from TOC – we get nothing from them, you can go and ask them whether we get any special slots or anything – you can even go and ask anyone in the internet, they will say, we get nothing, till todate, TOC has not even used the term, “brotherhood press” even once to describe any of our articles.

    ASDF team have informed me if you are not satisfied with their answer they are more than willing to come down here and talk to you themselves.

    I am only a humble messenger, like I said many a time, if I dunno, I say, I dunno and I am not ashamed to admit that I dunno Helen.

    Incidentally we know who you are and if you and your ppl con’t to bully me, I will call in the ASDF team to deal with you.

    I have to go and clean my bicycle now.

    Darkness 2008

  15. Darkness says:

    The article I mentioned, “invest in the credibility of the press” can be found here:

    http://journalism.sg/2008/02/02/government-needs-to-invest-in-the-credibility-of-the-press/

    Btw, the ASDF, doesn’t think much of it, they recommend that the author goes back to school.

    You judge for yourself Helen.

  16. KKP says:

    Based on the ASDF’s reply. It’s clear Volarianes, Memphistos, Cerebus and the rest are rolling out the big guns to tear down the so called NLB experts mythology.

    You know Darkness, I don’t blame them and do a good job they will even as we can all see above.

    However, I feel it could have been accomplished with more tact.

  17. Don says:

    @13
    haha same here. when i saw ASDF first thing that came to my mind was .ASD format haha

  18. Bear Bear says:

    Darkness,

    I don’t want to overinterpret Dr Cherian George’s article, or put ideas in his prose that he may not have intended. I dont wish to defend Dr George but I feel both you and perhaps even Vollariane and the others have been a trifle harsh on him. Allow me to put it into perspective, this controversy with the local media being able to step up to the challenge to seeding an open society is really a chicken and an egg question. Do I disagree with Vollariane when it says it takes a minimum gestation period of 50 yrs to build the institutes of mind? No. On the contrary, I agree with him, only I feel his pointers are defeatist in so far as they first fail to recognize the need for even a free and independent press. Where I believe Vollariane may have failed in his analysis is when he singularly fails to recognise the truth of the Singapore media experience, that is we need to build a free press as a matter of strategic priority. He on the otherhand doesn’t even consider the philosophical question to weight the merits of such a proposal, instead he magically jumps to the mechanics!

    I do not expect Vollariane and the rest to understand my anger at reading this post that fuels the suggestion that journalist are slags, we know the BP has a systematic process of grinding down the whole idea of a professional press corp, this has ranged from deliberately retagging journalist as reporters to even instituting boycotts of press related material. However, I for one did not expect some of you to sink to such atrocious depths as to engage in what is probably a very personal attack.

  19. dentist Jan says:

    Goody Afternoon all, it’s very simple really. From my understanding of Dr George’s article, what he is trying to say is this, the net is screwed up bc the gahmen did not bother to open up the press and create the right conditions for civil discourse which would presumably birth, as he termed a sense of awareness abt civil liberties.

    What Dr George did not mention however is NO GOVT ON THIS PLANET EVER OPENED UP THE PRESS (not willingly, at least). The right to freedom to write and the whole idea of the independent press was a product of seizure.

    Incidentally, I happen to know Vollariane and those Asdf boys, they are all top drawer gentlemen, hardly like Darkness’s FC boys ruffians, I think we all know who to really blame for all those personal attacks.

    *wink*

  20. dentist Jan says:

    I personally feel Asdf put the point across very diplomatically, then it was hyped and spun by Darkness. From the way it was written with inverted comma’s I just felt it came across as contrite and terribly conceited. We all know he has a habit of sticking it in, in the name of someone else but his own.

    *wink, wink*

    time for your scaling appt darkness boy.

  21. Darkness says:

    OK la, ya la, ya la! I admit la. I added a bit of salt and pepper to spice things up! Vollariane would be here personally himself had he mastered the art of pretending to work. Actually, I have only shared with you all, a fragment of his thesis; why he believes a free and independent press does not translate into a more liberal society that’s even appreciative on anything resembling civil liberties.

    If we are going to make any progress on this debate, let’s start from a premise that we can all agree on; Question: how true is the assertion that a closed society i.e one that doesn’t promulgate the idea of an independent press breeds a society that is apathetic to libertarian views? It would appear to be truet than true as in the last century it seemed that the capture of power by irrational systems of belief could occur only in dictatorial = closed societies, Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet state testified to this as a matter of fact whole ruling ideologies could not be successfully exposed in the absence of a free press. In a sense this lends considerable credence to the whole idea; the success of liberal democracy is necessary an accretion of an active fourth estate i.e free press. Now where Vollariane believes the fatal flaw exist (and it is very much expressed in gaming math gobble d guk is) in this hypothesis, the flaw; is the assumption that liberalism has a built in rationality that gives it an advantage over any kind of authoritarianism. In part this assumption has been fueled very much by historical precedent i.e open societies were usually liberal societies, almost by definition, and it seemed they would come magically into being whenever dictatorships are chucked away. According to Vollariane, this views is much too simplistic as it denies the intrinsic value of what it takes to sensibly sustain a free and independent press (what we see here is his preoccupation with the nuts and bolts i.e intellectual capital). Now in Vollariane’s hypothesis, there is an assumption that what is required here is the requisite intellectual capital to sustain the whole transition of from closed to open. Where he feels academics have been wanting is when they elide this segment wholesale and it’s broader calculations; this omission as we see very clearly in the war against terror or even the CIA plan to tear down the Soviet Union has been catastrophic frequently spawning social Chernobyl’s, instead of our ideal of what democracy should offer; Question; was Dick Cheney right in saying that Iraqi’s wish for freedom and democracy? Yes, but they don’t want the American variant and what they actually define as ‘freedom’ is closer to an Iranian theocracy that effective = the sum of all fears for US strategic planners. In short Dicky and his crew screwed up, they should have hired us for $2.2 million. The same can be said about the fall of the Soviet Union; Question; how smooth was the transition from communism to democracy? You answer that question yourself.

    Now Vollariane believes a better model would be one that is currently adopted the Chinese govt with regard to how they are proposing to migrate from a closed economy to a free market model – here he believes, the control measures instituted by having the old oligarchy and hegemony of the Maoist era has proven to be a stabilizing force in modulating the transition from old to new, communism to free market. Question; why? He believes that one reason why China has been able to effect a smooth social and economic transition is because it has been able to produce much of the networks and ‘institutes of mind’ that’s able to effectively support these changes – now this is where you need to ask yourself whether the social attributions already exist to even lay the capstone on such a thing as a free and independent press? One corollary that question demands is to take a closer look at the intellectual capital necessary to form those linkages that we normally associate with a free and independent press. In Vollariane’s world view – to speak of a free and independent press therefore was to speak of the interaction between the press and the broader society! So we have to look at those attributes within society which makes possible the whole idea of a free press possible. And these attributes can range between constitutional rights as to whether it is permissible to sing a complaint song to even something as trivial as whether people have a right to breast feed in Orchard Rd.

    So when one speaks of free and independent press it’s to speak of a broader comparative literature that even goes beyond the whole idea of a free press – otherwise, all you would have done is substitute one form or tyranny with another, in this case free press = the tyranny of the statistical significant and that can certainly be as repressive of individual freedom and minority rights as dictatorship – sometimes more so. Darkness 2008

  22. Darkness says:

    You know all,

    Cerebus (Vollariane’s buddy) presented me with a really scary question yesterday when we went cycling;

    “Tell me how free a press do you think we will get Darkness? When you have reporters writing articles with the caption, ‘why I will never ever read a blog?’ Once you figured that part out, you come back to us Darkness!”

    I believe we have a very long way to go bfr we can really be in position to revisit this issue and nail it. Thank you all, Darkness 2008

  23. global gossip says:

    @Darkness #21:

    Indeed dear sir, Vollariane’s perspective makes much sense.

    However, it must be said — as I make selective quotes from John Hirst’s account of his work in writing the history for migrants (The Monthly, Feb 2008):

    – “In his opening address to the History Summit, Howard repeated his call for a coherent narrative. […] I suggested, and the summit accepted, that we take a different approach. We would work with questions-to-be-explored, which is what the teachers preferred, but the questions would be designed to produce coherence and general understanding.” (p. 30)

    – “I thought the civics section of the [“booklet that was to be issued to migrants so that they could prepare themselves for the citizenship test”] was fair quality; the history section was appallingly bad. […] There was little space for causes, consequences anmd significance.” (Emphases mine.), p. 31

    – “The questions that might be asked were included; they asked for highly particular information, not understanding.” (Emphases mine.), p. 31

    – “My commitment to thematic treatments is not absolute. Certainly I was trained to be suspicious of narrative — mere narrative, it was called — because it was skating along the surface, mistaking events for causes, which were actually to be discovered in society’s deep structures, usually economic structures. […] …you can construct a sotry without facing the questions: What sort of institution or nation or life is this? How is it cast? What is the controlling dynamic? What is the habitual response? Increasingly I have been attracted to the historical sociologists — particularly Ernest Gellner and his school — who know history is important but who tell only the history that matters for their purpose, that is, what explains the current configurations of society, politics, and culture.” (p. 31)

    That is — taking all of the above into consideration — is it really the press?

  24. global gossip says:

    I do not know Singapore very well, but it is the image of the country, as I know, that it is insistently particular about the quality of education.

    Thus, did I, write.

  25. Darkness says:

    Global Gossip,

    I see where you are coming from. I agree in part, the whole idea of a free press is predicated largely on first having the right attributions in a society to first make this a possibility.

    However, I remain very suspicious of ‘education’ as means of soliciting this understanding only bc where do we draw the line between education and thought control?

    Besides I don’t believe state inspired education alone holds the key, there must be something more to it Global Gossip – there simply must be – thank you. Darkness 2008

  26. Iron horse says:

    Hi,

    Most interesting discussion concerning C. George’s write up. Many good points have been thrown up. I especially like Darkness description of blogosphere as the not-so-united-states of the internet. The observation regarding how much of blogosphere and conventional news is also treated as polarized dichotomies are also worth noting.

    However as much as I like to buy into Mr or Dr Vollarianes suggestion. I believe Dr George POV is not without merit. Let us not run too far down the historical trail. What is he trying to say? My take is this, Dr George tries to account why the level of civil awareness is low in Singapore. He also suggest this may be why there is an apparent state of anarchy in the net, as in the absence of hierachy presumably people will gravitate towards anarchy. Seems at first like a curious POV, but when one examines this lets say with recent events such as the one Vollariane mentioned, the terror war in Iraq, what is worth noting is the account for the disastrous foreign policy of the US. Now I am plainly disatisfied with Dr Vollairaines take bc I know it remains angular and limits it’self to a very narrow interpretation, where I feel much more can be learnt is by asking; how did the US even manage to get themselves into such a quagmire in Iraq, did it have something to do with the complicity of the press, we they derelict in their duty to serve as the custodians of truth by seeking out the facts from lies? No doubt part of the answer is in the trauma induced by the terrorist attack, whcih the bush admin exploited to stifle criticism of its policies, but the question I believe Dr George would have raised in his dissertation was whether this would have been possible if there was first and foremost a free and independent press? 9-11 shows us very clearly what happens when the press decides not to behave like the press, many things can go wrong Dr Darkness, this unfortunately was a point you and your esteemed and learned colleagues failed to highlight. Good Day Sirs and tq for allowing me to say my piece.

  27. Iron horse says:

    Another question which I wanted to put across is this, even today, I personally feel a sense of exploitation concerning the Iraqi war. I felt rightly or wrongly much of my mindset was in part even manipulated by the media, I am not saying for one moment the USA is a totalitarian regime in any shape or form. On the contrary, it remains very much a functional democracy with clear a lines separating the judiciary, legislature and executive. However, what I cannot deny in the Bush administration war against terror is the similarities in the manner the public psyche was manipulated and even controlled. I feel this would not have happened if we the US had a press service that subscribe to a professional code, somehow the system failed directly after 9 -11 and its a cause for concern for both journalist and observers alike as it raises the hydra – how is it possible for this to have happened in the USA? It is almost as if people we clamoring to be deceived?

    Would it I wondered have happened if the press remained the press?

    Thank Dr Darkness and the others, this is a most stimulating talk.

  28. jannifer says:

    “Dr George tries to account why the level of civil awareness is low in Singapore. He also suggest this may be why there is an apparent state of anarchy in the net, as in the absence of hierachy presumably people will gravitate towards anarchy.”

    Iron Horsey, we may disagree on many things here. However I feel Dr Cherian George writes;

    (a) Under the assumption that blogosphere and MSM are mutually exclusive entities, you can read every single one of his post, not once does he link them or treat them as “the same reality.”

    (b) Another notable observation abt Dr Cherian is he often holds himself (by design or coincidence?) out to be the de facto representative of the Journalist cadre in Blogosphere. He speaks as if he is their nominated spokesperson this I suspect could be why so many ST journalist even identify with him, otherwise what could possibly account them from regularly seeking out his opinions and comments? Really is he that knowledgable abt the net? Unfortunately, the reasons for them seeking him out regularly has absolutely nothing to do with these reasons, tt is not that he even has one shred of credibility or that even most here in the web even support his views or agrees with them for one moment. On the contrary most do not!

    So I believe there is an added layer of complexity here, one also needs to ask – who is he writing for? What market segment? Which camp etc. I feel none of this has been given much examination when we talk abt the free press, strange when you consider in the West there are even rightist to leftist and everything that falls in between?

    Yet for some inexplicable reason we even curiously make the assumption all readers broadly fall under one and only one category, segment or readership, very strange indeed.

    Tell me does everyone prefer their mee siam hiam or with ham? very strange indeed.

    Jannifer

  29. Darkness says:

    Iron horse et al,

    ‘9-11 shows us very clearly what happens when the press decides not to behave like the press, many things can go wrong Dr Darkness, this unfortunately was a point you and your esteemed and learned colleagues failed to highlight.’

    Well spotted. This is an intelligent observation. It raises a host of disturbing questions; was the US press complicit? Did they fail us all? Does this lend credence to Cherian George’s position?

    The short answer appears to be ‘yes,’ especially when you consider even today the after math of 9/11 continues to bemuse many: the surreal capacity of the Bush administration to impose it’s interpretation of reality on the masses; you asked how is that possible? I say that’s precisely what happens when a free press becomes so free that its brains spill out in the open. You could even say under those emotive conditions, it has the capacity to lose all rationality that it ceases completely to think and lapses even to a condition where the course of least resistance gains primacy i.e follow the leader or in this case, the fuhrer. Iron Horse what’s notably interesting is that while the US press may have appeared complicit andbovine in their failure to trace out the fault lines of the war on terror, this was evidently not the case in EU, where the press did remain critical of Tony Blair’s resolute support of the Iraqi invasion; why?

    One reason has a lot to do with Jennifer’s observations concerning the issue of readership segmentation etc. She has certainly brought up good points i.e reading is essentially a self-selecting exercise, now that also throws a fly into our ointment; we would all certainly like to buy into the belief, there is a decently educated pool of readers out there who appreciate profound reads of a genre that is even academically slanted, but in truth, no such cachet of readers of such ilk exist, not at the critical mass level at least, that simply means what constitutes, “new” or “reality” at any point in time is largely a function of what camp the reader falls under.

    What does this mean? To me it simply means that people read what they want to read, that also means, there’s a real possibility most readers do not actually read to be informed, but rather the act of reading is closer to confirming a truth – IMO that was really what happened to directly after 9/11, most people were so angry, you could even say, they were prepared to believe anything that came their way. Was the media at fault? Certainly, but some measure of culpability has to fall squarely on the readers themselves – I don’t believe the US readership can absolve themselves completely from fueling much of the irrationality – that I feel is the missing element in the 9/11 debate; the pivotal role of ordinary readers to even fashion the truth; as to how this is done precisely, I don’t really know except to say; it has to be something very close to a paradoxical like when we act on a theory about society we always risk altering the reality to which the theory refers. Thank You, I enjoyed your pointers immensely Iron horse – Darkness 2008

  30. dudu says:

    Bambi Darkness Boy,

    Where may I ask are you taking us all?

    Bfr we proceed further, let’s just take stock of “where” we are in relation to the comparative discussion?

    We see that it can be as false to create a politics free fictional dream such as a wholly “free” press as to create one in which no needs to die or pay taxes. It doesn’t exist.

    We also see the press isn’t exactly what Cherian George described, a paragon or bastion of civil liberties, not when the press has to regularly grapple with the special problems created by the incorporation of political material, that means what we would rightly consider printed material can just as well turn into either farce or tragedy (politics is after all shadow play is it not?), and sometimes both at once (as the Iraqi invasion aptly shows).

    So what are we left with? Nothing much really. Except the dream of a free press, now that would only be a reliable dream, if there actually exist institutions which still hold themselves out as bastions of the truth, that may well be the case for the Herald Tribune when it was not forced to foreclose, but even journalist these days are struggling very much to hold down the whole idea of professionalism, truth is closer to Samuel Beckett’s famous formula, “I can’t go on, I’II go on.”

    Our ST however doesn’t suffer from the same affliction, only because it doesn’t need to compete or even turn a profit, it’s beholden neither to notions abt economics and the essentialism that destiny always seems to entiail, nor does it see the need to even redress it’s indifference and resignation. That’s the benefit of being inside a whale, being inside shuts out the full experience of imperialism, edits it even and subordinates all the dominance of one overidding centricity and totalizing view, nation building.

    That doesn’t mean the ST isn’t dying as well like the HT, WSJ or even the Times.

    It just means, she prefers to wax and wane in style.

  31. Lionel Lee says:

    Very Good Afternoon Darkness & Crew,

    Great to see you all in action again and holding back the lions a pair of plastic chopstick! Very tokong LOL. Can only say this. This argument presented by Cherian is symptomatic and even a trifle silly, if anything it’s an indication not only of a highly inflated sense of importance and exclusivity that the press often regards it’self. I agree with Jennifer or was that dentist Jan? CG is definitely the unofficial nominated rep of the MSM in blogoland, if you read the ST today, they are even promoting him. Never mind that his cumulative output on his blog is paltry averaging one article every two months. I am sure these are just minor details to ST. You get my point. The sorry tale seems to keep repeating itself. However, I have faith, only bc most people in blogosphere are working, managing people and resources etc, they are not going to be taken in by CG nonsense or simplistic view of seeing the world. Incidentally, I read his article twice and I could not understand a few things, firstly what does liberalism in the form of civil rights have to do with the press? How did he draw the connection. Does he not know the history of the Fourth Estate? It was born just along the same time as the guillotine. What accounts for the coincidence? He should go and find out. To say the press is responsible for spreading goodness in the form of responsible liberal views may be a palpable truth, but to suggest that is it the only avenue that this can be done is to believe that slavery never once existed in the age of the press and to foreclose on the possibility that since the advent of the press, there was only goodness in this world, this is just so stupid that it has no capacity to influence anyone. I don’t know why you guys are even holding back?

    When will the Brotherhood Press be back? Do you people really need to do this?

    Lionel.

  32. Global Gossip says:

    #25:

    Darkness replied to me?!

    Darkness replied to me!

    Darkness replied. to. me…

  33. Global Gossip says:

    Even though Darkness is inconsequential.

  34. moozonoi says:

    Dear Global Gossip:

    Such smart discussions, are best left to brainies.

    They’re not for technicians like us.

  35. moozonoi says:

    Particularly when you no longer read nor parse but skim, then you plug in whatever you think may be a side-point of consideration for consideration, which is essentially a response (and not, a reply).

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