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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

"He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard"

"Thank god for virgin thirteen-year-old females writing gay porn." - Buttsex: The Musical

*** » Seng Han Thong, alternative media and choosing sides

"Letting down the side?

A third concern has been raised by some commentators who seem to believe that I have betrayed “the side” by criticising TOC’s coverage and giving the benefit of the doubt to Seng. This is an interesting argument that reflects the spirit of the times. Singaporeans have different modes of response to PAP domination. The most common coping mechanism is to tune out, allowing oneself to be depoliticised. As for those who remain bothered by the structure of politics here, one common reaction is to close ranks against the ruling party, and to give the PAP a taste of its own medicine. Basically, turn politics into a streetfight – you bully us in the real world, we’ll show you who’s boss in cyberspace. The student of realpolitik in me tells me that this may indeed be the only language that the PAP ultimately respects. So, I can see the logic in the position of those who want to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the PAP.

However, I choose to respond in a different way. Not because I think my way will be more effective in changing PAP politicians’ minds, but because I would not like the person I would become, if I became a mirror of them. I prefer to resist the PAP traits that turned me off in the first place. For example, I know too well the harm caused by the PAP’s intolerance towards dissenting opinions. So I try to cultivate tolerance, starting with myself. In addition, I don’t like the PAP’s tendency to distrust Singaporeans, suspecting the worst in them. So I want to be fair to people and not prejudge them. I’ve observed the PAP’s partisan stance, that if you are not for us you are against us. So I try not to think in us-versus-them terms. I know the PAP’s ability to twist opponents’ words to score political points. So I treasure truthfulness in politics, and – since I am not seeking votes or eyeballs – would rather lose an argument than push an untruth.

As I’ve said, the main reason why I choose to respond in this manner is personal. I’d like to adopt traits that I respect in other people, not mimic those that I don’t. If this lets down “the side”, so be it. Maybe I’m selfish that way. But perhaps there is some wider benefit in this approach to politics. If the opponents of the PAP ever succeed in removing it from power, it would be nice if the underlying political culture changes as well. It shouldn’t be an Animal-Farm-like transition, where we look at the old and then the new, and can’t tell them apart."
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