Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sacred cows and OB markers

This is in response to Gary's stimulating comment in my previous entry. I have to create a new entry 'cos long-winded me wrote too much (as usual) and the comment box refused to accept it. So here goes:

Hi Gary
Sacred cows are figments of our imagination.They exist in both our minds and in the minds of our policy-makers. Slaughtering sacred cows is extremely difficult because although their time has come no one dares to wield the knife. Everyone is afraid of ghosts, of consequences. And since they've served us so well before, we're going to keep on preserving them because once they're gone, what would suffice to replace them?

The way forward is for everyone to realise that the term 'sacred cow' only describes a method that once resulted in success, hence the mistaken belief that it will continue to bring us success no matter what. Whoever told us to slaughter our sacred cows recognised that new times require new methods, but I believe we were just as guilty of holding on to them too tightly to want to see them go. The paper chase, the rat race, the 5'C's, the materialism and petty jealousies, they're all our own creation. They arose out of the opportunities that once gave us skilled jobs and commensurate prosperity, and the belief that we deserved what we earned because we worked hard for it. Nothing wrong there, but it made us selfish -- equating poverty with laziness or cannot-make-it-ness or otherwise not-one-of-us-ness. Meritocratic policy may have been the starting point, but our mindsets turned it into the monster that it is today.

So is it with our so-called 'OB' markers. What do we really have to do to be guilty of crossing an OB marker? You'd have to be a clear threat to civil society before anybody starts taking notice of you. Anyone who threatens not the leadership itself but society's trust in the legally elected leadership, or attempts to fragment our society to gain support for their cause can expect action to be taken against them. But for us normal, ordinary citizens who lead normal workaday lives, what could we possibly do so wrong that could result in detention or exile?

The electon 'threats'? The cajoling? They're just rhetoric, empty words from a parent to a rebellious child throwing a tantrum. We have to get away from this relationship as quickly as possible because it's toxic to both of us.

If our society is going to grow up, we have to stop defining our relationship with our Government as parent-child. While we persist with this view, it doesn't matter who makes up the ruling party. PAP or Opposition, we're simply replacing one parent for another, and we'll be just as dissatisfied and disillusioned with the outcome either way. As long as we expect the Government to do everything for us (which basically means let the good times roll) and not take responsibility for ourselves, for our own situations, in our own circumstances, and bloody well HELP one another in times of need, we're setting expectations that NO government could ever fulfil.

It is heartening to see that we are indeed growing up. We've reached our rebellious teenage years where we chafe at Authority and think that our almighty Parent is suppressing us and curtailing our pocket-money and personal freedoms. Believe me, the government wants us to grow up as quickly as possible and be less of a dependent (i.e., pest) and more of a working partner. The government's current drive is active citizenry, where we finally come out of our individual, darkened little bedrooms (with signs on the door that say "Private: Keep Out") and recognise that we have family huddling around the living room. That's our community. Whomever they are, how many there are, it is our job to look after one another, and not entirely the Government's.

So what do we need a government for? As far as possible, it provides the necessary but normally unprofitable public works for us to enjoy, maintains the integrity of our sovereignity within the global community, ensures that we can define a common identity for ourselves, upholds justice and public trust within our borders, maintains peace among our peoples, that sort of thing. These are the really big things that we can't do on our own, but we work with our elected representatives to bring about.

Governments deal with generalities, not specifics. Micromanagement is what a government is worst at. The faster we learn to wipe our butts for oursleves, the faster the government can get it's nose out of our business and get back to doing its real job, leaving us to lead our lives the way we want... together.


Gary said...

You are quite right, sacred cows exist in the imagination, but they can be laid out, examined, rationally confronted and even 'exorcised' and excised - if the 'spirit' is willing. Like what a psychiatrist does with his patient. He would be able to help the patient 'see the light', see the apparitions for what they really are - just so much emotional baggage - that the latter has been for various reasons, unwilling or unable to let go. And you know what, the patient in this case IS the govt. It has failed and in some instances REFUSED to let them go! That's why you have those kinds of statements by LKY and the sort of half-hearted measures which characterized what LHL has done vis a vis his ministerial salary review committee gambit. Alas. the spirit of the govt IS still weak.

The govt has refused to seize the review as the golden opportunity to make a clean break with the past and to send a very CLEAR and even dramatic signal to the voters that yesterday is no more! But then, in the event, he fooled nobody. He could have been our version of a President de Klerk, the last president of Apartheid South Africa. Now, to many of us, a obvious cause for LHL's weakness is the emotional baggage that his father has been able to use to blackmail him, emotionally. If anyone in the cabinet is still living in the past, it is his old man.

It some people in Singapore have emotional baggage, it is because they have been forced to carry them by the govt through its many policies that is designed to entrap, to tether, to corral them, so that they remain dependent on the goodwill and dispensation of the govt - that is, when it suits its purposes. You know LKY's Chineseness is even more Chinese than the modern day China Chinese themselves, sometimes. The purges by the CCP made sure of that. That he would die in harness is already a foregone conclusion. Though many would certainly be more than prepared to be proven wrong.

Ditto, for the OB markers.

I once attended a PAC course conducted by someone with a Master's in Mass Communications. His advice to the class was if you don't have the 'right' mix of parent, child and adult ego states, the best alternative is to consciously go for a high Adult Ego State. The hallmark of an AES is of course, rationality.

By the way, I totally disagree that our society is still growing up. The submissive child of yesteryears is now NO longer with us, no longer the father of the modern Singaporean. But, we still do have a significant segment, for multifarious reasons, who are still either willingly, because of ideology, or induced, by threats and/or rewards, tethered to the govt.

You really believe that the govt wants us to grow up 'quickly'? Well, where is the evidence? Point some out. No one in his right mind could or would equate or associate the way in which the govt has been progressively scheming to ensure that a huge majority would see no more than a modicum of their own CPF savings in their life times, with a govt that cares for them.

I got news for you, far far from doing things that would help with the process, the govt is actually the single biggest OBSTACLE in the way of a progressive, mature and confident population. It REFUSES to recognize that we can find our own way in the wide, wide world out there. Do you recall LKY's threat that our women folk (you) would end up being maids in a foreign land?! Does that sound like a parent who nurtures or one who constantly criticised to get his way with you?

The game plan is really a very simple one for the govt: keep the population dependent by hook or by crook, in order to continue to dominate the political scene so as to continue to stay in power. Just look at some of the fools, some bigger than others, it has managed to spirit into parliament as the people’s 'representatives'. Any hope that people harbour about them evaporated swiftly and quickly when they open their mouths in parliament to speak on the salary review.

Min Seah said...

Hi Gary
Um, same thing happened. Ya, I get very luo suo sometimes.