Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Something interesting to think about

Article 22I of the Constitution

Restraining order under Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act

22I. The President, acting in his discretion, may cancel, vary, confirm or refuse to confirm a restraining order made under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (Cap. 167A) where the advice of the Cabinet is contrary to the recommendation of the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony.

This is interesting because I remember that there was a question on why the racist bloggers were not charged under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act...

56. If objection is taken by any Member present that there are present (besides the Speaker or other Member presiding) fewer than one-quarter of the total number of Members and, after such interval as may be prescribed in the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Speaker or other Member presiding ascertains that the number of Members present is still less than one-quarter of the total number of Members, he shall thereupon adjourn Parliament.

This is interesting too. We only need 25% of Parliament to be there to pass laws. So in the event that a small part of the parliament wanted to enact laws they could technically prevent 75% of our lawfully elected representatives from appearing. Now that sucks. It technically means 25% of our citizens could get what they want over 75% of the rest of us. Whatever happened to tyranny of the majority?

Interestingly enough our constitution does not state who has the power to make war. I suppose it is the President. The monarch traditionally holds the power to make war and is the traditionaly commander of the troops. The head of state i suppose is invested with all powers of the executive unless otherwise stated by law. So I suppose the President can make war without the consent of parliament, plus he is the commader in chief of our armed forces. We swear allegiance to him when we enter National Service.

Just some interesting things while looking over the constituion of Singapore.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Something to read

US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Report on Human Rights Practices 2004

Reporters without borders Press Freedom Index 2004
(we ranked 147 out of 167)

Singapore census

Friday, September 16, 2005

Racism rears its ugly head

I've heard and read the news. 3 people so far have been charged under the seditions act. Interesting use of the law. I'm sure they could have been charged under a different set of laws meant at keeping racial harmony.

Race is a touchy subject in Singapore. And although I wrote my thesis on identity, education and nationalism in Malaya after World War 2, I know well enough to steer clear of those issues here.

Everyone is implicitly racist. I don't think anyone can really deny that. I don't think we're prone to violence against other races, but I do believe that we hold certain prejudiced views and stereotypes about other races. It goes the same with other nationalities and so forth. The division of "US" and "THEM" has been around for quite a long time. The fact that there is a line drawn in the send means there will be half-truths, rumours and half-baked ideas about "THEM".

I'm glad though that these men are being prosecuted under the fullest extent that the laws allow. I'm also quite surprised that the government didn't invoke the Internal Security Act to take care of those racists.

I do believe that bloggers are a little scared right now and are unsure on what exactly to blog about. Well we could stick to the usual mundane crap, or we can continue doing what we've been doing. The one thing I realised in life is that you can do anything you want, just be responsible when the debts are called in. If you want to be an open flaming racist, by all means, just becareful when they come knocking on your door.

I also agree on the principle of "my right to do anything goes only as far as it does not impede your right to do something." Free speech can only go so far. We cannot be allowed to say anything we want. BUT (here's my caveat) if you truly and wholly believe in it, like those racists, then be my guest and go ahead. I disagree with you and I will debate you, and I'll even be happy when they take you away.

Hate does not have a place in our modern society and civilisation. Understanding is the only way to overcome fear and hate. Remember what Yoda said, "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering..." And usually the root cause of fear is the unknown, because we do not understand we fear. And so ignorance is the root of fear. We are most afraid when we do not know. If we possesed the full knowledge of the "other," then we would have less to fear.

So remember folks, if you hate, then look at the deeper causes. Because somewhere down there is just plain ignorance. Don't hate, Educate yourself.