Damanhuri Abas: Minister’s Flawed Arguments Must Not Be Allowed To Perpetuate

The flawed argument from a Minister must not go unchallenged. It is a betrayal of our collective intelligence for simplistic logic to be given public space with no rebuttal. At the very least, a fact-check is warranted. After all, he is in charge of Higher education, a place where you can get a D grade for unsubstantiated conclusion based on shallow arguments.

The flawed logic begins with the notion that a dominant one party government for our collective greater good stems from the unique conditions of our country’s formative history and society, held as irrefutable evidence to justify it. What a sweeping lazy conclusion. It assumes a convenient self-benefiting starting point for our history and casts aside the rich part of history detailing the struggle of our people to rid us of the colonial master who was instrumental for imposing authoritarian rule upon us.

Our forefathers fought the colonial masters to dismantle the dangerous dominance of power in one hand. History is littered with the inevitable abuse of power that dominant single party or authoritarian rule brings to the people. History also shows the inevitable demise of such arrogant dominant power with no exception. And today we instead hear such dismissive rhetoric advocating for perpetual existence of one with justification that are as porous as sand in the desert landscape.

Power, more so absolute power, is potentially destructive whatever that power is. With skills of fine human mastery, power is harnessed for our collective human benefits. Man has shown his ability to tame the power of nature transforming it into beneficial service for humanity. A testimony of the achievements of man, a collective maestro stroke born out of the best of minds engaging and challenging one another through wit and ideas to seek the best solutions for humanity.

Likewise, the power bestowed on man is ripe for abuse less that power is tampered with checks and balances to ensure power is beholden to people and not the other way around. Democracy is not ideal but it offered a way to check power by the people. It assumes the conditions are set to facilitate the rigor of the democratic process but it too is vulnerable to manipulations by powers that came to be from it.

Instead of trying to justify the idea of one dominant rule by the Minister, he should be foremost in advocating the spirit of intellectual discourse and debates with persuasive factual researched ideas and wit, the very rudiments essential towards excellence in higher education. Has he somewhat forgotten his Ministerial portfolio.

Herein lies the fallacy of this idea that in truth has been consistent of the PAP. It has been progressively practicing and institutionalising the instruments of control and dominance in society since our independence in 1965 against the fundamental articles of our constitution that were ironically written precisely to ensure this, that they have been doing, do not happen.

Having been successful in ensuring compliance of its citizen through undermining the growth and development of our democratic society, they now are bold enough to go the next step by openly advocating the half-truth of their arguments that they will ensure little or any space for rebuttal in public, guaranteed by their current dominance of power on almost all public institutions from media, schools and education, public finances, controlling authorities, grassroots bodies, community organizations, etc.

While other countries mature and grow wider spaces in society for advocacy and strengthening of public institutions and the civil society to function as neutral honest arbiter, we in Singapore instead continue to be doing the reverse. Why is open public debate on issues of public concern not a good thing? Imagine what quality of leaders we will have over time if each prospecting candidate is subjected to rigorous processes of debates exposing their quality of arguments or otherwise. But instead we the people are constantly deprived of real access to who our leader is in person and in terms of genuine believes and advocacy of ideas. Are they simply chosen to parrot the government line and are justified based on carefully crafted public information exercise by the compliant media ranked below Afghanistan, which has been a shameless instrument of power.

Progress of Singapore as a society is determined by the choreographed image of artificial smiling postcard faces in the midst of facades of glittering lights and made-made structures and artifacts, all of which are designed to hide away the things that we are not to speak about nor bother asking. The modus operandi are to leave those things to the ‘wise elite’ that in truth are dependent on the façade to look good, as on their own, they are not prepared to withstand the rigor of public discourse and debate. The maxim accorded is to let matters be settled behind closed doors. Echoes of the colonial past made current by a ruling elite that seems ever more afraid of the natural process of losing power one day.

The colonials in the past treated the locals with disdain and adopted a superior afront and framed what they want the locals to know and see in the lenses of half-truths, misleading information, manufactured fear and gross suppression of freedom on the grounds of the greater good, to ensure dominance of power. Are we seeing the re-emergence of a new form of colonial mindset with a currency that disguised the desperate attempt to ensure continued dominance of power in the hands of the new naturalized aristocrats that they justified themselves to be.

This Minister must be checked for the sake of our future. His piece will probably be exposed for its sloppy plagiarism from dusty textbooks of authoritarian gone by on Turnitin.


Source: Damanhuri Abas

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