Friday, December 21, 2007

Fear for when the political is free

Note on Catherine Lim's latest letter to all and sundry in Singapore. For a 1st generation immigrant, she sure has her heart set on getting society to be better, not just her own little world.


Dear Catherine,

thank you for another kind piece reminding us that we're not supposed to be aspiring to be the most souless city in this world.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that we will have evolutionary change towards that society you dream about. Sadly, by stifling all political efforts towards creating a better society, there will come a day where all that pent up energy (if any is left), will be suddenly released, in a manner that is so uncontrollable that it creates a negative impact in its urge to right the wrongs of old.

Where will we end up after that day? nobody knows. SG is a box of very dry tinder politically. Dried for 40+ years. Which spark will set it off?

truly, not a future to look forward to, but if history has shown, oppression always meets a violent end, and in turn, creates a even more extreme form of oppression by the victors over the old oppresion. Where will we all end up?


[not advocating revolution in any means, just warning that it could happen, but ruthless suppression of the "People's Action Figures Party" rally/demonstration... suggests that our political overseers are ever ready to hit the panic button and call out the riot police]

Being rewritten in the ST forum

originally posted on Mollymeek



here is my experience of being blue-pencilled out of the original thrust of the letter to the forum. Instead of a call for bureaucratic self-searching (if it is possible), it just became an empty on the state of the situation, and the title suggested that I was calling on society to blindly trust its appointed functionaries without any watchdogs on them.

"C'est la vie"; be wary of the blue-pencil wielded by political apparatchiks.

Here's wot I wrote, and the strikeout in red is what was lost.

Trust administrators to
do the right thing

April 10, 2004

Bureaucracies are designed to fit people and issues within pre-determined criteria and rules.WHEN administrators are called upon to apply bureaucratic criteria, they frequently find that there are exceptional factors, or issues, that make a mess of the predetermined rules. And they find it difficult to resolve the conflict.

Unfortunately, the average administrator wants to get his job done within the rules. He is punished if he makes exceptions. Is it any wonder that we face bureaucracies that defend themselves rather than serve their constituents?

We cannot tell administrators to allow for a little 'messiness' without giving them the authority, and confidence, that their best judgment will decide the outcome of an issue. More importantly, that the system will trust and support administrators in their decisions.

These mindset changes are needed before we can reach bureaucratic nirvana. We have to learn to trust; bureaucracies, by nature, are not created with trusting their functionaries in mind. Yet, if we desire a knowledge economy and an engaged society, we cannot continue to restrict application of regulations to the straight and narrow.

All of us have in one time or another, faced situations where the rules were ridiculous, and there was no recourse. As a minor student functionary within my university, I make my best attempts to serve the students first, and not the system.

As a species, we have lost sight of what bureaucracies are intended for. Where their original creators desired efficiency in serving its constituents, today's modern bureaucracies find efficiency in serving the system.

How can we achieve greatness if we're hampered by the very systems we create? I call on all bureaucracies to review themselves regularly to remind themselves that they seve their constituents, and not the system.

So, if anyone wants to have a letter pass through with minimal edits (or re-meanings), do remember to edit your own letter so that the sentences are so tight that they cannot be removed without making the paragraph incoherent (doesn't prevent wholesale paragraph loss, but hey, at least if they slice within a paragraph, it feels that something is missing from it).

Good luck to future writers.